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Image caption: White gold earrings by VAK Fine Jewels featuring vivid green Colombian emeralds certified insignificant oil, with rose-cut diamonds.

Since time immemorial, emeralds have captured our imagination like no other gemstone. Whether their historical association to the exotic Cleopatra, the belief of native Colombians in their divinity or the Mughals who carved emeralds with prayers hoping for heavenly protection, each generation has discovered a facet of this verdant gem that transcends the tangible.

It is this heady combination of history, mysticism and beauty that has and continues to draw us towards emeralds, making them, one of the most popular of all coloured gems. Whether Colombian, Zambian, Panjshir or Brazilian, we can’t get enough of this hypnotic mineral. However, in our quest for acquisition, lets pause and reflect on four essential factors that determine the trajectory of value appreciation for this elixir of life!

BEAUTY: The first to drive demand will always be beauty. For emeralds, it is their colour, crystal quality, clarity and cut. The closer your emerald is to the primary green hue, the higher the value. While a pale green gem may beautifully compliment a light peach attire, from an investment point of view, perfectly saturated emeralds displaying a well-balanced, rich green hue will better appreciate. Alongside colour, the crystal quality or lustre of the gem is equally important. In India, the trade refers to emeralds with excellent crystal quality/lustre as “Paanidar” or reflecting light in a manner where the gem appears laden with water. Additionally, the style of cutting is also an indication of perceived value. Top quality is typically facetted or cut into a square, rectangle (emerald cut), or round shape. Cabochons, either as classic domes or unique shapes like a lozenge, sugarloaf, usually come from the second tier of material, while the lowest quality is crafted as beads or carved. However, the intimate nature of gem acquisition can change our perception of value. I love cabochon and sugarloaf emeralds as I feel they have more character, which also allows me to acquire top-grade within this segment, without burning too big a hole in my pocket. Finally, while the market places a higher value on cleaner emeralds, for me one of the most beautiful features of these minerals is their eye-visible inclusions. Representing a frozen moment of creativity, the compositions inside these precious gems impeccably denote their distinctive personality.

RARITY: While beauty may spur demand, it’s the rarity factor that determines the price and drives value appreciation. The scarcity in emeralds comes from natural beauty devoid of artificial enhancement. Emeralds typically undergo two manners of treatments, “oiling” and “resin filling”, with the former further sub-categorised as insignificant, minor, moderate etc. The most valuable emeralds are devoid of any treatment, as the degree of enhancement increases, value proportionately adjusts. In Colombian emeralds, only 0.0195% are “no oil”, with the figure approximately 5% in Zambian material. While its perfectly acceptable to buy emeralds with insignificant, minor or moderate oil, its essential to understand how treatments impact the trajectory of value appreciation. The rarity factor also stems from the unique set of circumstances surrounding emerald creation. For example, Zambian emeralds form only when the 1.7 billion-year-old TMS rock (Talc magnetite schist), interacts with a 500 million-year-old pegmatite rock. Where these two rocks intersect, if a miner is lucky, he/she may find a ‘reaction zone’, inside which they may find emeralds of varying quality. To put things in perspective, at the world’s largest emerald mine in Zambia (KAGEM by Gemfields), they move 1 million tonnes of rock every month to reach emerald bearing ‘reaction zones’. Important to note, 70% of their revenue comes from only 7% of their top-quality production.

CERTIFICATION: The third element in value appreciation is provenance. Ten years from now, you are ready to sell your beautiful top-grade emerald, where do you go? You could return to your jeweller, he may buy-back at the same price or may offer to sell it further, which depending on the market forces at play, may result in profit. The second option is to trade internationally with a jeweller or a vintage jewellery merchant. In both scenarios, beyond the gem’s physical qualities, having a certificate from an internationally recognised gem lab like the European SSEF, Gubelin or the American AGL, will further enhance value. Some other reputable labs used by the trade for emeralds and other coloured gems are the GJEPC in Jaipur, GGTL in Switzerland, CDTEC in Bogota, AIGS, ICA, GIA and Bellerophon in Bangkok.

RESPONSIBLY SOURCED: One of the most important topics discussed at industry forums, is responsible sourcing of gemstones and precious metals. Discerning customers prefer buying gems and jewellery that can be certified as acquired from a trustworthy source. For some, it may stem from superstition or a cultural preference to avoid negative energies; others understand the financial value in obtaining ‘clean goods.’ Given this, industry stakeholders are collaborating to create transparent mine-to-market traceability of gemstones. One example is Swiss laboratory Gubelin’s ‘emerald paternity test’, which employs DNA-based nanoparticles to track the journey of emeralds from their source to the customer. Emeralds containing this technology are certified with “Provenance Proof” branding, providing a tangible testament of their origin. Should a customer, want to verify the claim, the nanoparticles can be retrieved and decoded at any stage along the supply chain. Similarly, SSEF has recently concluded a pilot to provide customers with detailed certificates documenting the production process for Rubies from mine to market.

To quote Plato, “Human behaviour comes from three main sources: desire, emotion and knowledge.” Just like everything in your wardrobe is not couture, every single emerald you own doesn’t need to be top-grade. However, as you navigate this confusing marketplace and build your collection, a clear understanding of what truly drives long-term value appreciation, will hold you in good stead for the foreseeable future and generations to come.




Image: Shirley Temple Blue Bird diamond, Windsor Jewelers

Provenance can enhance the value of extraordinary jewels enabling the owner to possess a unique piece of history or to prize an exceptionally rare origin.

At the coming edition of GemGenève (May 9-12, 2019) some pieces of jewellery and gemstones have an unusual story of ownership or origin which will make them even more desirable.

“Historical provenance (an emerald brooch belonging to Liz Taylor, for example) and geological origin (a Burmese ruby from the legendary mines of Mogok) can rocket standard quality criteria through the roof and create world record results for already gorgeous gems,” said Helen Molesworth, managing director of Gübelin Academy.

At GemGeneve, a superb blue diamond that will be showcased by Windsor Jewelers, will be the Shirley Temple Blue Bird, a more-than-9-carat fancy deep blue, internally flawless diamond.

It has superb provenance as it once belonged to the Hollywood child star, increasing its appeal.

Exhibitor Pat Saling will present some exceptional pieces with a unique history.

She is showcasing a necklace designed by Juliette Moutard of the house of Rene Boivin for Madame Louise de Vilmorin.

Louise de Vilmorin was a famous French novelist, poet and journalist. She was born in the family chateau outside of Paris. She wrote several novels and received the Renee Vivien prize for women’s poets in 1949.

She was also known as a woman of great taste and sophistication. In the Boivin book, Jeanne Boivin described her as one of their favourite clients who wore jewellery with great elegance.  

She had two husbands, the first an American real estate heir, the second a Count described as a Hungarian playboy, and was the mistress of a British Ambassador to France and the companion of the French Cultural Affairs Minister.

The necklace itself was designed from an older platinum and pearl sautoir that Moutard then updated with coloured stones set in gold and accented with diamonds to be a more exciting piece of jewellery and be more in keeping with the style of the times.

“Most of the time we do not have the provenance of a piece of jewellery for a variety of reasons,” Pat said.

“But when we can trace a piece of jewellery back to an owner it is always an important piece of information and does add to the allure of a piece of jewellery.

“As with this necklace, the fact that we know it belonged to a woman who was considered a woman of great taste, who had a large jewellery collection and was recognized by her generation and subsequent generations, is icing on the cake.

“People like to own a little piece of history and when you know that a piece of jewellery was part of an important collection it adds to the value of that piece.”

Pat Saling is also presenting an important cabochon sapphire and diamond ring in platinum created by celebrated designer Suzanne Belperrron and dating to about 1940.

Belperron had an amazing and recognizable style which was sought after by the wealthy and elegant women of her generation.

Her clients included the Duchess of Windsor, Chanel, Diana Vreeland, Daisy Fellowes, and Elsa Schiaparelli to name a few.

Her jewels were often featured in French and American Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and used by the great fashion houses of the day to accessorize their collections.

“The important provenance of this ring is that it was in the personal collection of Suzanne Belperron and that adds to its mystique and its value,” Pat said.

“Here is a designer who can have anything she wants since she is designing the jewellery and this ring is one of the pieces that she chooses to be her personal ring. That kind of validation is rare because usually the creator of a piece of art or jewellery is making it for someone else.

“But this ring is a piece that she chose to own herself. It was exciting for me to know this when I bought it.  It will always make this particular ring be more desirable to have been part of a great designer’s personal collection.”

In terms of gemstones, Richard Haruni of Haruni Fine Gems says provenance is a major factor for him when buying and selling gems.

“Origin above all else will be the factor that will set two seemingly identical stones apart,” he says.
“You see this in pretty much every variety of gemstone whether it’s ruby for Burma and Mozambique, sapphires for Kashmir/Burma/Sri Lanka/Madagascar (in that order), emeralds with Colombia and Zambia and now Ethiopia, or specialist stones like Paraiba tourmalines from Brazil, pink or red spinels from Burma or Australian Opals.

“Let’s not forget the premium fetched by Argyle pink diamonds and type II Golconda.  Origin sets them apart.”

Anne Wild of Paul Wild speaks of the importance of Brazilian origin in setting the highest premiums for Paraiba tourmalines.

“The provenance of a gemstone is getting more and more important. This means for high quality/value of rare gemstones like ruby, sapphire, emerald — and not to forget Paraiba tourmaline.

“Paraiba tourmaline has been our bestselling stone for years and here the origin of Brazil has become more crucial.”

Bruno Scarselli of Scarselli Diamonds said that as a diamond manufacturer he would interpret “provenance” as “origin.”

“In the diamond industry awareness of ‘origin’ would permit someone like me to recognize certain manufacturing aspects which would allow for better colour outcome when cutting a rough stone,” he says.

Ingo Henn of Henn of London says it is vital to authenticate the provenance of a piece to add value.

“It is important to be able to verify the item — otherwise people can claim any provenance,” he says.

“It will certainly add to the desirability and value. Even more so if there’s connection with a very famous person.

“Gemstones can have their own history and personality, both of which can be enhanced with their provenance. “

The top lot in the Sotheby’s “magnificent jewellery” sale last November, a pearl and diamond pendant that belonged to Marie Antoinette, achieved a world record price for a pearl of $36 million — some 20 times its pre-sale estimate.

The extraordinary provenance of this pearl – its ties to the ill-fated last Queen of France before the French Revolution, an Austrian Archduchess who married the future King Louis XVI and was executed by guillotine – was a key driver of the sale price.

An anonymous private buyer bought the jewel for a startling world record price of $36 million for a pearl, a huge premium over its pre-sale estimate of $1-2 million.

The extraordinary price garnered for the pendant was very much due to its exceptional royal provenance – the fact that the Queen of France had held this piece in her own collection shortly before her execution centuries ago.

“Because of its size, rarity and quality, the commercial value of such a pearl can be estimated to be between three to five million Swiss francs,” said Thomas Faerber, a co-founder of GemGeneve.

“The rest is historical value. In my opinion, the final price is also a world record for historical jewellery at auction.”

People who handled the pendant in the days before the Sotheby’s sale felt a little bit as though they possessed a moment of that history – a strange feeling, like being pushed back hundreds of years. A sense of grandeur – with a feeling of unique emotions.

“It is extremely difficult to calculate how much the provenance will add to the value of a piece of jewellery, and in this case much of the price achieved for the pearl pendant was due to its story relating to Marie Antoinette,” said Daniela Mascetti, Chairman Jewellery Europe of Sotheby’s.



“Cameos are my first love,” says Ida Faerber, who works alongside her father Thomas, at the Faerber Collection, Geneva. “They were my first discovery in the world of jewellery. I remember thinking how extraordinary it was to be able to tell a story out of stone, how amazing to create magnificent art from stone or shell, what imagination, what skill.”

The art of gem-engraving is one of the earliest of all art forms, reaching back to Mesopotamia, to the great civilisations of antiquity, when engraved cylinder seals were essential instruments for signing documents and sealing contracts. Cameos were a later development, traceable to the engraved scarabs of ancient Egypt, and blossoming in the Hellenistic age. Both cameos and intaglios (incised engravings) were highly prized, in ancient Greece and Rome and then again in the Renaissance with its revival of classical art and learning. A deep appreciation of gem-carving, as the noblest of art forms, as a highly elevated form of human artistic expression, was nurtured by great patrons of the arts and collectors, including Lorenzo dei Medici, who counted the 2nd century B.C carved hardstone cup, later known as the Farnese Tazza, as his most valuable treasure.

The art of gem-engraving was revived again with the wave of neo-classicism, 1760-1820, stimulated by archaeological discoveries and encouraged in particular by Napoleon, who modelled himself on the great Roman emperors. Napoleon had a passion bordering on obsession for engraved stones, especially ancient gems, and established a school of gem-engraving in Paris. He presented Empress Josephine and later Marie Louise with grandiose parures set throughout with cameos. Leading neo-classical cameo-carvers, including Pichler, Pistrucci, Morelli, Girometti, took to signing their work, to prevent them being passed off as ancient gems by unscrupulous dealers.

Another revival in the mid-to later19th century was fuelled by a fresh archaeological revival, focused on a mania for ancient gold jewels. Cameos by artists such as Luigi Saulini were set into gold, Etruscan-revival mounts by leading goldsmiths including Castellani of Rome.

The most prized cameos are those carved from hardstones, agates, onxy, sardonyx, in which the layers of the stone are used, with consummate skill and imagination, to bring subject to life, to tell a story, to introduce shading, perspective, to highlight minute details, for example to capture the diaphanous folds of a goddess’s robes or unruly, wispy curls of hair.

Later in the 19th century, as cameos became less cerebral and more widely popular, they were carved on a huge variety of materials, coral, ivory, tortoiseshell, lava but mostly on shell. Poised between archaeological-revival and romanticism, these later Victorian shell cameos were madly fashionable, often huge and elaborate, carved with mythological figures and scenes, including the Three Graces, cherubs, angels, Hercules, the head of Medusa, a chariot ascending to the heavens, or with profile portraits of contemporary figures, male and female, including Queen Victoria. Some were set with precious stones to create a cameo habillé. Other cameos still were carved in more precious materials, including emerald or opal. Ida Faerber recalls a 19th century cameo carved from black opal depicting a native American wearing an elaborate feathered headdress skilfully worked to make full use of the dramatic flashing colours of the stone.

Ida Faerber says she is endlessly fascinated by cameos, which are, she says, miniature sculptures of awe-inspiring artistry and craftsmanship that generate a powerful visceral and emotional response in her. “That emotional response is important; you have truly feel the emotion when you look at a cameo.” Yet cameos were also revered as amulets, or invocations, imbued with spiritual power, powers that were drawn from the stone by the skill of the carver in depicting particular subjects, a god or hero for example, whose own attributes, virtues or strength were believed to be transferred to the owner. She cites Renaissance bloodstone cameos, of religious subjects, in which the red depicted drops of blood and the green signified hope.

While early examples, ancient or Renaissance, continues Ida, are exceedingly rare today, good 19th century cameos of the quality on offer at GemGenève are still, she feels, “completely undervalued.” And, she adds, “Although they were more commercial, more mass-produced, later 19th century shell cameos can be very beautiful.”

At GemGenève, search out the cameos on offer at various antique jewellery dealers, The Faerber Collection, for example, and particularly New York-based dealers’ dealer, Shalom Bronstein, who has a special interest and love for cameos and engraved gems. He takes his cameos seriously: most of the select group he will bring to the show, he says, are early 19th century or mid-19th century, and all are stone cameos, which in his opinion are generally “several steps up” from Victorian shell cameos, although he adds it is possible to find some exceptionally fine shell examples. Overall, he says, “cameos are ridiculously inexpensive, in terms of man hours involved in engraving and carving, and in the artistic skills required. They represent incredible value.”

Ida Faerber finishes by saying that one other aspect of cameos she loves is the depth and complexity of the subject; there is always so much more to learn. “I’m enchanted by the magic of the cameo, the minute details, the dedication, the storytelling in stone. These skills are lost; it is an art from that cannot be repeated.”



When I first started collecting coloured gemstones, I came across an extraordinary book by Richard W. Wise called ‘Secrets of the Gem Trade’. While there were many nuggets of knowledge embedded in the book, there were three, in particular, I continue to employ as my guiding principles. The first, ‘light equals colour’, referring to the variable hues of sunlight and how it impacts coloured gemstones. Mindful of this, I try to view coloured gems between 11.30 am to 2.00 pm when the light is ideally colour balanced.

The second, ‘value beauty, over pedigree’, meaning, before origin, the beauty of the stone will always drive value appreciation. Qualities like hue, tone, saturation, lustre, cut, crystal quality, will remain the fundamental building blocks against which value is assigned and evaluated, with origin only afterwards becoming a factor.

The third principle, ‘while beauty drives demand, it’s the rarity factor that drives the price.’ How does one define rarity? For some, rarity is intrinsically linked to beauty because with each season, finding untreated, beautiful gems of top quality, irrespective of origin is becoming quite the task. For others, rarity is defined by origin, as production from ancient sources is down to a trickle.

While the marketplace is seeing an influx of multi-hued gems, when it comes to long-term value appreciation, none come close to the holy trinity of rubies, emeralds and sapphires. However, even among them, there is one, which holds a unique position, due to its achievement of moving from discovery to world domination in only six short years, the Blue sapphires from Kashmir, India.

First discovered around 1879-1882, due to their remote location, high in the Himalayan mountain range (elevation of approximately 4,500 m.), mining was mainly conducted from July to September, with some years delivering only thirty days of mining. There were two mining sites, the ‘old mine’ with the higher quality sapphires located high on the northeast wall of Kundi valley. The second location was on the valley floor 250 m below the old deposit. Termed the ‘new mine’ it produced mostly milky sapphires with only the skin and tips of crystals being blue. Its truly incredible to comprehend that mining of large, excellent quality sapphires from Kashmir happened from just 1881 to 1887. Since their discovery 138 years ago, their magnificence has captivated the world, and till today, they remain the comparison standard for all other origins.

So, what makes Blue Sapphires from Kashmir so special? Besides the apparent beauty, rarity, history, we need to delve deeper and reflect on our societal structures. Since time immemorial, irrespective of geographical location, society at large has been formed around groups of people, based on their financial, intellectual and artistic abilities. Even in ancient India, the first position in society was awarded to the Brahmins or the learned, followed by the Kshatriyas or the warriors/rulers, then the Vaishyas or the merchants, followed finally by the Shudras or the working class. Fast forward to modern history, and we see the industrial revolution, break-down of colonial shackles, economic development, leading to the democratisation of wealth distribution. The past twenty to thirty years, in particular, have witnessed the emergence of a new segment of wealthy consumers, who in their aspirational search for investment value, an elevated position in society, are graduating from volume to qualitative consumption of luxury goods.

Blue Sapphires from Kashmir, India, represent the pinnacle of acquisition, not only due to their microscopic supply but because of their intrinsic beauty. Further, keeping in mind the first principle of ‘light equals colour’, it’s important to understand, unlike sapphires from other origins, the ones from Kashmir are nocturnal beauties, holding their blue colour despite the setting of the sun.

So, what is the ideal Kashmir blue to acquire? That depends on two factors, the first of heritage tastes, preferring sapphires, which visibly appeared Kashmir, due to their velvety hue, displaying a muted crystal quality, sometimes called ‘cornflower blue’. However, the trend today is favouring Kashmir sapphires with a higher crystal quality, which while not as effervescent as Sri Lankan sapphires or deeper hued like Burmese, still comes close to contemporary deposits vs the archaic choice of aristocrats.

What about sapphires from Madagascar that have recently managed to attain ‘Kashmir’ origin on certificates? Will they impact the appreciation trajectory of Kashmir stones? To answer this, we must remember that similar confusion happened between 1990-92 when certain new, non-basaltic deposits in Madagascar were yielding sapphires that were obtaining ‘Kashmir’ certification. From the perspective of investment, it’s vital to note that temporary misrepresentation of origin, affecting pricing, never has and will never sustain in the long run. Technology and science always manage to catch up and correct the lens.

While absorbing the technical and historical nuances of sapphire evaluation, it’s essential to consider how you feel when you experience the gem. If your personality connects more with a sparkling Sri Lanka sapphire or even a deeper hued Burmese, that’s what you should acquire. However, if your heart desires a sliver of history, from the romantic vales of The Himalayas, representing the perfect combination of rarity, beauty and refinement, the choice can only be a Kashmir Blue.

Reference credit:
Ruby & Sapphire by Richard W. Hughes
Secrets of the gem trade by Richard W.
Wise Conversation with Ronny Totah of Horovitz & Totah, co-founder and exhibitor at GemGenève



March 2019 – Rare and exquisite natural blue diamonds are among the most sought-after gems, seen in recent auctions vying with pinks and achieving world record prices, with premiums built in for exceptional provenance and freshness to the market.
The Cullinan mine near Pretoria is the world’s only notable blue diamond producing mine. Blue diamonds are extremely rare and, like pinks, are among the most prized by connoisseur collectors.
The rarest colour is the red, which seldom comes to the public auctions market.
Some of the rarer colours are so unusual and hard to find that they go directly from the mines to auction houses or museums.
A superb blue diamond that will be showcased by exhibitor Windsor Jewelers at the coming edition of GemGenève (May 9-12, 2019), will be the Shirley Temple Blue Bird, a more-than-9-carat fancy deep blue, internally flawless diamond.
It has great provenance as it once belonged to the Hollywood child star.
Other GemGenève exhibitors showing blue diamonds, include Kunming Diamonds who will present loose stones in a variety of hues of blue, including fancy light blues and fancy vivid blues, weighing up to 3 carats, said director Harsh Maheshwari.
Standouts will include a pair of one-carat, pear-shaped diamonds, one of them vivid blue and the other an Argyle pink.
“Smaller blues may not always have provenance, but they are rare,” Harsh said.
He added that for him, some of the most beautiful blues are tinged with green.
L.J. West Diamonds will also be showing blue diamonds at GemGenève, including a 3.10-carat fancy vivid blue, and a 3.88-carat fancy vivid blue, set in jewellery, said Gino di Geso, director of marketing and strategy.
He said that blue diamonds were currently outperforming in the wholesale market.
Scarselli Diamonds also expect to present blue diamonds, sometimes combined with pinks, at GemGenève.
“Pinks and blues play off each other very well,” said director Bruno Scarselli. “Pinks give more brightness to the blues.”
Scarselli Diamonds expect to present a 2-carat vivid blue, emerald cut diamond at GemGenève, among other blue stones.
Ely & Co Fancy Diamonds Inc. will display over 18 blue diamonds at GemGenève, including a 17.89-carat fancy light blue, and a set of vivid blues made into jewellery.
The House of Dehres will present at GemGeneve an outstanding 3.07-carat fancy intense blue diamond ring (VVS2), flanked by two fancy intense pink heart-shaped diamonds, as well as another ring holding a 2.75-carat fancy deep grayish blue (VVS2) diamond.
In terms of recent world records for blue diamonds, two stones garnered remarkable sales results at Sotheby’s and Christie’s auctions in New York in April 2018.
An incredibly rare 3.47-carat fancy intense blue diamond ring, which sold at Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels auction in New York for $6.7 million, achieved a new world auction record price-per-carat for any fancy intense blue diamond ($1,920,259 per-carat). The stone nearly tripled its pre-sale estimate of $2.5 million.
Gary Schuler, Chairman of Sotheby’s Jewelry Division, Americas, said: “Our results affirm that the auction market continues to flex its strength in top-quality diamonds, important gemstones and jewels with distinguished provenance.”
“We are proud to continue the long line of exceptional blue diamonds at Sotheby’s, with the sale of the fancy intense blue diamond, that soared to $6.7 million after competition from three bidders,” he added.
Earlier that week, a 3.09-carat blue diamond comfortably surpassed its pre-sale estimate at Christie’s Magnificent Jewels auction in New York.

The rectangular-cut, fancy intense blue diamond ring, surrounded by tapered baguette-cut diamonds, sold for $5.4 million. Its pre-sale estimate was $2-3 million. It set – for a brief time – a world auction price-per-carat record.
Royal provenance, and a freshness to the market, have helped to drive up prices of rare and beautiful blue diamonds. Top-tier collectors prefer to buy stones the first time they appear on the market.
In May 2018, the top lot at the Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewellery sale in Geneva was the 6.16-carat Farnese Blue, which had remained in the hands of the same family for 300 years.
It netted $6.7 million to an anonymous buyer, well above estimate.
Given to Elisabeth Farnese, Queen of Spain, as a wedding present in 1715 and subsequently passed down through four of the most important royal families in Europe, the mesmerizing pear-shaped blue diamond was appearing on the market for the first time.
In terms of absolute world records, a pink stone currently prevails, but the blues are never far behind.
Some collectors believe that the world record price of $71 million achieved by the 59.60-carat Pink Star diamond at Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong in April 2017, was a bargain for the buyer, Chinese jeweller Chow Tai Fook.
The oval Pink Star smashed the record price for any diamond sold at auction following a brief bidding battle.
The justification for such a price is rarity and beauty.
The previous world record-holder for a diamond sold at auction was a blue diamond — the 14.62-carat Oppenheimer Blue, which fetched $57.5 million at a Christie’s auction in Geneva in May 2016.
Asian buyers have figured prominently in purchases of magnificent rare diamonds in the past few years, such as Hong Kong property tycoon Joseph Lau who bought the Blue Moon – another fabulous blue diamond — for a then world record price of $48 million in 2015.
Collectors can sometimes turn the rivalry between pinks and blues into an advantage by snapping up superb combinations of the two colours.
In May 2017 in Geneva, a magnificent pair of blue and pink diamond earrings – the Apollo Blue and Artemis Pink – achieved a world record price for a pair of earrings sold at auction of $57.4 million at the Sotheby’s sale.
The two stones were sold as separate lots, but both went for extraordinary prices — to the same anonymous buyer, underlining the fascination for blue and pink diamonds while keeping the two stones together as a pair of earrings.
“If paying $57.4 million for a pair of earrings isn’t a sign of confidence in rare coloured diamonds as a viable investment asset, I don’t know what is,” said Tobias Kormind, 77Diamonds.com managing director.



Of all the captivating diamonds fashioned by the legendary New York diamantaire, William Goldberg, the Ashoka is the stone that became his enduring legacy. With a deep affinity to diamonds and his love of diamond legends, Bill Goldberg was particularly inspired by the tale of the ancient Ashoka diamond: a 41.37 carat Golconda stone, a treasured talisman, named for Ashoka Maurya, the 3rd century Buddhist warrior-emperor. The Ashoka was passed down through the centuries, like so many historic Indian diamonds, and in 1947 fell into the hands of Harry Winston. Later it was bought by the fiery, jewel-adoring Mexican actress, Maria Felix. She sold it to the art dealer Roberto Polo, who presented it as a gift to his wife, Rosa.

Fast forward, and in 1988, the Ashoka was the highlight of Sotheby’s glamorous jewellery auction, in St Moritz. William Goldberg’s son, Saul and his wife Dale were there, hoping to bring home the treasured stone, but it sold to an anonymous buyer for a record price of $3,850,000. And disappeared from sight.

William Goldberg couldn’t forget the beauty and allure of this stone, and he created an entirely new cut, the Ashoka, in homage to the historic Indian diamond of the same name.  Staying true to his own maxim, “You shouldn’t cheat a diamond of its right to be beautiful.” Today, the modern Ashoka, a contemporary classic, is weaving its own legend.



One of the highlights on show during the Hong Kong press event, on February 28th was the mesmerizing Pink Paradise pendant and necklace, loaned for the evening by Dehres, a new exhibitor at this year’s GemGenève.  The centerpiece drop-shaped pendant set with an exceptionally rare 15 carat fancy pink pear-shaped diamond, framed in white diamonds was suspended from a necklace composed of 40 pear-shaped diamonds, all D-F colour, totaling over 50 carats.  Dehres’ CEO, Ephraim Zion, explained that the design of the necklace was carefully and strategically planned to draw the eye, through light and line, directly to the beauty of the extraordinary pink diamond at the heart of the pendant. The Pink Paradise was paired with a ring set with 7 carat pear-shaped fancy intense pink diamond, in a pavé diamond setting.

Ephraim Zion, internationally acclaimed as a leading diamond expert, heads the third generation of the Hong Kong based company, Dehres, specialising in superlative diamonds and rare coloured stones, and backed by a long and rich family legacy of trading and cutting the finest gemstones.



It has been a busy year for Kazumi Arikawa, Chairman of the Albion Art Company, Tokyo, one of the most important collectors of historic jewellery in the world and an enthusiastic visitor to last year’s inaugural GemGenève. Since his visit, the Albion Art Company has sponsored the blockbuster Jewellery exhibition at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, while L’Ecole, the Paris-based, Van Cleef & Arpels-supported school of Jewelry Arts organised an exhibition, in Tokyo, in late February and early March, of Art Nouveau jewels from Mr Arikawa’s collection. The Art Nouveau Jewellery exhibition, showcasing masterpieces by Lalique, Fouquet, Vever and Boucheron, curated by jewellery historian and GemGenève team-member, Vivienne Becker, was one of a series called Through The Eyes of a Connoisseur, opening up private collections around the world. Meanwhile, the huge success of the jewellery show at the Metropolitan Museum, Jewelry – The Body Transformed, which closed last month, is good news for us all, opening up the whole subject of Jewellery to new audiences, bringing more depth, showing the full richness and complexity of the art of the jewel. Just as we do at GemGenève.



The GemGenève team got their show on the road once again, and organised a lively, interactive press conference and cocktail party in the Grand Hyatt hotel, Hong Kong during the Hong Kong Jewellery show in late February. In a room themed with this year’s campaign, “Find and Feel”, referring to the sense of discovery at GemGenève and the importance of learning, feeling and discovering gemstones and jewels, the founders, Thomas Faerber and Ronny Totah, held a press conference, explaining their mission in establishing GemGenève and their expectations for this year’s show, which has grown in size to some 200 exhibitors. Vivienne Becker talked briefly about this year’s Designer Vivarium, the showcase of work by contemporary designers, one of whom, new this year, Hong Kong born and based Nicholas Lieou, was on hand to talk about his design philosophy. On show during the evening was a selection of superb antique, vintage and contemporary Jewellery, as well as rare coloured stones and diamonds, loaned by exhibitors to give members of the press a taste of the range and quality of gems and jewels on offer at GemGenève.


In true GemGenève spirit, several of the exhibitors in the audience took the microphone to speak for a few minutes each; amongst them, Marianne Fisher, daughter of exhibitor Paul Fisher, Ephraim Zion CEO of Dehres, a newcomer to this year’s show and Russian designer-jeweller, Alexander Laut, also a new exhibitor.


After the press conference, the evening continued with a cocktail, for press, exhibitors and invited guests, who were invited to connect to an engagement platform via a QR code and take a quiz about the show. The prize was an amethyst crystal, February birthstone and bringer of good fortune. Everyone was a winner!





Ming Lampson is one of the new names in this year’s  Designer Vivarium, presenting the work of individual, independent designer-jewellers from around the world. Based in London, Ming was born in Hong Kong – hence her name – and drawn to gemstones from an early age, as so many of the designers were, she went on to study gemmology and learn about stones in Jaipur. She set up her own business, in 1998, as a bespoke jeweller, only working on commission, but in the last few years she has created two collections, both inspired by the East, by Asia and her roots. 


The first collection, Oriental Garden, was conjured from Ming’s personal fantasy of an Asian garden, stylized, manicured, filled with fragrant, exotic plants and alive with winged creatures. The designs, as always with Ming’s work were highly stylized, abstracted, evoking emotions rather than depicting realistic images, a pool of lapis in which floats a single green tourmaline, representing a lotus leaf, a caterpillar translated into a ripple of emeralds encased in rose gold, an opal dragonfly ring with openwork wings wrapping the finger. Her second collection, Reverence for Nature, revolves around the Japanese preoccupation with the seasons. Ming explains, “I wanted to capture something fleeting in materials that last forever”. Again the designs are stylized, and gemstones are the focal point of each jewel; blossoms, for spring, a rendition of the traditional ‘Mons’ style flowers, in lace-like diamonds on ring; wintry aquamarine ice flowers, cold, sleek and sharp shards of ice; ripe, succulent berries for autumn, vibrant turquoise flowers for summer. She says she has explored the stones, their colours and associations, and pushed herself to technical challenges, in the construction of the jewels, bringing fluidity, and a strong sculptural quality, particularly for her earrings in which she experiments with line and form, “dressing the ear”, blending the classicism of the subject with a very modern edge. Each jewel is one of a kind, and all are hand-made in Ming’s atelier in London.


Three decades after Donna and Alex Vock, of ProVockative Gems, New York, launched their business in 1990, they have become leading international dealers, with a magnificent inventory of signed ‘legacy’ jewellery, mostly 20th century, natural ‘pedigree’ gemstones and natural pearls. 

Alex’s expertise and reputation are such that he often advises governments and museums around the world. While Donna also operates a consultancy business, Donna Vock Design.  Donna tells how she was a geology graduate working in the retail jewellery business, just to earn some money, she says, when she met Alex, who had learnt about pearls from his uncle, Salvador Assael, and about diamonds at Lazare Kaplan and who was working for the same retailer, to gain experience. 

She explains that they share a deep intellectual curiosity about gemstones, natural pearls and gemstones. “What makes our business so special,” she adds, “is its complex mix of science, art, history, geopolitics. They are so many layers and interwoven subjects.”

Some 85% of ProVockative Gems’ business is wholesale, selling to the trade, to retail stores, while in her design consultancy, Donna Vock Design, she also deals with private clients. Through the ProVockative Gems customers, retail jewellery stores who often branch into selling vintage jewellery, she notices how young people are increasingly interested in vintage jewellery, “they are eager to understand the stories behind the jewellery.” The same is true for natural pearls, she feels. “There is a new level of awareness of natural pearls versus cultured pearls,” and appreciation of their extreme rarity, and beauty, especially at this time when global warming is having an adverse effect on the oceans and on the lustre of pearls.

Donna Vock talks authoritatively on gems and jewels, the art and science as she gives us a guided tour through the panoply of jewels on offer, so extensive, and diverse in age and style, but all connected by a focus on superb quality, fine materials, a certain distinguished style and presence. There are trays of Art Deco diamond bracelets, several by Cartier, a pair of natural pearl earrings by Boivin, 1935, 1950s jewels by Schlumberger for Tiffany, and an eclectic choice of more contemporary creations, from the 70s to the present day, including for instance a 2009 mother-of-pearl necklace by Bulgari. As well as modern jewels designed by Donna herself; she shows her signature natural pearl and pink and white diamond tassel earrings, the tassels detachable, converting to stud earrings. Her enthusiasm and passion are infectious. She says: “It’s a long road, but people who love jewellery and gems have a real passion. They stick with it”.



Pristine Diamonds, of Antwerp, a new GemGenève exhibitor in 2019, has fashioned a diamond of sublime perfection, from an exceptional rough crystal of 41.67 carats, originating in the Kao mine, in Lesotho, an area renowned for the size, clarity and beauty of its diamonds. Pristine, a leading rough diamond manufacturer, was established in 1998 with a family history of diamond trading reaching back some 60 years, and today they work closely with the most important sources, and ‘tender’ houses around the globe. Pristine operates from a state-of-the-art facility and cutting factory in Antwerp, and is known for its expertise and skill in cutting large colourless and fancy coloured diamonds. So far, through Pristine’s expertise and the use of the latest high technology, the Helium machine, the rough crystal has yielded three superlative, top graded Flawless diamonds: an emerald cut, 10.21 carats, D Flawless; a 3.01 brilliant cut, D Internally Flawless; and a 1.11 pear-shaped stone, D Flawless. A fourth diamond from the same crystal is on its way. Expect these rarities to light up the Pristine display at GemGenève.



Gemgenève is honoured to count legendary New York dealer Paul Fisher as one of its elite exhibitors. At 93, Mr Fisher is the head of the fifth generation business, dealing in antique and estate jewellery, fine gemstones and particularly in natural pearls, a speciality that reaches back to the origins of the company in the 1850s in Vienna. The founder, Julius Fisher, traded in natural pearls, from the Arabian Gulf, and as Paul Fisher explains today, these pearls were much in demand, not only as jewellery, but also widely used as buttons, for the most fashionable gowns. In 1921 Julius Fisher’s grandsons Ferdinand and Robert opened Bruder Fisher, in Vienna, but when the introduction of Mikimoto’s cultured pearls around 1927, revolutionised the market, adversely affecting the price of natural pearls, they adapted by buying and selling fine jewellery instead.

In 1938, on the eve of War, Robert brought the family business to London, establishing a New York branch in 1941. Paul Fisher, Inc, New York was started by Robert’s son, Paul, in 1956, adding a London office in 1980, and later offices in Paris and Hong Kong.

Paul Fisher is widely acknowledged as the unrivalled world expert in natural pearls. Ronny Totah, for whom natural pearls are a passion, says, “Paul Fisher is the master, the doyen of pearls. He taught everyone in the industry today and has generously shared his passion and knowledge.” Today, Paul Fisher talks of the “ups and downs” in the market for natural pearls, adding, “the market re-emerged around 2002. Natural pearls came back, suddenly, in a big jump, largely because of a realisation of their scarcity.” The taste for natural pearls, an appreciation for their lustrous, understated beauty, their refinement and most of all their extreme rarity, as true miracles of nature, has been a feature of the overall climate of intense connoisseurship, part of the quest for the rarest of the rare, for the natural wonders of gem materials. Mr Fisher added that the thriving Indian market, the rise of a new, wealthy middle class, contributed to the surge of interest in the finest natural pearls in recent years. “Pearls are embedded in Indian culture,” he says. Virtually no natural pearls are found today, he explains, due the cost of fishing for these random flukes of nature, and also due to pollution in the oceans. The natural pearls on the market today are almost exclusively antique and at Gemgenève they will be on offer at Paul Fisher, as well as at various antique jewellery dealers, including Horovitz and Totah and Sandra Cronan, who has always treasured and collected them. Of Gemgeneve, and his decision to participate, Paul Fisher says, “This is a show for the specialists in our industry, a show for the crème de crème. Gemgenève is doing a great service for the international gem and jewellery trade.”

Pearl necklace – Paul Fisher

Diamond necklace – Paul Fisher

Belle Époque Platinum Onyx & Diamond & Natural Pearl Tiara – Paul Fisher


Home-grown Geneva talent, a shining example of the finest creativity and craftsmanship Geneva has to offer, Nadia Morgenthaler launched her own collection of jewellery in 2013, after 25 years spent deeply immersed in the city’s fine jewellery industry. In 2009, Nadia, a highly-trained and experienced goldsmith, took over the High Jewellery atelier where she had worked for many years, honing her skills, hand-crafting masterpieces for the world’s most famous Maisons.

Slowly, she explains, she began to dream up her own design concepts, to develop her own individual style, using her unrivalled skills and recherché techniques to create fresh, contemporary jewels that resonated with echoes of historic royal and noble jewels, fusing the poetry of the past with the power of the present. “It was”, she says, “time to give modern jewellery a soul.”

Her unmistakable style, displayed in all its glory at Gemgenève, is dramatically different, modern yet soft and romantic, rich yet delicate, architectural yet supremely feminine and fluid, and deeply yet subtly evocative of antique, aristocratic grandeur and splendour, of Belle Epoque elegance or the Maharajahs’ magnificence. Most of all, Nadia Morgenthaler jewels are characterised by a ravishing refinement: the finesse of details, such as the perlé or millegrain settings she favours, the darkened silver or gold, the hand-made chain, the gemstones of muted, often indefinable colours, powder pink or mint green tourmalines, spinels, indicolite, the contrast of scintillating light, of rock crystal and antique diamonds with the lustre of antique natural pearls that feature in virtually every jewel she creates.

Nadia’s imaginative ideas are made possible only by her awe-inspiring technique, by her unique blend of artistry and engineering. She is uncompromising in her devotion to technical perfection. Every component of every jewel, material, colour, sheen, texture, technique, every detail is totally, seamlessly integrated into her design concept, each element plays a pivotal role in the design, structure or silhouette. Which gives her jewels their defining understated yet theatrical eloquence, divine proportions and subtle, secretive sensuality. Nadia tells how she relishes the challenge of creating 3-D structures, of highly complex construction, finding ingenious ways in which to suspend or integrate gemstones and pearls, especially for the earrings which have become her speciality. “Earrings bring light to the face, and can be seen from all sides. So my earrings have to be flexible, mobile and shimmering.” At Gemgenève, Nadia Morgenthaler will be showing her latest creations, many featuring rock crystal, her material of the moment, cut especially to her designs, to conjure images of 18th century candlelit chandeliers, a captivating complement to her distinctive, reduced palette of gem colours, her layering of light and lustre. She says, “I love the way in which rock crystal plays and interacts with light and movement.” It is the perfect material, with a long and noble history, and spiritual heritage, to infuse Nadia Morgenthaler’s exquisitely refined jewels with yet more light, charm and soul.


Prized since late antiquity, especially in Eastern civilisations, rock crystal, a colourless quartz, was treasured as the ultimate luxury possession during the Medieval and Renaissance periods. Imbued with spiritual and amuletic powers on account of its clarity, considered a symbol of purity and truth, rock crystal was carved by virtuoso lapidaries into extravagant objects, vessels, jugs, goblets, and often set into gold and encrusted with gems. Such lavish objects took pride of place in royal collections, treasuries and princely Wunderkammer or Cabinets de Curiosites. Much later, rock crystal found a revered place in modernist jewellery and objects of the 1920s and 30s, when its clarity and colourlessness, its soft crystalline brilliance, its timeless modernity, perfectly suited the monochrome compositions of the Art Deco period. It could be carved or faceted, cut and polished to a gleaming, glasslike transparency or textured with a misty, frosted surface. The sense of luxury that had long been associated with the material, its suitability for the art of the lapidary, was revived especially for personal accessories, boxes, vanity cases, and most memorably for Cartier’s mesmerising Mystery clocks. See the versatility and vibrancy of rock crystal, in varied guises, at Gemgenève: Swiss vintage jewellery dealers, Larengregor, will be showing a striking Art Deco rock crystal and enamel box, by Cartier, and Symbol & Chase, London dealers in antique and 20th century jewellery, offer a stunning pair of 1930s diamond and faceted rock crystal dress clips, one of the most iconic designs by the inimitable Suzanne Belperron.

Cartier rock crytstal box -Larengregor

Cartier rock crytstal box – Larengregor

Rock crystal & diamond clips, by SuzanneBelperron – Symbolic & Chase


Beverly Hills jeweller, Robert Procop, known for his expertise and passion for the most fabulous natural coloured gemstones on earth, as well as for his VIP clientele, generally prefers to stay out of the limelight. However, this May he is exhibiting at GemGenève, and will be on hand to show clients his Exceptional Jewels collection, the first time he has personally participated at an international show in this way.

Along with his own creations, he will be unveiling the latest additions to the Style of Jolie, the collection he designs in collaboration with Angelina Jolie. The Style of Jolie was launched in 2012 to benefit the charity co-founded by Ms Jolie, The Education Partnership for Children of Conflict. The purpose of the charity is to build schools and provide education for children in areas of devastating conflicts and high refugee concentrations. Both Procop and Ms Jolie pledged to donate 100% of the profits to the charity.

Style of Jolie jewels have a distinctive, “colour block” style, the sleek, architectural gold settings, especially the signature “tablet” form, perfectly balance the purity and strength of emeralds, citrines and green beryls. The refined gold mounts, which Procop describes as “floating edges” are supremely crafted to look as if the gold melts into the gemstones themselves, strong yet fluid and sensual, powerfully contemporary yet effortlessly elegant.

The newest Style of Jolie designs, with emeralds, citrines, as well as the more unusual, chic, black star sapphire and black spinels, will be revealed to the public at GemGenève, in a special display in the Contemporary Designer Showcase, curated by Vivienne Becker for Vivarium. And alongside these new creations, Robert Procop will also unveil the first jewels in the capsule series, the Zahara Collection, designed by Procop, in collaboration with Angelina Jolie and Ms Jolie’s daughter, Zahara Jolie-Pitt. These young, vibrant designs, chain anklets with gem-pendant, statement rings and slender, beautifully proportioned bracelets, set with a variety of stones, including black spinel and rose quartz, in white and rose gold. A world exclusive for GemGenève. • Emerald and gold ring, Style of Jolie collection, Robert Procop, Los Angeles. The minimalist “tablet” design of this ring is the defining feature of the Style of Jolie collection, created by Beverly Hills jeweller Robert Procop in collaboration with Angelina Jolie, to benefit the charity co-founded by Ms Jolie, the Education Partnership for Children of Conflict. • Rose quartz and rose gold anklet, Zahara collection, Style of Jolie. One of the first jewels in capsule series designed by Robert Procop in collaboration with Angelina Jolie and Ms Jolie’s daughter, Zahara Jolie-Pitt. The Zahara series will be unveiled and shown to the public for the first time in the Designer Showcase at GemGenève.

Rose quartz and rose-gold Anklet by Robert Procop

Emerald and gold ring by RobertProcop

Emerald and gold-earrings by Robert Procop