Gem Pricing: Buy, Borrow, or Steal?

In a volatile marketplace racked by rising prices, cash is always king

Results from JCK Las Vegas indicate that business continues to improve for the North American gem and jewelry trade. Attendance and sales were improved from the 2010 show. The market is seeing a range of attractive products created with both style and price point in mind. Silver designs, some featuring gold accents, were even more prominent this year. 

The diamond bridal section was active. However, dealers report that some retail jewelers are still resisting the changing nature of our industry. The generous terms and long-term memos once common in our trade are simply no longer an option. Prices in the diamond and colored stone trades are moving quickly, yet margins remain tight because high-quality rough is scarce. In this market, retailers need to buy—not borrow—if they want stock.

At the show, high-end gems were scarce and prices were strong. Prices in the blue sapphire market are rising for finer qualities. Ruby prices are also very strong. For ruby, origin appears to be relevant only in the finer-quality stones. Africa is now producing a significant majority of ruby, including fine-grade material. These stones are increasingly accepted in North America, a market that once wanted Burma or nothing.