When I first wanted to have my engagement ring custom made. I was stumped. As per usual, I Googled, but the results did not help me at all. There were so many options that I did not know where to start. Or rather which jeweller to approach.
I work at Tanjong Pagar, aka “Korean Town”, aka “Bridal Lane”. So after work one day when I walked past Vivo Diamonds, and later Michael Trio, I decided to go inside, show them the ring design and ask them if they could do something similar for me but with a round cut sapphire instead.
Vivo Diamonds said they could do it including tax with an unheated round cut sapphire for just $2,500. If I could pay by cash, they could give me a slight discount. Plus, they could do a 3D rendering of the ring before they actually make it!
Michael Trio said they could do it for me. However, they could not give me a price range for the ring as unheated round cut sapphires are not easy to find and could take months to secure. So if I didn’t mind waiting with no guarantee they could actually find one, they’d be happy to work with me on my ring. I really appreciated their candor and the fact that they also educated me a little about sapphires.
When my partner and I chanced upon Caratell Diamonds at United Square (101 Thomson Rd, Singapore 307591), we learnt a little more about sapphires and the difference between untreated, unheated and heated stones. I showed them my desired ring design and asked what was the price range we’re looking at if we wanted a 1 to 1.5 carat unheated round cut sapphire. The answer, $5,000 and up!
On my own I also approached Choo Yilin Jewellery (331, Joo Chiat Rd, Singapore 427587) about a bespoke engagement ring. I spoke to one of their staff and found out that they only work with unheated natural gems and their bespoke rings start from $5,000. The price range of a round cut sapphire? They said I’d be looking at paying a price tag of above $10,000 for my bespoke engagement ring.
In the end, my best resource was through word of mouth. I asked friends who were married or getting married if they knew someone, who knew someone, who could make me my dream engagement ring.
These videos on their Instagram page really made me sit up and notice Kristine Wong Fine Jewels. But I wouldn’t have known where to look if not for my friend.
I had really liked an old friend’s engagement ring and had asked her ages ago which jeweller made it for her. She told me it was created by Kristine Wong Fine Jewels and recommended them to me. So I contacted them but didn’t get a reply from them at all.
So I checked out another recommendation. SimonT at Katong I12 (#01-28, 112 East Coast Road 428802). Simon was recommended to me by my colleague who’s friend made an engagement ring made by him.
In the spur of the moment, while on the way home, my bus passed Katong I12 and I decided to bite the bullet and try my luck to see if Simon was at his shop. At the time I didn’t know where his shop was located. Except that his name was Simon, the shop was called SimonT and it was at Katong I12.
I came across a shop front right at the entrance, in front of Ding Tai Fung and right next to the escalator. However, it looked like a pop up store that wasn’t permanent so I walked around the mall after texting Simon to check if he was available or at the shop.
I was lucky. He was available. So I spent an hour talking about what I wanted for my engagement ring and in the process learnt a lot about gems from him. What I liked about him was that he was not what you’d expect. He was simply dressed in a t-shirt and jeans but he was passionate about the stones he was selling.
He even took out a few heated sapphires for me to view, showed me an unheated stone and how to tell if it was a genuine unheated stone. He didn’t push me to buy his wares but said he could find a gem for me if I didn’t want to go through the hassle of buying my own sapphire.
I did hunt on my own for sapphire. I tried The Natural Sapphire Company and even asked Simon what he thought about buying my sapphire online! But the idea was vetoed by my partner. He didn’t think buying gemstones from an online store was wise.
The stone I liked at Simon’s shop was a 0.8 carat heated round cut sapphire that was retailing at $1,500. I was ready to buy there and then but wanted my partner to meet Simon as well.
We arranged for a second meeting with Simon and after we left, my partner was set on the idea of securing an unheated sapphire as he felt it was more value for money.
So our hunt continued.
My brother’s gem collector friend suggested Y S Jewelry at Far East Plaza (#02-20, 14 Scotts Road, Singapore 228213) so I went to suss out the shop before I dragged my boyfriend there as well.
It is a very small shop run by a couple. I managed to get a hold of Raymond at the shop and he told me that the stone I liked at his store, a 0.7 carat heated round cut sapphire, was going to set me back $300 and the making of the 18k white gold band was $500.
I was quite shocked at the prices as it was vastly different from everyone else I spoke to. That’s when I learnt that sapphires have varying grades and quality as well. Plus, because I was a friend of a friend, he had offered a sizable discount.
I asked Raymond to find an unheated sapphire for me and he so kindly obliged. In 2 weeks, he hunted down a 2.85 carat oval brilliant / step cut unheated blue sapphire that was $2,500 for just the gem. It looked round, but is actually oval in shape.
However, without actually seeming the gem in person, I thought 2.85 carats was too big. And he kindly searched for a smaller one, a 1.03 carat heated round cut sapphire that was priced at $800. But by that time, my friend had recommended me someone else and I had found my perfect gemstone and gem whisper.
I apologised to Raymond of course!
Raymond is very diligent, helpful, and patient. If you want to hunt down a gemstone, you should go to him as he often buys quality gems for collectors.
Ultimately, in the process of looking, I learnt a lot about gemstones:
Lesson #1: There’s a big difference between a treated, heated, and unheated stone. And the price differs greatly too. Heated stones are still classified as natural stones because they are not created in a lab and only undergo a heat treatment that enhances the colour and the clarity of the stone.
Lesson #2: Round unheated sapphires are very rare because there’s a lot of wastage if a cutter does a round cut with the sapphire. As such, you pay a lot more despite the fact that the sapphire is likely to be smaller in size.
Lesson #3: I also learnt that the Mohs hardness of a sapphire is rated 9 while a diamond is a 10. And a tanzanite is at a hardness of 6.5 to 7.0.
Lesson #4: There are many other gemstones out there with pretty blue hues. There’s the aquamarine, apatite, spinel, topaz, tourmaline, turquoise, and tanzanite, just to name a few.
Lesson #5: Always view a gemstone outside of its box and in good lighting.
Lesson #6: Choose a gem that calls out to you. One that you can’t take your eyes off of.
But I got carried away and this post went on longer than expected. Sorry bout that. I’ll share with you about the gem and jeweller I finally went with in another post, so stay tuned!
What do you think?
Is there a jeweller you think I should have checked out? Went with one of the jewellers I mentioned in this post? What was the experience like? How did you find your very own gem whisperer? While it might be too late for me to approach your suggestion, other people might appreciate the help so share with us your recommendations.
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