Tag Archive for: gemstones

Colors to please everyone: Exclusive All-Opals Auction, July 20

Check the results of any auction of loose gemstones and you will find that the opals consistently prompt some of the fiercest fights and biggest winning bids. Jasper52 has wisely cut to the chase and offered an Exclusive All-Opals Auction on Wednesday, July 20, starting at 4 pm Eastern time. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.

Three favorites for top-lot status include an 8.33-carat Ethiopian black fire opal with a oval cut; a black fire opal weighing 6.21 carats and sporting a pear cabochon cut; and an oval-cut multi-color opal of 7.07 carats. That said, the auction lineup contains 295 lots, all of which are likely to find new homes.

Oval-cut 8.33-carat Ethiopian black fire opal, est. $200-$250

View the auction here.

Loose gemstones – not just for jewelers

A square 5.01-carat emerald-cut diamond of D color and VS1 clarity, accompanied by a GIA graded certificate, achieved $200,000 plus the buyer’s premium in May 2022. Image courtesy of Bid Global International Auctioneers and LiveAuctioneers

Gemstones have long been treasured for their brilliant, alluring beauty. Over many centuries, they have served as love charms and amulets as well as adornments for sacred ornaments and royal crowns. Although they are available in a wide range of ready-made settings, many collectors prefer acquiring them as single, loose stones and commissioning a jeweler to transform them into wearable works of art. Others prefer to appreciate the stones as they are. 

A GIA-certified natural loose ruby earned $10,620 plus the buyer’s premium in July 2014. Image courtesy of VDG Jewelry Inc. and LiveAuctioneers

Loose gemstones that have been cut and polished into round or oval cabochons can serve as the basis for one-of-a-kind rings, cufflinks, earrings, bracelets or brooches. Flashier faceted gems have been cut into shapes that further enhance their sparkle, brilliance, clarity, color and aesthetic appeal. 

A light blue Sri Lankan sapphire weighing 12.11 carats sold for $9,750 plus the buyer’s premium in August 2018. Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

Natural untreated sapphires, which can come from as far away as Afghanistan or as near as the state of Montana, typically feature blue to violet hues, but those are merely the best-known colors for the stone. Thanks to a variety of trace elements, sapphires can be green, orange, yellow, purple or pink. If they have needle-like inclusions, they can display radiant star-like effects. Delicate Padparadscha sapphires, sourced initially in Sri Lanka and named for a local pinkish-orange lotus blossom, are the rarest of all. Whatever their color, sapphires are just as stunning as unset individual stones as they are when showcased in jewelry designs.

A pale pink 5.83-carat Padparadscha Sri Lankan sapphire attained €6,000 (about $6,292) plus the buyer’s premium in November 2018. Image courtesy of Kissing Auction and LiveAuctioneers

Loose rubies can be had in a range of cuts, but they might be most popular when shaped like a heart. Unsurprisingly, red heart-shape rubies give rise to extra-romantic pieces of jewelry and area a Valentine’s Day favorite. But the heart shape is not reserved exclusively for rubies. The Heart of Muzo, a heart-shape 12.07-carat emerald found in Muzo, Colombia – site of the most esteemed emerald mine in the world – might arouse greater passion in certain collectors.

The Heart of Muzo, a 12.07-carat heart-shape Colombian emerald, realized $10,000 plus the buyer’s premium in April 2017. Image courtesy of Guernsey’s and LiveAuctioneers

The emerald cut is a popular choice for gemstones of all types. It features straight alternating dark and light step cuts through large tables, which proves flattering to a broad variety of gemstones. In May 2022, Bid Global International Auctioneers of Scottsdale, Arizona, sold a square emerald-cut diamond featuring very fine color, clarity and dramatic reflective effects. Accompanied by a GIA (Gemological Institute of America) graded certificate, it earned $200,000 plus the buyer’s premium.

A 49.58-carat tourmaline found in Paraiba, Brazil, sold for $11,000 plus the buyer’s premium in August 2018. Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

Jewelry designers, natural history buffs and fashionistas are hardly the only audiences for loose gemstones. They also interest investors who are wary of fluctuating real estate or currency values and want to park their money in something small and easy to transport. 

A GIA-certified Mexican fire opal weighing 14.29 carats was sold for $1,600 plus the buyer’s premium in April 2022. Image courtesy of Jasper52 and LiveAuctioneers

For those inclined toward loose-gem investment, the choices are abundant and tempting. In August 2018, Heritage Auctions achieved $6,750 plus the buyer’s premium for an absolutely massive Rwandan 259.42-carat amethyst that represented a type discovered only three years prior to its sale. 

A massive 259.42-carat pear-cut Rwandan amethyst exhibiting a deep purple color and intermingled flashes of violet-red was purchased for $6,750 plus the buyer’s premium in August 2018. Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

The Super Auction Gallery, a gemstone mecca in Lahore, Pakistan, auctioned a natural deep-blue cushion cut 60.78-carat tanzanite, one of the scarcest gems on earth, for $115,000 plus the buyer’s premium in September 2019. 

A natural cushion-cut tanzanite weighing 60.78 carats realized $115,000 plus the buyer’s premium in September 2019. Image courtesy of Super Auction Gallery and LiveAuctioneers

Of course, prices for loose gemstones vary according to supply and demand. Those that are rare at purchase tend to remain so, and will remain so if the mine from which they came has since closed. Also, as a general rule, loose gemstones experience at least some increase in value with the passage of time. 

An amethyst from Afghanistan that weighed in at 719 carats was bid to $7,000 plus the buyer’s premium in January 2021. Image courtesy of Jasper52 and LiveAuctioneers

While the market for investment-grade loose gemstones is active and robust, it’s easy to assemble a rainbow of examples in a range of sizes and cuts without breaking the bank. Savvy collectors can purchase individual citrines, amethysts, garnets and other relatively common gemstones for under $100. Those who are patient, keen-eyed and lucky can acquire vibrantly colored and pleasingly cut versions of those stones at weights of 20 carats or more for double-digit bids at auction. 

Whether they are prized as investments, transformed into pieces of jewelry, or piled into a bowl on an office desk like an exotic, glittering form of eye-candy, the appeal of loose gemstones is undeniable and is only likely to grow as more people learn that these unset beauties are within the reach of almost anyone, no matter how modest their budget may be.

Semiprecious Stones Are Precious, Too

This vintage 14K yellow gold link bracelet is set with Citrine, Garnet, Amethyst, Moonstone, Ruby, Turquoise, Pearl, Tiger’s Eye, Coral, Blue Topaz and other semiprecious stones, $2,500 plus buyer’s premium. Image courtesy Auction Gallery of Boca Raton

We have the ancient Greeks to thank for how we categorize gemstones. Diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds they considered precious; every other one was merely “semiprecious.”

But are these classifications relevant today?

While it’s true the four precious gemstones are the most noticed at auction, there are times when certain high-quality semiprecious stones are actually rarer, and will realize a higher auction value.

In the end, it all depends on what “precious” really means to you.

There are literally hundreds of semiprecious gemstones ranging from the well-known opal, tiger eye, lapis lazuli and turquoise to ones that are not usually associated with fashionable jewelry such as musgravite, tanzanite, and alexandrite — with so many others in between. We’ll just focus on the gemstones most collectors are familiar with here, their birthstone, which will help provide a general idea as to the wide availability, value and collectibility of gemstones overall.

January – Garnet 

The birthstone for the first month of the year is garnet, a silicate that is mostly red with many variations from light to dark. There are other colors, like green (rarest of all), yellow and orange. Expect a garnet to be valued at about $500 a carat, depending on its size, cut, clarity and color.

February – Amethyst

The birthstone for February, amethyst contains an iron oxide and other minerals like manganese that brilliantly project its wonderful dark-purple color. Mined mostly in Brazil and Uruguay, amethyst is a larger coarse-grain quartz easily bought for under $10 a carat.

March – Aquamarine

According to the Zodiac, March is Pisces (or fish), so it makes sense that the birthstone for the month is aquamarine, from the Latin for seawater. It is classified as a variation of a beryl with color mostly in the light greenish-blue hues. Aquamarine is mined primarily in Pakistan with an auction value of about $600 a carat or so.

April – Diamond

One of the four precious stones, diamond has its own category of desire both as jewelry and an adornment for thousands of years. Made from highly pressurized carbon in the deepest Earth, diamond is brought near the surface by underground volcanic activity over millions of years. One carat of cut and polished diamond can easily start at about $1,800 or so with variations up to $12,000 at auction.

May – Emerald

The second of the four precious stones, emerald is a member of the beryl family, like aquamarine, except with the addition of chromium that renders the color green. Most emeralds are mined from Colombia; a good-quality, one-carat emerald stone can start at about $550.

June – Pearl

This unusual gemstone isn’t as much a mineral as it is a living fossil. Made in nature from calcium carbonate secreted by a mollusk in saltwater (called nacre), a pearl is less a stone than it is a gem. Its natural hues range from stark white to black with many variations in between. A natural pearl can start at about $300 a carat.

A group of 26 semiprecious gemstone eggs of rose quartz, malachite, lapis lazuli, agates, snowflake obsidian, goldstone, rock crystal, and others in a silver-plate basket, $1,000 plus buyer’s premium. Image courtesy Auctions at Showplace

July – Ruby

The third of the precious stones, ruby, can be confused with a garnet, especially when both have a similar deep-red color. To tell the difference, hold either up to the light — if there are two rainbows with no yellow or green bands, it’s a garnet. A one-carat ruby can start at about $350.

August – Peridot

Not as well known as other gemstones, the peridot nevertheless is classified as olivine, its shade of green similar to that of green olives. It’s not exactly mined as it is found within lava after volcanic activity, making them not as rare — except for the ones of gem quality that start at about $60 a carat.

September – Sapphire

The fourth of the four precious stones, sapphires, from the corundum family like ruby, are normally recognized as a deep blue, but they come in a variety of colors ranging from black to yellow, orange, green and even colorless (called fancy or parti-colored sapphires). A one-carat sapphire can start at about $450 and higher depending on quality and color.

October – Opal

What attracts so many to the opal is its iridescent colors that sparkle on a background of silky white, gray, green, blue and other colors with black being the rarest and most valuable (common opal is mostly just a white background and not as valuable). Patterns of color determine its value with a precious opal of white with fair iridescence having a value starting around $20 a carat with more color patterns having a much higher value.

November – Citrine

If you heat-treat an amethyst, the result will be a citrine, a yellowish gemstone in the quartz family, but it will show straight cracks under high resolution; a natural citrine will be cloudier. Citrines are available from as low as $10 a carat with a higher value for the more brilliant orange hue.

December – Blue Zircon

Another gemstone that isn’t particularly well known, the blue zircon is a nesosilicate that comes in a variety of primary colors, with the blue zircon being the most desired. Blue zircon will fade in direct sunlight, but its color returns when back indoors. Auction values will show blue zircon starting about $20 a carat.

Our list of gemstones is only a very small fraction of the hundreds of gemstones available in every color, brilliance, rarity, and radiance. Onyx, jade, agate, moonstone, obsidian, malachite, sunstone, and all manner of quartz also engender strong personal connections.

Just be careful. Many semiprecious stones can be confused with other gems, and there are artificial gems, as well, but they “completely different physically, chemically and optically” from the natural gems they copy, says Jewelrywise.com. In spite of those inherent differences, some lab-generated gems may be very similar to authentic natural examples. Don’t be afraid to ask a jeweler about a gem’s background before making a purchase.

Hardness of semiprecious stones matters, too, especially when designing personal jewelry. The Mohs scale classifies each stone, precious or semiprecious, as to its ability to withstand constant use with 1 being the softest (talc) and 10 the hardest (diamond). You don’t want a soft stone, such as amber, to be used on a ring that is worn daily.

David Yurman design featuring two large, faceted blue topaz pendants of about 125 carats each, $650 plus buyer’s premium. Image courtesy Akiba Antiques

With so many semiprecious stones to choose from, it’s no wonder that they are so affordable overall, with most selling within the $20 to $50 a carat range. It all depends on size, color, hue, rarity and setting. Of course, the rarest and most valuable gemstones, such as alexandrite, at $70,000 a carat; or musgravite, at about half that; are just as collectible as diamonds.

“You might assume high-end gems and jewelry make good investments, but that’s not necessarily the case. Gems of lesser value often appreciate more and are easier to liquidate. Many well-informed investors choose low to moderately priced gems,” according to the International Gem Society’s article “Making Money Investing in Gems: 5 Top Rules.”

Semiprecious stones aren’t just for wearable jewelry — they’re found in decorative objects like this globe with jade, abalone and others, $225 plus buyer’s premium. Image courtesy Hill Auction Gallery

Simply stated, if you buy semiprecious stones with an eye toward later resale, you should always make your purchases from trusted sellers and consider decorative settings later on if your goal is to increase the value of your investment. The first rule of collecting, however, is that you should always buy what you like first. Unless you buy for resale, the investment aspect should be a secondary consideration.

There’s a lot to learn about semiprecious stones, and the Gemological Institute of America and International Gemological Institute are among the trade groups that can help you to become an educated buyer. Just know that there is a gemstone — precious or otherwise — that the natural world created just for you. When you find it, you will feel a connection to nature.

Garnets symbolize friendship, fidelity

NEW YORK – Garnets, like all gemstones, are timeless. To quote The Curious Lore of Precious Stones, “The love of precious stones is deeply implanted in the human heart … All the fair colors of flowers and foliage, and even the blue of the sky and the glory of the sunset clouds, only last for a short time, and are subject to continual change, but the sheen and coloration of precious stones are the same today as they were thousands of years ago and will be for thousands of years to come.”

Indeed, garnets boast an illustrious history. Bronze Age tombs yield garnet-graced buckles, bracelets and pendants, while ancient Egyptian ones yield garnet talismans, necklaces and carvings. Moreover, Biblical scholars surmise that the red “carbuncle,” one of 12 gemstones decorating the breastplate of Aaron, the first Biblical High Priest, was a garnet.

Exceptional garnet intaglio ring depicting Mercury, messenger of the gods,
intaglio .375in x .625in; opening .7in wide x .875in high; weight: 12.7 grams. Gold quality: 90% gold, equivalent to 20K+, Roman, circa second to third century. Realized $1,700 + buyer’s premium in 2019. Image courtesy of Artemis Gallery and LiveAuctioneers

Ancient Greeks and Romans prized golden, garnet-studded earrings, pendants and bracelets. Some, in addition, stamped wax-sealed documents with intaglio-carved garnet signet rings. Frankish Merovingian nobility (c. 450-750 A.D.) boasted garnet-jeweled fibulas, scabbard-belt mounts, sword hilts and shield fittings. Byzantine clergy and aristocracy favored elegant garnet-encrusted crosses, pendants, brooches, rings and earrings.

Victorian Etruscan Revival almandine garnet, seed pearl and 14K yellow gold brooch, approximately 42.6 x 36.3 mm, weight 13.49 grams. Realized $475 + buyer’s premium in 2018. Image courtesy of Clars Auction Gallery and LiveAuctioneers

These blood-red gems, in addition to beauty, held great charm. Many believed that, powdered or whole, they shielded people from harm, safeguarded travelers and protected warriors, rendering them powerful and victorious. Moreover, they allegedly healed wounds, improved vitality, countered melancholy and soothed troubled souls. In addition, these gems were associated with comradery and constancy.

Gold scabbard-belt mount with beaded border, convex garnet cloison upper face, central garnet cabochon, bronze slider bar to reverse, 14 grams, 25mm, Merovingian Period. fourth-fifth century. Realized £1,400 + buyer’s premium in 2018. Image courtesy of TimeLine Auctions Ltd. and Live Auctioneers

The word “garnet” is related to granatum, the Latin word for “pomegranate,” a fruit clustered with lustrous, jewel-like, red seeds. No wonder, when mentioning them, that visions of tiny, ruby-hued, rose-cut Bohemian garnets come to mind. Their intricate, glistening designs, “paving” gold brooches, bracelets or bangles, were hands-down Victorian favorites. So were larger, dramatic stones, brilliant cut to maximize their radiance.

Bohemian garnet grape cluster pendant locket/brooch, 8-9K, 2.5 x 1.5in. weight 21.4grams. Realized $900 + buyer’s premium in 2020. Image courtesy of Reverie and LiveAuctioneers

Because Almandine garnets are darker than Bohemians, many find them more desirable. If cabochon-cut, these commonly found beauties not only rival rosy tourmalines, spinels and rubies. To many, they also evoke the Biblical carbuncle of old.

Yet not all garnets are red. “If your hand were a model of a garnet molecule, all garnets would share the arrangement of atoms represented by the palm,” explains the International Gem Society site. “However, the atoms represented by your fingers are interchangeable.” Altering their chemical compositions creates a rainbow of shades.

Early 20th century gold demantoid garnet pendant suspended from matching floral spray, Russian marks, L. 5.5cms, 6.6gr. Realized £540 + buyer’s premium in 2018. Image courtesy of Fellows and LiveAuctioneers

Gem-quality spessartites, for example, range from orange to reddish-brown, while hessonites are yellow, cinnamon or honey-hued. Diamond-bright demantoids, once prized by Russian royals and Fabergé alike, are light to dark green. Mandarins, aptly named, are pure-orange. Tsavorites, more brilliant than emeralds and most expensive of all, are deep, forest-green. Umbarites are pink to pinkish-purple

18K gold link bracelet featuring 64 amethyst cabochons accented by 320 round-cut tsavorite garnets, total weight 5.30 carats, length 7in, 28.2dwts. Realized $3,250 + buyer’s premium in 2011. Image courtesy of Michaan’s Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

“One of the things I love about garnets,” explains Nigel O’Reilly, acclaimed contemporary goldsmith and jewelry designer, “is their color diversity. Color plays a huge role in my work and garnets come in such rich and unique colors. They add a real depth to any piece they’re incorporated into. My most recent garnet piece, a ring called Dante’s Garnet, used a fancy cut umbalite garnet set in rose gold. The darker, warm hues meant that I could complement the center garnet by setting the rest of the ring with tsavorite garnets, blue sapphires, orange sapphires and blue diamonds while maintaining the original depth of the center stone.”

Dante’s Garnet, featuring fancy cut umbalite garnet set in rose gold highlighted by tsavorite garnets, blue sapphires, orange sapphires and blue diamonds. Image courtesy of Nigel O’Reilly at https://www.nigeloreilly.com

Since garnets suit all tastes and pocketbooks, choosing a traditional January birthstone is a joy. As of yore, many believe that they promote health, foster peace of mind, increase energy, raise self-esteem, spark creativity and grace the heart with love and passion.

Yet this was not always so. No one knows why or when Europeans began signifying specific times of birth with particular gemstones. Perhaps nobility – whether relating to superstitions, astrological zodiac signs, Aaron’s breastplate, or pure fashion, began wearing them during the Middle Ages. Birthstones apparently became attainable by the masses, however, centuries later. In 1870, for example, Tiffany & Co. published “some verses of unknown author” that match each month with its traditional stone.

Their January entry reads:

By her who in this month is born,

No gems save garnets should be worn;

They will insure her constancy,

True Friendship and Fidelity

Diamonds complement colorful gemstones in Jan. 29 sale

Large, colorful precious gemstones, complemented by fiery brilliant diamonds in contemporary settings, are offered in a 400-lot fine jewelry auction being conducted by Jasper52 on Wednesday, Jan. 29.

AGL-certified 26.14-carat oval Ceylon sapphire and diamond ring, 18K white gold. Estimate: $220,000-$264,000. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Colorful Stambolian jewelry starring in online auction Jan. 22

On Wednesday, Jan. 22, Jasper52 will conduct an online auction devoted exclusively to the designs of the Stambolian House of Jewels, the fine jewelry brand specializing in 18K gold, diamond, and precious and semiprecious stones. More than 300 lots of Stambolian jewelry, all handmade in the United States by highly skilled and experienced artisans, will be offered.

Stambolian 18K gold bangle bracelet with pink sapphires (12.25 carats) and diamonds (4.30 carats). Estimate: $16,000-$19,000. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Celebrate New Year’s Eve bidding on big colorful gemstones

From certified emeralds to glowing sapphires, tourmalines and rubies, a diverse loose gemstones auction presented by Jasper52 showcases a variety of cuts, stones and a and kaleidoscope of colors. The 486-lot online auction will take place Tuesday, Dec. 31, beginning at 11 a.m. Eastern time.

GIA certified step-cut aquamarine, 36.48 carats, 21.91 x 18.27 x 12.56 mm, very minor inclusions visible under 10x magnification. Estimate: $17,000-$20,000. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Aug. 27 auction sparkles with magnificent loose gemstones & diamonds

NEW YORK – On August 27, Jasper52 will bring on the bling with a diverse selection of loose gemstones in a variety of cuts and colors. The 376-lot online auction running exclusively through LiveAuctioneers is brimming with fine gems, from certified diamonds to glowing emeralds, and more.

Whether your purchase of gems is driven by an interest in geology or you’re simply looking for a stunning “rock” to set in a special piece of jewelry, you’re sure to find just what you’re looking for in this wonderfully diverse sale.

Estimate: $19,000-$23,000. Image courtesy of Jasper52

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Exceptional loose gemstones offered in online auction July 23

A diverse loose gemstones auction will be conducted by Jasper52 on Tuesday, July 23. This 470-lot auction showcases a variety of cuts, stones and colors. From certified diamonds to glowing tanzanites and more, bidders will find unique treasures among this kaleidoscope of colors.

4.53 carat natural pinkish red ruby from Madagascar (unheated), fine VS-Clarity rich. Estimate: $25,000-$30,000. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Colored diamonds add radiance to Jasper52 gemstones sale June 4

Four hundred lots of colorful loose gemstones, highlighted by fancy colored diamonds, are offered in a Jasper52 online auction taking place Tuesday, June 4. Certified natural emeralds, sapphires, opals and topaz are also featured in the auction.

Natural diamond, fancy deep yellow-orange cushion shape, 1.51 carats, GIA certification no. 5243311705, 4.44 x 4.22 x 3.16 mm. Estimate: $16,000-$18,000. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.