a regular feature provided by RM Weare & Co
We are seeing more and more synthetic materials on the market. The use of synthetic materials does not have a negative effect on the trade, but the mis-selling of synthetics as natural or the incorrect description of gem material certainly has a bad impact. We see this in the number of items sent to us where the retail customer requires a valuation on what they understand to be natural material but after testing proves to be synthetic. We see this most frequently in fracture filled Ruby, this treatment should be disclosed as it has a big impact on the value of a stone; 1ct sized fracture filled stones wholesale at around £25 per carat but a similar natural heated stone will wholesale above £250 per carat.
Recently we were sent a few items of jewellery to have the centre stones identified and valued. The stones were a dark green, transparent with a low grade of cutting. Initial results suggested that the stones were Chrysoberyl, however in the combined experience of those who viewed the stones we had never seen natural material that looked like these. Various other tests
and high magnification observations showed curved banding. We came to the conclusion that these stones were synthetic Chrysoberyl a material which is rare compared to other synthetics; the colour suggested that the material was trying to imitate Alexandrite, but we could not determine any colour change.
More commonplace is synthetic opal being presented for matching stones. The starting point in identifying synthetic material;
albeit not the most scientific, is that they generally look too good to be true. Amongst other observational clues are the columnar
appearance of the colours on the side of the stone, and the perfect play of colour. We have found it difficult to say there have
been any gem materials that have sold particularly well in the run up to Christmas.
Over the last six months we have seen an increase in the popularity of varieties of Beryl, Aqua is particularly strong and we
are getting more requirements for Heliodor (yellow), and green Beryl. The biggest increase in demand has been by Morganite
(pink Beryl), this comes from many different localities but the vast majority comes from either South East Africa or from Brazil. The better qualities come from Brazil which produces a bright clean pink material. A lot of the African material seems to have a
peachy pink colour which sells at a slightly lower price.
Ruby prices continue to soar; the November Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels sale by Sotheby’s saw a unique 8.62ct Burmese Ruby and diamond ring sell for £5.5 million, the sale set a record price for Burmese Ruby.
The price of Iolite has jumped in the last year with commercial material increasing in price by up to 60%.