Jewellery value: Greenbacks and green amethysts

Sometimes, on blogs I enjoy, I see jewellery featured and I think, Nooooo, not because it isn't pretty, but because I am my mother's daughter. Why, I wonder would you spend $2, 500 that way?

Example: These are new Pomellato earrings, 8mm prasiolite studs set in 18k rose gold. The price on  TrueFacet is $US 2,305—okay, if that sum is beer money to you. You do get the Pomellato cachet; they use juicy stones, often in interesting cuts. The bezel setting is cool because you just see the stone on the ear...but still.


Why am I calling this poor value? Prasiolite is also known as "green amethyst", it's a quartz, and nearly all of it is created by heating amethyst or yellow quartz. Amethyst is a very reasonably-priced stone, and though some hoity-toity jewellers avoid the stone, I love it in a rich, grapey hue. Though I hesitate to say prasiolite is "dirt cheap", I would not expect to pay this much for 8mm faceted material.

Pomelatto are owned by Kering, the luxury-goods conglomerate headed by François-Henri Pinault.

Let's drop by Etsy to look at several pairs of green amethyst earrings, also set in gold.

If you want solid 14k rose gold, and do not mind prongs, similar 8mm prasiolite studs are only $US 250 from Etsy seller Teresa Pytell:

Photo: Teresa Pytell on Etsy

If I wanted a pair in that modern bezel, I would be very tempted by the Nepal-based BlackLotusDesigns' crisp, elegant 6mm studs set in 14k yellow gold, for about $US 245.

Photo: BlackLotusDesigns on Etsy

If you like simple gold or silver settings for earrings or rings, see BlackLotusDesigns "Made to Order" section. You'll also enjoy the jeweller Rachel's story.

When I look at inexpensive stones, I figure, here is where I can get some real estate. I like big stones, and prasiolite is not ruby, so bring it on, honeybunch.

At MarieWoo Designs, I found a pair of graceful gold vermeil branches holding lavish (21 x13mm) marquise prasiolites in a deeper green (I prefer this colour to the paler Pomellatto) for about $US $250, about nine times less.

Now, they are vermeil, but in an earring, vermeil holds up well and Mom says the price difference will pay for that car repair you've been putting off.

Caveats: You'd have to see the earrings to assess the quality: is the colour even? Does the saturation please you? Is the setting substantial and secure? Many jewellers do not, understandably, accept returns on custom orders, so ask to see more photos or ask for the weight of the gold used in the setting.

Should your head be turned by a luxe label, stop and look around. Sometimes the luxury brand does provide elevated design and materials. Then you might open your purse, or patiently wait for your dream piece to show up on a resale site.

This year, the Passage will dress it windows in gems (including pearls, of course) that combine beauty, value and artistic expression—and always, I am interested in your own projects and thoughts.


LauraH said…
Love that your first non-pearl gem post is about green stones, my favourite colour. Such a difference in price, amazing what luxury brands will charge...and get away with. If knowledge is power, I feel more powerful when I read your jewellery posts. As always, the warmth and wit help get the lesson across. Mom would be pleased.

"Beauty, value and artistic expression" - another wonderful year ahead!
Denise said…
So interesting to read your comment regarding Pomellato. I sort of fell in love with a ring from that brand, the Ring Sabbia, a cobblestone pave ring. It's just what I want but I think it's too much. I've been looking for a similar ring but have had no luck. Would you have any leads?
Duchesse said…
LauraH: Sometimes there is an enormous "brand tax", but other times, there is a distinct difference in quality of the material. I only wish I could see the options I showed in person. I am wary of luxury and "better" branded jewellery, but not all of it is overpriced.

Denise: You will be unlikely to a similar ring from retail vendors, they would get slapped with a lawsuit.

So, you could find a jeweller who can custom-make a ring "inspired" by the Sabbia. It is not a terrific technical challenge and unlike other rings Pomellato make, it does not have a hard-to-source style of cut, like the Nudo' buff-top/checkerboard. Basically it's a plaque with pavé.

Another option is to ask Nancy Revy at Beladora to keep her eye out for the Sabbia in the resale market; they carry Pomellato on their site.

Laura Jantek said…
Love green stones! Have a hankering for green garnets... My birthstone! And a deep delight in emeralds...sigh
Duchesse said…
Denise: See this:

and also other rings in the Stardust collection. Anne also makes custom pieces.
emma said…
LOL! I must be so out of touch - I don't mind prongs!
Duchesse said…
emma: The prong setting is classic and just fine. You will see prong-set stones at every level of jewellery, forever, because it is a secure (when prongs are tight), non-obtrusive setting. Think of it as the black dress of settings.

The particular setting Pomelattto use, however, is technically more demanding, and requires stones cut specifically for that. Think about it; the stone has to be shaped a bit like a mushroom so the bezel holds only the lower part of the stone, with the top very slightly larger, so the stone seems to float on the ear. That kind of detail is what separates the pleasing from the innovative.
fmcgmccllc said…
Love prasiolite, and I own some, but always at a low price. I love the hunt and it is possible to find some wonderful pieces at good prices. I have a fabulous pair of earrings from a good jewelry store that held a sample sale, less than 200 US for 14K. I will try to send you a picture.
Duchesse said…
fmcgm: Oh, I would love to see those! It is a beautiful coloured gem, and still under the radar.
Janice Riggs said…
Fascinating - thanks! When I used prasiolite earrings on The Vivienne Files I didn't know a single thing about them except that they were the perfect color that I wanted to include...

I so appreciate your knowledge, and your generosity in sharing it with us.

spacegeek33 said…
Love you and your blog--you have introduced me to Kojima Pearls and Sarah--I have 3 or 4 pieces of hers! Somehow (perhaps through you??) I got in touch with a Mexican designer--Sonia Bormann Diseno--who works in Puerto Vallarta and does amazing things with pearls also. We just returned from there, where we picked up a gorgeous necklace of freshwater pearls at a very reasonable price. She was lovely to talk to as well--a special treat. Just thought you should know of another wonderful designer.
Duchesse said…
spacegeek: Thank you so much for telling us about her; for readers, here is the store's Facebook page:

Does not seem to be a shop web site or e-store, so maybe a visit to PV is an idea. I'd sure like to see what you chose, liked what I could see on the site. The pearls you bought I am guessing are probably Chinese? The only native pearls to Mexico are Sea of Cortez, as expensive as the finest South Seas.
Mardel said…
Love the color of those stones, from pale to deep, but I'm not sure I'd ever actually seen the deeper colored ones. I had a pair of drops on a wire that I loved but never wore. I think they were too pale next to my pale skin. I've had them converted to removable drops that can be worn with other earrings, and now they go out a great deal.
Duchesse said…
Mardel: A reno to a drop can be an excellent way to wear stones that were languishing. Prasolite is radiated (it's safe) to get that green colour, like blue topaz, so various saturations are just a matter of treatment.

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