W hen speaking of jewelry designs, it is not just about color today - it has always been about color. The launch of TNJ Color, the newest magazine in the gem and jewelry industry, is just one of the many signs that color is hot with consumers and that it is most definitely here to stay.

Wearing colors can inspire passion, or quiet the soul. A suite of colorful jewelry can make the wearer feel bold and beautiful, or cheerful and carefree, or any where in between. Colored stones are elegant and make a fashion statement as subtly or as boldly as befits the wearer’s mood - or the jewelry designer’s imagination.

Color has taken precedence in many publications around the world. The merging of colored stone jewelry and fashion in layouts for CIJ TRENDS & COLOURS magazine, made famous by editor-in-chief, Cynthia Unninayar, also speaks to the allure of color. She regularly writes about Pantone® colors in her fashion color reports for the jewelry industry and how these colors are reflected in jewelry. Each issue of the magazine highlights colorful designs from the world’s leading brands, along with Pantone’s top picks of seasonal fashion colors. This year, the color of the year, is the vibrant Royal Orchid, evoked in gems by amethyst, sapphire, spinel and other gems.

For the Fall/Winter 2014 colors, Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Colour Institute® explains in the Pantone® Fashion Colour Report for Fall that this “is a season of untypical colors - more reflective of the imagination and ingenuity, which makes for an artful collection of colors and combinations not bound by the usual hues for fall.”

Industry Experts Weigh In

Gemstone connoisseur Constantin Wild from Idar-Oberstein examines a 32 ct. red topaz from Ouro Preto, Brazil.
A suite of exquisite Rubellite stones, 339 total ct. weight, by Constantin Wild.

Constantin Wild of Idar- Oberstein expressed optimism about the future of the colored gemstone industry saying, “ People’s desire for very colorful, unusual stones of high quality, is constantly increasing.” Wild offers a broad product range of colored gemstones, noting that all colors are in demand, and that his clients “realize that highquality stones can be extremely rare, even quite unique.”

He refers to his array of fine gems as his “treasure chamber,” which is fitting, considering the amazing array of gems he brings to the many industry trade shows during the year. Wild notes that Germany, France, England, and Switzerland are currently very strong markets for colored gems. He also points out that his clients from China are becoming more discerning as their awareness and appreciation for colored stones increases, and feels that it will remain a strong market for the long run. Everywhere, however, he adds that clients are requesting unusual colored gems, and that they “realize that high-quality stones can be extremely rare, even quite unique.”

Joseph Menzie Gem Dealer, President - New York Jewelers Group, recipient of ICA Lifetime Achievement Award.

Veteran gemstone dealer Joseph Menzie of Joseph M. Menzie, Inc., in New York City, offered insight into the colored stone market, noting that prices for fine goods are increasing at rapid rates. One of the drivers for price has been the sale of colored stone jewelry at auction houses around the world.“ Retail stores are doing e specially well with fine merchandise, as people who have money are still spending based on transactions taking place at auctions,” Menzie said. “There is a shortage of new material, especially high-end ruby, sapphire and emerald in large sizes.” He notes that there is also a greater need for laboratory certificates to accompany these high-end stones.

Menzie states that prices for Kashmir sapphire have increased nearly 300 percent in the past few years. Stones in the 10 to 15 carat range that once sold US$85,000 to US$95,000 per carat, are now selling in the US$350,000 per carat range. Colombian emeralds in sizes over 10 carats are difficult to find, especially those with insignificant enhancement. Even material coming out of Africa is fetching higher prices, as newer materials - once the domain of Brazil, such as for example, Paraiba tourmaline - are difficult to secure, especially since many Chinese wholesalers in Africa are paying higher prices.

Kambiz Sabouri, a well-known gem dealer based in the United States, is also a frequent exhibitor at trade shows with his company Gem 2000, Inc. He agrees that the very high-end stones are in demand and, often in short supply. He indicates that he is also receiving a significant number of requests for colored stones for bridal jewellery.

“We used to see requests for sapphires as an alternative stone in bridal jewellery, but now we regularly receive requests for all varieties of colored stones, including aquamarine and morganite”. Sabouri’s wife and business partner, Shomais Shirazi, stressed that one of the biggest challenges for the wholesale gem trade today is that many people are not familiar with the types of gemstones, their colors, and the shapes and sizes available. Retailers are often caught in between requests from their clients and the wholesale gem dealer.

From Gems to Jewels

Because Dinesh Malpani, of Gems Export Centre in Jaipur, has found that consumer demand for colorful jewellery is so strong, he is collaborating with his nephew, Ankit Malpani on a collection of fine jewelry, under the Ankit Malpani label, made with a range of gemstones. Among Ankit’s colorful new designs is “Aura,” inspired by the human aura where each color has its own significance. The cuff seen here, for example, contains emeralds denoting healing, while the yellow sapphires denote energy. Another successful gem dealer who recognizes the importance of color in finished jewelry is St. Petersburg-based Pavel Sokolov who is working with his son Alexander.

The new brand, “Mousson Atelier” offers a wide selection of very prestige pieces, from nature-inspired pieces to sophisticated suites to multicolored or single tone jewellery fit for the Red Carpet. When all is said and done, industry insiders, jewelry designers, and gem dealers all agree that today’s market for colored gemstones is hotter than it has ever been, and that this trend will continue. Clearly, in jewelry today, it is all about color.

Barbara Wheat Lipatapanlop is CEO of Gemalytics LLC based in New York City. She also serves as president of the Jewelers Ethics Association (JEA). She can be reached at barbara@gemalytics.com.

Natural blue sapphire, no heat, 3.60 cts., 7.86 x 7.78mm, by Gem2000, with AGL Sapphire Brief.
Ring in 18K gold set with amethyst and rubies, evoking the Pantone colour of the year, Radiant Orchid, by Mousson Atelier.
Ring in 18K gold set with amethyst and rubies, evoking the Pantone colour of the year, Radiant Orchid, by Mousson Atelier.