updated 30 Dec 2011, 08:06
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Fri, Dec 30, 2011
Urban, The Straits Times
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Rock stars
by Ian Lee

As Valentine's Day draws near, one question that some men are struggling with is: Which stone can I wow her with?

After all, diamonds and other sparklers now come in a bewildering assortment of shapes and colours.

Urban has this advice: Yes, a classic white diamond is a reliable dazzler but women are also lusting after alternative stones that come in unusual shapes and colours these days.

Indeed, an unnamed romantic in Singapore bought a rare red diamond two years ago - a heart-shaped, 1.43-carat fancy diamond called the Andrey.

It was unveiled by high-end Swiss jeweller Chopard, which declined to reveal how much the buyer paid.

Patrick Normand, the managing director of Chopard (Asia), notes: 'Red diamonds are among the rarest of all gemstones. Few people ever set eyes on one of these wonders.

'Only 20 red diamonds are known to exist worldwide and their value is proportionate to this exceptional scarcity.'


Trends in precious stones come and go but a classic colourless diamond with a round, brilliant cut is a rock star.

The round, brilliant-cut shape is prized because it accentuates the sparkle and lustre of the diamond.

Prices vary widely and can start from $438 for Goldheart's 73-facet Celestial diamond pendant, for example.

However, be prepared to shell out $1,500 for a Hearts On Fire diamond at local chain TianPo Jewellery, as it takes four times longer than an average brilliant diamond to cut.

'The round brilliant is an evergreen shape that is loved regardless of trends and seasons,' says Julie Barry, the marketing director of American diamond specialist Hearts On Fire.

Other shapes such as princess (square) and emerald (rectangular) have a lower light refraction, making them sparkle less, she adds.

While round remains the top shape choice, experts say emerald-shaped diamonds and mixing coloured gems are two key growing trends.

'Savvy consumers are beginning to seek more variety in jewellery and this usually translates to a desire for different shapes and colours,' says Gary Goh, the brand manager of local jewellery chain Goldheart.

Both classic and fashion pieces have their place, experts note. Unique shapes and colourful pieces can be counted on to make a fashion statement, while classic pieces remain popular for significant events such as weddings and engagements.

Emerald- shaped diamonds, while not as bright as round brilliant cuts, have received a fillip courtesy of celebrities - Eva Longoria, Nicole Richie, Paris Hilton and Jessica Alba have all flashed engagement rings with diamonds in that shape.

Picking up on this trend, Goldheart introduced an emerald-shaped diamond collection called Ascente two years ago.

It proved a success and the range has since expanded by 5 per cent. Prices start from $1,420 for a pendant.

The growing popularity of the emerald shape can also be seen at American jeweller Tiffany & Co., which released an updated version of its mixed-cut shaped diamond called Lucida last December. Prices start from $3,200.

The latest rocks from both brands combine an emerald shape with a round diamond's brilliant cut to strike a balance between the brilliance of a round and the desirability of the rectangular shape.

Diamonds are also increasingly being integrated with other types of gemstones in jewellery pieces. Experts say the demand for coloured gemstones has jumped 25 per cent since 2008.

TianPo, for example, fuses diamonds with precious coloured gemstones, including quartz and sapphire, and precious metals such as white gold to create bolder and more interesting pieces, says Joanne Lim, its marketing manager.

Local jeweller Soo Kee has released a pink and blue sapphire and diamond collection to coincide with Valentine's Day called Dolce Festa. Prices start from $699 for a rose gold and pink sapphire ring.

Brand manager Kate Ang attributes the move to 'the strong demand among the young, fashion-conscious group for the versatile stone in an array of fun, bright colours'.

Goldheart is taking it a step further with coloured diamonds. After launching Tres Bleu, a collection of blue diamonds, last year, it unveiled Tres Brune, a collection of brown diamonds under the brand's fashion line Mode last month.

V-Day dandies can expect to pay $2,885 to $5,063 for the latter.

'We wanted to cross-breed the fancy colours of gemstones with the sparkle of the diamond to create stunning yet wearable pieces for the fashion-conscious,' says Goldheart's Goh.

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This article was first published in Urban, The Straits Times.

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