Q&A: Simone Ng on why coloured gemstones are often misunderstood

When one has the intention to buy jewellery, those that are covered in diamonds are usually within their first grasp — because the shinier it is, the better. That’s when we’re wrong. Diamonds; we can’t deny that they are indeed the classics in the jewellery industry (‘Diamonds are a girl’s best friend’, remember?). They are in fact, one of the most common gemstones in the world.

Simone Jewels offer handcrafted one-of-a-kind jewellery designs. Featured here is The Shakespeare Necklace.

“The biggest misconception is that coloured gemstones are inexpensive and therefore less valuable compared to diamonds. However, in reality, coloured gemstones are rarer than diamonds and rarity is an important factor when it comes to the value of gemstones,” says Simone Ng, designer founder and creative director of Simone Jewels. Her jewellery brand focuses on handcrafting one-of-a-kind jewellery pieces and in her designs, she does not solely highlight diamonds, but also an array of coloured gemstones.

Even historically, there is little to almost no information on coloured gemstones. The ‘big four’ — diamond, emerald, rubies and sapphire — are constantly worn by nobles and royalties, contributing to their popularity among the people all over the world. Other than the ones mentioned, nobody knew about their existence and how rare they are, instead, being automatically classified as semi-precious and less valuable.

Simone Ng, founder and creative director of Simone Jewels.

Today, with the advancement of gemmology and literature, we now know, all these ‘semi-precious’ stones can be rarer than the usual suspects. We speak to Simone about her vision and opinion on coloured gemstones, and how truly unique they are when it comes to jewellery designing and styling.

What do you love most about designing and incorporating coloured gemstones instead of diamonds?

With coloured gemstones, each piece is different from the other in terms of tone, hue and appeal. The effects that I can create aesthetically with them can be very inspiring and never boring. Colours also help brighten skin tone and outfits. The richness of colours can be very appealing and unique. In addition, colours can lift one’s mood as it relates to a certain meaning that may be sentimental or significant. It is always fulfilling when you are able to make someone even more beautiful by choosing the right colours that bring the best out of them. In our current collection, Birds in Poetry, we use colours to express the message of Love, Hope and Joy.

What are your thoughts on people who prefer bright, sparkling diamonds over coloured gemstones?

I truly respect that different people have different preferences. The most important thing is that their choice makes them happy.

With regards to those who don’t understand coloured gemstones as much as they understand diamonds, I believe they may not have been given enough information or education on coloured gemstones. This is why I am so passionate about sharing my knowledge with others on why coloured gemstones are tremendously rare and priceless. Although a significant lot does not understand the beauty of coloured gemstones, we are happy to see a shift in this of late. In fact, coloured gemstones are now viewed as an investment asset. This is thanks to the increasing amount of literature on coloured gemstones available now to everyone.

What should people know about these precious coloured gemstones?

Firstly, it is important to know if a gemstone is heated or unheated. More than 90% of certain gemstones are heat-treated. For example, sapphires and rubies that belong to the corundum family, are typically heated. This means the stones are put through a process to make the colour stronger. If you find one that is unheated and strong in colour, that is rare.

Secondly, understanding the hardness will help determine how we should best design and set the gemstone. If the gemstone is softer in nature, you may not want to wear it on your finger. It may be better to set them as either a pendant or a pair of earrings. This way, it is less prone to unwanted accidents or damages.

Also, do you know that in each group of gemstones, there are certain colours which are extremely rare? For example, Paraiba is one of the rarest colour in the Tourmaline family. They can sometimes cost more than sapphires and rubies. There is a huge misconception that Tourmalines are inexpensive. However, this really depends on the rarity of its colour.

Fourthly, country of origin is important but not exclusive. In the example of emeralds, many would say the Columbian emerald is definitely more beautiful and of better quality than those from Zambia. Little did they know, during the Pangea era, emeralds all came from the same place. When continents broke up, emeralds became available in different locations. In my opinion, Columbian emeralds were first discovered due to the fact that there were better civilization and water (very essential for mining gemstones). Therefore, people think that Columbia was the original place for emeralds and assumes that it is better. It is important to look at the beauty of the gemstones independently without labelling the country of origin. We carry many emeralds that are from Zambia and they are as beautiful as the Columbian ones. When placed side by side with the Columbian emeralds, you can’t tell the difference.

Finally, can diamonds crack? Yes! they can. Often people buy diamonds thinking that it is unbreakable. When a diamond hits a surface as hard and in the right angle, it can crack.

Besides the usual rubies, amethysts and sapphires, which other gemstones do you personally feel deserve more recognition?

There are many out there. Each group of gemstones come in varied rare colours. It all depends on what your preferences. Just to mention a few:
1. Personally, blue lagoon Tourmalines are breathtaking. The colour is like no other.
2. Red spinel is relatively affordable in price as compared to rubies. I think they are even more beautiful than rubies because they tend to be less included, has a stronger sparkle and not heat-treated.
3. Malaya garnets are also below the limelight. Did you know that they only come from one place in the world, and it’s from a place called the Umba Valley. Some Malaya Garnets can be so red that one may think it is a Ruby. They come in very large sizes and is relatively clean of inclusion. For its current affordable per carat price, this is a stone to watch out for.

Style tip on how to match with coloured gemstones?

We make our design very modern and edgy. Great caution is taken to ensure the design will never age the person plus it can be worn for both casual and formal occasions. Coloured gemstones actually go well with both plain and printed outfits. It is that versatile. It injects colour to any outfit. In addition, it adds a glow to the face and makes a complexion more radiant. It is all about choosing the right colour for one’s skin tone.