Arizona or Bust: Gem Pricing, February 2014

Fine goods expected to be big draw at Tucson

Colored stone dealers have shifted their attention to this month’s international gem shows in Tucson, Ariz. Tens of thousands of dealers and buyers are expected to arrive in Tucson during February for some 40 gem and mineral shows.

Expectations are optimistic, especially for dealers of high-end gems and minerals. We also anticipate that many of the less expensive gems such as agate, apatite, quartz, and garnet—as well as several exotics stones like spinels, padparadscha sapphire, and color-change gems such as alexandrite and the increasingly scarce garnets—will be a focus. Unlike the past few years, when Asian buyers were particularly active, this year, North American and European buyers should be the trendsetters.

Expect sticker shock when perusing the selection of sapphires. Prices have been more volatile in the better grades, and heated fine quality Ceylon blue sapphires have achieved price levels previously reserved for unenhanced material. Ruby remains strong in the high end with reportedly little Burmese material trading.

As the market expands, look for more lesser-known gems—e.g., chrome diopside, fire opal, sunstone, and sphene—to move into prominent roles in designer lines.