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SOPHISTICATED SAPPHIRES

26 September 2018

By Olivia Quiniquini   





 

Sapphires continue to captivate the market with their alluring depths of colour and suitability for jewellery and personal collections. Demand remains robust for the gem, with good-quality sapphires of smaller sizes moving particularly well in the market.

Arguably the more accessible and attainable of the precious stone triumvirate, the scintillating sapphire is consistently a market favourite, leading demand among blue coloured gemstones.

Demand for sapphires continues to be robust as blue remains a colour for all seasons and the coloured stone’s exceptional qualities keep jewellers and dealers enamoured with the gem.

Mehul Patel, managing director of Krish Creations Co Ltd, cited sapphires’ rich and deep colours, hardness, clarity and lustre as their most attractive qualities. Interest in the gem, particularly good- and top-quality stones, remains strong, with the market welcoming sapphires of all origins and natures, he noted.

“Kashmir and Burmese sapphires are higher in value, followed by those from Sri Lanka and Madagascar. Very little however separates the nice-quality stones from the latter two origins. These two sources provide the sapphires for day-to-day business,” Patel said.

While no-heat sapphires remain highly desirable due to their scarcity and unparalleled quality, heated stones are widely accepted in the market, especially among jewellery manufacturers seeking stable and consistent supply for production, he commented.

Smaller goods

Calibrated sapphires and single stones below 5 carats are currently Krish Creations’ fast movers, according to Patel.

“The market has become quite conservative in recent years. Buyers avoid spending too much on a single stone. They would rather have invoices of US$8,000 to US$15,000 per stone than spend upwards of US$30,000 on a single gem. The market now seeks goods that it can sell. Calibrated stones are our bread and butter,” explained the company official.

Rounds, ovals and pear-shaped sapphires are readily snapped up by buyers, he disclosed. Diamond cuts are likewise popular, with princess cuts being particularly sought after.

Krish Creations specialises in finer-quality rubies and sapphires ranging from 5 points to 15 carats. Aside from its fine calibrated goods and single stones, it offers layouts of top-quality, certified, heated and unheated rubies and sapphires. Among its latest showstoppers is an exclusive layout of certified, unheated octagon-shaped sapphires from Burma, Patel said.

Jewellery manufacturers from Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia, and gemstone dealers from the US, Italy, Germany and the UK constitute Krish Creations’ client base. According to Patel, demand has been generally steady this year, with most markets leaning towards sapphires of 1 carat to 5 carats. Hong Kong jewellers, perhaps due to their overreliance on a softening mainland Chinese market, have however been less active of late, he added.

Pongkarn Salapornchai, brand manager of SVD Gems Co Ltd, agreed that China, the company’s top market, has undergone substantial changes in recent years. Instead of the big single stones they used to favour, Chinese buyers now gravitate towards smaller goods.

“Chinese buyers once preferred coloured gemstones of 5 carats and up. They now ask for heated and unheated sapphires from Sri Lanka of 3 carats to 5 carats, with the ovals moving especially fast. But though the market has shifted towards smaller goods, it has not compromised its standards and continues to ask for good-quality stones,” Salapornchai disclosed.

And while prices of sapphires increase on a nearly daily basis due to supply constraints in select categories, the market is willing to pay these premiums, he continued. “Despite price hikes, calibrated sizes sell really well. These are regular orders for our company,” he added.

Heated demand

Milin Triple B Co Ltd is likewise seeing strong demand for its inventory of heated sapphires, according to co-owner Phatipan Eakthongchai. Fashion trends and the perennial popularity of the colour blue in design and jewellery circles have led to solid sales of the company’s heated sapphires in calibrated sizes and up to 5 carats.

“Sapphires move well in the Chinese market. Oval stones are particularly sought after. Demand is strongest for our top-quality sapphires, but our mid-range goods can also sell. Chinese buyers now go for smaller sizes so they can produce more affordable jewellery pieces,” he said.

Eakthongchai described business this year as relatively stable and at par with the last two to three years. While China accounts for the bulk of its business, the corundum specialist has also been making inroads in the US market.

Colombo Gemstones & Jewellery (Pvt) Ltd, which focuses on heated blue sapphires from 2 carats and up, is enjoying growth this year.

According to Rumaiz Ishak, director of the Sri Lankan sapphire manufacturer and dealer, business so far in 2018 has improved over the previous year on the back of solid results from the US and China. These markets are extremely particular about the quality and the colour of the stones they purchase, he added.

“Sapphires of 2 carats to 5 carats are always in high demand. Gemstone dealers from the US, our main clients, tend to ask for rounds and emerald cuts. They are not buying the heavy stones; they are after nice shapes. Meanwhile, customers from China are always partial to clean stones,” Ishak revealed.

Market initiatives

Colombo Gemstones aims to expand its business by tapping high-end jewellery manufacturers to supplement its existing orders from gemstone dealers.

“Our expertise lies in top-quality merchandise in the finer colours such as royal blue and cornflower blue. But since some clients ask for medium-quality stones, we maintain stocks of these as well. We pride ourselves on our cuts, which give us an edge in the market. We constantly aim at producing perfect cuts even if we lose a lot of weight,” Ishak said.

Milin Triple B, for its part, intends to further tailor its production to market needs, given its clients’ penchant of late to buy top-quality coloured gemstones in smaller sizes.

“There is a shortage of small-sized rubies and sapphires. Our production currently ranges from top- to medium-quality stones, but the market is always asking for the best goods. It is a challenge for everyone because it is hard to get these stones. We therefore intend to focus our production on those goods that enjoy strong demand – top- and good-quality stones in smaller sizes,” remarked Eakthongchai.

Krish Creations’ Patel concurred, pointing to supply shortages for better-quality goods. “The competition is more on the supply side – it is more difficult to find the stone than to sell it. That is where the struggle lies. But once you have the good-quality stones, you won’t lack for a buyer at all,” he said.

 

Erratum:

The entry on Colour in the table was mistakenly translated into Chinese as "multicoloured, mostly red" instead of "every colour but red" in this sapphire story published in Gemsworld 2018/19. We regret any inconvenience caused.