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On the Pricing of Gems

The outside gem market is a huge one – spanning numerous nations across the globe. It’s composed of various sellers, re-sellers, and also jewelry brands who source gems from different places.

Most sellers we know and have dealt with (often from the Middle East – Pakistan/Afghanistan area) source directly from mines and are usually able to sell gems at fair prices. These gems usually come with no certificates and our primary basis for determining whether they are genuine or not is TRUST. Upon physical examination, we can tell that the stones are truly authentic. (For natural stones, we can tell by examining the inclusions found within them. Sometimes you can already tell by simply touching the stone and feeling its temperature – among other things you just get used to the more you handle gems.)

There is no consistent pricing system for such gems. Each seller is free to impose their own pricing system depending on where they get their gems. Usually, pricing is correlated with the difficulty of obtaining a particular gem given the market conditions in their area.

Lab grown gems can be more difficult to price. While there are indeed large corporations in locales such as China, Hong Kong and Thailand, which focus solely on producing lab-grown gems, these companies usually focus on producing rubies, emeralds, and sapphires. Other gem varieties are less common in synthetic form. In addition, the process of synthesizing gems varies greatly among manufacturers. This also affects the price of the resulting material.

Lab created alexandrite can be sourced from various places. In the past, we only had one local supplier which sold alexandrite stones for prices above 1000php per carat, due to the difficulty of obtaining such stones AT THE TIME. We also had a foreign supplier selling different types and qualities of lab grown alexandrite at similar prices. When we asked him about the prices, he said it was determined by supplier prices in his area. We ended up getting the gems anyway out of trust, and were able to use the different stones for various types of pieces.

Through time, as other gem players enter or leave the market, and sourcing from mines becomes easier/more difficult, prices can change, sometimes even drastically. We are NOT a direct gem supplier. We cannot guarantee that prices will remain constant.

The pricing of our items depends largely on the price of gems and gold in the market. To cite examples – we don’t have a consistent benchmark on how much exactly a natural ruby, or a lab-grown Moissanite will cost, because these are variable depending on the supplier.

How about Diamonds?

Salt and pepper diamond ring by Borealis Crystals. Custom client order, posted January 31.

The pricing of diamonds is more consistent compared to that of other gems, because there are large corporations (diamond suppliers) controlling the prices in the market. Think about it like this: for diamonds, there is an “SM of gems” which sells items at equal prices, as opposed to “several small sari-sari stores” that are free to price items variably.

Another tidbit of information: diamonds are expensive NOT because of their rarity, but because of demand that was created by large diamond corporations such as the DeBeers company.

There are numerous other stones which are more rare than diamond, but don’t command as lofty of a price simply because you don’t usually hear popular advice about “proposing with a dumortierite ring.”

So there goes a small economics lesson. Just so you know why your gems are priced the way they are at the time you bought them.

What We Know About Certificates on Gems

A certificate on a gem is a lovely thing to have – a piece of paper proving the authenticity of your gem and its resale value.

But the truth is, certificates are expensive. Is it worth the extra expense? The answer can be yes or no, depending on certain factors.

If your (colored) gem is cheaper than Php10,000 (~200USD) we usually don’t recommend it. Why? Because the price of getting your gem certified by a legitimate gemological entity is at least 5000php. If the cost of your gem is practically the same as the cost of a certificate, it might not be worthwhile. The resale value of colored gems is more or less constant after all – they don’t increase much, at least not as much as diamonds or precious metals do through time.

We strongly advise that if you like a gem, and its value isn’t astronomical, get it for the pure joy of owning that gem and don’t bother with the extra paperwork. Same advice goes for pearls – buy pearls you like, and enjoy them.

If your gem is expensive, and let’s say intended as an heirloom piece comprising your million-dollar estate, by all means get that certificate. In that case, your descendants deserve to know how much the gem is worth assuming they keep or sell it in exchange of a car or a house.

NOTE: The information contained within this post is based on what we have learned so far in our experience in the jewelry industry. We have also included relevant links to support some of the statements made here. This post is merely intended as an overview of how gem pricing works, but in no way do we claim to be all-conclusive.

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