| Hong Kong Jewellery 香港珠寶
News & Highlight


  • Paraiba tourmaline, rubellite and diamond ring by Caroline C
  • Faceted gold sheen sapphire by Genuine Gems & Jewellery
  • Silver, gold and diamond cuff showcases rutilated quartz by Atelier Zobel.
  • Gold ring with a dendritic agate by Yael Sonia
  • Gold ring featuring three oval Padparadscha sapphires with diamonds by OMI Privé
  • Gold ring with malachite centre stone accented by diamonds by Moraglione
  • pink mystique earrings from k mita

Gems & trends

In today’s jewellery market, the fastest growing segments are young professionals, and they are looking for more than just traditional jewels. And, price seems secondary to the ‘story’ of the gem, which includes the social responsibility factor. 

In the not-too-distant past, coloured gemstone fine jewellery centred primarily on ‘the big three’− rubies, emeralds and sapphires. And, to an extent it still does. These stones remain highly coveted, with auction prices going through the roof for rare untreated sapphires from Kashmir and Myanmar; rare rubies from Myanmar; and emeralds from Colombia at the top of the pyramid. But, even for ‘the big three’, things are changing.

New sources

Over the last few years, the sources of gemstones have expanded, from rubies in Mozambique to sapphires in Madagascar to Paraiba tourmalines in Africa. This year, however, the buzz is all about emeralds from Ethiopia. While these stones were talked about last year, there were very few examples. This year, however, Ethiopian emeralds are more available, with attention focusing on the gem’s saturated green colour.

Among the dealers offering these emeralds is US-based Mayer & Watt. “Ethiopian emeralds are blowing people’s minds,” said owner Simon Watt, explaining that the gems are comparable, if not better, than the Colombian stones, but at half the price. Among the green gems he is selling are a 6.1-carat and a 5.8-carat faceted stones, with no oil treatment. “Some 30 to 40 percent of the production doesn’t need oil,” Watt smiled, clearly excited about the new stone.

Adding to the interest in these Ethiopian emeralds are the social responsibility and ethical sourcing factors. The mine is owned and operated by a tribe of 3,000 people. All the money goes back to the tribe. Proceeds are already building roads and other facilities, and plans are in the works to train local people to cut the gems. Everyone profits.

Ethiopia is also a fairly recent source of sapphires, primarily the blue varieties. Mining is carried out mostly by artisanal miners although some large-scale mining is also taking place. The nation’s government is working with international organisations for training and research with the objective of being able to tell the Ethiopian ‘gem story’ to the global industry to the benefit of its citizens. It’s definitely a story to watch.

Another gem attracting a lot of attention this year at the various trade shows − including filming by a TV crew from one of America’s largest TV shopping channels − is the Gold Sheen™ sapphire, whose name was recently trademarked by Thailand-based Genuine Gems & Jewellery. Although the company’s owner Tanzim Khan is just beginning to market this new species of sapphire, the word is quickly getting out. Global brands such as John Hardy, Cartier and David Yurman recently started using the unique gems along with a number of smaller designers. 

Exhibiting a colour range from gold to translucent blue and green, this unusual sapphire is found in only one location in a remote region of Kenya, and the mine is now depleted. “As soon as I saw the rough a few years ago, I knew that I had something special, so I purchased the entire mine’s production,” explained Khan. Laboratory reports all confirm that the gems are natural, unheated sapphire. 

Popular gems

The trendiest gems this year seem to be “morganite and aquamarine, since they are pastel, relatively inexpensive and look fantastic,” said Jeremy Chalchinsky of US-based gem dealer Color Source,adding “affordability definitely plays a huge role with millennial consumers.” Because of their value and availability in many colours, he explains that spinel and garnet (Mandarin orange and different shades of green) are the “rising stars” in the gem world. “For a long time, garnet was associated with dark red stones, but millennials are rediscovering their various beautiful colours, forging a new personality for the gem,” he said.  He notes that sapphires in multi-colours are also popular with jewellers who are creating the very trendy “rainbow” designs. 

Rethinking gems

The way coloured gems are being thought about is one of the biggest changes in the industry. While diamonds have long dominated the wedding world, we are seeing increasing numbers of brides opting for colour. The main gems in bridal jewels are sapphire, emerald and ruby, but other types such as tanzanite and morganite are enjoying increasing popularity, including a renewed interest in Padparadscha sapphire − called into attention by the royal engagement a few months ago.

There is also a growing awareness of some of the more uncommon gems, among them clinohumite, goshenite and sphene, as well as non-traditional jewellery gems such as dendritic agates, jasper, malachite, chrysocolla, fossils, petrified wood, meteorites and even fools gold (pyrite). While these gems often grace demi-fine jewels, they also fall into the fine category when accented with diamonds and other precious gems.

With the demand for lesser price points for sapphires, emeralds and rubies, astute designers are using slices of these gems, accenting them with smaller stones. For many consumers, inclusions apparent in slices are no longer a negative factor, but rather show off their naturalness, and are thus prized rather than disdained. It started with diamonds a decade or so ago, but now coloured gems are being sliced and diced to show off their intrinsic beauty. Sapphires and rubies that are highly included and nearly opaque are also popular additions to many jewellery wardrobes as are gems in matrix. 

Paraiba tourmaline is undoubtedly one of the most popular gemstones, and can probably be added to ‘the big three’ to make it ‘the big four’, considering its skyrocketing prices. While Paraiba is prized mostly for its bright neon-blue hue, it comes in a variety of other colours, ranging from green to pink to purple. It is mined in Africa and Brazil, although gems from the South American nation are the most coveted. US-based gem dealer and jewellery designer Caroline Chartouni, often called the Queen of Paraiba, notes that the blue gem is favoured by her clientele, both as loose gems and in the exquisite Paraiba jewellery that she sells under the Caroline C brand.

Because of the high prices, some jewellers have turned their attention to using Paraiba tourmaline in its matrix form. These slices offer a one-of-a-kind beauty, showcasing the gem in its natural state, with definite appeal to many customers. 

The types and colours of gems are only part of today’s rethink of nature’s beautiful creations. Social responsibility and ethical sourcing are worries for many customers, especially the millennial and centennial generations, who are more concerned with the integrity of the supply chain than with price. These young people also appreciate a good gem ‘story’, preferring to know that their purchase is either 

helping − or at least not harming − the miners, cutters and their communities. 


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