Exhibitors at the gem shows in Tucson, Ariz., last week reported steady demand and buoyant, though not blockbuster, sales of colored stones.
Doug Hucker, CEO of the American Gem Trade Association, the organizer of the main GemFair (which concluded Feb. 5), said that preliminary statistics show that attendance was “even or slightly up” from last year.
“We have done a lot better job at getting better buyers here,” he said. “There is a general feeling that things have turned around. You are seeing a lot of the better jewelers here ready to get back in the colored store business.”
Adam Gil, a principal with Jerry Gil & Co. in New York City, found people going for “either the most expensive or less expensive items.” But he added that customers are “not as resistant to prices as they have been in the past.” He found particularly strong demand for Paraiba tourmaline and fire opals.
Richard Greenwood, president of New York City’s A.F. Greenwood Co., said he had a good show. “We are not selling a lot of cheap things,” he said. “We are not making $200 sales—more the $2,000 sales. It’s still a little slow in the low- to mid-level range.”
Mukesh Gupta, owner of Raja Jewels in New York City, found “cautious buying, but at least people are buying come out of Christmas.… There has been decent activity.”
Kapil Seth, principal of New York City–based Malhotra, called the show “all right,” adding that he thought there were fewer Chinese buyers than usual. “Buyers are very choosy,” he said. “Deals are being closed if you have really fine stones.” He found demand strong for unheated blue sapphires and unheated rubies from Mozambique.
At the nearby Gem & Jewelry Exchange show, Kalim Korey, owner of New York City–based World Trading Services, described things as “quiet.”
“People are taking their time to buy,” he said. “They are looking for better goods, but it has to be at the right price.”
In the Design Center at the AGTA GemFair, Alishan Halebian, owner of Irvine, Calif.–based Alishan, said business at both the Centurion show, which took place Jan. 29–31 in Scottsdale, Ariz., and the Tucson fair was steady. “I think the stores who changed over the years and those that did promotions, especially online—anyone who kept up with change—did well,” he said. “Price point is a strong part of the sale. And yet, as long as the piece is different, it attracts the client.”
Halebian referred to a $13,500 tricolor gold Lotus Flower pendant with a citrine cut by Tom Munsteiner at its center, which he sold to a Chinese customer at AGTA for her personal collection. “The Chinese are going after design product and that’s where the growth is,” he said.