Brown Gems Renaissance?

In the gem and jewellery trade it´s established fact, that brown is the least sellable colour.

This is true not only for gems with brown body colour, like Smoky Quartz, Smoky Topaz or brown Tourmaline (Dravite), but even more so for gems of other colours if they sport a brownish tinge.

In Ruby, any brown component, be it ever so slight, is mercilessly punished by a decrease in price. Any brown in purple Sapphires, Amethysts or Rubellites will render the gems very slow sellers indeed.

However, that was not always the case. In fact, until the 1970ies brown gems like Smoky Quartz ranked rather high with jewellery customers. Seniors of the trade probably shudder to think back at the enormous red-gold monstrosities with chunky Smoky Quartzes (back then stubbornly and misleadingly marketed as "Smoky Topaz"), near colourless Aquamarines or synthetic Spinels that were so popular in the 1950ies and 60ies.

Every now and then, when the fashion industry declares brown to be the trendy colour, the jewellery trade draws hope, that Smoky Quartz and (the real) Smoky Topaz might regain their former glory.

Alas, so far all these hopes were futile. Several years ago, when Brown and "Aubergine" were hyped, we could not measure the slightest increase in sales of neither Smoky Quartz nor brownish Amethyst.

Now, it seems the fashion gurus decided to launch another effort. Knowing that brown in customers´ minds is associated with low-value, the talk is all about "earth colours". In our times of crisis, this presumably aims to instill feelings of down-to-earthness and security.

Well, we shall see, if the strategy works out.

In any case, we of the Vienna Gem Cented do hold the opinion, that there are some hidden treasures to be lifted in the realm of brown gems.

In particular we would like to draw your attention to Andradite Garnet. Andradite has a very special virtue indeed: it´s extraordinarily high dispersion. In fact this attribute, commonly known as the fire of a gem, is significantly higher in Andradite than it is in Diamond, the one gem associated with "fire". The dispersion value of Andradite is 0.057, whereas diamond registers at a "mere" 0.044.

The strong fire, high refractive index (1.88), very good lustre and last but least the affordable price make Andradite a viable alternative to brown Diamond.

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Andradites from the Green Dragon Mine in Namibia