Published Spring 1999
Minerals and Gems of Scotland
Letters, Shops, Directories
The coloured gemstone business is much affected by geo-political considerations. Sources of rough stones in a given country may be thought to be sound, and then a revolution occurs - or the economy collapses - or
there is bad weather - or some other factor causes that place of origin to evaporate, and a fresh search ensues for suitable stones elsewhere in the world, It is an ever-changing scene.
EMERALDS. Colombian sourced stones are reaching the market in commercial grades, and are plentiful. The expectation that Russian mined emeralds would feature as a major supplier in order to help alleviate their precarious economic position has not materialised.
SAPPHIRES. Demand for good grades of Sri Lankan (Ceylon) sapphires remains firm, as does the price. The lower grades are easing in price due to the widespread recession in Asia.
AQUAMARINES. The better qualities selling in the trade at £220 per carat and upwards are harder to find. Existing stocks in the cutting centres for commercial grades, mostly from Africa, are adequate.
TANZANITE. It is about a year since the flash floods in Tanzania killed many miners, and production is not yet meeting demand. Prices for good stones have risen considerably in recent months. There is an abundance of poor quality rough saturating the market and there are few buyers for it.
CORAL. There is a shortage of coral with the ox-blood colours more expensive than the pink.
TSAVORITE. This green garnet is gaining in popularity with pleasing looking stones up to 2.50 carats available with prices steady.
AMETHYSTS. There was quite a vogue for the paler amethysts at one time but this preference has given way to increased demand for the stronger colours. Prices are stable, as stocks are adequate to meet demand.
TOURMALINES. Superb rubellites, the red tourmaline, are available with larger ovals above 10 carats from £220 per carat. Beautiful specimens in smaller sizes and most shapes for under £200 per carat. These stones are well worth looking at as an alternative to ruby for those wanting a red stone. Pink tourmalines, mostly from Nigeria, are particularly pleasing in both faceted and cabochon forms.
GARNETS. Always plentiful except the better rhodolite garnets sourced in Tanzania which were much affected last year along with the tanzanites by flooding of the mines. Prices are expected to remain stable from now on.
PEARLS. White pairs of South Sea pear-shaped cultured pearls 12-13m111 long of good quality can be £1200 per pair. Single stones are less than half the price of the pairs. Cultured black and grey Tahiti pearls have fallen in price due to the economic woes of Asia and the subsequent lower demand. Good Chinese saltwater pearls find their way on to the market via Japan, which helps moderate the price of 7-8mm items.
WHAT IS MOVING AND SHAKING THE DIAMOND MARKET.
Apart from the USA, slow pre-Christmas sales were reported, as demand from the Far East remains weak. The good news from Japan is that cutters supplying the hearts and arrows ideal make as it is called, said that demand was strong. The 'hearts and arrows' ideal make, a modified round brilliant, when viewed through a specific arrangement of lenses displays a reflective effect of hearts and arrows within the stone. These stones are sold to Japanese couples for engagement rings showing that even in the worst recession that the emotional sales remain strong is a lesson for us all if there is some belt-tightening
in the months ahead. The US dollar remains supreme as the international currency in which diamonds are traded. Our view is that the Euro is unlikely to take over from the dollar, as some would have us believe.
Information supplied by R.M. VJ.0are& Co Ltd of York.