Hue Again: Gem Pricing, July–August 2014

Colored stone inventories are widening

The colored stone market continues to see prices rise on increasing demand in world markets. Natural fine quality sapphire has reached a price plateau that eliminates the vast majority of customers from being able to afford it. In spite of that trend, however, many gem varieties remain affordable, even in the finest qualities.

Dealers report that demand is strong for 5 ct.-plus tourmaline, especially the intensely bright blue, blue-green, and green colors. Prices for these stones have increased in response to demand. Exceptionally well-cut goods in the 3 ct. to 8 ct. range are bringing upward of $1,200 per carat for extra-fine mint green material. 

Beryl, especially fine aquamarine, is also in demand this summer. Dealers report that prices for fine quality material have stabilized after experiencing a general upward trend since 2009. Demand for morganite in 3 ct. to 5 ct. sizes has softened slightly compared with the strong demand reported after Tucson. But even so, morganite remains one of the more active colored stones this year.

Many garnets appear poised to see a rapid rise in demand-driven price. And with the supply and price pressures affecting activity for red gems like spinel and rubellite, this may turn attention toward more available and affordable reddish garnets.

In general, dealers and manufacturers are once again featuring inventories beaming with color. The tough market conditions that followed the 2008–09 ­recession exposed the vulnerability of a too-narrow inventory, and very few firms now specialize in a single gem. As the market moves into the second half of 2014, established wholesalers are featuring an array of gem varieties and price points.