Bonhams London department director, Emily Barber, has unveiled her jewellery trend predictions for 2016.

In 2015, Bonhams sold more gems and pieces of jewellery than any other auction house in the UK and Bonhams London made jewellery auction history last year, setting four new world records in its New Bond Street salesroom.

Here, Emily Barber, shares her predictions for what she anticipates will capture people’s interest in 2016.


Coloured diamonds

Prices for fancy coloured diamonds, especially blue diamonds, continue to climb. 30% of all mined diamonds are gem-quality. 0.04% of diamonds mined are blue and finding them is random. As a result of their incredible rarity and scarcity, they are fetching record prices.

Coloured gemstones

Jewellery buyers are increasingly sophisticated in their tastes and will put serious money into the very best coloured gems. The finest unheated/untreated pigeon’s blood rubies from Burma and unheated/untreated exceptional blue sapphires from Kashmir, Burma or Sri Lanka are making big prices on the auction block because the mines that produce such quality gems are a) already exhausted or b) there is a threat of the mines running dry and a lack of future supply.

Collectors and jewellery lovers are particularly showing strong interest in spinels, tourmalines, and rubies from new locations such as Madagascar.  They are really beginning to understand colour now and to appreciate previously overlooked or untapped sources of gemstones, especially now that prices have rocketed in the more traditional gemstone categories.

Natural pearls

Really good examples of natural pearls – based on size, uniform shape, lustre and blemish-free skins – do not appear on the market as often as they used to. They are a rare commodity and it is often very difficult to find good quality examples. As a result, natural pearls have become highly appealing to international buyers and collectors.

Artist jewellery

One of a kind jewels by so-called ‘Artist Jewellers’, i.e. jewellers who do not manufacture anonymously for major jewellery houses, are increasingly popular. Jewellery as an art form in its own right is being seriously considered now. If art is important because it shows us what we are, what we can be, then jewellery, the ultimate adornment, is the perfect expression of this. We anticipate this demand to continue to grow.


The appeal of buying a jewel with a great story behind it, i.e. owning a piece of jewellery that has its own rich and colourful history, should not be underestimated. Owning something once worn by a great fashion icon, by royalty or by a famous person/celebrity, or having a piece in a collection that is completely historic, having endured centuries of turmoil/displacement to survive intact, is increasingly appealing to UK and international collectors.

Barber concludes: “Without a doubt we are seeing the return of the so-called precious stones: emeralds, rubies and sapphires. Demand is very, very strong and record prices are being paid.  We are also seeing strong prices being paid for other coloured stones like Spinel and we expect to see more demand for this wonderfully coloured gemstone this coming year.”

“We achieved exceptional prices for natural pearls at auction in 2015 and see the demand for these and the strong prices to continue in 2016.”