Market conditions are more muted than initially projected for midyear. Turmoil in the Middle East and Ukraine continues to foster more caution and restraint. Slower spending in China is just one of several conditions that could trigger a price correction in the ruby market. With current ruby prices greatly limiting consumer access, demand for colored stones has been concentrated in alternative red gem varieties. Tourmaline, garnet, and spinel continue to benefit from these market conditions.
In the sapphire trade, the top sellers include the fancy varieties: pink, purple, and green. Yellow is also popular, but mostly in the Indian and Far East markets. Dealers report that for yellow sapphires, buyers mostly want the lighter pastel to medium color stones, which they believe are unlikely to have been beryllium-diffused.
Over the past five years, prices have been trending up. As a result, color substitution and integration of lesser-known gems continue to rise. That should remain true as more consumers are priced out of the market for the big three. Be prepared to show a range of similar-hued gems at various price points when customers request a ruby or blue sapphire. Remember: Often it is the color they want—not the actual gem.