JUNE and July are usually weak months for cut stone trade but the year 2006 has been extraordinarily low. The availability of stones is less which in turn is hiking the rough prices. Even after paying high prices orders are being delayed. Despite of decent domestic demand manufacturers cannot suffice to it due to inadequate supply.
Citrine, amethyst and tanzanite are still available but the stone that is suffering the most in terms of availability is Emerald. �Emerald is the least available� is the general market judgment. Big size emeralds are being continuously demanded; ironically it is the stone that is least available. Traders are ready to pay high prices if a continuous supply is maintained, �Price is not a very big factor, that can be still accommodated by the buyer as well as seller but availability is must or the business stagnates,� tells Naveen Singhi, Ratnashikha. Reportedly emerald rough is not available but the rough that is accessible is also very high priced. �The ready goods are not in accordance with rough prices, they are cheaper because rough is fluctuating greatly and the finished product cannot be priced accordingly� says Naveen Singhi.
Tsavorite a look alike of emerald is also low on availability; �Supply of Tsavorite is usually meager while demand is steady. Tsavorite inclusions were selling well in the past but recently these have been repeatedly rejected,� says Sanjay Kala, Kinu Baba Gems.
Tsavorite is very popular abroad whereas domestic demand is quite low. Even after being a semi- precious stone, it is priced higher as compared to others, �it�s the scarcity of the stone which is making it expensive,� explains Sanjay Kala. Presently, either small size (less than 2.5 points) or 1 carat up Tsavorite is being demanded.
Tourmaline and Rubilite add to the list of stones facing scarce availability, �Raw material is expensive than ready goods, the quality has also gone inferior. International buyers want higher quality goods at cheaper prices. Hence due to higher costing demand has come down,� explains Jinendra Kumar Munot, Arham International Gems. He further says, �International market is very weak but domestic demand is quite stable which is helping the trade survive. Indian buyers want cheaper prices but are ready to compromise on quality while others want consistent price and quality round the year.�
Blue and yellow sapphire are more or less on the same lines informs Harish Badhalia, Badhalia International. He says, �Due to of less availability of raw material the prices have gone up and quality has gone lower. We are stocking up goods whenever it is available but at times it results in raw material being expensive than ready goods.� Market demand for Citrine and Amethyst is building up and availability is also consistent but again the margin on these stones is minimal. Tanzanite and Ruby have been successful in maintaining stable supply and demand however quality and price have been issues of worry here too. �Tanzanite has been one of the most desired stones in recent times and the trend continues, supply is also consistent but the production of better quality stones has gone down. Thus prices have also risen. International demand for medium to large size stones is quite high,� says Suresh Kumar Agarwal, Bansal Exports. Lately, manufacturers are seen disinterested in tanzanite due to fluctuation in price, just right quality and color are the biggest consideration of Tanzanite for the moment.
Ruby has seen a weak market for few years now, �Ruby has lost popularity because of similar stones in the market. Synthetic stones are treated to look like ruby and are priced much lower while ruby is an expensive stone� says Suresh Kumar Agarwal. The beauty of genuine ruby is matchless and there are plenty of ruby admirers too but people have started treating ruby, which has made the buyers apprehensive about the authenticity of the stone. Some stones are crawling while few are moderate; in totality the trade reflects slowness. Reasons of present market sluggishness are many like ever rising gold prices and less international demand. �Gold prices are going up globally and this is effecting the overall market,� opines Sanjay Kala while Naveen Sanghi explains �International demand is less, hence manufacturing becomes slow effecting the over all availability�.
However, market is quite hopeful that next one-month will see business getting stable. God forbid if it does not, it would affect the entire trade, but in particular small traders would suffer the most.