Rising Arizona: Gem Pricing, March 2014

With across-the-board price hikes, buyers were quality-conscious and compromise-ready

The consensus after the 2014 Tucson gem shows is that the market is improving. No single gem stood out this year. But spinel attracted a lot of attention. Beryl and tourmaline were also noticeably better represented. In finer grades, prices on both gems were appreciably higher compared with those recorded at last year’s show.

Fine quality zircon has also seen a price increase. Prices of $200–$250 per carat were seen for some larger (5–10 ct.) brown, yellow, purplish red, and green zircons. These were particularly popular. There were also numerous gemmy blue zircon specimens priced around $160–$250 per carat, a slight increase from last year.

Turnout was a big unknown for many exhibitors heading into the AGTA GemFair. Results from the 2013 holiday were mixed, with sales fizzling for many independents. Historically, this would suggest a weak Tucson turnout. Yet AGTA opened to good traffic, and the energy continued through the end of GemFair on Feb. 9.

More dealers, especially of finer quality gems, are specializing in a limited number of varieties as opposed to trying to be everything to everyone. Also notable: the shrinking supply of extra fine and fine quality Ethiopian opal—noticeably smaller than last year. With $125–$400 per-carat prices for larger fine and extra fine pieces, we have seen a three- to fourfold jump from $35–$75/carat of just a few years ago.

Aquamarine and fine Pakistani peridot were also in good demand. There was not a lot, but given how little has been produced recently, it was nice to see material representative of the classic locations finally released into the market.