Gemstones



Burmese Bummer

In the high-end market, demand remains strong for Burma rubies (left) and sapphires. Blue sapphires are more desirable, and their prices are more stable. Ruby prices, however, are on the rise, and the supply of fine Burma rubies—already scarce before the embargo (enacted in 2008)—has only gotten worse. Richard Wise of R.W. Wise Goldsmiths in Lenox, Mass., notes, “Collectors that want ruby want Burma.” Dealers are pricing Burmese rubies knowing there is a slim chance the stones can be replaced. The result? Higher prices in an otherwise quiet market. As for extra-fine quality Burma rubies that weigh more than 1.00 ct., consider them an even bigger headache to source. —Stuart Robertson

Am I Blue?

Prices are stable and supply is sufficient when it comes to sapphires from Madagascar and Sri Lanka. The gems continue to enter the market from cutting centers overseas. The comeback of the color blue in the Western market (see the spring 2010 runways) is also driving interest in blue varieties of tourmaline, spinel, and beryl. —SR

Priced to Sell

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Luxury-market dealers are still facing challenges from economy-conscious consumers. Even so, 2010 has been particularly slow for wholesale jewelry producers. Explains gem dealer Dana Schorr of Santa Barbara’s Schorr Marketing and Sales: ­“Jewelry, unlike a new sofa or television, can only be used by one person in the household. In tough economic times, these purchases tend to be lower priority.” Where the market is seeing activity is among designers and custom ­jewelers who aim for price points (think below $1,000) reflecting the current economy and who entice clients by using less-traditional colored gems like fluorite (right) and zircon. —SR