By Bernardette Sto. Domingo
With their eclectic hues, durability and overall beauty, tourmalines are expected to command attention in the global gemstone sector over the coming months, with the Asian market driving the growth.
Gemstone traders are maintaining an optimistic business outlook for tourmalines for the rest of the year, thanks to the stones’ inherent beauty and versatility.
According to Josh Saltzman of US-based gemstone trader Nomad’s, tourmalines in cool, mint colours have been gaining traction in the market since last year, ahead of perennial favourites such as rubellites and blue tourmalines or indicolites.
“We’re working with a lot of materials from Erongo in Namibia and these have so far been very popular, especially the lagoon and mint green colours. Buyers appear to be smitten with bright colours,” noted Saltzman. “It’s a fairly new production from Namibia. At the moment, lagoon and mint tourmalines, and indicolites, are our fastest-moving products.”
Nomad’s strongest markets for tourmaline are in Asia, specifically Singapore, Taiwan, China, Japan and Hong Kong. European and American buyers are also partial to tourmalines, opting mainly for cushion-shaped stones and bigger sizes for pendants, he added.
“Pink tourmalines are well-liked too but these are rarer. It’s harder to find a soft, sweet colour for pink stones because there’s not enough material in the market. A lot of times you get the off colour, which is more difficult to sell,” Saltzman continued. Rubellites are also faring well despite slower demand from markets such as Asia.
Asians were more into rubellites and pinks a couple of years ago but they have since expanded their preferences and are now on the lookout for a wider range of stones, depending on quality and colour, the gemstone dealer noted.
“Tourmaline has always been a stable business for us; these stones are among our best sellers. We expect steady demand over the coming months,” he remarked.
Nikhil Agrawal of US-based Grace Gems Ltd said Asia is one of the strongest growth drivers in the tourmaline sector.
“Tourmaline is a consistent top performer, mainly because it is available in a broad variety of colours, which customers like,” Agrawal noted. “Tourmaline, over the last few years, has gained immense popularity in Asia. Chinese clients love this stone.”
Grace Gems sells to Southeast Asia, China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan. It also has a customer base in the US and Europe.
According to Agrawal, rubellite remains popular since red is an auspicious colour in Chinese culture. Tourmalines in bluish-green or greenish-blue hues are also preferred. The more exotic colours like orange or purple likewise have a following.
“Of course, Paraiba tourmaline is also highly favoured by the market. The more the market gets to know this stone, the higher the prices will be since demand will only increase down the road,” continued Agrawal.
The gemstone expert said tourmaline is also a very durable stone, making it an ideal collector’s piece, particularly Paraiba tourmaline.
“I would say the future is bright for tourmalines. We are always open to trying new markets but we want to focus on China at the moment since there’s a lot of opportunity there. Education plays a vital role as well; people are becoming more aware of tourmalines so demand is increasing,” he added.