b"THE STATE OF RETAIL COLOREDDIAMONDSJEWELRY STONES DESIGNbecause a private Chinese dealer paid significantly above the askingmechanics of how its put forward.price for all the Tahitian pearls offered. The Big Threes price spike appears to be leading to increased Its definitely between 50 and 100 percent more expensive [tointerest inand, on some level, increased prices ofgemstones of buy pearls], he says. What you really cant find anymore is thesimilar colors, as some in the market search for alternatives. gem-[quality] goods. The super-nice stuff, thats the stuff thats get- For example, red spinels, which can look like rubies, garnered ting harder. much interest at the show.David Nassi, president of 100% Natural Ltd., notes the increased THE ELUSIVE BIG THREE attention on the gemstone.Like high-end pearls, top-quality gemstonesBlue sapphire [prices] are up, I would say, at are also getting more difficult to obtain. least 50 percent as well, he confirms. But AGTA CEO John W. Ford Sr. also to me, the other things that are increas-commented on rising prices in theing at a faster pace are spinels and opening session of GemFairs educa- other alternatives to Burma rubies tion series, which he presented withand sapphires.Martin Rapaport, chairman of theRobertson isnt surprised by the Rapaport Group. trend. He said there is interest in In general, the [rising] price ofspinel along with other similarly fine gemstones across the board iscolored gemstones typically offered just [astounding]there doesntat lower price points, like rhodolite seem to be an end to it. There aregarnet and rubellite.transaction prices Ive never seen happening before that are happen- A DIAMOND ALTERNATIVEing, Ford told the audience. The topic of high prices leading Rubies, sapphires and, to a lesserconsumers to look elsewhere extent, emeralds, commonly referred sounds similar to conversations to as the Big Three, are seeing the big- happening in the diamond market gest jump. right now, as lab-grown diamonds are Theyre all up, but sapphires would prob- The Mozambican ruby Estrela de Fura 55.22positioned as a price-conscious alternative ably give you the most sticker shock as youresold in June 2023 for $34.8 million ($630,288to natural diamonds.walking around the show, Ford said.per carat), a world record for any coloredHowever, lab-grown stones dont have the gemstone sold at auction.Sapphires, particularly blue sapphires,same kind of appeal as alternatives in the continue to be the top seller in the Western market, Robertson saidcolored stone market, which saw those disruptions a century ago.in his presentation with Branstrator. Weve already worked all of that out of our system. Synthetics Blue sapphire prices weare just another category in the colored stone industry. Theyre not a see, at the very least, havingthreat to it at all, Robertson said during his presentation.support now in the finestIn fact, natural colored gemstones are expected to become pref-What we see atqualities and probably tick- erable to lab-grown diamonds for buyers seeking a less expensive AGTA, of course,ing upward. alternative to a natural diamond.is expansion andRubies are a differentWhat we see at AGTA, of course, is expansion and demand for demand for color.conversation. Withoutcolor. We think its going to go into the wedding ring market. We think We think its going tosupply of Burmese material,there's going to be some changes far as people going for lab-created go into the weddingruby is regarded as basicallydiamonds [opting for color instead]; we see that expansion happening, ring market. We thinka one-source stone at thisthe associations CEO Ford said in his presentation at GemFair.theres going to bepoint, Robertson said. While Jennifer Lopez's natural green diamond engagement ring some changes as far[Ruby] has gottenfrom Ben Affleck is well-known, non-diamond natural colored as people going forexpensive enough to reallygemstones are gaining popularity as alternative engagement ring limit its accessibility in thechoices in pop culture. Take, for example, the sapphire-studded lab-created diamondslarger part of our industry,engagement ring actress Zooey Deschanel received last year from are going to go intohe said. Its a specializedpartner Jonathan Scott.color, we see thatmarket at this point. Sophis- Branstrator, who presented alongside Robertson, said, More expansion happening.ticated buyers recognize thebrands are entering the colored stone market than ever before, I John W. Ford Sr.,rarity of fine ruby. think especially designers who traditionally were using only dia-Ruby [prices], we think,monds, so good news for us.AGTA CEO have probably leveled offWhile red spinels price jump is partially attributed to it being an but will find support in theeconomical option for a ruby-colored gemstone, people are also begin-high end just because of thening to find value in stones with colors beyond red, blue, and green. 58 STATE OF THE MAJORS 2024"