Interview with Stefan Hammerl
“ALL THAT IS GOLD DOESN’T GLITTER” GOES AN OLD SAYING. WELL, WHAT DO YOU KNOW, THERE’S A GLIMMER OF TRUTH TO THE ADAGE. FOR GENERATIONS, THE STABLE GOLD RESERVE WAS THE SAFEST AND ONE OF THE MORE STABLE TYPES OF INVESTMENTS EVEN FOR PRIVATE HOUSEHOLDS. YET, TO THE HORROR OF INVESTORS AND JEWELLERS ALIKE, THE PRICE OF GOLD HAS GONE THROUGH THE ROOF OVER THE COURSE OF THE LAST YEARS. We interviewed Mr Hammerl about the matter, an expert in the field, as he’s been running his company, based in Vienna, for some time now. He’s been working with precious Stones and crafting jewellery, investing in a trend which has been successful for the past 24 years: offering and creating precious pieces of jewellery made from gemstones, perfectly cut by the world’s best cutters in Idar-Oberstein.
Mr Hammerl, why should one invest in gemstones?
Our company has invested in quality right from the start. People have always valued perfect precious stones. They’re also well aware that said perfection represents a considerable tangible asset. Yet 25 years ago, the only ‘precious stones‘ anyone knew were those belonging to the famed corundrum and beryllium family, i.e. your traditional rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. There’s nothing wrong about them. However, to dismiss everything else falling under the term ‘half-precious stones’, and to classify them as a lower category would be extremely presumptuous. We tried breaking the spell, proving how other materials such as tourmaline or garnets, peridot and spinels can be worthy contenders for traditional stones due to their variety.
Diamonds are the traditional safe monetary investment, are they not?
Diamonds are often mentioned when investors want to park their excess capital somewhere. Mainly for the ease and logicality of the solution. Provided you observe specific purchasing rules, everything will run in line with standard criteria or according to a specific scheme, and you’ll obtain a stone ‘that does what it says on the label’, namely reflect the well-known ‘C quartet’ of a genuine diamond: carat, colour, clarity, and cut.
What’s the difference between purchasing diamonds and gemstones?
The main difference is the most important trait for diamonds: their perfection. However, that’s not necessarily the same criteria adopted for gemstones. Quite the opposite: caution is advised if a gemstone lacks grooves altogether. There are numerous artificial pieces on the market today, which follow a trend seen in the past, too. These fakes are becoming better and better. You cannot rely on your own judgement. You’ll either have to pay an expensive gemstone laboratory to determine the quality and a gross evaluation of the price they could fetch on the market, or head to your ‘go-to’ expert who may, unfortunately, not have enough experience in gemstones to assess your find. The majority will head to the venue they’ve been visiting for years, taking their gemstone with them: their trusted dealer.
If someone were to make a ‘sustainable’ investment, which gemstone would you recommend?
Gemstones that aren’t frequent today, i.e. whose stock is as good as depleted, are experiencing a comeback. Those are, without of a doubt, the spectacularly colourful tourmaline as well as the neon-blue paraiba tourmaline, the garnet Family with the brown-orange mandarin garnet , the bottle-green tsavorite or red almandine, but also the red spinel with its highly-reflective surface, the olive-green peridot and the violetblue tanzanite. Obviously, besides the classic blue sapphire, kashmir sapphires have become rare and are in demand, as well as untreated ruby
What role do provenance and processing play? Is refinement allowed and to what extent can they be proved?
The beautiful thing about gemstones is you can exactly determine their local ‘footprint’ by analysing their grooves under the microscope or, to be even more efficient, by using a spectrum analysis. Most blue sapphires are the easiest to assess with the naked eye alone, so imagine what happens when magnifying the surface tenfold. ‘Refinement’ is a sensitive matter. Of course, the most requested are untreated stones featuring a vibrant, colourful surface. High temperatures are employed to increase a stone’s natural colour. Most corundrums are placed in ovens in their natural state, a traditional processing method used for gemstones. It would be remiss of the dealer not to mention whether the stone was treated when putting it on sale, especially as you can still determine its state by taking it to specialised lab.
Which gemstones would you recommend as an investments?
One of the most coveted stones on the market right now is TOURMALINE, especially the paraiba tourmaline. Tourmaline has always been in demand: it’s mostly transparent and comes in an exciting range of colours, often featuring more than one at the same time and covering the whole rainbow, from crystal-clear transparency to black. However, if there’s one word that exercises a Special fascination over gemstones lovers, especially tourmaline aficionados: that’s ‘paraiba’ – a relatively ‘young’ stone even among experts, as they were only introduced on the market in the 1980s.
RED SPINELS are found in India, and share the same quarries as rubies. Contrary to the nearly always cloudy ruby, the lively spinel sparkles for ist incredible lustre, transparency, and sparkly hue.
The EMERALD comes from the beryl family and is the most expensive. Up to the Middle Ages, it could actually only be worn by the richest and most powerful people and, as ‘recently’ as the 13th century, the only place you could find the gemstone in Europe was the Habachtal valley in Pinzgau, Austria, in the High Tauern mountain range.
The YELLOW BERYL is Special because of its colour: yellow is a colour that puts us at ease, and, what’s more, we associate it with our own life force. Think of sunshine in mythology, the sun gods Helios, Apollo and Sol. You cannot escape the colour: it attracts attention. Classic gold beryl, green-yellow heliodor and yellow sapphire as well as the orange mandarin garnet are market favourites.
Investors can choose freely from a range of colours and tastes. But what do investors expect?
Consider how investing in precious stones is akin to philosophy, to a certain extent based purely on personal taste and peculiar interests. And just as much as one may believe n the magic and the healing powers f certain stones, offering aid and ellbeing for those who tap into hese hidden powers of nature, nvestors also have to believe and rust in the fact that precious and rare tones can conquer the market even ecades after having purchased hem. At the end of the day, it will e a good investment regardless of he financial return, as investors will oon realise how difficult it will be o part ways with such elegant and efined gemstones! They’ll draw us in o their story, making us part of it by simply owning them. When it Comes o gemstones, always think about he emotional return on investment. oreover, this specific type of return s tax-free! However, please consider hat having an internationally ecognised certification is a must. t will document its stable value – ou should only purchase precious emstones with their corresponding ertificate.
Incidentally, all listed stones and ieces of jewellery come from ur shop or, when it comes to emstones, have been selected for heir quality and stable value.