Color Market Reports
Prices for certain colored stones keep climbing
Knoxville, Tenn.--Demand continues to push up the price of colored gemstones deemed desirable in emerging economies, forcing some dealers to turn to other stones, or sources, in order to be able to sell at a profit.
Jay Boyle, a graduate gemologist and the senior buyer for multimedia retailer Jewelry Television (JTV), recently returned from the Tucson shows and talked with National Jeweler about the impact of Chinese buyers and what JTV found for its customers.
Below are three takeaways from the show.
1. The price is up. Boyle said prices remain high due to shrinking supply in many parts of the world and rising demand from emerging economies, particularly China, the same observation he made following the 2012 Tucson gem shows.
Gemstones showing significant year-over-year price increases include, but are not limited to, rubies and larger gem-quality tourmaline, tanzanite, rubellite and rutilated quartz as well blue sapphires, specifically those from Sri Lanka.
He said that the price of blue Sri Lankan sapphires were up 40 percent year-over-year at the show, to the point that many U.S. dealers can’t buy them because the market here won’t bear it.
Boyle notes, however, that pink and yellow sapphires aren’t as desirable among Asian buyers, meaning their price hasn’t increased as dramatically. “The blue sapphire is like the family that everyone can understand right away and easily. The blue sapphire is the classic,” he said. “It’s the standard for sapphire.”
2. Dealers get creative. “It’s tougher for American buyers to buy gemstones,” he said.
For his part, Boyle, who has been JTV’s senior buyer since 2000, is forced to find value where he can and work more directly with the mines to buy gems at a good value for their customers.
One example is purchasing fire opal from a new mine in Brazil that is producing stones of better clarity and transparency. “Fire opal from Brazil, historically, has been on the sleepy side, sleepy and a little hazy,” he said.
Boyle said the JTV team also purchased three new-to-the-network gemstones at the show, including blue spot azurite and double-terminated quartz crystal, both from Pakistan, and rhyolite threaded with veins of bixbite (red beryl) from the Wah Wah Mountains in Utah.
“It’s very unusual to find three new gems that fit into our business model in Tucson,” he said.
3. “Interesting” areas. Boyle said not all gemstones have become prohibitively expensive.
At the show, he found green opal from Tanzania, blue opal from Peru and a lavender-colored opal from Mexico in addition to Ethiopian opals, which replaced the mined-out Australian white opal at a fraction of the cost and remain popular.
“All the sub-sets of the different, exotic opals are an interesting area,” he said, noting that they relatively rare and still available at a good price. “Everybody can participate in that.”
Garnets also caught Boyle’s eye at the show, including demantoid, spesseartite garnet and tsavorite garnet. In addition, he said Montana sapphires now are closer in price to Sri Lankan sapphires--historically, the Montana stones had been more expensive--since the price of those gemstones has gone up so drastically, though he notes the Montana stones aren’t available in large sizes.