The Market for Affordable Gems
Anup Jogani gives advice to collectors who are new to the trade or seeking to buy more affordable pieces.
For those who are just starting out as collectors, browsing the market for lower price point items is an excellent idea. Many of the growing pains associated with learning this business should be made within a more economical price range. Whether you’re spending $500 or $500,000, the same rules apply, but of course, the risk is higher when dealing with higher priced goods.
At the lower price points (and at any price point), a collector should look for a stone that lacks treatment. Treated stones make for nice jewelry, but their purpose begins and ends with looking pretty and standing in as large, showy stones. Untreated stones, on the other hand, retain their value over time, and I believe that the most valuable materials are those that perform in much the same manner as when they came out of the ground.
The best sources for informing a collector about the difference between an untreated and treated stone are the laboratories. A recent certificate should be a mandatory part of considering any gemstone, and acquainting oneself with the different labs is also useful because some labs are better at certifying some types of stones than others. There is an extraordinary amount of knowledge required for proper certifications, and collectors should trust the expertise of the labs.
Additionally, buying from a great source is a key part of making a worthy investment, especially when you’re a novice collector. Get to know your dealer or retailer, and ensure that you’re buying from a reputable source. Once a reliable source is identified, seek out the stone that is of the highest quality that you can afford. A jeweler can have a vast amount of knowledge, but of course the labs, who have seen everything under the sun, can guarantee the most accurate information.
When browsing for gemstones, don’t go into the market completely uninformed. Read about, research, and speak with others about stones that have been talked about and that have some panache, such as alexandrite, spinel, or special types of garnets. These items will always garner collector interest.
Lastly, size matters, but quality matters more. It’s a much better decision to spend money on a high-quality stone than to focus on purchasing the biggest stone you can find. High quality stones are much better investments than larger but lower quality stones.