At press time consumers were cautious about spending for the holidays, and the season for many retail jewelers season started slow and faded from there. Neighborhood-based independents appeared to be seeing more traffic than their mall-based chain competitors. Many jewelers adapted to the climate by stone and metal substitution. In the colored stone market, wholesalers offering diversified inventory of quality and variety outperformed those that specialize in one or two gem varieties. Josh Hall, of Pala International noted, "This year blue sapphire was the strongest seller. However, we also filled calls for aquas, rhodolites, and spinels. Business wasn't brisk by any means, but it was steady." Regarding price points Hall said, "Most clients [jewelers] were focused on fine-quality goods. But most were requesting smaller sizes and carat weights than were typical just a year or so ago."