By Anthony DeMarco in New York
Having grown up in the gemstone business, Niveet Nagpal has strong opinions when it comes to natural coloured gems.
The president of Omi Privé, known for its handcrafted jewels featuring rare, natural coloured gems, says that for buyers of jewellery featuring precious stones, the emotional aspect should trump all other concerns.
"The stones should speak to you," he says. "Gemstones are nature's gift to mankind and I believe each individual has the ability to connect with these gems."
After the emotional impact, then, it's time to look at the more technical aspects of buying gems, with the most important factor being colour, followed by rarity.
"The richer, more vivid colours will be the most valuable," says Nagpal. "The rarer a specific stone type is in nature, the more valuable and coveted it should be."
Then the natural gem must exhibit "fire" or brilliance, with nature and man playing a part in the process.
"The clarity and brightness of how the gemstone is formed play a role in its brilliance, and this factor cannot be changed," he points out. "A well-cut stone can bring out more brilliance and sometimes even improve the colour."
The price of rubies, emeralds and sapphires from the world's most sought-after locations now demand astronomical prices. However, there are good-quality alternatives, says Nagpal.
"Spinel is a great alternative to ruby. It is harder to source, making it rarer, and it's generally brighter because of its crystal properties." In addition, he says Mozambique rubies are a cost-effective alternative to rubies from Burma.
He recommends the "bright and deep saturated greens" of tsavorite and chrome tourmaline as alternatives to emerald. And sapphires in lighter shades of blue are also reasonably priced.
Spinel is one of Nagpal's favourites these days along with the pinkish-orange padparadscha sapphire. "The finer quality stones are extremely rare and not well known to many people, which makes each mesmerising design more valuable."
With Radiant Orchid named the 2014 Pantone Color of the Year, there has been a trend toward pink stones. Nagpal says this doesn't factor much into Omi Privé designs, however. "We don't necessarily follow fashion trends as our pieces are designed to be timeless."
Read more on bi-coloured jewellery