Gem Pricing: Surprise, Surprise

Tucson gem shows beat sales expectations

Expectations for the 2013 gem shows had been for a modest uptick in attendance by mostly serious buyers, owing to the reportedly lackluster 2012 holiday shopping season. But to everyone’s delight, the shows ended on an upbeat note after seeing better traffic than initially expected. The American Gem Trade Association GemFair and the Gem and Jewelry Exchange are the two established venues that draw many of the better-known colored stone dealers. In contrast to last year, dealers at both shows saw steady traffic and appeared to be holding firm with their pricing. 

In the colored stone market, the high end still dominates demand. Buyers were reportedly looking for fine gems at older, lower prices. This proved difficult but not impossible. More favorable conditions exist in the midlevel grades and price points. This seems to support the opinion that the North American gem trade is seeing modest but sustainable growth. Prices for many gems are higher than before the recession. In some categories (i.e., treated corundum), we expect prices to level—if not correct—as more investment in mining brings additional material to the market.

Sapphires in pastel colors were reportedly popular with buyers. High prices for fine ruby have helped to entice dealers toward alternatives like red and pink spinels as well as tourmalines. Garnet, Ethiopian opal, quartz, sphene, topaz, and zircon also were cited by dealers as selling well.

If the positive sales trend set in Tucson holds, and it should now that the election is over, expect to see an energized crowd at JCK Las Vegas.