Coloured diamonds are gaining in popularity and are increasingly purchased as a jewel to mark life’s milestones, according to Tony Smales, owner and manager of Smales Jewellers.
With five watch and jewellery stores in Western Australia, Smales has the exclusive agency for Hearts on Fire Diamonds in the state and also includes Argyle Pink, champagne and cognac coloured diamonds in its offer.
A family run business, Smales Jewellers has a long history in WA. “Our original store commenced in Kalgoorlie just after the 2nd World War some 70 years ago,” Mr Smales pointed out. The head office is based in Subiaco, where the busiest Smales store is located, followed by Bunbury while three other outlets are located in Kalgoorlie, Geraldton and Karratha. All stores have onsite jewellery workrooms.
The high end stores specialise in handmade jewellery and luxury watches. Smales’ comprehensive diamond offer includes a wide selection of engagement, wedding, eternity dress rings, pendants, earrings, bangles and tennis bracelets.
“Our diamonds are sourced from our Australian supplier who we have dealt with for many years. In regard to the pink diamonds, we will always offer a certified stone. This gives our customers the guarantee that it is Argyle and peace of mind that their purchase has the heritage and identification. In addition, we also produce Ellendale Yellow diamonds for some of our products. These diamonds also come with identification,” Mr Smales explained.
Demand for coloured diamonds has increased dramatically since the announcement of the closure of Argyle Diamond mine and he attributes this to growing consumer awareness that the rare stones have the potential to grow in value. In his opinion, however, coloured diamonds should be set and worn in jewellery. “I think they should be incorporated into a ring, pendant or earrings – pieces made to be enjoyed rather than have them sit inside a safe for pure investment that may take years to realise.”
Mr Smales has observed a recent trend where coloured diamonds are being used to mark important life occasions.
“We have seen this a lot with the ‘push present’ and partners giving pink or blue diamonds to reflect gender at the birth of their children. Other customers love the contrast between coloured and white diamonds. When you set a white diamond next to a coloured diamond, it really enhances the colour and makes it pop,” he said. Only natural diamonds are carried in Smales Jewellers.
“Our stores have received a few requests for lab grown diamonds and while I can see some advantages, normally price, I still prefer to only deal in natural diamonds. I suppose it’s a personal thing for jewellery retailers and to a degree I think it is where you sit in the jewellery market. I would say that the majority of our diamond sales are in engagement rings and customers are still seeking that very special piece and do tend to hold into the tradition of choosing a natural diamond.”
Overall sales of white and coloured diamonds through Smales WA outlets are dominated by the Round Brilliant Cut but there are exceptions.
“We purchased a radiant cut Pink Argyle diamond for a customer recently and they had a specific request that required us to incorporate the pink diamond into a design. The stone was purchased for a long-term investment, but they wanted to wear it in a ring. The radiant cut and colour of the stone was perfect and the ring looked fantastic. It was so good to see the customer’s excitement when we presented her with her custom made completed design,” Mr Smales said.
He believes the demand for fancy coloured diamonds will continue, especially since the Argyle Diamond Mine closure, noting “there is something extra special about choosing a unique colour diamond.”
Coloured diamonds, however, have started to become more difficult to purchase, he conceded. “Prices have increased and choices are reduced, however, there is still availability. A good relationship with your suppliers is essential,” Mr Smales said.
Gold nuggets, pearl and gemstone jewellery pieces are also carried by Smales stores which sell select graded natural stones like sapphire, ruby and emerald among others. “What determines the price of these stones is the quality of each and we rely on our suppliers to only send high grade stones for us to use in our manufacturing.”
Smales Jewellers manufacture jewellery in 18 karat yellow gold, white gold and pink gold but will often use platinum. “This metal is slightly harder to work with but has some advantages for the wearer and is quite popular with customers now. We often use platinum for the ring with white diamonds and we use rose or pink gold for the setting of the pink diamonds. This allows for the pink stone to show its beauty with less interference of the setting that holds the diamonds securely in place,” Mr Smales explained.
He pointed out that Smales prides itself on attention to detail and customer satisfaction when someone is looking to purchase an engagement ring. “Some people choose a ring from our stock while others like parts of one ring and parts of another. If this is the case where they like different parts of different designs, we have the customer sit down with the store’s designer and come up with a new design with the customer. The item is then hand-made by our precision jeweller.
“We generally do not use casting. Smales is perhaps a little more traditional than many but that doesn’t mean that we are old fashioned in manufacturing. In fact we use some of the latest tools, machines and techniques in the industry. We want to achieve a structurally sound piece that offers the customer excellence and satisfaction.
“Gold and platinum metals are extremely durable, However from someone who has knowledge about the settings, claws, shank – they will wear over time. It’s much better and cheaper for the customer to have new claws fitted for example rather than losing their precious stone,” Mr Smales said.
“On most occasions and especially when we use pink diamonds, we send the item on to an independent jewellery valuer. That ensures the value of the piece and that the price paid gives satisfaction to the customer. They know what they have purchased meets the industry standard and have received value for money. It also gives the customer the history of the stone on many occasions,” he explained.
Smales generally draws its diamond stock from Australia but sources many items such as chains, earrings and pendants from Italy or Germany. “I have always travelled overseas to purchase but the Covid situation has limited those trips,” Mr Smales said.
Smales Jewellers always advise their customers to bring their jewellery items in to be checked every 6 to 12 months. This service is provided free of charge and the item is cleaned at the same time.
Over the years, Mr Smales has observed that like everything else, the jewellery industry has changed and manufacturers have improved. The stores in his family business are in the higher end of the market, he affirmed.
“I am all about traditional jewellery stores not chain stores. Higher end jewellers value their reputation, they employ people that care and generally offer a high standard of product knowledge,” he said.