Gemworld International’s Richard Drucker gave his audience exactly what they came for with his report from Tucson and predictions for Las Vegas.
As seen from Tucson, new government intervention to reduce lower-quality Tahitian pearls from reaching the trade has been obvious to Drucker, who has heard reports that 5 percent to 10 percent of all Tahitian pearl production is destroyed or crushed for use in cosmetics.
Of interest for the tanzanite trade, prices seem to have stabilized, with no increases in prices for several years and prices for top-quality 3.00-plus ct. stones still trading at $500 to $600/carat. Drucker commented that while it has been suggested that the price for tanzanite should be higher, it appears there’s hesitation at pricing tanzanite higher than sapphire. On the grading end, TanzaniteOne has chosen both IGI and AGTA GTC labs to use the tanzanite grading scale when quality-grading tanzanite. While there’s still debate over whether a grading system specific for a gemstone is necessary, it does appear to be getting positive response—and this is a good thing.
Tanzanian pink and red spinels are among Drucker’s favorite gems—they always seemed to be priced lower than their beauty would suggest. Drucker has extra-fine spinels from 2.00 to 3.00 cts. ranging in price from $1,000 to $1,500/carat.
Of particular note were the major worldwide events affecting the industry. These include the Burma embargo, the typhoon in China, Madagascar’s export stoppage, the tanzanite mine flood disaster, and the Paraíba lawsuit, all playing a role in gemstone availability.
As for the Burmese embargo, the debates focus on what is more socially responsible: to ban all imports or to ban imports that directly affect the illegal military junta government. “It’s a delicate balance of social responsibility,” said Drucker. One has to choose whether to be politically correct or face reality. The loophole through which the jewelry industry has been importing Burmese gems via Thailand was about to be closed by new legislation, but the recent cyclone disaster has delayed the president’s signing the bill indefinitely. Many gems from Burma come through small local channels, and a ban on these imports would affect the small artisinal miner whom we are trying to help.
Other events mentioned include the typhoon in China that wiped out 95 percent of the saltwater akoya pearl farms, but we’re not certain how that has affected the market thus far. The Madagascan government’s banning of all gem exports indefinitely may force higher prices for Sri Lankan goods.
And the $120 million lawsuit over the use of the name Paraíba as a variety is finally getting to the point where Drucker can say, “I told you so.” (Representatives from both AGTA and GIA are being very cautious about how they discuss the use of the term Paraíba on their identification reports so as to not misstep as the lawsuit progresses to the discovery phase.) Drucker has been saying for years that, in his opinion, Paraíba is an origin and should not be used as a variety call.
Drucker pointed to the obvious, noting that tanzanite is from Tanzania but isn’t called Tanzania, tsavorite was originally found in Tsavo Park in Kenya but isn’t called Tsavo, and danburite—originally found in Danbury, Conn.—isn’t called Danbury. “Why didn’t anyone just call it paraibite? Drucker asked. “If they would have, we wouldn’t be having this problem.”