Do not buy color gemtsones as an investment.
Years ago a Montana rancher sold his ranch for a small box of fully appraised gemstones. The ranch and the gemstones were each valued at over $1 million. When the poor rancher found out the cash value of that box of color gems was under one-fifth of the appraised value of the ranch, he tried to get his ranch back.
The lawyer who told me this story said the rancher ultimately got his land back, after paying off a small herd of lawyers.
The moral of this story: don’t confuse appraised value in the jewelry business with cash value.
With rare exception, most color gemstones do not have much resale value. Important, well cut, undamaged, auction quality, LEGITIMATE certified rubies, emeralds and sapphires are the exception, as are a few rare collector examples of fine gems. Even fine gems take time and money to auction or re-sell.
Diamonds hold their value much better than their color cousins. And natural color diamonds? They are the only gemstones that can truly be classified as an investment.
Most jewelers do not buy color gems from individuals who walk in our doors or call us on the phone. We need to certify the authenticity of the gems for re-sale. That’s expensive and time consuming.
When it comes time to resell, we can’t say, “Mrs. Smith told us this was a real ruby when she sold it to us.”
There are treatments and simulations that are difficult to detect without expensive equipment and proper training not found in many jewelry stores.
Did you know that synthetic gemstones have been on the market since the late 1800s? Unless your grandmother’s last name was Hearst, and she lived in a castle, that flawless ruby the size of your thumbnail–it’s synthetic.
Most jewelry stores stock color gems, but many times they are displayed as an enticement. Specific color gemstones just don’t sell that well.
“ Oh, I love that Opal. Do you have a larger one?”
“Ruby is my wife’s birthstone. She’s got a thing for emerald cuts. Do you have emerald cut ruby earrings?”
“ Kind of like this one…only longer, and not quite as pink.”
Because jewelers tend to own specific color gems for a long time without selling them, it’s not unusual to see a 500% markup on small color gems.
That’s why I don’t stock any color except Yogo Sapphires. Instead of having to mark something up to justify my owning it for three years, I’ll borrow what I need and send back what doesn’t sell.
Many jewelers borrow color gems. There’s little incentive to buy! I can have five Tanzanites on my desk by tomorrow morning. I don’t have to pay for them until they are sold.
Because I charge small commissions on borrowed gemstones, I’m often able to sell Tahitian pearls for less than you’d pay in Tahiti. The same goes for significant Tanzanite, and Colombian emeralds…
Buy color because you love it. Buy color because it talks to your Soul, because you can’t resist eye candy. Don’t buy color hoping to recover a small fraction of what you paid.
Please don’t buy gems TV. TV jewelry sales have huge markups, huge overhead and they sell gems that often have hidden flaws. Jewelry TV has been successfully sued several times over blatant misrepresentation, most recently regarding a gemstone called Andesine.
I’ve been offered gemstones purchased from TV shopping channels. Many times it doesn’t even make sense to spend more money to set these gemstones into wearable jewelry.
In particular, consumers should watch out for gemstones that are so plentiful they are mined by a backhoe. A huge percentage of the value of many quartz-based gemstones is in the cost of labor, cutting, shipping, and taxes. Pale small amethyst, citrine, smoky quartz, treated blue Topaz, etc. have very little to no cash value.
If you would like to buy a significant color gemstone, I’m happy to do it at a small commission. They are often beautiful to behold. And if you are serious about collecting, I can help keep you from getting burned.
If, on the other hand, you have a color gemstone for sale, unless you have a fully certified, undamaged, significant gem, your best bet is to find someone you know who might purchase it from you directly.
If you don’t believe me, ask a jeweler what THEY’LL PAY for a gem you pull out of your pocket. Don’t let the retailer tell you “what it’s worth” for some other jeweler.
For me, Yogo sapphires are the exception to the rule. I know many collectors, and this rare gemstone has a loyal local following–and increasing international reputation. Because I have a great relationship with the owner of the Yogo sapphire mine, I get all my Yogos right from the mine.
Of all the colored gemstones that are out there, Yogos are by far my favorite. Not only are they beautiful, but they are socially and environmentally sustainable, and because I believe that every Montana woman deserves a Yogo sapphire,I try to sell them at a very small profit.
Understand that owning a jewelry store is expensive. Inventory is costly, insurance is a big expense. Rent, salaries, shrinkage, advertising: they all cut into our bottom line. Being a jeweler is not a “get rich quick scheme.” Most of us are honest hard working folks who love what we do.
This is a long post, so if you made it this far, let me reward you by reminding you to register for the pearl necklace I am giving away on October 23.
Just leave a comment below, and I’ll put your name in the hat.