The Rising Cost of Sapphires
Covid has affected all aspects of our lives since 2020 but few would have guessed the impact it would have on the cost of proposing marriage. With the world having been in intermittent lockdowns for the past few years, the gemstone trade is finding itself caught up in the aftermath. From a lack of workers, and increased cost of fuel to run the mines due to the war in Ukraine. To gemstone cutting facilities being in lockdown and the gem and jewellery trade shows cancelled all over the world for the past few years, they are struggling to catch up. All of these factors contributed to the accessibility of gemstones being greatly diminished.
Pair that with the industry embracing eCommerce and online ways of promoting their products and the demand for gemstones have skyrocketed. A report released by Mastercard shows that the online sale of jewellery increased by 75% during the first half of 2021 compared to the same period the previous year, when the pandemic had just started. Growing awareness through social media, the ability to certify gemstones and an increase in industry transparency are also contributing to this trend. The last decade has seen a 30% increase in the use of coloured stones in engagement rings. But this huge increase in popularity is at odds with the availability of the raw products being discovered of this finite resource. Creating a supply and demand issue and consequently an increase in gemstone prices.
Other factors affecting the price of precious gemstones are the renewed US sanctions on Myanmar gemstone exports and the economic crisis in Sri Lanka, which is heavily affecting the supply chain. These two countries are some of the biggest producers of rubies and sapphires in the world. Lynda Lawson from the University of Queensland said “Around the time of lockdown of COVID in Australia, they were doing lockdowns in Madagascar and they prevented foreign traders from coming in, this was even before they put this [export] stop,” referencing the Madagascar Governments decision to stop all exports of sapphires from Madagascar so that they could redefine their mining codes. All raw sapphires from Africa are also banned for export, the stones must be mined and cut within the continent before export.
With the global supply chain of gemstones disrupted by Covid, there has been an increase in the demand for Australian certified sapphires. In particularly dark blue, teal and parti sapphires. Although the demand grows, the discovery of new deposits is shrinking. With the Queensland Government imposing a moratorium on the granting of new, small mine tenures and with vast swathes of the country considered national park or Government owned land, the price of Australian Sapphires is only set to increase.
Mark Poter of Waldemar Jewellers says that in the 20-plus years, he has been in the industry this is the highest demand he has seen for sapphire engagement rings, particularly Ceylon Blue Sapphires and a noticeable increase in enquiries for Australian sapphires. According to Finance Monthly, the average price of sapphires has increased by 15.7% in the year from 2020-2021 with the larger stones increasing significantly.
So if you are considering creating a sapphire engagement ring or upgrading your existing ring, now would be the time to do it.