By Christie Dang
Translated by Elmo Wong
Some industry players refuse to attribute market uncertainties to a decline in consumer spending power. According to them, what the sector lacks are fresh and innovative products that could excite buyers and give added value to their portfolios. Here’s a look at zultanite, an emerging gemstone that is starting to catch the imagination of traders and connoisseurs alike.
A continued boost in mainland Chinese consumers’ purchasing power has given birth to an unprecedented demand for new products in the natural gemstone market.
According to Jimmy Chan of Jewelry Renaissance Ltd, fresh product offerings such as the captivating greenish-yellow gemstone zultanite are gradually gaining steam among buyers who are on the lookout for rare and exceptional raw materials.
Counting on zultanite’s unique allure, coupled with immense business prospects in mainland China, Chan obtained a franchise to distribute the gemstone in the Greater China region from Global Licensing NV, which owns the Zultanite® trademark.
Zultanite has since become Jewelry Renaissance’s primary focus. “Zultanite is mainly aluminium hydroxide oxide, AIO(OH), in chemical composition. It is also called color-change diaspore, which is a gem variety of the mineral diaspore,” revealed Chan. “As of today, the only source of zultanite is the Îlbir Mountains in Anatolia, Turkey.”
The stone registers a hardness of 6.5 to 7 out of 10 on the Mohs’ scale, and has a refractive and double refractive index of 1.702 to 1.750 and 0.048, respectively. Its high dispersion value over diamonds likewise gives it an excellent fire, noted the jeweller.
“While these characteristics make zultanite a fabulous gemstone, its unique colour-changing ability is the most fascinating of all,” he continued.
The gemstone is kiwi green in colour with flashes of yellow when viewed outdoors in daylight, but takes on champagne hues when exposed to indoor lighting. The gemstone however reveals pink and raspberry hues in low light.
“Zultanite is hard to find in large sizes. In fact, it is exceedingly rare to find a 3-carat to 5-carat Type II transparent zultanite, not to mention a stone of over 10 carats, which is a collector’s item. The gemstone’s value has nowhere to go but up,” he said.
First mined in Turkey about eight years ago, the gemstone has gained popularity and a solid reputation in the European and American markets.
“Our partners in the US adopted a targeted marketing strategy for zultanite where they successfully laid a strong foundation for the brand and the stone itself through intensive promotion. This includes inviting celebrities to wear zultanite jewellery during high-profile occasions to stimulate social media attention,” disclosed Chan.
“What’s more, the brand obtained a franchise on Royal Caribbean International, with monthly sales reaching up to US$1 million to US$2 million. Given that many of the customers are travellers from mainland China, this further proves the popularity of zultanite among Asians.”
Chan underscored zultanite’s “magnificent appearance and rarity” as its strongest attributes. It is the most ideal stone that is both a prized collection and investment tool. Demand, however, outweighs supply at the moment, noted Chan, adding that a zultanite’s yield is only 2 percent to 3 percent.
He explained that there are about 80 lapidaries that specialise in cutting zultanite, all based in Bangkok, Thailand.
“Our factory in Panyu is responsible for manufacturing in the Greater China region. The one-stop system of designing and selling zultanite jewellery has become our company’s greatest advantage in China,” he continued.
Chan revealed that his company spent two years studying mainland Chinese consumers’ diversified preferences. In addition to a one-of-a-kind jewellery design and effective marketing approach, the jeweller is banking on networking and thorough understanding of the gemstone to take zultanite to new heights.
The company met with representatives of the National Gemstone Testing Centre, and the Gems and Jewelry Trade Association of China in September to find ways to expand zultanite’s foothold in China, and promote the beauty of zultanite jewellery.
The discussion included establishing testing and grading standards for zultanite to further raise its profile among Chinese consumers.