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Spinel... excessive pricing or finally earning its due respect?

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Jan 20, 2012
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I mentioned in my last thread that recent pricing for (Vietnamese) lavender spinel caused a bit of sticker shock for me. Now that I've pulled the plug on pursuing that stone, I've started planning to set my red spinel. While casually browsing designs, I was dazed by the price of this guy...

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The gem is phenomenal... no doubt about that. But $30k? We're approaching mid-range ruby pricing now. And that's not to say it isn't deserved. I forget how many times rarer fine red spinel is compared to ruby. But I digress. I purchased my red spinel maybe 2-3 years ago? It could be this stone's twin... 2.72ct., Burma, cushion, loupe clean, medium tone, and vivid saturation. It was sold to me as "neon" and "jedi," but I don't put much stock in those trade terms. Anyway, the only real difference I see is that this stone has a (fantastic) precision cut applied... mine is native (but no cutting defects). My stone was $5k. I think I did pretty well on the price, as I purchased it from a private seller desperate to liquidate his collection. But still, that's a huge gap. What's going on?

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Joined
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Have you ever bought from that vendor before and is that kind of pricing typical of them?

I’m just stereotyping on their vendor name tho.
Shame on me.

I'm guilty of the same, I must admit. But yes, I bought my periwinkle sapphire from them and it was well-priced. Lovely, knowledgeable, down-to-earth (no pun intended) people, who are all experienced G.G.'s... despite the mystical prattle.
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musicloveranthony

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I’m just stereotyping on their vendor name tho.
Shame on me.

I'll sit in shame with you

Regarding this topic - I've seen the same for a lot of stones that used to be throwaway stones or stones for lapidary practice. "Salt and pepper diamonds," grey spinel, garnets in varying shades of brownish red/orange given fancy names, various historically undesirable colors of tourmaline given food-related names. I guess if there isn't a market for a product that product just needs better marketing? haha
 
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I'll sit in shame with you

Regarding this topic - I've seen the same for a lot of stones that used to be throwaway stones or stones for lapidary practice. "Salt and pepper diamonds," grey spinel, garnets in varying shades of brownish red/orange given fancy names, various historically undesirable colors of tourmaline given food-related names. I guess if there isn't a market for a product that product just needs better marketing? haha

I giggled when I read this post, because I'm such a sucker for food-related names. If this were called a "strawberry" spinel, for instance, I'd have already handed over my car for it.
locomotive.gif
 

T L

Super_Ideal_Rock
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“ A spinel is forever” I guess. Lol!

Red gems in particular fetch more money, especially non treated, vibrant ones. I think diamonds are tanking in value, but certain gems are not
 

ItsMainelyYou

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Because the Asian countries will buy it and they have money. Lots of it. It is their prized color and there is a crystalline quality akin to the cultural push for diamond flawlessness that ruby lacks. For a time you could get sizable stones.
It was pushed by high jewelry magazines for at least five years as the one to buy up. They do this with some 'special variety' of all gems.

So, yes, and no.
For the truly candy crystal with true pure reds, Jedi, hot pinks and true cobalt, sure. Step down to sleepy with exceptional color? Sure. They truly are that rare. Way rarer than ruby.
For the other mid pinks, purples and catchalls with huge gray modifiers or muddy colors?
Nope.
But they sure seem like they are asking and adding designation they do not possess to everything. It's ridiculous what they try to pass off.
I've never been a big fan of the branding of rocks.
 
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Because the Asian countries will buy it and they have money. Lots of it. It is their prized color and there is a crystalline quality akin to the cultural push for diamond flawlessness that ruby lacks. For a time you could get sizable stones.
It was pushed by high jewelry magazines for at least five years as the one to buy up. They do this with some 'special variety' of all gems.

So, yes, and no.
For the truly candy crystal with true pure reds, Jedi, hot pinks and true cobalt, sure. Step down to sleepy with exceptional color? Sure. They truly are that rare. Way rarer than ruby.
For the other mid pinks, purples and catchalls with huge gray modifiers or muddy colors?
Nope.
But they sure seem like they are asking and adding designation they do not possess to everything. It's ridiculous what they try to pass off.
I've never been a big fan of the branding of rocks.

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Starstruck8

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For the truly candy crystal with true pure reds, Jedi, hot pinks and true cobalt, sure. Step down to sleepy with exceptional color? Sure. They truly are that rare. Way rarer than ruby.
For the other mid pinks, purples and catchalls with huge gray modifiers or muddy colors?
Nope.
+1.

Strongly saturated colours will always catch the eye. For less saturated colours, it's a matter of taste, fashion and marketing.

Gemstones in strongly saturated darker colours (red and darker blues) have a special magic. When a facet catches the light, it looks 'impossibly bright' for the colour, so it seems to glow. So yes, good red spinels and cobalt blues will never be out of fashion. The rest, not so much. At least, that's my story.
 

Lisa Loves Shiny

Ideal_Rock
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I have 2 really nice red spinels and one so/so red spinel. The nice ones are magical so I understand the allure, and understand those with enough money won't have issues paying for that magic. I don't think I ever would have predicted they would cost as much or more than nice diamonds though.
 

Crimson

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I giggled when I read this post, because I'm such a sucker for food-related names. If this were called a "strawberry" spinel, for instance, I'd have already handed over my car for it.
locomotive.gif

Raspberry for me!!
Thread 'Jedi Spinel vs Raspberry'
https://www.pricescope.com/community/threads/jedi-spinel-vs-raspberry.279556/
Because the Asian countries will buy it and they have money. Lots of it. It is their prized color and there is a crystalline quality akin to the cultural push for diamond flawlessness that ruby lacks.
I have to agree with @ItsMainelyYou . Here in East Asia, the bigger and redder, the better — a 2-3 ct spinel is considered “small”. Prices have been rising from gem show to gem show. Even reasonable dealers like GemCal have increased their prices for all spinels, not just red ones. The latest craze is pure gold jewellery. With the slowdown in China’s property market, people are buying pure gold jewelllery and gold bars as stores of value,
 

fredflintstone

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Red Spinel has been high ever since the big Mahenge find in the mid 2000's. I bought a neon red Mahenge Spinel 3.03 carats for $1450 in 2004, just about a year before the big find. They were finds of some top reds before that big find but they were sporadic. I could also buy some nice reds from Burma for $250.00 to $300.00 a carat in the 1990’s.

Right during the big find the prices skyrocketed and that same Spinel would of cost around $12,000 just a year after I bought it! They've been rising ever since though the reds have plateaued somewhat other colors especially the grays no one wanted were suddenly asking $300 to $600 a carat in 3 carat and more size! Other colors have followed suit that are not too dark.

Cobalt blue, red, neon pink, red/orange (flame Spinel), orange, nice blues, violets. lavenders and intense purples in that order of highest to lowest price have all shot up.

Good deals can be found but you really must know most of the source dealers in the market to find them and buy regularly or in parcels. This generally pertains to dealer to dealer.
 
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PrecisionGem

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They've been rising ever since though the reds have plateaued somewhat other colors especially the grays no one wanted were suddenly asking $300 to $600 a carat in 3 carat and more size! Other colors have followed suit that are not too dark.

I was really surprised when all of a sudden the gray become popular. I remember years ago buying rough, and they would put together parcels with some nice colors and then grays just to get rid of them. Back 10 years ago the gray spinel could be bought in the rough for $10 per ct or less. I never bought, thinking who would buy the cut stones!
 

fredflintstone

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I was really surprised when all of a sudden the gray become popular. I remember years ago buying rough, and they would put together parcels with some nice colors and then grays just to get rid of them. Back 10 years ago the gray spinel could be bought in the rough for $10 per ct or less. I never bought, thinking who would buy the cut stones!

Ain't that the truth!
 

MMtwo

Ideal_Rock
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Autumn, your stone is spectacular!

As someone who is new to colored stones, I find this conversation interesting. I like what I like and do not "know better". I just bought a red spinel with brownish modifier and native cut and had it set in Vietnam for a couple hundred a carat. I also like grey spinel. It matches my hair :D.

Don't get me wrong, I see amazing stones here (thank you so much for sharing your treasures) and maybe one day I can level up in discernment, but how does one know "meh" from amazing? How did you learn? Was it from seeing those indelible stones you could not forget?

On second thought (and edit) maybe this should have been it's own rambling topic.
 
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fredflintstone

Brilliant_Rock
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Autumn, your stone is spectacular!

As someone who is new to colored stones, I find this conversation interesting. I like what I like and do not "know better". I just bought a red spinel with brownish modifier and native cut and had it set in Vietnam for a couple hundred a carat. I also like grey spinel. It matches my hair :D.

Don't get me wrong, I see amazing stones here (thank you so much for sharing your treasures) and maybe one day I can level up in discernment, but how does one know "meh" from amazing? How did you learn? Was it from seeing those indelible stones you could not forget?

On second thought (and edit) maybe this should have been it's own rambling topic.

Yes, you can get red Spinel with brown (Garnet looking) in it for relatively cheap if you measure it against a Spinel with an almost pure red color (no such thing as a pure red gemstone) with a very, very, slight secondary orange or purple color that is hard to detect with the untrained naked eye.

In the 1990's that $200 to $300 a carat Spinel with brown would've have been $20.00 a carat or less depending on size in source countries. For $300 a carat you could've have bought a red Spinel with bright red color with no brown whatsoever, hence the huge price rise in red Spinel.

Yes, it is all in the eyes of the beholder and those eyes become more discerning the more that you are subjected to any gemstone type that has a vivid almost pure color that is bright and not too dark or too light as compared to ones that are not. Like anything else in life it all has a learning curve but color will always be subjective to what attracts the individual the most.
 

MMtwo

Ideal_Rock
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Yes, you can get red Spinel with brown (Garnet looking) in it for relatively cheap if you measure it against a Spinel with an almost pure red color (no such thing as a pure red gemstone) with a very, very, slight secondary orange or purple color that is hard to detect with the untrained naked eye.

In the 1990's that $200 to $300 a carat Spinel with brown would've have been $20.00 a carat or less depending on size in source countries. For $300 a carat you could've have bought a red Spinel with bright red color with no brown whatsoever, hence the huge price rise in red Spinel.

Yes, it is all in the eyes of the beholder and those eyes become more discerning the more that you are subjected to any gemstone type that has a vivid almost pure color that is bright and not too dark or too light as compared to ones that are not. Like anything else in life it all has a learning curve but color will always be subjective to what attracts the individual the most.

I appreciate your thoughtful answer very much. Amazing how much things have changed! If only I had started earlier. I am very interested in bright red gems, but completely priced out in my budget, so will live vicariously on PS.

I feel this could be a rabbit hole of learning .
 

musicloveranthony

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I appreciate your thoughtful answer very much. Amazing how much things have changed! If only I had started earlier. I am very interested in bright red gems, but completely priced out in my budget, so will live vicariously on PS.

I feel this could be a rabbit hole of learning .

Don't rule out red tourmaline! :) I've seen some of the high-jewelry houses using it lately and that's awesome! It's fun to see them evolve as availability of gems changes
 

MMtwo

Ideal_Rock
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Don't rule out red tourmaline! :) I've seen some of the high-jewelry houses using it lately and that's awesome! It's fun to see them evolve as availability of gems changes

Wonderful! Thanks so much for the tip. I will check that out too.
 

musicloveranthony

Brilliant_Rock
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Wonderful! Thanks so much for the tip. I will check that out too.

Here's a few Van Cleef & Arpels pieces - notably, they featured it in their Le Grand Tour - high jewelry collection

https://www.christies.com/en/lot/lot-6349001



 

MMtwo

Ideal_Rock
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Here's a few Van Cleef & Arpels pieces - notably, they featured it in their Le Grand Tour - high jewelry collection

https://www.christies.com/en/lot/lot-6349001


If it's good enough for VCA.... :)
Edit* thanks for sharing those!
 
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Autumn, your stone is spectacular!

As someone who is new to colored stones, I find this conversation interesting. I like what I like and do not "know better". I just bought a red spinel with brownish modifier and native cut and had it set in Vietnam for a couple hundred a carat. I also like grey spinel. It matches my hair :D.

Don't get me wrong, I see amazing stones here (thank you so much for sharing your treasures) and maybe one day I can level up in discernment, but how does one know "meh" from amazing? How did you learn? Was it from seeing those indelible stones you could not forget?

On second thought (and edit) maybe this should have been it's own rambling topic.

But there's something to be said about simply "liking what you like" and not worrying about trade ideals and market standards, and oftentimes those two will overlap anyway. And I've seen a few of your pieces... you have lovely taste.

In any event, I'm flattered you'd ask me! And hopefully our other pros will chime in as well.

Several years back, as I began collecting in earnest, I decided I would study at the GIA to go beyond the basics. I completed all of the courses and colored stone lab... I am still 2 labs short of a G.G. (pearl and diamond). I did learn a lot there, but honestly, there's nothing like first-hand experience. So to answer your question, I'd say the best exposure is to see as many fine stones in person. Trade shows are a great start. And truthfully, I learned a ton right here on PS. I also have gem books stacked to the ceiling. I love, love, LOVE to read about them.
nerd.gif
 
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Don't rule out red tourmaline! :) I've seen some of the high-jewelry houses using it lately and that's awesome! It's fun to see them evolve as availability of gems changes

I'm glad you brought this up, because it's something I've been thinking about. I love rubellite... especially the realllllly red ones. But I've read, and it's been my experience, that the redder hues are the ones that are often the result of irradiation (which is still currently undetectable). So that's put me off it, which bums me out. What are you thoughts on that? Anyone else care to weigh in?
 
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Here's a few Van Cleef & Arpels pieces - notably, they featured it in their Le Grand Tour - high jewelry collection

https://www.christies.com/en/lot/lot-6349001




Two things... that last necklace... I'm sweating.
drool.gif


And are those purple diamonds in the earrings, because...
 

T L

Super_Ideal_Rock
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I'm glad you brought this up, because it's something I've been thinking about. I love rubellite... especially the realllllly red ones. But I've read, and it's been my experience, that the redder hues are the ones that are often the result of irradiation (which is still currently undetectable). So that's put me off it, which bums me out. What are you thoughts on that? Anyone else care to weigh in?

I feel the same way about red tourmaline.
 

musicloveranthony

Brilliant_Rock
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Two things... that last necklace... I'm sweating.
drool.gif


And are those purple diamonds in the earrings, because...

Those were listed as mauve spinel :kiss2:

I looked and Graff, Harry Winston, Gubelin, Cartier, and more are all using rubellite. I had no idea it could be irradiated! That's a bummer - especially if there's no way to identify that. I do have a really nice pink tourmaline (wouldn't count as rubellite, so maybe I'll call it grapefruit tourmaline? ;)2) that sparkles like a zircon - it's gorgeous!
 

MMtwo

Ideal_Rock
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But there's something to be said about simply "liking what you like" and not worrying about trade ideals and market standards, and oftentimes those two will overlap anyway. And I've seen a few of your pieces... you have lovely taste.

In any event, I'm flattered you'd ask me! And hopefully our other pros will chime in as well.

Several years back, as I began collecting in earnest, I decided I would study at the GIA to go beyond the basics. I completed all of the courses and colored stone lab... I am still 2 labs short of a G.G. (pearl and diamond). I did learn a lot there, but honestly, there's nothing like first-hand experience. So to answer your question, I'd say the best exposure is to see as many fine stones in person. Trade shows are a great start. And truthfully, I learned a ton right here on PS. I also have gem books stacked to the ceiling. I love, love, LOVE to read about them.
nerd.gif

Thank you, dear lady. Your creations are sublime. The "confection pastel heart " ring and "fall" ring come to mind. I just wanted to study what made them so right.

Thank you so much for explaining your background and the extra steps you took to gain knowledge. A GIA background is fantastic! I love it! I will search out trade shows/gem shows nearby (I am close enough to DC) and would enjoy that very much. Thank you for the wonderful feedback and write up. Not only will it help me, it will help other lurkers too!
 
Joined
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Thank you, dear lady. Your creations are sublime. The "confection pastel heart " ring and "fall" ring come to mind. I just wanted to study what made them so right.

Thank you so much for explaining your background and the extra steps you took to gain knowledge. A GIA background is fantastic! I love it! I will search out trade shows/gem shows nearby (I am close enough to DC) and would enjoy that very much. Thank you for the wonderful feedback and write up. Not only will it help me, it will help other lurkers too!

And you're so close to the MNH!! I believe they have something like 400k gems on display. I visited maybe 10 years ago... heaven.
 
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Those were listed as mauve spinel :kiss2:

I looked and Graff, Harry Winston, Gubelin, Cartier, and more are all using rubellite. I had no idea it could be irradiated! That's a bummer - especially if there's no way to identify that. I do have a really nice pink tourmaline (wouldn't count as rubellite, so maybe I'll call it grapefruit tourmaline? ;)2) that sparkles like a zircon - it's gorgeous!

I have this guy (around 4ct.), which was sold to me as a rubellite, because it is super saturated and does not "brown out" under incandescents like pink tourm. But as you can see, it is hot pink, not red. The seller is one of the most respected here, and assured me it was untreated. But you never really know, because, with certain species/variaties, labs have a difficult time differentiating between whether the earth or man has applied heat/radiation to the stones.

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