The Allure of Colour Gemstone
Colour stones have a thriving market abroad. In India, emeralds and rubies have great demand, but the awareness about rarer, more unknown variety of stones is still low. However, things are definitely changing – fine jewellery manufacturers and designers are increasingly using colour stones in their jewellery and stones which were once written off as worthless are now finding themselves in bespoke, contemporary jewellery says Vijetha Rangabashyam.
Just the idea of owning a piece of jewellery in any colour you so wish is gratifying. While diamonds will always be a favourite amidst consumers, luscious gemstones in different hues have been a big hit off late – last year tanzanites, opals, emeralds, peridots and sapphires were seen everywhere. Pink and yellow sapphires are especially becoming extremely popular in India, not to mention the number of jewellery we are witnessing in bicolor tourmalines and opals. While rarity and price are still important factors that determine a purchase, consumers are increasingly leaning towards one-of-kind pieces with an aesthetic that defines their personality and gemstones greatly contribute to a piece in defining its character. ‘Colour stones are fashionable, they come in so many options and are accommodating to anybody’s pocket size. But we need to educate people about them. On the one hand we have high-end jewellery that are made with diamonds, rubies or emeralds and on the other we have fashion jewellery which are made of glass. The mid segment is nonexistent. The story behind every coloured stone is unique and that storyhas to be told. Having said that tanzanites, lapis, citrines, amethysts, garnets and peridots are becoming popular in the Indian markets,’ says Rajiv Jain, Chairman, Sambhav Gems.
Sapphires in yellow, pink and in some parts of the world, green, slate and teal are heavily trending. The extremely rare and expensive blue sapphires from Kashmir, Burma and Sri Lanka will always be a classic, but designers are now seen using accent colours in bright, luminescent hues to give a sense of contrast to muted stones. ‘Colour sapphires are hugely popular in India because of the affordability factor and you can match them with any attire,’ says Bela Badhalia, Creative Director, Adhbut Jewels. From prescribing yellow sapphires for just auspicious reasons to the stone now being used for pure adornment purposes, the industry has witnessed a tectonic shift in terms of how yellow sapphire is utilized. ‘As Pantone predictedcolour of the year as Ultra Violet, we are going to see plenty of jewellery in purple sapphire,’ adds Badhalia. Coloured sapphires in pastel shades evoke a sense of softness which was once achievable only through coloured diamonds or diamonds. ‘They resemble coloured diamonds but they have their own character. White sapphires today is a good replacement for rose cut diamonds which in essence is also good value for money. It works beautifully well when as a designer you want to project a sense of softness in your jewellery,’ says jewellery designer Varuna D Jani.
Contemporary fine jewellery is often seen with such rare gemstones whose origin makes for an interesting story by itself. ‘Rubelites, Paraiba tourmalines, aquamarines and tanzanites are doing well in India. However, in the international markets, edgy jewellery pieces in tourmalines, spinels and Alexandrites are becoming extremely popular,’ pipes in Sakhil Dhaddha, Director, Gem Plaza.
The value of colour stones may not be as much as that of diamonds or emeralds, but considering their affordability and the potential it offers when it comes to design, they are becoming a favourite amidst designers. However, the market for colour stone jewellery can be much more as there are hundreds and thousands of rare, precious stones in the offing. ‘There is a lack of awareness for colour gemstones in India. Though a handful of colour gemstones are seeing demand, there are thousands of other gemstones that have huge potential. The mental block when it comes to such gemstones is also because of the wrong terminology. Emerald is a beryl compound, as is aquamarine, so why do we call emerald precious and aquamarine semiprecious?’ asks Rajiv Jain.
People are increasingly buying jewellery for sheer adornment purposes and style, rather than investment or sentiment. Diamonds may be special, but colour stones make a statement. ‘In India, we still don’t by colour stone jewellery as an investment. We still believe in our diamonds and colour stones are just used to enhance diamonds. Clone rubies and emeralds are coming up in a big way now – clone rubies resemble Burmese rubies and if someone is buying a piece of jewellery not as an investment they can go for these rubies. I think it is important for us as jewellers to educate a client about these stones and the actual reason why they should buy it, till such time, the demand for offbeat colour stones is not going to be big,’ says Varuna.
High jewellery labels like Chopard, Chanel, Cartier, Bulgari and the like are known for their love affair with voluptuous stones – from the rarest of fire opals to tsavorites and garnets in various hues, their collections are known to rejoice gemstones. Things are not black and white in India as well. Varuna herself is known for crafting exquisite pieces in colour stones. Mira Gulati is another name that comes to mind immediately when you think of colour gemstones. Her collection ‘Secrets of Spring’ is a celebration of colours containing pieces crafted in Rubellites, tourmalines, yellow, green and pink sapphires, spinels and even blue onyx. Farah Khan is also known for her generous use of colour stones that add effervescence to her diamond jewellery. ‘The demand for emeralds and rubies will never go away because they have their own character. Jewellery off late is worn to enhance a person’s individuality and sense of style and in that sense we are slowly looking up to global trends,’ concludes Varuna.