Professional Jeweler Archive: Craving Color

January 2001


Craving Color

Consumers embrace the gemstone spectrum, encouraged by education, disclosure and fashion

The turn of the millennium heralds a return to opulence and renewed popularity of luxurious colored gemstones. Powerfully sized gems in dynamic settings top the must-have lists of today’s self-assured jewelry aficionados.

A spectrum of brilliant color – including dazzling amethysts, ametrines, citrines, sapphires, tanzanites, tourmalines and pearls – claim a prominent place in jewelry designs that challenge the dominance of diamonds.

Education and disclosure strongly influenced gem sales last year. As consumers become more knowledgeable about what happens to gems between the mine and the showcase, they’ve become more accepting of certain treatments – as long as they’re disclosed. For example, emerald sales fell precipitously a few years ago because of concerns about treatments, but now they’re picking up. “Consumers are more educated and the resentment is no longer there,” says Glen J. Engelbrecht, designer/owner of G.J. Designs, Sarasota, FL. Maija Neimanis, designer/goldsmith at Maija Neimanis Inc., New York City, agrees. “Colombian blue-green emeralds are selling exceptionally well if the color saturation is good,” she says.

What does this new love affair with emeralds mean for rubies and sapphires – the other of the Big Three colored gems? Emerald is returning after a few fallow years, but experts say sapphire will remain the most popular because of its spectrum of colors. When properly cut, fancy pink, yellow and blue sapphires showcase the exceptional brilliance that consumers love.

Color Everywhere

Consumers are having more fun with color in apparel (think of Prada’s tangerine, fuchsia and lemon designs), and this opens the door to matching or coordinating gemstone accessories.
Look for citrine, amber, coral, emerald, tourmaline and aquamarine to grow in popularity this year. “New mines in Afghanistan and Africa are producing a beautiful aquamarine that consumers love,” says Henry Dunay, president of Henry Dunay Inc., New York City. Also, tanzanite, pink sapphire and morganite offer big looks at reasonable prices. Rubellite, spessartite and Mexican fire opal have punch, as does red beryl from the Wahwah Mountains of Utah. South Sea and Tahitian cultured pearls are very popular also, with a growing emphasis on golden pearls.

The Style

Designs remain cool and understated. The focus is on large gems in minimal bezel or prong settings.

Many sophisticated consumers are attracted also to subtle tone blends and specialty cuts. Engelbrecht credits the American Gem Trade Association’s Cutting Edge competition for enlightening the industry – and, by extension, consumers – about unusual gemstone cuts. One example: David Brackna’s Octelle, an eight-sided cut with the culet inlaid with opal that reflects into the gem like a kaleidoscope. Brackna’s Hologram cut features a faceted back that creates a hall-of-mirrors effect.

Focusing just on outside shape, squares, rectangles, ovals, cushion, octagon, checkerboard and trillion shapes are all popular.

The Categories

Our experts share the following thoughts on what today’s consumers want in the following gemstone jewelry categories. Consider each when visiting the Tucson gem shows in a few weeks and when planning your inventory for the new year.

Earrings: From long, narrow and dangling to on the ear, the new look is bold yet light with gemstones set in gold. Also look for retro-style dangles and removable drops.

Necklaces: Long and choker are the lengths of the moment. Also consider the benefits of versatility by offering enhancers that can be worn on a black silk cord during the day or an omega at night. Also stock multistrand necklaces with centers that can be removed and worn as a pin.

Rings: Chunky, but clean and tailored. Also look for rings with multiple bezel-set gems or a single large oval gem – cabochon or faceted.

Bracelets: Line bracelets with 8mm x 10mm gems are hot; suggest customers multiply the pleasure with multiples. Toggle link bracelets with granulation and gemstones are popular also.
Pins: One-of-a-kind art jewelry is making a comeback. Also suggest your customer wear her brooch at one angle one day and another one the next for a different look. Movement is important also in pins.

The Future

Keep your eye on opal – this fascinating gem is due for a comeback. “There is a lot of beautiful material out there,” says Jean François Albert, owner of JFA Designs, Irvine, CA.

Sapphire in all colors will remain popular.

And remember to focus on unique styling. Consumers are tired of mass-produced designs and want to make a unique statement with their jewelry.

– Lorraine M. O’Donnell, A.J.P.

Rings are from the Tangent™ collection and feature German-cut buff-top gemstones. The top ring is set with a 3.73-ct. oval tanzanite and 0.30 carat of round brilliant diamonds in platinum ($8,550 suggested retail). The middle ring has a 4.28-ct. peridot and 0.30 carat of diamonds in 18k and platinum ($3,330). The bottom ring has a 9.65-ct. rubellite and 0.40 carat of diamonds in platinum ($10,700).

Paul Klecka, Chicago, IL; (312) 726-0225, fax (312) 726-4122.

18k gold necklace is from the LeVian Couture collection and features 62.07 carats of rubies and 5.37 carats of diamonds. Suggested retail, $98,448.

LeVian, New York City; (800) 239-9224 or (212) 575-0318, fax (212) 944-7734.

18k gold ring features a 2.87-ct. Mexican fire opal and 0.08 carat of round diamonds. Suggested retail, $2,095.

Glen J. Engelbrecht for G.J. Designs, Sarasota, FL;
(941) 951-6658, fax (941) 365-2577.

18k gold rings are set with cushion-cut gemstones that are faceted and hand-carved with delicate etchings.

Judith Ripka, New York City; (212) 355-0033, fax (212) 355-8757.

Earrings feature palmwood agate and tanzanite in 14k.

Murphy Design, Minneapolis, MN; (800) 998-8883 or (612) 333-0144.

18k white and yellow gold pendant features a 39.35-ct. green tourmaline surrounded by 56 round brilliant-cut diamonds.

JFA Designs, Irvine, CA; (800) 621-7082 or (949) 263-9909, fax (949) 263-9910.

18k gold earclips are each set with an 8mm x 8mm square peridot. Suggested retail, $2,000.

Kimberlee Teti Fine Jewelry, Wayne, PA; (610) 688-8828, fax (610) 688-8890.

18k gold rings feature a variety of gemstones and styles.

SeidenGang, Rye, NY; (800) 227-4890 or (914) 925-0788,
fax (914) 925-0708,

Inspired by the romantic canals of Venice, these Gondola rings embrace custom-cut gemstones and diamonds.

Benedetti Milano, Milan, Italy; (39-027) 209-4862,

18k gold ring features a Torus-cut green tourmaline with a 0.02-ct. diamond set in the center. Suggested retail, $2,200.

Conni Mainne Designs, El Cerrito, CA; phone/fax (510) 559-7823.

18k gold ring is set with a 1.07-ct. emerald and 0.47 carat of diamonds is $7,900 suggested retail.

Eichhorn, San Jose, CA; (408) 777-9894, fax (408) 777-9678.

Apatite briolette necklace features an 18k gold clasp set with 0.50 carat of diamonds. Suggested retail, $3,000.

Christie Frantz, Berkeley, CA; (800) 468-8900, fax (510) 525-7782,

New Shadows collection of 18k gold rings is available in small, medium and large with gemstones such as opaque ruby, citrine, lapis and green tourmaline.

Henry Dunay, New York City; (800) 888-2525 or (212) 768-9700, fax (212) 944-0308.

18k gold square cluster hinge-click earrings feature 2.53 carats of rubies and 0.20 carat of diamonds. Suggested retail, $19,800.

Jane Taylor, South Hadley, MA; (413) 535-1574, fax (413) 535-5138,

14k gold ring is set with a pear-shaped tanzanite and opal inlay.

Asher Jewelry, New York City; (800) 726-0706 or (212) 302-6233, fax (212) 302-6279.

Matching 14k gold earrings and pendant hold pink tourmalines with diamond accents. Suggested retail, $1,025 for the earrings, $1,075 for the pendant and chain.

Cordova, Flushing, NY; (718) 961-1020,
fax (718) 353-5753.

22k gold earrings feature pink and green tourmaline with removable green quartz drops. Suggested retail, $2,400.

Maija Neimanis, New York City; (212) 249-6236, fax (212) 535-8684.

18k gold rings are set with a 12mm garnet ($1,880 suggested retail) or a 12mm citrine ($1,170).

Sholdt Designs, Seattle, WA; (206) 623-2334,

Blue and pink sapphire briolettes hang from a platinum and diamond necklace. Suggested retail, $39,900.

Jack Kelege & Co., Los Angeles, CA; (213) 622-1290, fax (213) 622-0363.

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications