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A Glittering Safe

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
and eme­rald.

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.


Augus­ti­ner­stra­ße 9
1010 Vien­na
Tel: +43(1)535 97 69
Fax: +43(1)535 31 73


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.

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