Shin­ing ex­am­ples

All that glit­ters makes for trea­sured heir­looms, be­lieves Keith Pen­ton, Christie’s Head of Jewellery in Lon­don

Country Life Every Week - - Future Heirlooms - An­drew Coxon, Pres­i­dent of the De Beers In­sti­tute of Di­a­monds

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.

An­other view

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)

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