market report a regular feature provided by R M Weare & Co
It is estimated that the market for coloured gemstones will see a massive fivefold increase over the next decade from 2bn US$ currently to 10bn. This will be fuelled largely by demand from rapidly developing economies, with an unsurprising expectation that supply is likely to fall well behind demand.
Burma/Myanmar- There are rumours that the Burmese government will ban the export of rough jade this year in an attempt to inject impetus into plans to make their new capital city Naypyidaw a centre for stone cutting and polishing. As Burma's second largest export they are keen to add value to this important revenue source. There are also government plans to boost overall gem production by around 10%.
Opal - Australia is one of the world’s top six sources of economic resources such as copper, coal, iron ore, manganese and nickel amongst others. Much mining work is taking place in areas potentially rich in opal deposits but mining methods such as strip mining don't stop to admire the opal.
Massive amounts of spoil are extracted and pushed to one side in the search for minerals & ores. It won't be until these mining operations have finished and moved on that the spoil heaps can be worked for opal.
The market is awash with Ethiopian opal with still much confusion amongst buyers regarding what material is treated and what isn't. It is generally accepted that the black material is sugar treated or paper burnt and most of the white has been treated too.
There is high demand on the world market for opal doublets and triplets. The Ethiopian material requires stones to be cut deeply to exhibit any worthwhile colour, so only the Australian material is used in their manufacture.
Emerald- Cutters have said that very little quality rough material was being released onto the market, with one cutter informing us he had not had any new Brazilian rough in almost 6 months. It is estimated that emerald production in Brazil and Colombia has reduced by around 30% in the last 2 years. The problems of supply are compounded by the fact that there have been no significant large emerald deposits
found in the last decade. Existing surface mining operations are having to switch to more difficult and expensive underground operations to find new rough. The same situation is affecting emerald production in Zambia, the world’s second largest emerald producer. Kagem, which accounts for nearly half of Zambia's production, has said this week that it intends to open the county's first underground emerald mine.
Tanzanite- Bucking the trend of rising prices, our buyers found tanzanite remaining steady or even slightly lower priced in the last six months. Prices have undergone a correction this year following what have been described as "irregular price increases" in 2012. Tanzanite mining company Richland Resources indicated that it has upgraded estimates of the resource at its Arusha mine, with approximately 30% more tanzanite in the ground than previously estimated, that's up by 33 million carats to 105 million carats. Richland suggests the revised resource will extend the life span of the mine by about 30 years. Although relatively new to its consumers, China is expected to be the number one consumer of tanzanite in 2013 with demand expected to grow. Demand from a rebounding American economy is also predicted to put pressure on supply.
Sapphire Pink Sapphire - Supplies of the high quality Madagascan pink sapphire are thin on the ground. Most of the material recently offered on the market has been a browny pink, some of it Vietnamese material, and is not even close to the best of the Madagascan material that was in very limited supply. Blue Sapphire Demand for quality particularly Burmese and Sri Lankan are much sought after. Prices for quality material have more than doubled in the past 3 years and a 10 - 20% rise is anticipated this year.
Tsavorite- Fine quality tsavorites are commanding prices nearly comparable with that of sapphire. The problem is the best material is almost impossible to find. We purchased a wonderful 2.54ct oval that's selling at £950ct. The fine rich bright coloured material when available represents good investment potential, with stones fetching more than double what they were realising only 2 or 3 years ago.
Natural Zircon- Gem material is increasing in popularity. Prices for fine material are rising for brown and fine blue shapes. Material is currently being mined in Burma, Tanzania, Cambodia, Madagascar, Russia & Pakistan.
From issue 60, purchase print copy below: