Emeralds continue to command attention in the international coloured gemstone industry, thanks to their immense value and historic charm. Modern buyers, meanwhile, are now more receptive to other sources of emeralds as quality becomes a key buying factor along with provenance.
Emeralds enjoy a solid reputation in the coloured gemstone industry as one of the most coveted among connoisseurs and traders. A vibrant green colour – akin to nature’s lush forests, and symbolic of hope and fresh beginnings – is the emerald’s defining factor.
Provenance is likewise a huge consideration among buyers, according to Michael Haag, director of ColEmerald Ltd. “Colombian emeralds have always been the most sought after by the market. Size is another attractive trait – Colombian emeralds come in big sizes,” noted Haag. “Their intense and vivid green colour is also incomparable.”
The company official said demand for emeralds has been on the upward trend in the first half of 2018 compared to 2017. Particularly favoured were stones of 10 carats and up in medium to good quality. He traced the growth to Asia, especially Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and mainland China. Among the fastest-moving were emeralds of 3 carats to 5 carats with minor treatment and good colour, and cost US$2,000 to US$3,000 a carat. Emeralds of 10 carats to 15 carats that sell for US$3,000 to US$4,000 per carat were also popular, noted Haag.
Higher demand meanwhile meant continuous increase in the prices of Colombian emeralds. The supply situation in Colombia has likewise worsened compared to last year as only a few locations are producing rough, but not regularly, he added.
“ColEmerald will continue supplying the market with single stones and matching pairs of 1 carat to 6 carats. We also expanded our inventory to include emeralds between 10 carats and 25 carats in size,” Haag continued. “Whenever available, we will stock medium- to nice-quality cabochons from Colombia. We are also looking at a new deposit in Ethiopia.”
Today’s buyers have become more receptive to emeralds from other geographic origins, revealed Irfan Takat, director of emerald dealer Takat Gems (HK) Co.
Equally enchanting emeralds from Zambia are steadily gaining favour among global buyers mainly due to their striking colours, natural beauty and consistent supply, continued Irfan.
Italy and China are the most ardent buyers of Takat’s Zambian emeralds. Takat has been in the Italian market for 20 years, according to Irfan. There’s also demand for Zambian emeralds in the US, which the company is planning to explore in the future. Prices, added Irfan, are also stable while supply remains steady.
“At the moment, all product types across all sizes and shapes, are selling. Our commercial goods sell for US$20 to US$50 per carat while higher-range products are priced more than US$500 per carat. We offer a wide range of stocks,” Irfan said. While business in 2018 was slower compared to 2017, the company official said the second half of the year and 2019 appear more promising as markets worldwide recover from the recession.
Shlomo Eshed, managing director at Gemerald Ltd, reinforced this trend, saying that Zambian emeralds have taken a more prominent role in the past year on the back of stronger consumer interest.
“Overall, market demand in the recent quarter has increased for higher-end goods and top-quality cutting, driving industry performance for the last two quarters of 2018,” noted Eshed.
The most sought-after products were emerald- and cushion-cut stones, he added.
“Emeralds are a complimentary product to diamonds in their essence. Thus, they are even more susceptible to income fluctuations than diamonds. In recent years, disposable income has increased in China and Eastern Europe, boosting market demand in these regions. The Asian market is continuously growing,” revealed the company official.
With sources becoming scarce amid solid demand, emerald prices are also on the rise, he continued.
Jain Divya of emerald dealer LRS Gems Ltd also believes that buyers are increasingly becoming more open to other emerald sources.
“There’s a shortage in supply of Colombian stones and buyers are looking at more affordable but similarly stunning alternatives. Price and preference are also important considerations for buyers,” noted Divya.
The company offers a wide range of emeralds from Colombia, Zambia and Ethiopia in drops, beads, fine layouts, calibrations, rounds or diamond cuts.
“Colombian emeralds have always been the fastest moving for us but calibrated Zambian stones are rising in popularity because they are readily available and the prices are competitive,” stated Divya. LRS’ major markets are the US, Europe and China.
Modern consumers are now placing greater importance on quality when buying emeralds, according to Oren Nhaissi, managing director of New York-based Colombian emerald dealer Emco Gem Inc.
He cited robust demand for both commercial and fine stones, fuelled by the US, Asia and Europe.
“It’s all about quality now, depending on what a customer wants. There’s no rule; it boils down to what the buyer is looking for and if supply is there,” noted Nhaissi. “At the end of the day, everyone wants a beautiful stone. It’s an emotional purchase.”
With emeralds, buyers have the liberty to choose among a palette of green hues to their liking – be it a faint leaf green; a rich, dewy green; or something in between, Nhaissi commented.
Emco Gem, which has been in the business for more than two decades, sells high-quality Colombian emeralds. It has offices in Bogota, New York and Hong Kong.