By Brecken Branstrator
A gemstone’s popularity year after year can depend on a few things—lesser known gemstones can pop up in the spotlight suddenly as increasing prices cause consumers to look elsewhere, or the rise of a stone creates a halo effect for similarly colored gems. 

Fashion and design trends also can help bring a gemstone back in vogue as popular shades and hues trickle down to the fine jewelry market, and it’s interesting once a new year gets going to notice what’s popping up again and again, whether that be loose or in finished jewelry.

I love watching to see which gems I notice throughout the year are really having their time in the spotlight and how market trends pull certain stones and shades to the forefront. After a year of attending shows, press previews and looking at a lot of new jewelry, here are the gems that I thought were hottest in 2015.

[caption id="attachment_3746" align="aligncenter" width="268"]122415_Morganite Photo credit: Mayer & Watt[/caption]

    1. Morganite. It seemed like everywhere I turned this year, morganite was there. While it might not necessarily make up the same amount of sales as many of the stalwart gemstones do—as Allen Dolberg of Zoma Color told me, morganite has trended the most in 2015 but still trails blue sapphire in sales for the company—it certainly seems to be one of the stones trending upward quickly. And now that Pantone has named Rose Quartz as one of its two Colors of the Year for 2016, morganite seems perfectly positioned to continue its rise upward.

[caption id="attachment_3748" align="aligncenter" width="339"]3.08 ct. blue Kashmir sapphire. Unheated, cushion, antique mixed cut. Photo credit: Robert Weldon/GIA[/caption]

    1. Sapphire. Blue sapphire remained at the top, but many of the other hues were on the rise during the year, especially the pink and peach hues. Even when I was at the Tucson shows in early February, many exhibitors already were telling me that these stones were high in demand. People also are starting to see the value that fancy sapphires offer as they can provide many different price points and looks. I expect the Pantone Rose Quartz Color of the Year also will have the same effect in the coming year on certain shades of sapphire as well.

[caption id="attachment_3750" align="aligncenter" width="249"]122415_Opals Photo credit: Robert Weldon/GIA[/caption]

    1. Opal. All kinds of opal abounded this year, from white to boulder to black opal. One gemstone dealer, Paul Dragone of Boston Gems, recently told me he had seen the same thing this year in the increase in demand in everything from white calibrated sizes to semi-black, black and boulder. Blue gems had a strong showing in 2015, and I think opals benefitted from that. The year also saw an uptick in demand for rare and special stones, speaking to today’s consumer who is looking for the unique and personal, and opal definitely fits perfectly into that. Every stone is different, and they also come in so many different colors, qualities and prices.

[caption id="attachment_3752" align="aligncenter" width="442"]122415_Tourmaline Photo credit: Robert Weldon/GIA[/caption]

    1. Tourmaline. Paraiba, while not affordable for everyone, continued to have a strong presence, and I think the only thing that would change that in the future would be supply issues. Demand is always there and always will be. But even without taking Paraiba into account, I really felt like 2015 was a good year for other tourmaline stones, especially the blue and green hues as those colors continued to trend. Tourmaline offers a lot of beautiful colors for a really great value and I don’t think that this stone’s overall popularity will change any time soon.


What did you guys see? Were you seeing the same things or were there other stones that you thought were more popular? I’d love to hear feedback.

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