In the United States, colored stone dealers report that the strong business seen during Tucson Gem Week in February has carried over after the show. Buyers are interested in a broad range of gem varieties. Lesser-known and more unusual gems are hot. Many of the classics are also seeing good demand. In the always-popular blue category, aquamarine is one of the strongest sellers, as are tanzanite, spinel, and zircon. Sapphire is a staple, of course, but current high prices in better grades are prompting some buyers to explore color substitutions. In red, the appealing prices of garnet and tourmaline are motivating buyers.
Cultured pearls appear to be one of the more active sectors. Pearl producers are experiencing growing demand from the global market, pushing prices higher in popular varieties like Tahitians. In this category, multicolor strands are popular, as are strands of single colors such as pistachio and aubergine. Quality is noticeably finer than was seen in 2014; popular sizes remain between 9 and 12 mm. Strands of sizes more than 15 mm, however, are also returning to the market after being noticeably absent for several years.
Demand is also good for certain Chinese freshwater pearls, although here some of the more popular offerings of recent years have seen a notable decline in quality. Nonetheless, the Chinese product continues to drive general trends in the pearl market. The many baroque varieties, especially the fireballs, remain very popular. But in round cultured freshwater pearls, the effort to obtain larger sizes is too often coming at the expense of quality.