Given the troublesome history of diamonds, informed consumers are starting to embrace the beauty of gemstones instead. Diamonds offer a longstanding tradition that symbolizes love and commitment, however, most women associate them with a stigma they don’t want anywhere near their romantic relationships. Ethically sourced gemstones have become more than just a trend in the modern era, and have risen in popularity because of their versatility and beauty. But just because they aren’t diamonds doesn’t mean they aren’t valuable. Most people don’t know that rubies, in fact, are rarer than diamonds, for example.
This Ramadan season, we dare you to be different, defy the status quo, and ditch your diamonds in favor of gemstones. Gemfields has been a pioneer in ethically sourced gemstones for many years, creating works to the most exacting standards in the field of gemmology. We had the good fortune to speak to Gemfields’ own professional gemmologist, Elena Basaglia, who guided us through topics related to ethical gemstones sourcing, buying and caring for gemstones, and more.
Why are gemstones an ideal alternative to diamonds?
Diamonds soared in popularity, particularly as the featured gemstone in engagement rings in the late 1940s. Prior to this however, colored gemstones were more often the preferred choice, with rubies, emeralds, and sapphires being the most popular.
In more recent years, we are seeing a renewed appreciation and demand for colored gemstones as wearers are seeking a choice that allows them to express their personality and individuality through infinite varieties of colors. Diamonds frequently take on the role of accents to the central stone, which is now often an exquisite ruby or emerald in any one of a wide range of cuts.
Rubies are particularly rare – rarer than diamonds. Historically, they have been in incredibly short supply and it has been difficult to source the right gemstones for jewelry designs. Since production began at the Gemfields-operated ruby mine in Mozambique, the supply of responsibly sourced, high-quality rubies has become more dependable, allowing jewelers more freedom to create ruby jewelry, inspiring consumers and meeting the increased demand for these exquisite gemstones.
We are seeing a renewed appreciation and demand for colored gemstones as wearers are seeking a choice that allows them to express their personality and individuality.
We recently learned that pigeon’s blood rubies are rarer than diamonds. What are some other cool gemstone facts that make them a more interesting stone than their more well-known cousin?
Rubies are rarer than diamonds – often considered the ‘king of gems’! Colored gemstones used in jewelry today include more than 100 varieties, coming from more than 80 different locations around the world. These locations are often exotic places, and most are difficult to mine in a sustainable way. Also, colored gemstones have all unique optical and physical properties, specific to their variety, and only a skilled artisan is able to get the best out of a piece of rough: how the gemstone is cut within the rough has a direct influence on the color you see when looking at your gemstone in your ring for example. Some gemstones have inclusions that produce “star effects” if cut into cabochons; some other have inclusions that produce a “cat’s eye”, play of colors like vivid flashes, or a mystical sheer under certain lighting conditions. The list of unique properties of colored stones is endless and they all add to the magic around them.
Your stones are responsibly sourced. Why is that an important element to consider when shopping for jewelry?
Quite rightly, consumers now more than ever want to know the full provenance and background of all their purchases. Colored gemstones are no different, indeed, as jewelry is often purchased as a celebration, a personal reward or a romantic gift, a strong and positive provenance is even more important.
Since launching in 2009, Gemfields has championed responsibility across the colored gemstone sector. This means we aim to operate in a way that contributes positively to national economies and build lasting, sustainable livelihoods for the communities around our mines. We believe that customers should be confident their gemstone has actively benefited the country and community from which it came and we work hard to ensure that Gemfields gemstones meet these high standards of provenance.
We personally prefer gemstones to diamonds, especially because diamonds have major ethical sourcing issues. Do you see this as a common trend in consumer preferences?
Consumers can ask questions from any retailer and should be reassured on the provenance of their gemstone – whether that be a diamond or a colored gemstone. A reputable retailer should be able to talk through the gemstone’s provenance, as well as providing authorized certification from a recognized laboratory for full peace of mind.
How do you recommend styling your gemstones during the Ramadan season?
However you like! Personally, I love to see gemstones celebrated instead of being stored away, so I am happy to see them being worn in any style.
When you’re preparing your look for a cocktail event, why do you think gemstones make a bigger splash than diamonds?
We are seeing many discerning customers choose colored gemstones as they are keen to express a form of their own individuality. And, of course, both rubies and emeralds are both rarer than white diamonds, so they make a statement all of their own!
What’s the number one thing you think we should know about buying and caring for gemstones?
Of course, you should question the provenance of your gemstones and ensure that it has been responsibly sourced. From an aesthetic point of view, I believe you should choose the gemstone that most speaks to you. With colored gemstones, there are myriad shades to suit everyone, so select the one that most appeals, not necessarily the one that you are told is the most desirable.
Care for your gemstone jewelry as you would for a treasure. Some colored gemstones are more fragile than others, and in general gemstones don’t like to be scratched or hit in any manner.