March 1998

Gemstones & Pearls:News


How Thailand's economic crisis may affect supply

Supplies of gems traded in Bangkok are taking a dip because of domestic and regional economic turmoil. Depending on how the region fares through this crisis, the cutting, trading and pricing of some popular gems may be affected in the U.S. A Professional Jeweler poll of gemstone dealers elicited the following results:

- by Robert Weldon, G.G.

Top-grade ruby supplies have ceased, a trend that may continue as buyers from the Far East continue to curtail buying. For these gems, price increases of 80% to 100% have been reported. Heavily treated commercial rubies from Mong Hsu are still trading in Mae-Sai, along the Myanmar-Thai border. Observers say prices are flexible, given the softening of demand for ruby in the U.S.
Demand is up for all qualities, say gem dealers. While blue sapphires are their own category, all colors are popular. There will be a gradual price increase through the year as world producers in Africa, Australia, Madagascar and other sources reduce production, they say. Small commercial goods have stable prices.
Only extremely fine emeralds are holding their prices, say dealers. Emeralds are not usually cut in the Far East, so the effect of economic conditions on price is oblique. Reports indicate a softening of demand in Asia and elsewhere, even before Thailand's economic crisis. Prices for good-to-commercial emeralds may follow a downward trend. The Colombian-sponsored Emerald Congress in February in Bogota focused on solutions to emerald's problems, but some dealers expect prices to soften further throughout the year. Others predict a three- to five-year turnaround.
An oversupply, not the economy in Asia, curtailed production of tanzanite in mid-1997. The oversupply was particularly in small and commercial qualities. The crisis did cement the halt in production. Dealers say prices have gone up 40% to 50% for fine goods and that prices are stable for small, commercial qualities because much is still available on the market.
The Thai economic crisis should not affect supplies of tourmaline, many of which are cut outside of Thailand. Prices should remain stable for bluish, greenish and reddish stones. Cutting of these gems may reach new highs in source countries such as Brazil, and material will be rerouted to emerging cutting centers.

All photos by Robert Weldon

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


HomeAsk the ExpertBrainstormStatsSite of the WeekConsumer Press Scan
Your Business On-LineCalendarMagazine & Site ArchivesStaffSite Map
Professional Jeweler EventsGuide to Electronic Services
Classified On-LineJA Certification Study Session

Home Ask the Expert Brainstorm Stats Site of the Week Consumer Press Scan Your Business On-Line Calendar Staff Site Map