I don’t wear much jewelry, costume or otherwise. When I was in public life, I bought a few nice pieces, mostly turquoise, which I picked up during my visits to Arizona. At the time I started collecting, the stone was semi-precious. Now, with dwindling quantities, it’s become a precious stone. But I don’t think of my pieces as investments. In fact, I’ve given some away as gifts.
Elizabeth I of England wore a dazzling array of jewels as she grew older. One biographer suggested she used the glitter to detract from the ravages time wrought upon her person. Certainly, given their great value, wearing them brought her respect, if not admiration.
While newly cut gems are readily available, the Duchess of Windsor’s estate sale increased the public’s awareness of rarities to be found at auction houses. That’s probably why their prices are soaring. As women have become financially independent, they are willing to buy jewelry for themselves rather depend upon gifts from an amorous suitor. (“Why Estate Jewelry Is Sparkling,” by Stacy Perman, Fortune, September 15, 2016, pg. pg 41.)
Thinking of jewelry as an investment is risky business. The market fluctuates as do tastes. But signed pieces hold their value and, if possible, an investor should obtain a genealogical certificate from a reputable dealer or auction house. (Ibid pg 42.) When it comes to buying rubies and sapphires, writer Stacy Perman advises that besides quality, cut , carat and clarity, the country of origin is important. The finest rubies, those of a “pigeon blood” color, are said to come from Myanmar. (Ibid pg. 42.)
Most of us don’t live in a rarefied atmosphere where we must worry about certificates or country of origin. Most of us buy jewelry to accent a garment rather than aim to make a status statement. Wearability is key. That’s why, though I have given away diamonds and rubies and pearls, I’ve kept my faux silver beads. They go with everything and never tarnish.