Prices for fine natural colored gems have achieved incredible growth during the past few years. In the U.S. market, the one area that shows some weakness is calibrated goods. This category, which had been strong for some time, slowed as manufacturing moved out of the United States to overseas markets.
Of the big three, emerald is particularly well positioned at the moment and has been for a few years now. Despite a significant increase in prices for fine Colombian emeralds, the gains haven’t been as dramatic as for certain other gems. Therefore, prices for fine emeralds still have room to climb. Keep in mind, however, that stones with moderate or greater levels of enhancement have not seen the price increases observed for natural and slightly enhanced material.
Prices of very fine Burma (Mogok) ruby remain strong with supply extremely tight for sizes above 2 cts., and the trend will likely continue. Mogok has historically been worked on a small scale; today, however, some project this classic source will be exhausted within the next decade. Now that the deposit is being mined on a large scale, concerns are rising that the mountain will literally be bulldozed to the ground.
Dramatic price increases are not limited to the big three. The pattern is repeated across much of the high-end natural gem market. Aquamarine, spinel, zircon, and many of the tourmalines have seen big increases. And then there is Paraiba tourmaline: Very fine Brazilian material of 1 ct. or larger runs tens of thousands of dollars per carat. Top-quality Paraiba in 3 ct.-plus sizes has asking prices of $40,000 per carat or more. Although prices have also increased for the best Mozambique Cuprian tourmaline, they have not come close to price levels for the finest Paraiba material.