10 of the Rarest Gemstones in the World

Most of us are familiar with popular gemstones such as diamonds, rubies, and sapphires. However, the range of precious stones goes far beyond the types that are readily found in jewelry. Many beautiful gemstones are less well known simply because of their astounding rarity. Ten that you might not even have heard of are:

Larimar: Found only in the Dominican Republic, this variety of the silicate mineral pectolite can be white, light blue, blue-green, or deep blue. It was originally discovered in 1916 by a priest, but not mined at that time. The stone was rediscovered by a Dominican and a Peace Corps volunteer in 1974.

Tanzanite: Discovered in 1967 in the Mererani foothills of Tanzania, this variety of the mineral zoisite exhibits strong trichroism (meaning that it can appear either blue, violet, or burgundy, depending on how the crystal is oriented). The only area in which this gemstone can be found is a mere 4.3 by 1.2 miles.

Black opal: While white opals are fairly common, black opals, which have a black background color, are extremely rare. The vivid play-of-color that characterizes the most valuable opals stands out particularly well against a dark background, making these stones highly coveted.

Grandidierite: This mineral was first discovered in Madagascar in 1902, and named in honor of Alfred Grandidier, a French explorer. Grandidierite is a blue-green type of magnesium aluminum borosilicate that gets its color from trace amounts of iron. The few gem-quality examples of this mineral ever found have all come from Madagascar.

Alexandrite: First discovered in the Ural Mountains of Russia, this color-change variety of chrysoberyl was named in honor of Alexander II, the heir to the Russian throne. The gem can appear red or green, depending on the light source under which it is viewed. Although new deposits have been discovered since the original source was mined out, this gem is no less rare.

Benitoite: This gem is named for the San Benito River in California, near where it was first found in 1907. While the rare barium titanium silicate mineral has been found in other places, the only gem-quality examples come from a sole source in California, which closed down in 2005, making this gem even more difficult to find.

Painite: Found only in Myanmar, painite was identified as a new type of gemstone in 1957 from a single crystal specimen. Although more painite has been discovered over the last decade, much of it cannot be made into faceted gems due to heavy inclusions and fractures.

Red beryl: This extremely rare type of beryl gets its unusual color from trace amounts of manganese. It is found in gem-quality crystals in only one location in the world, the Wah Wah Mountains of Utah.

Taaffeite: Taaffeite is the only mineral known to have been first identified as a new type of gemstone from a cut and polished stone. The mauve stone had been misidentified as a spinel, but its discoverer, Richard Taaffe, noted qualities that distinguished it from that gemstone. It was eventually traced back to its source in Sri Lanka, but remains exceedingly rare.

Jeremejevite: Although this light purplish-blue mineral was first described in 1883, the first crystals found in Russia were tiny and not suitable for cutting. Sources in Namibia have since yielded jeremejevites that are large enough and of suitable quality for gemstones, but in quantities so small that it is still considered one of the rarest of all gemstones.

Whether you’re looking for unusual gems or a familiar favorite, Auction King has a wide selection of fine jewelry at below market prices. Our secure auction site allows you to bid in confidence from the comfort of your own home. Register today for a free online account and start bidding.

A Guide to Buying Watches at Online Auctions

Online auctions are democratizing the experience of buying luxury goods at auction—after all, if you no longer have to be in a specific place at a specific time in order to participate in an auction, you have far more opportunity to take part. An online auction can be a great way to find luxury watches at below-market prices, if you know the right approach to take. To get the most satisfaction out of purchasing a watch at an online auction, here’s what you need to know:

  1. Decide what you want: Luxury watches come in a wide variety of brands and general aesthetics. Choosing the type you prefer is the first step to guiding your decision on what to bid on. There is no right or wrong here, so don’t feel like you have to choose a particular watch just because it is popular with other collectors. While a luxury watch can be an investment, you shouldn’t only buy with potential resale value in mind. Watches can take a while to appreciate in value, so above all you should purchase something that you will enjoy owning.
  2. Research: Once you’ve identified the brand and model of watch you’re interested in, do some homework. Get a general sense of what price you could expect to pay, and how the condition of the watch could affect it. This will help you spot good deals—or rule out overpriced items—and set your budget.
  3. Identify items to bid on: Once you’ve decided what type of watch you’re in the market for, then you’re ready to look for specific watches to bid on. Examine the details of the item in advance to make sure it has both the features you’re interested in and is in acceptable condition. If you have any questions, ask them! A reputable dealer will be happy to answer any inquiries about the watches they have up for bid. Which brings us to the final point:
  4. Buy from a trusted source: High-value collectibles will always attract counterfeiters looking to make a quick buck off of trusting buyers. Make sure that the auction site you’re dealing with offers both verification of the authenticity of the watches they have for auction and secure bidding and payment methods. If the site seems defensive or not forthcoming about whether the watches they have on offer are genuine, that’s a red flag that they’re probably not.

When you take your time to consider your purchase carefully, buying a watch at an online auction can be a rewarding experience. At Auction King, we offer a wide and varying selection of luxury watches from iconic brands such as Rolex, Cartier, Bvlgari, and more, with bids starting as low as $1. Our proprietary bidding platform allows you to bid securely and privately from the comfort of your own home. Register today for a free online account to start bidding and start winning!

Why Buying Jewelry from an Online Auction is a Great Value

Why Buying Jewelry from an Online Auction is a Great Value Auction King

It’s common to assume that high-quality jewelry inevitably comes with an equally high price tag. However, that doesn’t always have to be the case. Experienced jewelry collectors know that buying at auction is a little-known secret to getting fine jewelry at unbelievable prices, and that the growing availability of online auctions is bringing this opportunity to a wider audience.

To understand why an online auction is a great place to find a bargain on jewelry, it helps to understand why retail outlets are often not good places to get a deal. Any brick-and-mortar store will be paying defined wholesale costs for all of their goods. On top of that, they have the overhead costs of running a physical store, expenses that get folded into the cost of every piece of merchandise sold, which drives prices higher. If a necklace or earrings are made by a specific designer, the premium for that name or brand can mean an even larger price tag. Some retail jewelry stores and chains routinely set prices above what they know the pieces are really worth and then run constant “sales” and “specials” to make customers feel like they’re getting a bargain. That’s rarely the case in those circumstances.

In contrast, online auctions give customers advantages that benefit their bottom line:

No need to meet overhead: Online auctions often source their merchandise in ways that mean there is no concern with making up manufacturing costs or meeting minimums. Fine jewelry can come from government seizure of goods, overstocking, abandoned pawn shop items, estate sales, and more. In those cases, the sellers are highly motivated to get rid of stock that is taking up space at whatever price they can get.

Convenience: Time is money, and the amount of time you have to spend traveling from store to store to find the ring or bracelet you’re looking for is something you should consider as part of the overall cost of buying jewelry. Purchasing from an online auction saves you gas money and fatigue, since you can browse and bid from the comfort of your own home. You also have the opportunity to purchase from a far larger and more varied selection of jewelry than you’d be able to find at any single store.

Of course, in order to truly realize the potential advantage of purchasing fine jewelry at an online auction, you have to buy from a reputable auction house. Auction King authenticates every piece of jewelry sold on our site, providing certificates of authenticity so you can be sure that what you get is exactly what you expected. Our auction format, conducted by a live professional auctioneer, gives you the genuine experience of a live auction, where the ultimate winning bid is determined by the flow of bidding, not by an artificially timed or automated process. Finally, our items do not have reserve prices, so bidding on even a priceless diamond ring can start as low as $1.

Auction King is your source for fine jewelry at below-market prices. We offer a continually updated selection of necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings, and more featuring a variety of styles, gemstones, and precious metals. Register for a free online account and start bidding today.

Are Cartier Watches a Good Investment?

Are Cartier Watches a Good Investment Auction King

When a new collector thinks of luxury watches in terms of an investment, Cartier may not be the first name that springs to mind. From one perspective, this is understandable. Founded in 1847 by Louis-Francois Cartier, a master jeweler, the company was known for its fine jewelry well before it designed its first wristwatch. However, Cartier watches are prized for their workmanship as well as their superior design, which makes them worth consideration if you’re in the market for a luxury wristwatch.

Cartier’s history as a watchmaker began in the nineteenth century, when it produced jeweled and enameled pocket watches that echoed the motifs of its jewelry lines. However, in modern times we associate their watchmaking history with the advent of their first men’s wristwatch in 1904. This was the Santos, created for the aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont, who had complained that consulting a pocket watch was impractical when flying. The square-bezel design that Cartier produced appealed to more than just its original recipient—in fact, variations on the original design are still part of Cartier’s watch line today.

Equally iconic, the Cartier Tank watch, first created in 1917, was inspired by the design of Renault World War I tanks. The first prototype was given as a gift to General Pershing. It is known for its clean rectangular look, updated several times in the century since its introduction. The ladies’ versions of this line have proven to be as popular as the men’s, and again, you’ll find several current variations of this design for sale today.

In general, Cartier is known for the cutting-edge designs of watches such as the Panthère, Ballon Bleu, Baignoire, and Tortue, but it would be a mistake to assume that the brand is all about looks. Cartier dedicates as much energy and passion to the precision of the movement within the watches it produces as it does to their exterior design. Thus, a Cartier watch is not simply a beautiful ornament, but a quality timepiece as well.

As with any collectible item where subjectivity is a factor in appraising value, Cartier watches should not be considered a short-term investment. In general, individual watches that are from iconic lines or that incorporate precious materials like gold or gemstones are more likely to maintain a predictable price, but that isn’t always the case. The amount you might be offered at resale can vary according to current fashions, so be prepared to hold on to the watch until market conditions are right. This is why it is always a good idea to buy a watch that appeals to your personal sense of style, so that you can enjoy owning it until you feel the time is right to sell.

To get a Cartier watch at below-market values, you should first check out auctions. At Auction King, we regularly stock previously owned luxury watches spanning a wide variety of famous brands and styles, with opening bids starting as low as $1. We triple-check every item on our site for authenticity so you can bid with confidence. Register for a free online account today to get started.

Tips for Making Custom Jewelry with Loose Stones

Tips for Making Custom Jewelry with Loose Stones Auction King

Everyone has their own taste when it comes to fine jewelry. Some prefer simple pieces, others prefer ornate. Some wear signature precious stones or metals exclusively, while others mix and match. With so much variation in personal taste to contend with, it’s no wonder that sometimes commercially available jewelry designs don’t quite match what you’re looking for. However, there’s no reason to settle for something that isn’t exactly right. If you start with loose stones, you can have a piece custom-made to fit your vision exactly.

Perhaps you like a particular style of ring but would like it with a different center stone. Or maybe you haven’t seen the type of pendant you’re imagining in any jewelry store. An experienced jeweler can help you create the exact piece you want. Here are some tips on how to go about it:

Find your jeweler

Look for someone in your area who advertises custom work. Ask friends and family if they have anyone they would recommend, or check out online reviews to get a sense of who’s reliable. If you already have a jeweler you know and trust, even better.

Discuss your idea

Talk to your prospective jeweler about what you have in mind. What type of piece are you looking for—a bracelet, pendant, earrings, ring? What size? What kind of metal? What type of stone? The more specific you can be in what you’re interested in, the better able your jeweler will be to create a design that appeals to you. If you already have a stone or stones that you would like the jeweler to use, make sure they know. They’ll need to know the exact size of any stone you want to use in order to design the mounting accurately.

Be willing to listen to the advice your jeweler gives you during this step. For example, some softer stones, such as opals, are not well suited for harsh or daily wear. Other stones, such as emeralds, can be brittle and should be worn in settings designed to protect them. A thoughtful design can help ensure the longevity of your piece and maximize your enjoyment.

Establish your terms

Some jewelers may charge a minimum fee to create a custom piece of jewelry, especially if they are fabricating the mounting from scratch. Make sure the proposed price is in line with your planned budget. You’ll also want to be clear on the process, from preliminary discussions and sketches to delivery of the final piece. Getting a custom piece of jewelry made typically takes longer than simply having a calibrated stone inserted into a premade setting, so be prepared to exercise some patience, especially if the item you’ve requested is unusually complex. Knowing exactly what to expect will help you enjoy the journey from concept to reality.

You can help your jewelry budget go further by purchasing loose stones at auction, where you can avoid retail markup. Auction King regularly stocks an assortment of unmounted precious gemstones such as diamonds, rubies, sapphires, amethyst, tanzanite, jade, and more. All are accompanied by gemological reports verifying their authenticity, and opening bids start as low as $1. Register for a free online account today to start bidding.

The Jewelry Brands That Celebrities Swear By

We can’t help but be fascinated by what the stars choose to wear. After all, celebrities aren’t just in the business of looking good, they’re also in the position to know the top brands for both style and quality. Where these trendsetters lead, others follow. If you’re looking to add a dash of celebrity style to your jewelry wardrobe, here are some brands to check out.

Unsurprisingly, celebrities tend to be associated with some of the biggest and well-known high-end jewelry brands in the business. For example, Cartier’s Love bracelet is a favorite, spotted on the wrists of celebs such as Jennifer Aniston, Sofia Vergara, Kylie Jenner, and Pippa Middleton. Chanel jewelry, especially one-of-a-kind vintage pieces, is also popular with stars such as Beyonce, Rihanna, and Lady Gaga. Bulgari is another favorite, with both Ashley Judd and Olivia Munn having been spotted wearing their jewels. The gorgeous aquamarine and diamond necklace that Gal Gadot wore to the 2018 Oscars was a creation of Tiffany & Co., as were the tassel earrings Natalie Portman wore to the same event in 2011. And of course among Hollywood’s elite, Harry Winston jewels are a classic go-to.

Believe it or not, however, celebrities do not always go around dripping in lavish jewels. When they go for a more understated look, they often turn to newer, up-and-coming designers for something different. For example, delicate pieces by Los-Angeles based Jennifer Meyer have become popular, with stars such as Reese Witherspoon, Hilary Swank, and Katy Perry sporting her designs. Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Winslet have been seen wearing multiculturally influenced necklaces and rings by Jacquie Aiche. And UK designer Monica Vinader produces contemporary jewelry that attracts celebrity fans like Emma Watson and the Duchess of Cambridge. These designers tend to have prices that, while not exactly bargains, are a little more affordable for mere mortals.

If you’re looking to emulate celebrity style without racking up exorbitant bills, there are a number of ways to go about it. First, you can scale back—while celebrities might stack up several Love bracelets on a single arm, most of us can content ourselves with one. Second, you can purchase second-hand or at auction. Buying retail is a certain way to pay a high price, but buying at auction gives you the opportunity to buy a high-end piece of jewelry without the retail markup. Finally, you can always look for a similarly styled piece from a less well-known jeweler or designer. If you can find a bracelet or earrings that have the same style but without the premium name, you’re likely to pay much less.

When it comes to pulling off a polished look, the stars and their stylists know where it’s at. It’s worth taking a page out of their book when you want to look your best.

Spotlight on May’s Birthstone: Emerald

Emerald is a variety of beryl, a mineral family that includes aquamarine and morganite. Emerald’s rich green to blue-green color is caused by the trace elements chromium, vanadium, and iron. The exact hue of a particular stone depends on the relative proportions of each of these elements, with a higher iron content producing more of a blue tint, and higher chromium and vanadium content producing a purer green tone.

Due to the way emeralds are formed in nature, almost all of these gemstones have readily visible inclusions. Emeralds that are eye-clean are both extremely rare and extremely expensive! Experts expect that genuine emeralds will have inclusions, and their presence does not diminish the value of a stone unless they are so numerous and/or large that they significantly impact the gem’s transparency or clarity.

While emeralds are a 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale of hardness, indicating that they have significant resistant to scratching, the stones tend to be brittle. In addition to their natural inclusions, most emeralds tend to have fractures. This makes them difficult to cut and somewhat delicate to wear. In general, they should not be exposed to rough treatment or extreme temperatures. In addition, emeralds may be treated with oil, wax, or other fillers to reduce the appearance of surface-reaching fractures. While such treatments are common, this means that the stones should not be exposed to steam or ultrasonic cleaning methods.

Like other colored gemstones, emeralds are evaluated on the basis of the 4 Cs—color, clarity, cut, and carats. Of these factors, the most important for emeralds is the color. The most valuable emeralds are an even, vivid green without color zoning. The color should not be too blue or too yellowish—when that is the case, the stone is not considered an emerald at all, but some different variety of beryl.

As noted before, a genuine emerald is unlikely to have flawless clarity. However, a heavily included stone will be less valuable than one with fewer inclusions. The cut of an individual stone should maximize the size of the emerald while minimizing the potential effect of any fractures and producing the best possible color. Finally, size does matter—unlike with some stones that are readily found in larger sizes, emeralds increase dramatically in value as their carat size increases when other quality factors are equal.

Although high-quality emeralds tend to be pricey, it is possible to get pendants, necklaces, bracelets, rings, and earrings at below-market values. The live online auction at AuctionKing.com stocks a wide selection of professionally appraised, authenticated emerald jewelry that is updated constantly as new finds become available. Sign up for a free online account and start bidding securely from the comfort of your own home today!

Heated vs. Unheated Gems

Knowing the ins and outs of gemstones doesn’t stop with knowing a ruby from a sapphire, or an amethyst from an aquamarine. If you’re looking for gemstone jewelry, you’ve probably been introduced to the idea that many different kinds of gemstones are treated to enhance their appearance prior to being sold. The reality is that only a very small percentage of well-known gemstones are considered “gem quality” without some form of treatment. One of the most common types is heat treatment, used to enhance already existing color, reduce inclusions, or produce a desirable color. So what does this mean for a jewelry buyer?

While the exact method of heat treatment can vary according to the type of gemstone being treated, in general the process subjects a gemstone to high heat over a period of time. In a sense, this is just an extension of the natural processes that produce gemstones in nature, because high heat is often involved in producing the exact hue of particular stones. Stones have been heat treated for centuries, and under normal conditions, the enhancements produced by heat treatment are considered permanent and durable. The effects of heat treatment may, in some cases, be evident to a trained gemologist closely examining a stone under magnification, but they will not be obvious to a casual observer.

Heat treatment is commonly used on a wide variety of gemstones. In fact, for many types of stones, it is safer to assume that they have been heat treated unless the seller and the gemological report for the piece you are considering tell you otherwise. Stones that are routinely heat treated include sapphire, ruby, tanzanite, tourmaline, amethyst, citrine, aquamarine, topaz, zircon, and morganite.

Whether or not such treatment is of concern to a buyer depends on that buyer’s personal preference and on how the stone is represented by the seller. A tanzanite that has been heat-treated to produce a more saturated violet-blue color is still a tanzanite, and still quite valuable, but less so than one that was never heat-treated. Some collectors prefer only untreated stones, willing to pay the premium prices such stones command and to accept that completely natural untreated stones may only be found in smaller sizes or with visible inclusions. Other buyers appreciate that heat treatment produces attractive gems at more affordable prices, putting them within reach of a wider audience.

As long as sellers disclose the true state of the gems they are selling, and buyers are fully informed about what they are getting, heat treatment and other forms of gemstone enhancement are an accepted part of the jewelry trade. This is why it is important to only work with scrupulous dealers, so that you can trust a stone they present as untreated is the real deal.

If you’re looking for high-end jewelry at below-market prices, Auction King is your source for authenticated finds, with bids starting as low as $1. We combine the excitement and value of a live auction with the convenience of online shopping. Register today for a free online account to start bidding.

Spotlight on February’s Birthstone: Amethyst

Amethyst is the classic purple gem, a stone with a long history that starts with its prized status since ancient times. Associated with both royalty and with religious uses in both Eastern and Western faiths, amethyst was quite rare and therefore quite expensive until the 18th century, when it cost as much as diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires. Then the discovery of massive deposits of amethysts in Brazil brought the price down dramatically. For those with February birthdays, this means that owning a beautiful example of their birthstone is an affordable proposition.

Spotlight on February's Birthstone Amethyst

Amethyst’s use in many cultures has given rise to extensive legends and lore. In fact, its name comes from the Greek word “amethystos,” which means not drunk, referring to the ancient Greek belief that the stone would protect its wearer from becoming intoxicated. Amethysts also became associated with royalty due to their hue—purple cloth was once outrageously expensive to produce, due to the scarcity of the dye-producing materials for that color, and so was worn only by royalty, who were the only ones who could afford it. Thus purple amethyst became associated with royalty as well, and can still be found in the crown jewel collections of many royal families today.

300.00ctw Amethyst Parcel

Even though it is now more readily available than in antiquity, amethyst is still the most prized variety of quartz gem. With a Mohs hardness of 7, it is a relatively scratch-resistant stone suitable for use in all kinds of jewelry. Amethyst is found in South America, North America, Asia, Africa, and Europe.

The single greatest factor in determining the value of an amethyst is its color. Amethyst frequently displays color zoning, which means that areas of a single stone may display different intensity of color. A stone with noticeable color zoning will be less valuable than a stone with consistent color throughout. Also, a stone with a strong purple or reddish-purple hue will be more valuable than a lighter-hued stone, as long as the color is not too dark. Exceptionally dark amethysts can lose some of their brightness, and even appear black in low light.

10.00ct Amethyst and 0.40ctw Sapphire Pendant Necklace

Faceted amethysts can almost always be found without eye-visible inclusions; such inclusions tend to reduce the value of the stone, unless the color is exceptionally superior. Amethysts with good color but which have many inclusions are usually cut as cabochons or beads. Amethysts are routinely cut into calibrated sizes and into all kinds of standard shapes. Its price does not rise dramatically as its carat size increases, which makes it a popular choice for a piece of jewelry with a large center stone.

If you’re looking to add amethyst to your jewelry wardrobe, your budget will go further at Auction King. Our convenient online format gives you the experience of participating in a live auction from the comfort of your own home (or on the go, if you download our app). With bids starting as low as $1, you can find extraordinary deals on amethyst pendants, necklaces, rings, and more. Sign up for a free online account today to get started.

What is Morganite?

Discovered in 1910, morganite is a relatively new addition to the ranks of precious gems you’re likely to find offered at a jewelry store. Like other recently discovered stones, morganite’s qualities are less well known than that of popular gems like opals, rubies, or topaz. However, it is only a matter of time before morganite’s reputation as a lovely and durable stone grows.

What is Morganite | Auction King

Morganite is a rare pink variety of the mineral beryl, the same mineral as emerald and aquamarine. It was originally called “pink beryl,” but George F. Kunz, a gemologist and buyer for Tiffany & Co., renamed it “morganite” in 1911 in honor of J. Pierpont Morgan, the famous American banker, who was also a noted gemstone collector. Today the principal source of morganite is Brazil, although deposits have also been found in Afghanistan, China, Mozambique, Namibia, Russia, Zimbabwe, California, and Maine. Some of the finest morganite comes from Madagascar, one of the first places it was discovered.

Morganite is distinguished by its color, which can range from pale pink to light salmon. Gemologists believe that its color comes from trace amounts of cesium or manganese in its makeup. Most morganites are very pale; the strongest colors are exhibited in larger stones. The stone has a 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale of hardness, like other beryls, which makes it durable enough to use in all kinds of jewelry. (There’s even a growing trend to use a morganite center stone in engagement rings as an alternative to diamonds, although if you are particularly hard on your hands you may want to consider if it is tough enough for daily wear.)

Morganite and Diamond Ring

Unlike emerald, morganite tends to have few eye-visible inclusions. Morganite crystals can also grow quite large, which makes it is easier to cut large faceted stones. The pink and rose varieties of morganite have tended to be more popular than those with a more salmon or peach tint. Morganites may be heat-treated to reduce any orange or yellow tinge. This treatment is undetectable and permanent, resulting in a stable color that will not fade.

14.26ct Morganite and 0.92ctw Diamond Ring

When you are judging a morganite for quality, color is the most important factor. Larger sizes tend to show deeper color, and thus are likely to be more valuable than smaller, paler stones. Morganite displays pleochroism, meaning that the shade can vary depending on the angle from which it is viewed, so it is important that the cut of the stone be oriented correctly to enhance the brilliance and hue. The presence of large or numerous inclusions can reduce morganite’s value; morganites with many inclusions may be cut as cabochons or carved into fancy designer cuts.

While morganite is relatively affordable at the moment, it is likely that prices for this rare stone will rise as its qualities become better known. Auction King offers beautiful examples of morganite rings, pendants, and loose stones at the best possible value for its bidders, with starting bids as low as $1. Sign up for a free online account today and discover the opportunities in store.