Seasonal sluggishness marks the current state of the U.S. gemstone market. There is, however, concern that tepid demand could linger into the fall. Jewelers continue to find value in lesser-known and exotic gems although, even in this category, bargains are becoming more difficult to source. The slowdown of investment in China’s luxury sector makes it clear that, for all but the finest grades, prices—especially for ruby and sapphire—will have to edge down.
This is not to say there are no bright spots—to the contrary. There has been a notable uptick in demand for gems mined in America. Montana sapphire is one of the greatest beneficiaries of this trend. Montana-based Potentate Mining LLC has obtained rights to approximately 3,000 acres in the state’s Rock Creek district. Commercial production of the area is expected to generate considerable amounts of gem-quality Montana sapphire.
Earlier this year, during a presentation to the Scottish Gemmological Association, Potentate’s Keith Barron indicated that, so far, approximately 15 percent of the rough has naturally saleable colors, while a significant amount of the remaining rough responds well to heat treatment. It’s an operation worth watching.