Color Me Surprised

Sapphires are still big, luxury spending is up, but gem prices are holding steady

The JCK Las Vegas show provided dealers with some indication of expected market strength during the second half of the year. Wholesalers report that business in the first half of 2010 was better than during the same period last year. Retailers are buying for stock, but they are keeping inventory at modest levels. Jewelers are still cautious due to mixed signals from consumers, who remain concerned about the economy. However, in contrast to last year, luxury spending has been on the rise this year, and that is a very good sign heading into the second half of the year. Retail jewelers continue to adjust to market conditions and experiment with nontraditional metals and gem materials. Sapphire remains the top-selling stone in the Western market. After sapphire, the trend in gemstones appears more focused on color than on stone variety.