From Prism Volume I 2024: Firm Member Profile, Precious Colors, Inc., Big Three Believers

By Jennifer Heebner, Editor in Chief

The Kothari family’s roots extend back to colored gemstone trading in Jaipur, where their love for the “Big Three”—Rubies, Emeralds, and Sapphires—was born.

While Vin Kothari’s great-grandfather Keshrimal Kothari may have founded the KGK Group in Jaipur in 1905 trading Burmese gemstones, that business has blossomed globally to include more outposts, including his own office in New York City.

“Coming from a large family, we were expected to spread our wings to help the business grow,” explains Vin (from the fourth generation), whose father moved from India to the U.S. in the early 1970s.

Kothari’s father Vinay opened Precious Trade in 1973 in the Big Apple, joining AGTA in 1981, the year of the organization’s inception. When Vin graduated from university in 2008, the year the Great Recession landed, he originally wanted to work in real estate, but initial pursuits in the arena weren’t panning out as he desired. By 2010, his family persuaded him to join their already booming business. To mark the occasion, the Kotharis debuted the Precious Colors name, one that Vin could grow while his father still operated business under the well-established Precious Trade moniker.

Precious Trade still sells Emeralds, but Rubies and Sapphires are now invoiced under Precious Colors. Both father and son work out of the same trade show booths at fairs nationwide. So confident was Vin’s father about his son’s contributions to the family business that he started traveling home more to India, leaving the New York City office in Vin’s capable hands.

“Both entities have been part of our parent organization KGK Group, which is internationally known for being a vertically integrated business that extends from mines to retail,” explains Vin. “KGK has a formidable presence across the pipeline of the gem, Diamond, and jewelry sectors and includes retail operations in India and loose gem, Diamond, and finished jewelry sales. KGK is active in 19 countries across the world and is 18,000 employees strong!”

KGK also dabbles in marble, granite, and quartzite products, has recognizable American jewelry brands Gregg Ruth and Martin Flyer in its portfolio, and even has a real estate division—though it hasn’t lured Vin away.

“The gem business is part of my DNA—I was born into it,” says Vin.

From Prism Volume I 2024: Firm Member Profile, Precious Colors, Inc., Big Three Believers
Finding Their Niche

Given that Rubies and Sapphires were among the first gemstones the Kothari family traded, successive generations felt a strong enough tie to the varieties to continue the tradition of their sales.

“My grandfather Ghisilal Kothari joined the business around 1935 and spent years traveling to Burma at the height of its upheaval,” says Vin. “He started to take the business to a greater level and expected his six sons to join as well.”

Today, Precious Colors, Inc. is a leading supplier of Emeralds from Zambia and Ceylon-origin Sapphires, though it also offers Emeralds from Colombia, Sapphires from Madagascar, and Rubies from Mozambique.

Precious Colors is an Authorized Auction Partner of Gemfields, partaking in its Ruby and Emerald Auctions. The firm also sources from other miners, including obtaining Emeralds from Zambia through Grizzly Ventures. As for Sapphires, they rely on artisanal miners, as does most of the world. “There aren’t as many organized Sapphire mining outfits,” he observes.

The company’s biggest strength lies in its ability to consistently obtain responsibly sourced rough directly from the mines thanks to yearslong and strong relationships.

Meanwhile, more generations of Kotharis continue to join and learn the business.

“My cousin’s son—the fifth generation—is already involved.”

From Prism Volume I 2024: Firm Member Profile, Precious Colors, Inc., Big Three Believers
Melee Masters

When it comes to gemstone size, the Kotharis think small—the opposite of the size of their family’s international business.

“As manufacturers, we created a niche by focusing on precision-cut (Diamond-cut) melee in Emerald, Ruby, and Sapphire,” says Vin. “Calibrated Emerald, Ruby, and Sapphire melee is our forté and is what keeps us active all the time. In terms of commodity, our best-sellers are Sri Lankan Sapphires and Zambian Emeralds.”

Because they own their manufacturing facilities, they can adhere to rigorous standards for melee. Rubies and Sapphires are cut in Thailand while Emeralds are cut in Jaipur—the business’s birthplace.

“We buy all the rough and cut and polish it,” says Vin. “We have five selling offices worldwide—Bangkok; Hong Kong; Tokyo, Japan, Shenzen, China; and Antwerp, in addition to New York.”

And while most of Precious Colors’ business is selling loose gems to jewelry manufacturers, brands, and other dealers, a growing number of retailers in its customer portfolio have new requests.

“We have retailers who love our stones but prefer finished pieces, so we have recently ventured into designing and producing fine jewelry,” he adds.

From Prism Volume I 2024: Firm Member Profile, Precious Colors, Inc., Big Three Believers
Fast Facts on Precious Colors, Inc.

Contact: Vin Kothari

Years in Business: Since 1973

Headquarters: New York City

Phone: 212-221-7700

Email: [email protected]


Best Sellers: Rubies, Emeralds, and Sapphires

Instagram Account: @preciouscolorsinc

Trade Shows: AGTA GemFair Tucson, AGTA GemFair Las Vegas, JIS Fall in Miami

Booth in Tucson: #1228


Getting Personal with Vin Kothari

What is your favorite gem and why? Emerald because it comes in a variety of stunning shades of green—from vivid green to an open, yellowish green—and represents the color of nature. And when it is set into jewelry, the finished look is unparalleled by any other. Emerald is a perfect combination of beauty, rarity, and value.

State one fact that people generally don’t know or realize about the gems you sell. Something which is often underappreciated are the truly painstaking efforts that are undertaken to produce every gem. Every stone is louped over 100 times when checking that facets are cut and polished properly. Imagine the laborious efforts and innumerable hours invested in cutting and polishing 57 facets on even a 1 mm diamond-cut melee stone; you must see it to believe it!

Why do you specialize in the gems that you do? Since our family has been in this trade for over a century, we are firm believers in the everlasting desire for the “Big Three” gemstones. While other stones come and go as per trends, these three are forever “precious!”

Tell me about a big break for your U.S. business. Though we were already established globally, in 1975 our U.S. office hit upon a game-changing opportunity to enter the rough Emerald business in Brazil, which was the prime source for Emeralds in the world at that time. My father Vinay Kothari worked diligently to become a leading supplier of Emerald; in fact, he has made over 100 trips to the mines in Brazil to source rough!

What was the most special loose gem you ever sold? While we generally don’t produce gemstones larger than 10 carats, we have sold some special layouts to important clients. Last year, in fact, we sold a $1.3 million keystone layout of 400 pear-, oval-, and round-shape high-quality Zambian Emeralds that took us six months to create. It was a source of pride—it’s not easy to make a layout like that!

Who were your mentors and what did you learn from them? My mentors have all been in my family. One of my uncles taught me that you can make a reasonable profit on a sale but leave enough on future negotiation tables so that the client comes back to you. Something I learned on my own is that selling colored gemstones is more about a story and building relationships, unlike the more transactional pace of selling Diamonds.

Customer Quotes

“I started doing business with them in Bangkok in 1985. They’re close to the sources, it’s convenient to work with them, and they have a lot of selection. And when you do business with someone for so many years, they become friends.” Beny Aviram, Spark Creations

“I like working with the Kotharis for their strong communication skills, excellent quality, thorough assortment, and massive creativity and inspiration that supports the business.” Noreen Paris, Shane & Co.

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This article first ran in Prism Volume I 2024. See the flipbook by clicking here.