Information on Gemstones

Driven by his eternal thirst for knowledge, humankind has largely robbed nature of its secrets. Gemstones, however, remain something of a mystery, despite the most advanced classification methods and use of technology. As we enter the twenty-first century, gemstones have lost none of their fascination.

In ancient times, colourful pebbles polished by the ocean were collected as gemstones. The earliest seal cylinders and gems have come down to us from the ancient cultures of the Sumerians, the Babylonians and the Egyptians. Gems were even in use in prehistoric times, quite often as offerings to the gods. In the Middle Ages – before the art of gem cutting was understood – gems became objects of ambiguous symbolism in crowns and sceptres.

In contrast to earlier times, however, elevation to the “royal status of gemstones” is limited to those minerals possessing the three ennobling virtues: beauty, rarity and durability. These alone bestow dignity and value1.

Nowadays, due to a stance that is largely devoid of emotion and immersed in scientific modernity, gemstones are rightfully considered to be the best and most compact way of preserving capital. It must be assumed that the pace and intensity of booms and busts in the financial markets will increase and that markets, entire economies and governments will behave less predictably in the future. This “certainty of uncertainty” makes hard assets – such as gemstones – a relatively safe haven for investors.

As with other investments, making educated buying decisions is crucial. The professional advice of experts is recommended before investing in gems. Without the means and knowledge available to a gemmological laboratory, it is impossible to tell the difference between the true rarity, the more ordinary gem, and the fake. The difference lies in the authenticity of the material, the absence of treatment, and knowledge as to the country of origin – over and above the actual beauty of the stone.

These pages aim to provide basic information on some of the best known types of gemstone.