Shabnum Moosa, the founder of online jewellery store, I Heart Gems, says it’s the natural flaws intrinsic to gemstones that make them like people. Omeshnie Naidoo chats to her.
Like a kid with a chemistry set, Durban-based gemologist and the founder of the online jewellery store, I Heart Gems, Shabnum Moosa, says it’s the natural flaws intrinsic to gemstones that make them like people. Each is different and each is special in its own way.
Moosa says the favourite part of her hobby (it comes after her role as Independent Media KwaZulu-Natal regional marketing manager) is looking at the often fractured and exquisitely beautiful secrets inside each stone through a microscope.
It’s for this reason the polished and posh-looking emerald is closest to her heart. “Emeralds are bright and beautiful on the outside, often set with an amazing polish. But they’re a complete contradiction on the inside. Who wants flawless, when you can be that real. That’s intriguing,” she says.
It’s the day after she’s launched her online store, I Heart Gems, procuring jewellery from a few select clients, and the site is looking good.
It was perhaps her marketing acumen that triggered the brainwave.
“There’s a gap in our local market for gemstones. It’s fragmented and we’re not catering for diverse tastes in jewellery. For particular styles and colours, be it high-end man-made stones or the real deal, that’s another issue
“Consumers aren’t as well educated as they should be. They may pay a premium for glass and just not know it.
“Gemstones, such as diamonds, don’t come cheap and they don’t come without a certificate of authentication from an accredited source,” says Moosa.
She is an accredited jewellery professional, having studied at the Gemological Institute of America, has her graduate diploma in diamonds and is completing a graduate diploma in pearls and coloured stones.
Moosa specialises in her own range of coloured jewellery, which includes gold and silver, as well as high quality costume jewellery.
“Costume jewellery has its place in the market and is a way for women to change up their everyday look in an affordable manner. It’s important, either way, to know what you’re getting.”
While Moosa says the eye is not the most reliable source, she does offer these tips to consumers:
* Perfectly perfect in every way is often too good to be true and the same goes for gemstones, which come from the earth. The more flawless it looks, the less likely it’s real or untouched. Inclusions may help identify the stone's origin.
* Unlike diamonds, clarity doesn’t denote value. Rather judge stones of a kind, against each other, for example, one emerald versus another.
* A gemstone's “brilliance” is almost always as a result of its cut. A well-cut gemstone is symmetrical and reflects light evenly across the surface, and the polish is smooth, without nicks or scratches. The ideal cut offers even light.
* Man-made, synthetic stones have the same chemical composition as gemstones derived from the earth. They lack the impurities found in the real deal, which is what gives the real thing its variations in hue and texture, and affects how it refracts light. Stones from the lab are flawless versions of flawed stones. They are, however, not as rare as stones from mother nature.
* There are also various “fake” stones or bluffs. These often have misleading names: evening emerald, for example, is peridot and Brazilian sapphire is blue tourmaline. These are lovely stones in their own right but not what the consumer believes them to be on purchase. Stones may also be enhanced, somewhat colour corrected, with treatments much as oils, or heat treatment.
* You should always buy what you love but by being informed and shopping around, you will be able to compare price and brilliance for yourself.
* Always buy gemstones from a trusted source and ensure it comes with a certificate from a recognised authority such as the Gemological Institute of America.
* While people buy gems for different reasons like their favourite colour, or to match their outfits, or even for their energy properties, Moosa has found that most of her customers prefer to shop for their birth stones based on the month of their birthday.