Collector's choice: more than 700 rare coloured gemstones up for auction this autumn

An online auction of one of the world’s largest collections of coloured gemstones in the world takes place this September, and Rachael Taylor enjoyed an exclusive preview of some of the top lots.

David Jerome Collection pear-shaped unmounted tanzanite

By Rachael Taylor

The David Jerome Collection is simply stunning, and this is not a word I use lightly. The sheer scale of the collection, the incredible quality of the rare coloured gemstones, and the fact that all 700 have been collected by a single hobbyist, is quite overwhelming.

Within the collection, being sold through auctioneer John Pye, are more than 700 coloured gemstones, both loose and mounted in precious jewellery. Highlights of the auction include a 133.3ct “museum-quality” pear-shaped unmounted tanzanite, and a pair of earrings set with Zambian emeralds weighing a total of 35.05ct, looped by 5.54ct of white diamonds. Other intriguing rare gemstones include fine examples of Zultanite, aquamarine, rubellite, morganite, sapphire and ruby.

Of course, the question that instantly comes to mind is, who is David Jerome? While the name has been given to the collection, it is in fact a stage name, as the collector likes to refer to it, to help conceal his identity.

Despite his enormous collection of coloured gemstones, which have never before been offered for sale, Jerome, as we will call him, is not from the jewellery industry, though he does have quite a few friends with Bond Street addresses. Jerome made his fortune in industries worlds apart from gems, but has always had a passion for colour, and the moment he set eyes on tanzanite and its trichoric colour-changing properties, he was hooked.

“My father used to collect stones but I had no interest in them until I saw tanzanite – I needed to know where it was born,” he says. “I can’t just go to a wholesaler, I have to go to the mines. The last 20 years I’ve devoted every minute of my life to stones.”

Read about how tanzanites are the perfect investment

This retirement hobby has taken Jerome all around the world and has won him a reputation among jewellers and miners as a collector of the best of the best. As such, the David Jerome Collection is a marvel of some of the world’s top-quality stones, and the choice to sell it through John Pye, an auctioneer not known for big gem sales, could make for a very interesting auction day.

The gems will be available to view at John Pye’s new showroom at 5 Bond Street by private appointment from August, and the gems will be split into three online-only auctions, the first of which will take place in September. The estimates on this treasure trove of gems and jewels, which are all certified, start at less than £1,000 and are conservative, set by Jerome himself, and based on what he paid for the stones rather than an independent expert jewellery valuer.

Whether or not these low opening bids and unorthodox choice of auction house leads to bargains come auction day remains to be seen, but for gem lovers this is a jewellery auction worth keeping tabs on.

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