b'As accessibility to the Big Three dwindles, the shift appears toBlue topaz engagement coincide with another, steadily rising, trenda growing desire forring from Mateo New Yorkindividuality.SOMETHING NO ONE ELSE HASBranstrator clocked the timely intersection of trends last year.We started hearing in the fall, especially at the Hong Kong show, that there was some price resistance happening to some of the more expensive stones, and I think that thats going to combine with this trend weve seen of consumers wanting new and interest-ing stones, she said.The colored stone industry is in the midst of what should be its greatest opportunity, according to Robertson, who noted the enormous amount of new stones and colors that have become more visible and more accepted in society in the last few decades. Much of the growing interest in spinel is due to the colors in its palette that resemble, well, nothing else. People are realizing spinels have all these other colors, like these bright, vivid pinks and blues, and its generating a lot more attention, Nassi, of 100% Natural Ltd., says. Now, you see the pink spinels, the bright spinels, are priced even higher than the reds, which were traditionally the strongestin the North American market, Robertson said. We do think this is [color of] spinel. going to again be a year where Montana performs particularly well.Nassi thinks this is a good thing, a signal of open-mindedness about gemstones. IMPERFECTLY PERFECT STONESPeople are, I think, having a more independent view of stones It isnt just new colors being sought after; its a whole range of people are starting to think for themselves and say, I like that colormaterial the market hasnt pushed in the past. and thats attractive to me, he says. Especially among designers, theres a call for something a bit more Robertson confirms, having said in his talk, We shouldnt focusinteresting, even if that means selecting less-than-perfect stones that on our own interpretations of what material should be; the consumertraditionally would have been rejected for their flaws. market is hungry and has an appetite for reallyWed categorize this almost as a movement, unusual material now, and the gemstonesays Natasha Braunwart, brand and CSR palette is so wide as far as its colors thatmanager at Washington-based wholesaler it is the time to really be adventurousColumbia Gem House. with what gets put forward in front ofTheres less of what her father, the consumer.Columbia Gem House founder Eric He touched on several gems thatBraunwart, has seen in terms of that are expected to continue to generaterace to obtain a perfectly cut, perfectly interest.clear gem with no flaws. Zircon, which comes in nearlyA common result of a less-than-flaw-every color of the rainbow, is popularless gemstone? A cabochon cut.among both young designers and moreIn these, Columbia Gem House traditional independent retailers. offers a variety, including bullet cabs, Robertson also mentioned tourma- cone-cut cabs, and another style they line, tsavorite garnet, beryl, and topaz. call arch cabs.It should be no surprise thatNatasha says throughout the Tucson sapphires also are benefiting fromshow, they received a number of requests consumer interest in gemstones withfor creative cabochons and will be doing a wide-ranging palette. Blue sapphires arePeridot miner Fuli Gemstones introduced the Fulicustom cutting for customers.Cut," which is based on an antique cushion, in 2023.doing well, per usual, but theres also a de- The company even ordered additional mand for padparadscha, though availabilitycabochons in the middle of the show because is limited.of specific requests, particularly calibrated mini-cabs in 1.5-2 or 3 mm One type of sapphire sourced in the United States stands out forsizes, Natasha notes.its uniqueness and variety of color options. She sees both big and small designers, moving away from a flaw-Montana sapphire is a very popular sapphire right now, especiallyless perfect gem toward a more natural realm.NATIONAL JEWELER 59'