Through the Crystal Ball

January 1999

Gemstones & Pearls:News

Through the Crystal Ball

Gear up for Tucson with these fearless product prognostications

Because everyone's crystal ball is made from a different gem, no one can say what this year's favorites will be in Tucson. But a look at fashion trends and market conditions can help you grab a clue before wading into the two dozen gem, mineral and jewelry shows next month.

What's in Vogue?
Clothing for spring is rich in pinks, reds, purples and baby blues, with neutrals such as indigo and gray holding over from winter. To complement, look for rose and lemon quartz, amethyst, citrine, pink and blue-green tourmaline, aquamarine, golden topaz, yellow beryl, blue and fancy colored sapphire, ruby, garnet, tanzanite and pearls.

What's on the Market?
Tanzanite costs 20%-50% more this year – especially for fine blue goods – because of supply shortages, so buy what you can. Top-color tanzanite (wholesaling in the fourth quarter for $350-$450 per carat) is less expensive than comparable sapphire ($600+).

Look for more fancy color sapphires – especially pink, lavender and yellow – from Tunduru, Tanzania, as well as Montana. More buyers are looking for certified natural color blue sapphires, says New York City gem dealer Joe Menzie. Untreated blue sapphires are available. Smaller, untreated sapphires are noticeably more costly than heated sapphires, says Menzie.

Bad press about gem treatments continues to hurt emerald sales, so look at untreated green alternatives such as tsavorite. Production, particularly in Kenya and Tanzania, is rising. Volume will be in melee to 5mm, with a good supply of single 1-3-ct. stones. Wholesale prices for a 5mm tsavorite ranges from $80-$600 per carat.

Rubies are mostly from Myanmar, primarily in commercial grades not exceeding 3 carats. Expect fine qualities of certain gems – including black opal and akoya pearls – to be available at better prices. Look for Oregon sunstone and Arizona red garnet. Chinese cultured freshwaters are hot (Professional Jeweler,December 1998, p. 36). Look for 3mm to 11mm in round, off-round and baroque shapes in natural white, peach and lavender to dyed blue and bronze. A strand of 5mm white rounds costs $25-$65 wholesale.

– by Deborah Yonick

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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