Are Coloured Gemstones Becoming More Popular Than Diamonds?

| 7 min read

Amidst the continuous growth of the global Diamond market, a bright and vibrant new trend is emerging that's taking the world by storm.

Colourful gemstones have technically never been 'out of fashion', and society's appreciation for them dates back hundreds (if not thousands) of years.

However, a recent surge in demand for stones like Ruby, Aquamarine and Pearl causes us to question whether the popularity of coloured gems might exceed that of clear crystals in the near future. 

Gemstone Rings

Gone are the days of every party guest and bride-to-be adorning themselves with eye-clean, colourless Diamonds, and we are entering a new and exciting world of alternative engagement rings and attention to sentiment. 

So, are Diamonds really forever? Here, we look at how the demand for coloured gemstones has evolved, and whether these natural wonders have the potential to stand the test of time against the longstanding 'Old Reliable'. 

COLOURED GEMSTONES THROUGHOUT HISTORY

Jade

Gemstones are as old as time, and there are hundreds of colourful stones out there that have been worn and adored for millennia. Emerald and Ruby were worn as symbols of power and status, and stones such as Aquamarine were used for their talismanic properties. It is well known that Cleopatra favoured the enchanting blues of Lapis Lazuli, and the fascinating history of Jade is a tale that dates back to Ancient China. 

Societies around the world have placed a vast level of authority on colourful gemstones. However, with the growing influence of marketing paired with the discovery of groundbreaking Diamond mines in the 1800s, the remaining three of the precious 'Big Four' (Emerald, Ruby and Sapphire) began to be overlooked as the ultimate symbols of love and wealth.

Diamond Jewellery 

De Beers changed the face of the Diamond industry in 1948 with their iconic slogan, 'A Diamond is Forever'; this paved the way for a new, modern age of engagement rings and solidified people's trust in this colourless stone. Since then, at the turn of the 21st century, Le Vian saw their Brown Diamond sales climb dramatically after rebranding them as 'Chocolate Diamonds'.  

In what felt like the blink of an eye, Diamonds became a safe, 'can't-go-wrong' choice, and organisations everywhere were shown how the power of a marketing campaign should never be underestimated.

So, why are the tables turning now? 

PERSONALISATION & SENTIMENT

Birthstone Rings

As we know, the growing appreciation for coloured gemstones is not immediate. Rubies, Sapphires and Emeralds have always been in high demand, with their desirability dating back centuries. 

But where exactly has the sudden surge come from? 

Recently, a deeper focus has been placed on the originality of gemstones, and more attention is being paid to their contextual and metaphysical benefits in addition to how they look.

Aquamarine Jewellery

Coloured gems offer a plethora of hues, varieties and cuts, and provide a level of individuality that rivals Diamond (despite each being unique to the next). Stones that render a personal significance, like birthstones, are in demand for a reason, and more people are also looking to the spiritual and metaphysical properties of gemstones to find healing, guidance and good fortune. 

Ultimately, colour speaks to people. Colour psychology shows that each hue offers a range of associations that resonate with us; for example, a calming blue often correlates with depth and trust, and a rich green is sometimes linked to regeneration and new life.

People want to own things that mean something to them, and that they can potentially wear forever. Therefore, gemstone enthusiasts worldwide are now looking at more than a stone's beauty when expanding their collections. 

THE RARITY FACTOR

Queen Conch Jewellery

Uniqueness and rarity go hand in hand, and alternative ways of valuing gemstones showcase their character. The clarity of a Diamond is crucial to its value, whereas inclusions in coloured gemstones are widely accepted in the ever-growing industry. 

The attractiveness of having something different is undeniable. Collectors are always searching for something they may never find again, whether it's a Burmese Ruby, a Paraiba Tourmaline or a fully matured Queen Conch

Gemstone buyers are aware of the vast world beyond colourless Diamonds, and are keen to seek out the best of what it has to offer. Many coloured gemstones are rarer than Diamond, and therefore appeal to those who value the extraordinary above all else. 

CURRENT TRENDS, CERTIFICATION & CELEBRITY INFLUENCE

Padparadscha Sapphire Ring

As the world's most precious gem and one of Earth's most robust natural materials, the quality of a Diamond has never been questioned. But thanks to technological advancements and industry transparency, consumers have grown more confident in the exceptionality of coloured gemstones. 

The discoveries of new deposits also contribute heavily to this. The likes of Africa and South Asia produce a variety of high-quality gemstones, and an increase in supply leads to a higher marketing output, driving the demand further. 

Tahitian Pearl Pendant

As more varieties are certified, the timelessness of these gems becomes more appealing. The likes of colourful Tahitian Cultured Pearls (such as the one pictured above) has quashed the assumption that these sea-born miracles are reserved for the older generations, and the many hues of Garnet and Tourmaline offer endless styling possibilities.

Awareness of these colourful gems is constantly on the rise, and has begun to spill over into current fashion and jewellery trends with the help of celebrity endorsement.

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From actresses to royals, many glamorous personalities in the media have become fashion icons in their own right. Think of Princess Eugenie and her shimmering pinky-orange Padparadscha Sapphire ring, and who can forget the infamous 12-carat Ceylon Blue Sapphire engagement ring adorned by the Princess of Wales. 

From bold red carpet pieces to contemporary engagement rings, these progressive styles have inspired millions worldwide to step out of their comfort zone and look beyond the traditional Diamond. 

COLOURED GEMS & SUSTAINABILITY

Coloured Gemstone Jewellery

As our awareness of our environmental impact increases, we approach the way we source our food, clothes, and accessories with more caution. In just the last few years, the effort we make to invest in sustainable and traceable products has never been more apparent. 

With mining playing such a heavy role in gemstone sourcing, the ethics surrounding the industry have always been called into question. However, as the Diamond market continues to distance itself from a longstanding history of conflict, coloured gemstones may be able to offer an environmentally friendly alternative with the help of modern science and technology.  

Yigisong Nanshan Mine

An example of this is the Yigisong Nanshan mine near China's Changbai mountains, which houses the largest known Peridot deposit in the world alongside its by-products, Olivine and Basalt.

Both the mine and its surroundings have undergone inspection to decide how it can be used to tackle the implications of climate change; since then, the Olivine has contributed to carbon reduction in the area and the Basalt has been used for both construction and crop-yielding. So, these materials improve the green spaces surrounding the mine, counteract waste issues, and combat the environmental impacts of gemstone mining.

Peridot 

Whether they are coloured gemstones or colourless Diamonds, buyers are growing more conscious of where their gems come from and want to know how they are sourced. 

Ecological awareness is a crucial factor of modern-day consumerism, so ensuring that gemstones have a clear line of traceability that meets consumers' ethical standards is climbing the industry's priority list. 

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE LOOK LIKE?

Colourful Gemstone Rings

So, what's next for coloured gemstones? 

Clearly, the rising interest in colourful gems doesn't equate to the culmination of Diamonds – their desirability still holds true, and they offer a constant in an evolving, trend-led world. However, coloured gemstone jewellery is becoming less of a quirky alternative and more of a consciously chosen staple, so could growing popularity and provenance cause people to look beyond Diamond in the years to come? 

Colourful Jewellery

Thanks to personalisation, affordability, and responsible sourcing, the coloured gems trend will likely continue to thrive going forward. Will they replace Diamonds as the stone for expressing love? Who can say? But if we have learned anything from our last two decades in the industry, it's that the two complement each other harmoniously when set into jewellery.  

Nothing can replace the majesty of natural gemstones, regardless of colour. So, when expanding your collection, choosing to buy authentic gemstone jewellery offers not just beauty and longstanding value, but also traceability, durability and strength.

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