Ruby & Sapphire prices

Lately we have been asked if there is a price difference between heated and unheated rubies and blue sapphires and if so, how big the difference is.

The answer to the first question is a clear "yes".
At present verifiably untreated rubies and sapphires from about 1ct up are traded at higher prices than heat-treated ones. We say "at present" because thirty years ago the trade made no difference between treated and untreated stones of 1ct. However, growing quality awareness and rising prices have given more importance to the question "heat-treated or naturally coloured?".

The question as to the amount of the price difference is not so easy to answer.
When it comes to pricing, a lot of things have to be taken into account.
Apart from dwindling supplies (see for instance the current situation in Madagascar) and rising demand (yes, the popularity of coloured gems is growing, the world over), the fact that the coloured gems market is not regulated (like the diamond market) plays a certain role. Different traders have different markups.

Furthermore there are lots of factors one hardly ever thinks about. Whether a gem buyer can get the desired stones for a good price, or has to pay significantly more than on previous buying trips, can depend on whether

My favorite story is this:

When I started my business I got a substantial order for carved scarabs. No problem, I thought. After all I knew the best gem carver in all of India. How wrong could one be! As soon as I had uttered my request the good man started wailing. He'd do the most beautiful roses and cypresses for me or carve the Koran into a single grain of rice but, alas, he could not carve beetles as Islamic faith forbids the depiction of living beings.

I wanted to slap myself in the face! Well, at last i found a less strict believer amongst India's gem carvers but, seriously, would you have thought about this?

Back to the question: currently we think that in good to fine gems of 1ct a 20% difference is justifiable. With bigger stones the difference may be substantially higher.

Currently it looks as if demand as well as prices will continue to rise. But who knows? Maybe that Greenland Ruby deposit turns out to be much richer than expected. Or somewhere along Africa's Rift Valley a huge Sapphire field awaits discovery...