June 2013 Newsletter: Investing in Fine Gems

3.10 ct Mahenge Spinel Ring in 18k White Gold
3.10 ct Mahenge Spinel and Diamond Ring
in 18k White Gold

Gem collectors have long known that fine colored gemstones are a good investment. High quality ruby, emerald and sapphire have reliably increased in value over time, and the same has become true for rare spinel, jadeite, garnet, imperial topaz, tourmaline and alexandrite.

But more recently the investment potential of gemstones has drawn the attention of the wider financial community. Over the last year a number of stories on the topic have appeared in the popular financial press, including the Economist, the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times.

Why the sudden interest in gems as investments? The answer has to do both with the economic climate and the state of the gemstone market.

In times of serious economic uncertainty, investors look to put some of their portfolio in hard assets. A protracted recession and a stagnant stock market saw gold prices skyrocket as central banks desperately printed money to generate economic growth. 

8.01 ct Jadeite Ring in Platinum
8.01 ct Jadeite Ring
set in Platinum

With currency looking less and less valuable, some of the investment in hard assets has moved into gemstones. Gemstones are especially attractive because they are compact and highly portable. In a crisis you could carry a million dollars of gemstones in your pocket.

While gemstones are seen as a tangible store of value, investors have also noticed that prices on fine gems have been regularily setting new records at auction. The main reason is that the demand for high quality gems has seen strong growth from emerging markets like China, while the supply has been at best constant.

So what are the best gems for investment? All fine gems are going up in value, but the rarest gems have performed best, especially Burmese ruby and top blue sapphire. Recently there has been a lot of interest in Mahenge spinel, imperial topaz and tsavorite garnet. We recommend that you buy what you love and buy the best you can afford. Avoid low quality stones which will never be worth anything. Quality and rarity are paramount.



Notable Gems from the AJS Collection

This month we feature new acquisitions, including a fine 5 ct Mozambique ruby and a rare 11 ct Chrysoberyl Cat's Eye.

Click on a photo to see the details for the item.

5.05 ct Ruby, Mozambique

5.05 ct Ruby from Mozambique

A very fine Mozambique ruby in a very large size. High quality rubies over 5 carats are extremely rare and valuable. This Mozambique ruby is notable for its superb color -- it is a very pure red, leaning neither to pink nor orange. The tone also is just about ideal, and this well cut ruby will set up beautifully in jewelry. You are unlikely to find a better value in a 5 carat ruby in today's market.  See the video

 11.78 ct Chrysoberyl Cat's Eye, Ceylon

11.78 ct Chrysoberyl Cat's Eye from Sri Lanka

A rare chrysoberyl cat's eye with exceptional transparency and a sharp cat's eye. This 11.78 ct chrysoberyl is not just translucent, but transparent, with excellent clarity. The body color is a vivid yellowish-green and the cat's eye is sharp and easily seen under different lighting conditions. A very fine gem for the serious collector. Completely natural and untreated and certified by The Gem and Jewelry Institute of Thailand (GIT).  See the video

6.82 ct Blue Zircon, Cambodia

6.82 ct Blue Zircon from Cambodia

A fine example of the best blue zircon from Cambodia. The color saturation is excellent, with a deep blue with just a touch of green. The clarity is superb and we've graded this stone "loupe clean." Well-executed cut with no window.  See the video

2.91 ct Tsavorite Garnet, Kenya 

2.91 ct Tsavorite Garnet from Kenya  [SOLD]

Prices on fine tsavorite are rising and we acquire fine stones over 2 carats whenever we can find them. This nearly 3 ct pear from Kenya exemplifies the qualities that make tsavorite so popular with collectors -- saturated chrome green color, medium dark tone, and excellent clarity.  See the video

4.71 ct Spessartite Garnet pair, Tanzania

4.71 ct Mandarin Spessartite Garnet Pair from Tanzania  [SOLD]

The main African source for fine spessartite is Nigeria, but occasionally excellent material is found in Tanzania. This exceptional matched pair is a pure orange with yellow flashes. Indeed, these gems have such such brilliance that our video shows them as more yellow than they actually are. Very well matched, these wil make a gorgeous pair of earrings.

 9.38 ct Gem Silica, Inspiration Mine, Arizona

9.38 ct Gem Silica from Inspiration Mine, Arizona  [SOLD]

Gem silica with top color and good translucency is rare, and the best material comes from the Inspiration Mine in Arizona. This impressive 9.38 ct trillion displays a vivid and consistent turquoise color with a distinctive glow that is prized by collectors.


News from AJS and the Gems World

  • Gold prices establish a new level, silver falls to 2 year low

    After a steep fall, gold prices seem to have settled in the $1,350 to $1,400 range, at least for now. A lower and stable gold price is good news for the gem and jewelry trade. With all the excitement over falling gold prices, the collapse in silver prices tended to get overlooked. Silver fell from a high of $45 an ounce in early 2011 to a low of $22 recently, also good news if prices stabilize.

  • Will colored gems become like the diamond business?

    Colored gems have traditionally been the product of artisanal mining in some of the most remote regions of the world. In a recent article, the Wall Street Journal looked at recent attempts to take a more organized approach to mining colored stones by companies like Gemfields and TanzaniteOne. The goal of these companies is to take control of a large percentage of mines for one or major gems (tanzanite in the case off TanzaniteOne, emerald and ruby in the case of Gemfields), and then introduce modern mechanized mining processes to ensure a more predictable supply, and invest heavily in marketing to increase demand. Long time gem hunters have their doubts that this will work, since so many colored stone deposits are small and in hard to reach places. 


Ask the Gem Experts

Each month we answer questions from our customers. We welcome your questions and you can submit a question from our contact page.

I see you have some really gorgeous sphene. What colour in sphene is the most valuable?  RCG, Australia

Sphene, famous for its exceptional fire, ranges in color from yellow to orange, brown and green. Green is the most valued color in sphene, and the green hues range from chrome green to yellowish-green. The chrome green is the rarest, but the lighter greens will tend to show more fire.


When you ship gemstones, are the shipments fully insured? What happens if I need to ship a gem back to you?  GN, USA

We ship many valuable gemstones around the world, and we insure all shipments for the full value of the contents. If you need to return a gem to us, we pay for the insurance on the return shipment, at no cost to you. Valuable gems should never be shipped without insurance.



All the best in gems,

Arnold, Rung & Ron