Guest Post: The Evolution of Collecting

I have a special treat today, a guest post from someone who has become a close friend through gemstones, and whose services I sometimes utilize as a gemstone personal shopper due to her connections within the industry.  So if you have ever asked me for help finding a gem, rest assured I have likely consulted her on your stone.
Please welcome Aimée!
I have been collecting gemstones for my personal collection for almost five years now. It has been quite a journey. My financial situation has fluctuated during that time, and my connections in the industry have strengthened. I never used to consider myself picky, but have discovered that when it comes to gems…I’m a princess. I want it all – colour, cut, and price. So…how does one do that?
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I started by buying everything that caught my fancy. I should specify at this point that my purchases happen almost exclusively online. This means a pretty large learning curve in terms of how to read pictures, specifically around colour, tone, and saturation ( a word I’ve only learned in the last four years). Also, some vendors have what I would call “frenzied drops”, where you have about 3 seconds or less to decide if you want something, regardless of price. I’ve returned many stones, and sold the ones I felt guilty about returning or that I realized ultimately weren’t for me. I’ve sold some beautiful stones, many that I’ve forgotten about, until I came across a picture on my computer. I’ve also developed realistic expectations. “A good price” is very relative. I’ve known people to drop tens of thousands of dollars on a diamond, then want a trade ideal coloured stone that is exponentially rarer than a diamond, with a maximum budget of a few hundred dollars. This type of search will usually lead to frustration and disappointment, and is quite simply a waste of time.
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I try not to develop emotional attachments to my stones. Oddly enough, that can be difficult. I have stones and/or rings that I have a really hard time parting with, even though I will probably never set them, or rarely wear them, but they are pretty, and the memory of how they came to be in my possession is too sweet to extinguish. Selling to a fellow enthusiast helps. If it’s someone I like, who really loves the gem, I have an easier time passing it on. At this point, I only sell to fund new projects.
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So, I’ve built my collection. What was once “the ultimate” moves on, once I find a “holy grail”. (Like stepping stones, except in a few instances, where…I hoard. I have several Mahenge spinels. My excuse is that they are all uniquely beautiful – pinkish red, reddish pink – I’m pretty sure I have every shade in between. Now, I’m aiming for cuprian tourmalines. Unfortunately, I came into the game too late for certain gems. But I digress…) I TRY to no longer buy impulsively (which can burn me in the case of, say…a holy grail that I try to think about for more than 3 seconds, and it’s grabbed by someone else in that time, during a frenzied drop). I try to accept what actually looks good with my skin tone – honestly, I have some stones which just aren’t flattered by my pasty hand…but are too pretty to sell!
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I have scored some wonderful gems, at reasonable prices. This is usually because a fellow enthusiast has either pointed me in the right direction, or sold me something they bought several years ago at a good price, and they’re passing on the deal. Sometimes, it’s because I’ve bugged a vendor somewhat incessantly about a certain colour, and they finally got something in that might shut me up. Sometimes, I’ve really lucked out when a stone has sat around for quite some time for whatever reason, and the price can be negotiated somewhat.
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If I was to have some advice for a “newbie” about collecting, it’s to have patience. “The One” WILL come along, at some point. You are better off socking away the money until it does. In the meantime, educate yourself, look at what’s around and at what price point, see as many gems in real life as you can, and when you see The One, pounce!
-Aimée

David Klass Contest Solitaire Setting

I have been asked to post an entry of my design process. I wish I could post my thought process, but that’s just about impossible, seeing as how it took roughly 3 weeks to come up with the idea. The sketches themselves were a product of about 13 hours of just sitting and drawing. That doesn’t include the hours I spent looking to various things on the computer for inspiration (flowers, plants, other jewelry, art, fashion, etc) This post is going to be picture intensive and really long because there are a lot of pictures, so I’ll keep the words to a minimum. This is a ring design I did for another one of David Klass’s design contests.

The stone should look familiar, it was from this post: Purple Sapphire

Initial sketches just trying to get an idea of where I wanted to go. These are of the final idea, I played with a few other ideas before settling on this one, but I’m not including those.

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Here we go with the official, real sketch begins, and yes, I’m walking you through it from the very beginning and going step by step. I really hate drawing ovals so I did that first. Rounds, cool. Squares, cool. Cushions are terrible. Ovals are worse.

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I had to give my phone a charging break. It was at this point in the process where I stopped working on the profile because I didn’t know what design I wanted to go with.

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Hah! Yes, I used colored pencils for this round, because that’s what I had to work with. I’ll graduate to something less preschool appropriate at some point.

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I actually regret coloring it in because it looked so pretty before coloring it, but I think I got the color of it ok. It’s really difficult to try to capture the color of a stone that shifts color.

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The profile was the last thing I drew, in the evening hours before the contest deadline. I had a hard time making a decision, based on something that would flow with the rest of the design and echo the elements on the shoulders.

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So, I found out that you should look for a follow up to this post, because it was revealed that I won the design contest!

In other fantastic news, I will be doing a feature on Grace of Jewels by Grace in the not-too-distant future, so be on the look out for that