Four Gem-Market Trends You Need to Know About – by Jennifer Heebner (Rapaport Magazine – January 24, 2024)


Consumers can’t get enough of fine colored stones and cultured pearls, but the spiking demand is driving up prices and squeezing supply. Industry insiders weigh in.

Afshin Hackman is used to incremental price increases on the rubies and sapphires he seeks out on buying trips to Thailand. These jumps are usually 5% to 10% — but not 40% in 10 months.

As of press time, the principal at gem wholesaler Intercolor had just returned from a trip after last visiting in early 2023; it was a frustrating and expensive ordeal. “I spent two weeks there and bought from 18 different companies,” he says. “In fine qualities, the merchandise was outrageously overpriced.”

Cultured-pearl sales aren’t any better. Demand in China has driven up costs to shocking levels; wholesale prices at the 2023 Jewellery & Gem World Hong Kong show, which took place from September 18 to 24, were retail prices for US dealers.

“The growing demand of the Chinese market buying all the pearls at inflated prices leaves the rest of the world with very little inventory,” says Ankeet Shah, director of supplier Continental Pearl. The overall message from jewelers? The materials are as beautiful as ever, and demand is at an all-time high, but prepare to pay more for most colored gems and pearls. Here’s a breakdown of the burning issues and trends in today’s market.

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