Political influence forecast on the gem market, ruby supplies reaching record levels, origin calls harder today. Featured Gem: Paraiba Tourmaline

We wait and watch as international politics are changing the world and we wonder how all this might affect our industry. Domestically, the strong stock market and anticipation of tax cuts to corporations and individuals may signal more spending on luxury products. Will this spur growth and a robust year for the luxury industry or will further deficits occur with tax breaks and further hurt an already down industry? There was some good news regarding fewer retail jewelry store closings in the first quarter following a horrible 2016 in that category. As for ruby production and forecasting, there is no doubt that production of ruby is at an all-time high. Gemfields has been doing large scale mining of ruby in Mozambique and now Mustang Resources is preparing to mine there as well. In the current issue of Gem Market News, May/June issue, we note this and discuss the possibility of price corrections on the horizon. Historically, ruby production was only about 20% of sapphire production and now it is approaching equal production to sapphire. To date, ruby prices have held strong as demand seems to be good but can the market absorb this much material expected to be available in the coming year or two. What is in demand currently is garnet, spinel, tourmaline, and aquamarine. Garnets offer a great variety of colors with a price range for all budgets. Spinel continues to grow in popularity, especially red. Tourmaline similarly offers a great variety of colors and supply has increased for many of the varieties. Aquamarine is popular in 3-5 carat sizes with nice stones affordable at $150-$350 per carat and extra fine topping out at a still reasonable $750-$800 per carat. And do not overlook aqua’s sister stone morganite. Pink is still a hot color and morganite is a great choice and selling well.

Origin continues to be a debated issue and the featured stone below is one example. There are two areas of origin contested. One is the issue when origin is used to describe a variety as discussed below in our feature stone of the month. The other, more prominent issue is the ability of laboratories to accurately predict where a gem might be mined. This task was always difficult and now it is getting even more difficult. Besides overlapping characteristics from mines with tracks that cross borders, treatments may alter the internal features making it more difficult, and more sources continue to be discovered. Today, there are more than 20 countries producing gem quality corundum, many with multiple sources within such as Burma. The task of labs keeping up and separating is undaunting. Take this into consideration. Recently, on March 29, 2017, the SSEF laboratory issued a trade alert that a new mine in Madagascar was producing Kashmir-like sapphires. Stones are entering the trade in large sizes and they warned that lab reports indicating Kashmir were already surfacing. Knowing the extreme premium assigned to Kashmir, what does this say when stones are being incorrectly identified by laboratories as the historically rare Kashmir?

 

Paraiba Tourmaline Tourmaline is one of the most interesting gemstones that occurs in every imaginable color. Although the bluegreen variety has been known for a long time, discovery of vivid blue, green, and purple-to-violet tourmalines, a.k.a., “Paraiba” in Batalha, Brazil in 1982, changed the way the gem market perceived tourmalines. These vivid colors were due to copper, which was not documented in tourmaline ever before. A few decades later, a similar but more plentiful cuprian tourmaline was found in Mozambique, Africa in 2001. Since then, the debate over naming this exciting gem has yet to come to an end. Laboratories and many in the trade use the term Paraibalike for tourmaline even when not from Brazil but containing copper. Gemworld International distinguishes between Mozambique cuprian tourmaline and Brazilian Paraiba tourmaline. Our price charts include both varieties as separate charts and price points are distinctly different reflecting the market. Paraiba tourmaline sells well in the high end of the market despite its very high per carat price due to tight supply. There has not been a good production from the region for a while. Interestingly, cabochon goods are seen more frequently than other tourmaline cabochons in designer’s market. It is also known that Paraiba can be clarity enhanced and is usually heated. The dealers are expected to disclose treatments but ultimately it may not be and buyers need to be aware of this.

 

Paraiba Tourmaline – 2.00-2.99 carat (prices are per carat)

Year Commercial 1-4 Good 5-6 Fine 7-8 Extra Fine 9-10
2015 800-2,000 4,500-7,000 12,100-16,300 20,500-26,000
2016 800-2,000 4,500-8,000 16,300-26,000 30,000-40,000
2017 800-2,000 6,000-9,500 20,000-32,000 45,000-50,000

Source: https://gemguide.com/gem-market-pulse-may-2017/

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