Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44 Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48 Page 49 Page 50 Page 51 Page 52 Page 53 Page 54 Page 55 Page 56 Page 57 Page 58 Page 59 Page 60 Page 61 Page 62 Page 63 Page 64 Page 65 Page 66 Page 67 Page 68NATIONAL JEWELER 55 publishing and appraising. Because that segment isn’t feeling comfort- able, they’re not spending as much and that’s making sales challenging. Still, people want jewelry. What this has left is a high end that continues to perform very well, from high-quality gems to the unique or rare stones sought after by collec- tors. On the flip side, the lower end is doing well too, as people reconsider what kind of gem they’ll buy in order to accommodate their budgets, pur- chasing, for example, an amethyst or blue topaz instead of a sapphire. “The opportunity here is to focus on marketing the color and not the gem variety,” says Robertson. “For example, often when a customer says ‘ruby’, they are actually describing a color they would like. Garnet and tourmaline can fit this bill more affordably for those not currently able to afford a natural ruby.” IN SHORT SUPPLY The colored gemstone market’s supply story couldn’t differ any more from that of diamonds. Where the diamond market is mostly run by just a few players who control large, concentrated pockets of mines, the colored gemstone market remains scattered and in many instances, a small cottage industry. This very broad aspect of the gem- stone market brings a number of issues with it, one of which is the fact that its fractured structure makes it much harder to market. For decades, De Beers’ iconic “A Diamond is Forever” marketing campaign provided a big lift for all diamonds and diamond jewelry. One hugely successful marketing campaign like this can help to ele- vate an entire industry. Colored stones, on the other hand, have too wide a variety of products and too many players to be able to successfully market for the sector as a whole. For one thing, it’s hard to convince companies to invest in a mar- keting campaign behind specific stones when the question of supply hangs in the air, Shor says. The exception to this is colored gemstone miner Gemfields. With its projects such as the Montepuez ruby mine in Mozambique and the Kagem emerald mine in Zambia offering a relatively stable supply—for now—the company has really ramped up its marketing spend behind gemstones and attempts to promote color in general. For example, the company owns jewelry brand Fabergé, which is now selling engagement rings set with sapphires, emeralds and ru- bies while encouraging brides-to-be to #SayYesinColour via a marketing campaign. Even so, Gemfields is only one small part of a much larger picture. “It’ll take a few years before anything they do really starts to get traction, mainly because there’s a lot of noise out there,” Shor says. “Every- body’s promoting everything.” THE RETAIL REACH Retail remains both a challenge and a pivotal opportunity for the market, as colored gemstone jewelry sales are still just a small portion of jewelers’ overall sales. According to Jewelers of America’s 2015 Cost of Doing Business Report, colored stone jewelry sales (excluding cultured pearls) were only an average of 9 percent of total sales among retailers, though the category had an average gross margin of 51 percent. This means there is plenty of upside and opportunity for gems in this space. “I think there’s so much opportuni- ty on the retail end with colored gem- stones with the additional margin, and with the stories and the individuality there is.” says Nagpal of Omi Gems. “I think there’s a lack of education at the (retail) level, at the touch point of consumers.” But when Omi can go into stores and train the staff, they no- tice “an immediate increase in sales” for the retailer. GemWorld’s Robertson says that retailers’ over-reliance on memo is another issue for the market. “Retailers, especially larger firms, have introduced a model that has lessened, if not removed, the incentive to know the product and how to sell it,” he says, adding that too much is borrowed on memo with little investment from the retailer, meaning it can be sold quickly at a low margin.This has led to an erosion in profit margin and the sense of “value” for jewelry stores. Also, once price point became the selling point, product knowl- edge became much less important. While Robertson adds that while there are many stores with well-trained staff who possess gemological knowledge, even they still have to compete on price. This means the market risks becoming less about the story and value behind the gemstone and more about the number on the price tag that the consumer wants to see. THE LABS’ ROLE Another area in which the gem market differs greatly from the diamonds is the labs. TOP GEMS RIGHT NOW SAPPHIRE. The traditional blue hue of this variety of corundum remains a top seller, though fancy- colored sapphires have been surging in popularity. PARAIBA TOURMALINE. This gem’s vibrant blue/blue-green hue, which comes from the presence of copper, continues to catch the eye of consumers. RUBY. The ruby has a color so familiar that it’s basically its own description. Fine color and quality rubies remain as en vogue now as throughout history. EMERALD. Rounding out the so-called big three is the emerald, which has seen something of a resurgence in popularity in recent years. OPAL. Black, boulder, fire—if it’s fine quality, people want it. With their unique patterns and colors, opals have become a favorite.