Sterling Canyon reports on the increasing popularity and prices of semi-precious gemstones. During the Jewelry and Gemstone show in Tucson recently, it was found that color-change gemstones were among the trends observed that was showing an increase in pricing. National Jeweler reports on the February show and made these three observations:
1. New buyers, higher prices. Increased consumer interest in China and India and, to a lesser extent, Brazil and Russia, continue to drive up wholesale prices for a number of colored gemstones.
“Prices are up quite dramatically for all the sapphires and all Colombian emeralds and most of the tourmaline groups,” Boyle said, noting that he was “shocked” when he traveled to Hong Kong for the show in September and witnessed bi-color tourmaline that once wholesaled for $80 to $100 a carat going for $400 to $700. “Whatever gemstone Chinese buyers put their attention on–that causes the people who are trading in those gemstones to raise the prices.”
The Chinese are partly responsible for the price increase in oil, minerals and now gemstones, simply by their high demand.
In addition to price hikes in sapphires, emeralds and tourmaline, the cost of top-quality vivid blue tanzanite is up about 40 percent, while price for rutilated quartz from Brazil (below) has doubled or tripled in price.
2. Popular picks. Ethiopian opals, which sell for a fraction of the cost of their increasingly rare Australian counterparts, were in demand at the shows again this year.
Another hot selection from the desert was gemstones that change hue, of both the color-change and color-shift variety, which are gaining in popularity as they increase in number and, subsequently, become more accessible to consumers.
Color-change gemstones exhibit a more pronounced difference in hue than color-shift gemstones.
Both color-change blue garnet, which strongly resembles fine Brazilian alexandrite, from the south of Tanzania and the Masasi “bordeaux” color-shift garnet (above), which vacillates between a peachy color and a rusty red, are popular among customers right now.
3. Show favorites. Boyle said he is personally a fan of Mexican fire opal (below), but the gemstone remains in short supply, as it has been for the past couple of years.
New sapphires finds from the eastern African nations of Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Kenya are providing the market with a fresh source of these blue- and even green-hued gemstones.
The stones range in hue from the deep blue traditionally associated with sapphires to a grayish blue or sometimes called “denim” sapphire to lighter tone, greenish sapphires dubbed “sea foam.” Also emerging from this region are “cognac” sapphires, which are purple, and pinkish-orange padparadscha sapphires.
The gemstones being mined in these areas are either unheated or heated using the standard, old-fashioned heat treatment–they are not treated with beryllium–and are priced lower than sapphires from other parts of the world.
“These new Malawi sources promise to find a ready and willing market,” he said. “They are beautiful, affordable and not heavily treated.”
Sterling Canyon carries many of these gemstones set in White Gold and Sterling Silver. Many carry the lesser price before the Tucson show.