The Exotic and the Everyday: Gem Pricing, December 2013–January 2014

Exceptional gems like paraiba are in demand, but so are more affordable stones

Expectations are positive heading into the 2014 Tucson gem shows. During 2013, the industry saw more investment in gemstone exploration and mining than during the previous year. Dealers report that interest in exotic gems, especially paraiba tourmaline and padparadscha sapphire, spiked sharply during the second half of 2013. Prices have been increasing in response. Demand from the designer market is driving this trend.

The trade’s more sophisticated buyers are seeking exotic gems for their rarity. Many have observed the sharp increase in value reported for fine natural ruby and sapphire and expect the pattern to repeat in other exceptionally rare varieties. Reports say there is virtually no more production of fine paraiba-type tourmaline in Mozambique anymore and, as a result, prices have been steadily increasing. Larger fine material that wholesaled for $4,000–$7,000 per carat a couple of years ago is easily twice that now.   

Demand, however, isn’t limited to the higher-priced gem materials. Traditional gems are seeing plenty of interest as well. The number of natural gemstone varieties used in jewelry designs during 2013 represented the broadest array of colors in recent memory. Tanzanite, orange spessartite garnet, red rhodolite garnet, green tsavorite garnet, mint tourmaline, pink tourmaline, pink spinel, blue spinel, blue zircon, yellow sapphire, madeira citrine, and fine amethyst are several standouts among this group. With the market improving, dealer optimism for 2014 appears well-founded.