ICA Newsletter - January 2019

Report by Henry Ho

ICA Board Director
Thailand continues to rise as a leading international player in the world of colored gemstones. The recent announcement of various trade events in Bangkok certainly suggests demand for colored gemstones will rise over the coming months. For instance, we begin to see a growing demand from multinational companies looking to expand into the Asian market in Thailand.
- Reputable companies such as Bonas, one of the world's oldest leading international diamond tender houses with over 140 years presence in the diamond business, is building its credentials and expertise in this sector by holding its first ever colored gemstone tender in Bangkok with joint support from Asia Gem Center (AGC) and the Jewelry Trade Center (JTC). This event will coincide with the Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair (BGJF) and will feature an exclusive range of colored gemstones. 
- Meanwhile, Thailand's gemstone market continues its steady growth for finer qualities and at a slower pace for the commercial sizes and varieties. Prices have risen meteorically for cut rubies from Myanmar and at least 20% higher across the board as reported by reliable dealers of cut rubies from Mozambique. The current sentiment is that rough Mozambique rubies are firmly maintaining higher prices and dealers are in a holding position, hoping the demand catches up to a level reflected by the latest rough ruby auction results by Gemfields. 
- Sapphires of fine qualities remain scarce. Availability and supply for the “ideal cornflower” are few and far between, achieving record prices per carat at recent international auctions. Many gem dealers ”shopping” gem laboratories in hopes of receiving the “preferred origin” as the determination of a gemstone’s gemological provenance remains a “controversial” and unsettling topic of discussion.  
- ICA member, Charles Abouchar, an international, long-standing and highly-esteemed gemstone expert, has recommended, through CIBJO, that the laboratories separate “factual” and “opinionated” information clearly in their reports. This suggestion is a positive step towards improving the “integrity” of the gem report as a communication tool and a better document for its users. 
- Spinels are ever stronger in demand, however, insufficient supplies of cleaner and better colors keep this gemstone a highly desirable and rare collector’s gem of choice for the long and the short term. The lack of finer reds, pinks and violets are driving the prices of grey spinels to higher and higher peaks. 
- On the other hand, manufacturing goods in calibrated sizes are shifting and buyers are more selective in their picks with tsavorite, tanzanite, aquamarines being a staple item. 
The USA market is on the up with China in a plateau for most goods, with demands for larger, cut rubies over 5 carats and above. 
- The global scene for colored gemstones has changed and developed rapidly since the first and second ICA Congress in Thailand held in 1987 and 2004. As Thailand takes the immense honor of hosting the next ICA Congress in October 2019, the Congress will become an important channel to further promote and leverage Thailand’s capabilities as the World’s Gems and Jewelry Hub. The year 2019 appears to be exciting for Thailand, as the country takes on the international spotlight.  

Henry Ho is the founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences (AIGS), and also the founder and President of the Jewelry Trade Center in the heart of Bangkok’s business district.  
*** ICA President Clement Sabbagh Invited to FEEG/CIBJO Event in Italy
Clement Sabbagh, ICA President, spoke recently at the FEEG Symposium / CIBJO seminar in Italy. He talked about the role of ICA in the gems industry as well as the power and services that the ICA member network offers. There was also an ICA reception for members and their guests to meet and greet each other. Read More
*** 2019 Trade Fair Guide Launched
IDEX Online has launched the 2019 edition of its annual Trade Fair Guide. The guide provides details regarding a range of trade fairs taking place this year, including dates, venues and contact information. It also provides information relating to De Beers' sales dates in 2019, and ALROSA's dates for publishing details of its sales. Read More
*** Bonas Announces First Exclusive Polished Colored Gem Tender at Jewelry Trade Center
Bonas , one of the world's leading international diamond tender houses, will hold an exceptional polished colored gem tender from Monday, February 18 to Friday, February 22, 2019 in Bangkok. The event is organized with the support of the Asia Gem Center and will take place at the Jewelry Trade Center, 919 Silom Road, Bangkok. It will coincide with February’s 63rd Edition, Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair (BGJF). The tender will present approximately 400 lots featuring a wide selection of colored gems, including yellow sapphire, star blue sapphire, pink sapphire, blue sapphire, star sapphire, ruby, star ruby, emeralds, aquamarine, alexandrite and cat’s eye. Read More
***Rare Opal Contains Trapped Insect
 A USA jeweler has obtained a colorful opal featuring an encased insect. The rare stone originates from Java, Indonesia, and features a well-preserved invertebrate, apparently with its mouth still open. Looking closely, one can even see thin fibers extending from the limbs.  Read More
*** New Mineral Found Inside Gemstones in Israel
According to an article  published in the journal  Minerals  last month, the new mineral, named Carmeltazite, after Mount Carmel in northern Israel, contains titanium, aluminum and zirconium. The element, first discovered by Shefa Yamim, is now recognized and approved as a new mineral by the International Mineralogical Association, the company said. It can be found within a certain type of sapphire, which the company calls  Carmel Sapphire . Read More
***Burma - Sanctions Unlikely to Affect Gems Industry
In response to Myanmar Army counter-insurgency operations in northern Rakhine that saw more than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims flee to Bangladesh since late August, some American luxury jewelry retailers have boycotted gems from Myanmar, posing challenges to Myanmar’s gems industry. Read More
*** China Drives Richemont Growth
Richemont’s jewelry sales increased 9% in the third fiscal quarter, as strong growth in the Asia Pacific region offset weakness in Europe and the Middle East. Sales in the Americas also rose, offsetting slower growth in Europe. Revenue in the Middle East and Africa decreased during the period due to unfavorable exchange rates.  Read More
***Theme of the 63rd Edition of the BGJF is: Thailand’s Magic Hands: The Spirit of Jewelry Making
The 63rd edition of the Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair (BGJF), which will take place from 20-24 February, 2019, is set to present an extraordinary array of gold and silver jewelry, fine jewelry, gem-set jewelry and polished precious and semi-precious stones. Impressive figures from pre-registration show major buyers from across the world including the United States, EU, India, Australia, Middle East and ASEAN. Read More
*** CIBJO Board of Directors Approves Newest Blue Book, Providing Guidance for Responsible Sourcing in the Jewelry Sector
The new Responsible Sourcing Book is the product of a year-long project, which included the creation of the CIBJO Responsible Sourcing Commission and a policy document that was presented at the 2018 CIBJO Congress in Bogotá in November. Before its release, it was subject to a rigorous internal and external review process that included experts both from the jewellery sector and the international community. Read More
*** Myanmar’s new gemstone law is flawed, says Global Witness.
Myanmar’s parliament has passed a new law governing the gemstone sector. According to international anti-corruption NGO Global Witness, “the law may do little to reform the notoriously corrupt, conflict-tainted, multi-billion dollar jade sector while allowing companies involved in illegal activities and human rights and environmental harms to secure access to the valuable mineral.” Read More
*** Fura Gems Announced Maiden Mineral Resource Estimate for the Coscuez Emerald Mine
Fura Gems Inc. announced a maiden Mineral Resource (MR) estimate for its 76% owned Coscuez emerald mine in Colombia, and the first MR estimate in the Colombian emerald sector. The maiden MR estimate, prepared and classified by independent group Watts, Griffis and McOuat Limited, contains an estimated 3 million tonnes of Inferred Mineral Resources at a grade of 2.0 carats per tonne, for a total of 6 million carats with a conservative price of USD$200 per carat. Coscuez Emerald Mine was acquired by Fura in January 2018. Read More
***Decline in Jewelry Sales for Christie's and Sotheby's
Combined jewelry sales for Christie’s and Sotheby’s totaled $906.3 million for 2018, which represents a 17.6% decline in jewelry sales compared with the $1.1 billion the two international auction houses achieved in 2017. Read More
***Hong Kong Jewelry Exports Face Slowdown
Hong Kong’s jewelry exports are expected to slow in 2019 after strong growth last year, due to sluggish economic conditions, the municipality’s trade body has warned. Less robust economic growth is likely to affect Hong Kong’s jewelry exports,” predicted Alice Tsang, assistant principal economist at the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC).  Read More