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Coloured gems face dazzling future, says report

25 June 2019

This 17.43-carat Kashmir sapphire ring fetched £723,063 (around US$921,532.95) at a Bonhams' auction in April


Coloured gemstones are outshining other sectors in the global jewellery industry on the back of rising consumer interest, according to Knight Frank's Luxury Investment Index Q1 2019.

The Luxury Investment Index - Coloured Gemstones Special Q1 2019 showed that jewellery has had a tough 12 months, with pearl jewellery falling back in value by 13 percent over the past year after a decade of very strong growth. Other sectors of the market however performed much better including Belle Epoque and Art Deco jewellery, which saw 9 percent growth, while post-war jewellery was up 7 percent.

Demand for coloured gemstones was also on the upswing. 

Andrew Shirley, head of luxury research at Knight Frank, commented, “The interesting story here is that coloured gemstones are outperforming the wider jewellery market with some significant sales taking place already in 2019.” 

At Bonhams’ London sale at the end of April 2019, several coloured gemstone lots beat pre-sale estimates. The top performer was a 17.43-carat Kashmir sapphire ring, formerly owned by a European noble family that fetched £723,063 (around US$921,532.95). The second highest-performing lot was a diamond and sapphire transformable necklace by Spanish jeweller, Grassy. Dating back to around 1935 and featuring a 34.59-carat unheated Sri Lankan sapphire, the necklace sold for £287,562 (around US$366,493.46). 

Record prices per carat for rubies have been achieved, with prices rising to US$1.2 million in 2016, a threefold growth between 2006 and 2016, the report said. 

Sean Gilbertson, CEO of gemstone miner Gemfields, commented, “The swing towards precious coloured gemstones is overwhelming. The past decade has seen the world record prices for an emerald and ruby surpass that of a colourless diamond on a per carat basis. It surely can’t be long before sapphires overtake diamonds, too. 

“We expect vibrant consumer interest and sector growth to continue. Responsible sourcing will receive ever-increasing attention and become progressively more important to consumers, making gemstone provenance perhaps the key driving factor.”