The Price for Precious

November 22, 2013
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Maureen Bey is celebrating 30 years in Fair Haven as the owner of Gem of An Idea.

Maureen Bey is celebrating 30 years in Fair Haven as the owner of Gem of An Idea.

By Maureen Bay

Everyone knows that gold has gone up. What hasn’t – right?

The commodities have been blasted on the morning news every day. A day has not passed in at least the last 10 years of market volatility that I have not checked the daily London fix for gold, platinum and silver.

The price for metals have dictated the ultimate price that I have to purchase and then sell any gold item. It can make a difference. Remember some years back when you could buy a decent 14K cable necklace chain for well under $100? Sorry to say, those days have passed.

I’ll give you a recent example. A few days ago we ordered 2.5 inches of 14K yellow gold chain links to construct a safety chain for a bracelet. Granted, it was heavier than usual for a solid link bracelet. The piece of chain cost me wholesale $28. Add to that two gold jump rings and two solders and a polish and cleanup by my bench jeweler who has four babies at home to feed! What do you think that repair has cost you? I used to charge, in the “olden” days, about $25 for this job!

Of course, not everything has gone up. Generally speaking, one can purchase cultured pearls for less money today than you could 20 years ago. Something to do with supply and demand, stricter laws on pollution and advanced technologies in production. Strands of Chinese freshwater pearls can be purchased for a fraction of what they used to cost, and the advanced sciences have produced superior quality. Frankly, it’s getting harder to tell the difference between Japanese Akoya cultured pearls and similar size and shape freshwater grown pearls.

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Although not as tangible, the precious colored gems, like emerald, sapphire and ruby, have steadily increased in cost also over the years. These gems are usually from limited geographical sources that are often effected by geopolitical unrest, substandard mining conditions and general Third World conditions.

Despite the conditions, the world is becoming more educated, even in these remote parts of the globe. The independent mine owner in Muzo, Colombia, knows exactly what his product is selling for on the streets of New York. Just like the average engagement diamond buyer, everyone has a wealth of information now online.

Like usual, I have a story. This one happens to be about emeralds and second wives. According to a survey of British consumers, conducted by, the second wife has considerably more spent on her for jewelry than the first. Sometimes it pays to be No. 2.

One of my personal standout experiences with this was for a client who wanted me to design a ring for his wife – the first one. I searched for what he wanted, a blue/green Colombian emerald of perfect quality and considerable size. It was outstanding and his budget of 16K just made it. I thought it was going to be a one-of-a-kind ring.

Ten years later and after the divorce, the client again came to me to duplicate the ring for his second wife! Emeralds had gone up a bit over the years since we made it the last time and his budget had to be revised. I got him a chair. I wonder if I will be making a third ring?

So, just for the record, and to answer the burning question…my personal favorite gemstone is the tourmaline! It happens to be our featured gemstone in this month’s ad. It’s not the most rare or expensive gem that nature makes … I just like it!!

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