On Thursday, October 3, 2013, Ms. Renée Newman reported on “How Exotic Gems are Revolutionizing the Jewelry Market” Renee’s lecture, was well-illustrated with pictures from her extensive power point presentation. Ms. Newman began her career in the industry after working as an international tour guide. She began her work in gemstones and jewelry in the 1980s by earning a Graduate Gemologist degree from GIA. Her work in the jewelry industry has focused on advising buyers what to look for in gemstones and jewelry because so many of her clients in the tourism industry wanted information on how to tell quality in jewelry. Which also turned into 10 outstanding books everyone should have! See the end of this post for the complete list!
Renee started the lecture with a discussion of “How Non-Traditional Gems are Revolutionizing the Jewelry Market”, by changing our beliefs about what stones are suitable and offering designers new opportunities for creating fine jewelry. In the past because of durability concerns many non-traditional gems were ignored because their hardness was less than 4 on the Mohs Scale.
Renee provided critical information on hardness, durability, sources, production status and pricing for amber, pearl, fluorite, rhodochrosite, kyanite, sodalite, bronzite, apatite, prehnite, tanzanite, zoisite and sphene. All non-traditional gemstones being marketed today in fine jewelry. While many gemstones may not be suitable for rings, they are ideal for unique eye catching earrings, pins and necklaces.
Durability issues can be addressed with proper care & storage, by avoiding high heat, chemical cleaners, abusive wear and contact with other jewelry. Jewelry can be safely stored in Padded or plastic pouches, jewelry rolls, stackable trays, clear plastic boxes, and jewelry armoires. In designing jewelry use of protective settings such as bezel settings and wire-wrapping can both enhance the piece and help protect it from chipping. Non-traditional gemstones may be treated to make porous stones durable by impregnating with plastic, wax and/or epoxy substances. In the trade, this type of treatment is called impregnation or stabilization. Coatings are sometimes used to harden the surface of soft stones, but keep in mind that coatings are not permanent.
Additionally, Non-traditional gemstones may be heated or irradiated to improve the color of the gemstone. (Hopefully all treatments are disclosed!). These color treated gemstones may change color if heated, cleaned with steam or chemicals or ultra-sonics.
Key Points of Tonight’s Presentation:
1 – With proper care and protective settings, gems with durability problems can be used in jewelry.
2 – More and more designers are using non-traditional gems in fine jewelry, no matter how inexpensive or opaque they may be as unique designer pieces.
3 – Transparency and other factors are often more important than color in determining rare gem pricing, although color and cut matter as well.
4C’s of Color, Clarity, Cut & Carat Weight are not just for diamonds. Just as the 4C’s make diamond grading easy for consumers and sellers, gem traders have kept the concept of the 4 C’s for gemstones. It is important that clarity and transparency are not lumped together as one category, since both transparency and clarity in non-traditional gemstones have separate price factors.
Clarity is the degree to which a stone is free from cracks, blemishes & inclusions (under 10X magnification, 2.5X, or the unaided eye).
Transparency is the degree to which light can pass through the stone without being interrupted by fine particles, so is the stone clear, hazy, translucent or opaque. Clarity & transparency both impact the price, but whether it benefits or hurts the price is dependent on the gem species. Generally, low transparency can reduce the price from several hundred or thousand dollars per carat to less than $10 per carat.
The introduction of many new gemstones to the market has emphasized the importance of transparency as a separate value factor because many of these gems can be transparent, translucent or semi-opaque. The National Association of Jewelry Appraisers recommends that Transparency be indicated on appraisals to ensure clients can get comparable replacement gems if lost or stolen, not stones of lesser transparency and value.
Ms. Newman concluded her lecture with Rare Gems having Wholesale Prices as much as $5,000 per carat or More. Along with an important warning: Rare gem prices can change overnight depending on mine closures, new finds and new demand for the gems, so the pricing of rare gemstones can be even more volatile than that of traditional colored gems.
The attendees appreciated Ms. Newman’s sharing of information and pictures. There were several questions at the end of her talk which she readily answered. Renee also signed the many books she had available for sale, donating a portion to the DCGIA Chapter!
All of Renee’s books are available on-line at www.reneenewman.com
Summary by: Charles Marts
Member Photos by: Melanie Marts
Copies of Slides provided by Renee Newman