“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” The eye is in the beholder … right?
This old adage is particularly true with gemstones. When folks bring in antique (or modern) rings to sell, there seems to be some confusion between a star sapphire, a cat’s eye and a tiger’s eye.
Let’s start with tiger’s eye. Tiger’s eye (Fig. 1) is a cool stone that is basically quartz –cryptocrystalline quartz to be exact. While not worthless, it is inexpensive in the marketplace and for the most part has only minimal value, often just a few dollars over the gold weight of its setting.
Cat’s eye is a whole different kettle of fish. When made of chrysoberyl, cat’s eye can exhibit a range of colors, and has a well-defined “eye” that seems to blink at you when you view the stone at different angles (called chatoyancy, which literally means resembling the eye of a cat). Color often plays into valuation. Note that the 55-carat cat’s eye chrysoberyl (Fig. 2) is very brown with a not-well-defined eye, and even though the stone is quite sizable, it is only worth about $2,000 to $5,000 at fair market value. (Much more for insurance or retail value.)
The smaller stone in Fig. 3, however, possesses a very well- defined eye and beautiful coloration that varies from green to brown to white. However, it is impossible to fully capture the incredibly defined eye of this stone, or its mesmerizing chatoyancy.
Set in a platinum mounting, the stone is about 15 carats in size, and the piece includes two large side diamonds. Furthermore, it is signed by one of the most famous makers of art deco jewelry, Raymond Yard. Its retail value is north of $35,000. Wholesale or fair market value is close to $18,000.
Please note that chatoyancy also shows up in tourmalines and other gems (and is much less sought after), but does have value.
Star sapphires or star rubies can also be extremely expensive. The larger and clearer, and the deeper the color of the stone, the higher the value. As with cat’s eye, a more well-defined star will increase value. A huge purple star sapphire (often called plum star sapphire) has very little value. But a fine 10-carat, unheated (most sapphires and rubies are heated to bring out color) star ruby from Kashmir can bring hundreds of thousands of dollars. Smaller stones from Ceylon, and heated stones can bring $100-$200. If you have a star sapphire or ruby, or cat’s eye with chatoyancy, let us bid on it.
We will meet you at your home, bank or attorney’s office, or you can make an appointment or stop by.
JEFF HESS, Owner & Appraiser