Any mineral used for personal adornment, prized for its beauty, durability and rarity, enhanced also in some manner by altering its shape, usually by cutting and polishing from a crystal, is, in gemmological terms, considered a gem.
The term “semi-precious,” commonly used in the trade to define gemstones other than diamond, emerald, ruby and sapphire (the so-called big four), is misleading and incorrect given that a gem, by its very nature, is inherently always precious and therefore cannot be “semi-” or half-precious.
Within the wonderful and vast range of colored and colorless gemstones that are found in nature there is clearly a distinction between those of high commercial value and those of lesser value, but this distinction cannot be made on the basis of gemstones defined as “semi-precious.” There are, in fact, a number of gemstones not included in the category of the big four such as Paraiba tourmalines, spinels, alexandrites, chrysoberyl cat’s eyes, demantoid garnets which, for their rarity and desirability, command extraordinary prices that often greatly exceed those of an average diamond, emerald, ruby or sapphire.
For this reason, it is clear that the term “semi-precious” is a misnomer. It does not correctly represent a category of extremely beautiful, precious and costly gems mounted in jewelry.
In today’s market, the growing demand and the limited sources of gem material are the factors that have determined that gems, that in the past were fairly affordable, are, now, due to their scarcity, becoming increasingly rare and costly.
There are indeed some colored gems that can no longer be found at source given that their mines of origin have been exhausted following total exploitation
Finally it is interesting to note that due to these factors, over the last 20 years, the price of gems such as amethyst, aquamarine, citrine, tourmaline, chrysoprase, peridot, spinel, and demantoid garnet, has followed a remarkable steady upward trend. These once affordable colored gemstones have become expensive. For this reason it seems more appropriate to define such gems as the “new precious” rather than “semi-precious.”
Since its very beginning, as an unconventional, colorful Italian fashion fine jeweler, Pomellato has naturally been drawn consistently, more than any other brand, to a palette of colors offered by gems not conventionally found in mainstream jewelry. These colors, for example, have included the lemony green of peridot, the dark green of tourmaline, the greenish blue of aquamarine, and the deep purple of amethyst as well as the deep red of garnets often of the pyrope variety (a name that derives from the Ancient Greek word for fire, piros, because such garnets display flashes of bright red reminiscent of tongues of fire) and more recently to the electric blue of Paraiba tourmalines, the vivid green of demantoid and the moss-like green of prasiolite.
Obviously, the ongoing appetite for colored gems, which started in 1967, at the very outset of the company, gaining momentum since the ’90s, has made Pomellato a pioneer among jewelers in the use of the new precious gems.
But besides the choice of intriguing and unusual colored gems, shape and cut at Pomellato have never conformed to standard conventions as gems are always “tailor-made” for a particular line of jewels.
The ’90s may be remembered as the time when particularly large and unconventional polished smooth cabochoncut colored gems began to steal the show and dominate Pomellato’s warm-colored yellow gold. These included gems that were often selected with inclusions that exhibited what is regarded by Pomellato as nature’s fingerprint, something to be highlighted rather than concealed, as imperfectly perfect.
The first years of the 21st century was the time when the brand developed the extraordinary unconventional facetted cut for the “Nudo” ring of 2001 in a wide range of new precious gems. This unique cut is a witty interpretation of the classic brilliant cut with which it shares the same number of 57 facets.
The facetting of a “Nudo” gem, unlike the classic brilliant cut, is organized in a special manner because symmetry does not stem from the centre. Each stone is cut and polished by hand with extraordinary care and emotional involvement. I was amazed to hear the stone cutters explain how the upper part of the stone should be slightly domed just like the shape of a panettone cake or refer to the finished faceted gems as “I miei bambini!” (my children). It is this care, this attention to detail that is carried out regardless of the fact that Pomellato does not normally produce one offs but prêt-à-porter jewels in multiples.
Text by Amanda Triossi
Photos by ORIANI & ORIGONE
Photos of jewels by Enrico Suà Ummarino
Photo of Milan by Gabriele Basilico