Colored Stone Market

Posted on July 1, 2022 by Stuart M. Robertson, GIA GG

The ensuing enthusiasm carried itself through the front doors and on to the show floor of the JCK, Couture and Antique Jewelry shows where the consensus of exhibitors experienced a strong show. Buyers were motivated, prices strong and exhibitors, for the most part happy. But inflation and the Fed’s efforts to reign it in should be watched closely. This market may be very different by year’s end. At JCK, many of the dealers we spoke with gave a positive nod to the show. However, several also stated that their costs to exhibit this year were substantially higher than last year. This was the single most mentioned criticism we heard. But for the most part, JCK deserves decent marks for the quality of the overall experience. This includes bringing AGTA, ICA and nonaligned colored stone dealers together in the Gems Section within the main hall. This was certainly superior to past years that saw loose colored stone dealers scattered across small meeting rooms on the periphery of the venue, out of the sight of buyers walking the main show floors. However, it did not go unnoticed among some of the smaller independent dealers exhibiting in the Gems Section that JCK seemed to be catering to the big firms and the big buyers. As one dealer told me, “The set up day here was a disaster. It is quite clear where JCK has their priorities, and we, in this section are not it. I think that you’re going to see a split among AGTA and ICA members regarding where to show next year.” For the past two years we’ve been hearing dealers tell us that colored stone dealers will largely leave Vegas and establish a Tucson-like show in Denver. But when I asked JCK show exhibitor Roland Schluessel of Pillar & Stone if this was the future, he didn’t buy it. “The bigger, high-end firms with top goods will continue to exhibit within JCK Show. They have to because this show works well for them. Why? Because of the type of buyers, it can attract that Denver cannot. Now, maybe, some of the smaller firms that carry medium quality goods at midlevel price points will quit Vegas for Denver. But colored stones dealers, as a whole, will not pull out of the Las Vegas show completely. Small independent jewelers and designers will go to Denver, while buyers for the high-end brands especially those from overseas, that are looking for fine quality gems will continue to come to JCK Las Vegas.” As the market pivots, the opportunities change, they don’t evaporate. The trend for better and fine quality colored stone beyond the big three remains strong. Gems courtesy of Photo by Mia Dixon. SEEN AND HEARD Perusing colored stones and gemstone set jewelry for the better part of three days, one could not help but notice the array of jewelry—from gold to tungsten—that featured bright, well-cut colored stones. This is of course not a new development. But the amount of bridal, especially engagement rings featuring colored stones was appreciably higher this year. Sapphire dominates here, but by no means is this exclusive. We saw plenty of garnets, tourmaline, aquamarine, peridot, spinel, and even alexandrite utilized as centers as well. Even with most of my time spent in the Gems Section, where many exhibitors also seemed generally pleased with business, I did visit the luxury, platinum guild, the designer, and some of the international sections. The one factor that many of the firms claiming to have done record business at this year’s show...

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