After a prolonged flirtation with the unusual and uncharted, many in the jewelry industry are returning to the classic big three. If you know anything about gemstones, you know what the big three are, sapphires, emeralds and rubies also known as the holy trinity in gemologist speak.
The colored stone industry is in flux. It is in the process of reinventing itself.
The industry had become stale and dormant. Much of the reason for the initial departure from the big three was pricing and availability. Dealers continued to raise prices under the impression that demand would keep going up. Many priced themselves out of the market. Add to that the fact that it was extremely difficult to get natural untreated, well cut, large stones and it was a recipe for either disaster or change. Jewelers and designers simply shifted gears and sought more affordable and unusual alternatives. Then, along came Gemfields, ready to seize an opportunity.
Gemfields PLC is an AIM listed, multinational, natural resource company that is headquartered in London. They specialize in the mining, processing and sale of colored gemstones, in particular, emeralds and rubies. The group owns the Kagem emerald mine in Zambia, the single largest emerald mine in the world and the Montepuez ruby deposit in Mozambique. Gemfields produces approximately 20% of the world’s emerald supply. They have changed the playing field for the big three.
Yossi Harari Gemfields ruby ear ornaments.
The company is adamant about the traceability of its stones and has implemented a “mine to market” strategy by which emeralds are “completely traceable from mine to market”. They have become known as the “ethically sourced” gemstone company. Quite a coup for the colored stone industry.
Through a very high profile marketing campaign, Gemfields has opened the flood gates for the big three to a much wider audience, including the jewelry design community. Their campaign is aiming to build consumer confidence and understanding by guaranteeing its credentials as a company dedicated to delivering ethically sourced gemstones. They are bringing transparency to a famously murky, near impenetrably opaque sector of the gemstone industry.
The campaign is the first of its kind to actively promote colored gemstones to the public. They have carefully crafted a campaign using design driven jewelry and celebrity status to sell their gemstones. Mila Kunis is a brand ambassador.
Mila Kunis modeling a Gemfields emerald necklace.
Earlier this year, Gemfields collaborated with 36 international designers to create a collection of one of a kind jewelry showing the diverse creative possibilities of emeralds, rubies and amethysts.
Gemfields also has its sights set on a sapphire proposition in Madagascar, aiming to have the “big three” in its stable.
Prices for Zambian emeralds have risen dramatically in the past few years increasing by 46 per cent over a 15 month period. The company also owns 75 per cent of the Montepuez ruby deposit in Mozambique. These fine African rubies are attracting great interest in the jewelry industry, especially as Burma rubies are so rare and demand is so high in Asia.
Sylvia Furmanovich Gemfields emerald ring.
The Gemfields marketing campaign wants to do for colored stones what De Beers did for diamonds so successfully from the 1950s to the 1990s. They want to market, advertise, capture the zeitgeist and run with it for the rest of the century, seducing new markets around the world in the process.
Industry insiders agree that the business as a whole will benefit from Gemfields initiative and the signs are already beginning to show. Sustainability and provenance are starting to become keywords in the conversation.
Elena Votsi Gemfields ruby and emerald earrings. Side note – Elena Votsi, a Greek jewelry designer, is the current designer of the summer olympic medals.
Van Cleef & Arpels has just launched its first range of colored gem engagement rings, set with rubies, emeralds and sapphires.
Olivier Reza, carrying on his father’s business in a new Alexandre Reza salon in the Place Vendôme, Paris, welcomes the initiative.
“I support any effort to promote the beauty, mystery and complexities of great colored gems,” he says.
“These stones are far rarer than diamonds, yet they still have a long way to go in terms of value, appreciation and understanding. There is new and growing demand, but clients need to be educated and informed. I am fascinated to see the effect of this campaign, and just how far and where the passion for colored stones will reach.”
Savannah Stranger Gemfields ruby earrings.
Now, there is another part of the market and it is about the collector. The current connoisseur climate of the gem market is strong and should continue to grow as the buyer shows appreciation for the rare and unusual colored stone and diamond. There is an emphasis on natural untreated stones when possible as well as a focus on great heritage stones from celebrated historic mines in Burma, Kashmir and Colombia. Origin, provenance and pedigree are of primate importance to an ever more discerning clientele. Just look at what is going on in the auction market.
What do you think? Do you want to know where your stone comes from and how it was mined?
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