Aussie sapphire - a comeback?

FURA Gems, founded 2017 and headquartered in UAE, became one of the world´s leading gemstone suppliers in no time at all.
They hold a solid majority of the Cosquez emerald mine in Colombia, mine for rubies in Moçambique and, as of late, for sapphires in Queensland, Australia.

Now, their engagement in Australia does seem somewhat odd to us. Colombian emerald and Moçambiquan ruby enjoy excellent reputation the world over, which cannot be said of Aussie sapphire, the colour of which often jokingly is referred to as "midnight blue".

Be that as it may, FURA obviously wants to launch a campaign to better that dubious image, establish Australian Sapphire as a brand name and market it worldwide, " bringing back the promise of the glorious late 20th century when the country accounted for over 90 per cent of the global sapphire supplies."

We think a market share of 90% is exaggarated but undoubtedly Aussie sapphire played a much greater role back than. However, it did so not because of the superior quality but for the simple reason that there was way to little blue sapphire available. Kashmir deposits were depleted decades ago, Burma produced very little and Sri Lankan sapphires grew ever more expensive. Thai deposits near Kanchanaburi, exhausted in the 1920ies, were still awaiting their resuscitation and the African deposits were not yet discovered. Only Australia could (and did) supply large quantities. As mentioned before Aussie sapphires mostly were much too dark and for the most part resisted all attempts to significantly improve them by heating. Nevertheless they sold like hot cake simply because there were hardly any other!

Alas, success was short-lived. When the Kanchanburi mines became operative again and soon produced enormous amounts, sales dropped dramatically and ever since the discovery of Madagascar sapphire (Ilakaka), Aussie sapphires are next to unsellable outside of Australia.

Now, a first step in FURA´s efforts was the “world’s first and largest rough sapphire auction” held in Bangkok from Sept. 15th to 19th.
95 lots with 900,000 carats of “unique, rarely seen, only natural and untreated rough sapphires with a wide range of colours including blue, teal, green, parti and yellow" were up for grabs.

Dev Shetty, founder and CEO of FURA Gems, explained that the auction was a "big success".  More than 80 companies requested to take part. Due to Covid-related restrictions only 45 companies were admitted and 83 of the 95 lots were sold.

Ironically enough Australian SAM Group bought more than 430.000cts and thus became the largest buyer by far. SAM´s CEO, Steve Der Bedrossian, said "We are pleased to bring back home Australia sapphires, produced from the Queensland gem-fields...to support our local jewellery industry."

Bedrossian also said “Australian sapphires are on trend because of their unique and beautiful parti and teal colours." Now that sounds like wishful thinking to us because in all other parts of the world customers look for pure blue and any green tinge is unwanted and penalised severly by appraisers.

We wish FURA good luck but our guess is that despite all marketing efforts Australia will remain the best market for Australian sapphire...