All that glitters makes for treasured heirlooms, believes Keith Penton, Christie’s Head of Jewellery in London
FROM earrings and necklaces to signet rings and tiaras, jewellery accrues personal histories as they are passed from one generation to the next. ‘These associations can sometimes lead to a jewel acquiring an almost talismanic significance within a family,’ believes Keith Penton, head of jewellery at Christie’s in London. ‘Over the years, many family heirlooms have been sold, but we’ve noticed that there’s currently more interest in starting a new tradition and making a collection for the next generation.’
When it comes to buying diamond jewellery, there are three elements to consider, says president of the De Beers Institute of Diamonds Andrew Coxon: ‘Beauty, wearability and peace of mind.’
The best diamonds, he adds, are the ones that sparkle the most—in any colour or quality. ‘The test comes when you try on a piece of diamond jewellery: if you fall in love with it immediately and never want to take it off, the diamonds have, as it were, chosen you.’
Mr Penton believes that antique jewels with elaborate designs have fallen out of favour in the past decade, but because of their inherent charm, he predicts a revival.
‘Don’t dismiss brooches, either,’ he adds. ‘With small adaptations, they would also serve well as hair ornaments or, with the addition of a discreet suspension loop, could be worn around the neck on a ribbon or wire torque for a modern look.’
Steer clear of anything too ‘edgy’, warns Mr Coxon: ‘Too much design or an extra number of facets should be avoided. The round brilliant is still the most desired diamond shape, but fancy shapes such as the contemporary cushion cut or the classic emerald cut are becoming more popular.’
£5,000 at auction
One would be able to choose from a wide range of antique and modern jewellery, from the quirky and collectable to highly wearable pieces. The gemstone content might be smaller in this bracket, but it would still be possible, for example, to find larger peridots, aquamarines, garnets and amethysts as well as other very colourful semiprecious gems enhanced by smaller diamonds.
£5,000 to 20,000
One can expect to find diamonds, including individual stones weighing in excess of
a carat as well as some attractive emeralds, sapphires and rubies.
A wide selection of bracelets of all periods also falls into this bracket and there is more choice of gem-set earrings.
£20,000 to £50,000
In this range, you will find good coloured stones (sapphires, rubies and emeralds), normally accompanied by a laboratory report stating the country of origin of the gemstone and attesting to the natural colour and clarity.
Larger diamonds are also available in this range (four carats and above depending on quality) as well as signed jewels of all types and periods.
Expect to find larger single white diamonds in the six-carat range and above 10 carats at more than £100,000. You’ll also see iconic jewels by famous makers, fine-quality coloured stones, including Colombian emeralds, Burma rubies and sapphires, and, above £100,000, rare Kashmir sapphires, as well as fancy coloured yellow diamonds of a strong pure hue and small pink and blue diamonds. There will be a larger choice of signed jewels, wearable stone-rich Art Deco pieces and modern jewels by makers such as JAR and Graff.
Think about the shape and whether you prefer round or straight edges. If going for round solitaires on the hand, choose either a flashy round brilliant or a quiet classic cushion cut, but for a pendant, opt for a perfect pear shape. For straight edges, only consider the classic emerald cut as a solitaire on a ring, either in a square or rectangle.
Then, it’s time to look at the colour: remember, this is a degree of rarity not quality. Icewhite cold is the rarest. It will cost twice as much as warm white, which is half as rare, but might sparkle just as much.
When it comes to quality, don’t limit yourself to flawless or near-flawless. Look at beauty above everything else—this is what everyone else will love when you come to sell, so keep an open mind.
Examine the provenance— cheap is often an expensive mistake when buying precious stones and, finally, size does matter. Buy the largest diamond that can be worn forever: ladies grow out of little diamonds and eventually leave them in a drawer.
Who wouldn’t want to inherit this late-19thcentury sapphire-anddiamond brooch (right) or this De Beers Talisman ring (far right)