Coloured gemstones in focus at Bonhams auction

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Auction house proclaims 2015 as the "year of coloured gemstones".

International auction house Bonhams has proclaimed 2015 as the year of the coloured gemstones, highlighting some significant lots which are due to be sold at its upcoming April fine jewellery sale. 

Coloured gems are outstripping other stones in value, including diamonds, with some even rising by 2,200% over the past decade, according to a statement by Bonhams. 

In December 2014, Bonhams sold a pair of Cartier Art Deco ruby and diamond clip brooches, circa 1930, for an incredible £482,500 on a pre-sale estimate of £80,000-120,000. They also sold a single-stone ring by Van Cleef & Arpels, set with a sugarloaf cabochon Burmese ruby weighing 13.34 carats, sold for £350,500 to a Hong Kong buyer. At $44,000 per carat this broke all ruby price per carat records in London last year.

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Experts at Bonhams are expecting the strong market for coloured stones to be reflected in its fine jewellery sale, due to take place in London this month. 

Jean Ghika, head of jewellery in the UK and Europe at Bonhams, said: “I think there is a new move towards colour. Women are bolder in their choices and looking at alternatives to diamonds when it comes to engagement rings and everyday jewellery.

“They are not afraid to experiment with colour. Women are also in constant pursuit of something truly original, and a coloured stone, where every example is different they are able to have something unique."

Ghika continued: “While diamonds are typically seen as the more ‘robust’ area in the gemstone market in terms of seeing a return on investment, figures over the last decade demonstrate that coloured stones have actually overtaken diamonds in terms of growth.

“Rubies are in most demand and command the strongest prices per carat, followed by Kashmir sapphires and then Burma sapphires and Colombian emeralds.”

In its forthcoming April fine jewellery sale, Bonhams will be auctioning a number of pieces featuring coloured stones.

Highlights include an emerald and diamond ring with a pre-sale estimate of £100,000-£150,000.The rectangular step-cut emerald is of a Colombian origin and weighs 16.25cts.

Also to be sold is a sapphire and diamond sautoir circa 1925 estimated at £40,000-£60,000. The sautoir is composed of openwork buckle-shaped links, channel-set with scissor cut sapphires and rose-cut diamond floral decoration. A 43cts step-cut Sri Lankan sapphire is suspended at the centre of the piece.

As well as the major stones, rarer varieties have also become highly sought-after. These include padparadscha sapphires, spinel, imperial topaz and Brazilian pariba tourmaline. These are largely known for their rich and rare colours.

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