Natural diamonds have been losing their grounds as ultimate fashion symbol during recent years. Gone are those days when celebrities and younger generation used to go crazy after diamonds on all occasions including engagements and weddings.
Global celebrities like Angelina Jolie, Mila Kunis and Beyoncé are now regularly seen wearing jewellery studded with variety of coloured gemstones on the red carpet. Kate Middleton especially has boosted the fashion quotient of coloured gemstones to a new high when she wore a large blue sapphire that had previously belonged to her late mother-in-law Princess Diana. This has since inspired countless young ladies globally to opt for something similar.
Quality coloured stones today are available in various hues and saturations. These variations allow women options to pick the colour that best matches their personality and style. Young women now strongly believe that opting for coloured gemstone jewellery provides them a platform to make a statement.
Annual ruby auctions held by Gemfields in Singapore last year fetched revenue of $43.3million – the most ever made at one of its auctions. Buyers had flocked in from all over the world including India to grab the blood-red jewels for the highest ever average realized price of USD 689 per carat.
Susan Abeles, the US head of jewellery for auction house Bonhams says, “During last 10 to 12 years, some jewels have risen in price by 2,200%. So rapid is their growing popularity, that we (Bonhams) have proclaimed 2015 as the year of coloured gemstones. Demand has never been greater for the quality coloured gemstones. The market for coloured gemstones has increased exponentially in less than 10 years.”
More and more Indian consumers also are opting for variety of quality coloured gemstones. The COO of Gemfields Mr. Dev Shetty says, “India has been a key market for Gemfields and will continue to be one of our main focus regions in the coming years. We enjoy 20% of the Indian market share of coloured gemstones at present. We are looking at increasing it to 30% in 3 to 5 years.”
Size of the Indian jewellery is USD 40 billion of which the coloured gems stones constitute only about 1%. Mr. Shetty says, “In order to increase this market share in India, we are planning to build a brand to sell the gemstones. We also want to make the consumers aware about the benefits of certification and establish transparency that will lead to consumer confidence. Gemfields spends 15-20% on its marketing in India.“
“We are also in talks with four state governments for exploring mining opportunities in the country. We are working towards increasing the sourcing of cut and polished coloured gems stones to 15%. This will increase our total turnover to USD 500 million,” Mr. Shetty adds.
The repeated media exposure of ‘blood diamonds’ and undisclosed mixing of CVD with natural ones have drastically eroded the consumer confidence during recent past. This has prompted Indian consumers to opt for ethically sourced alternatives like gemstones. The growing popularity of coloured jewels will inevitability have an impact on the demand of diamonds, although the extent of this effect cannot be known at this stage.
Posted by Suresh Chotai