Mixed Jewelry & Gemstone Sales Reports from Las Vegas Trade Shows

By Jennifer Heebner, Editor in Chief

Both Rachel Chalchinsky and Eric Yen, of Color Source Gems and Yen’s Jewelry & Accessories, respectively, had strong sales at AGTA GemFair Las Vegas, held May 30–June 3, 2024, but some peers did not. A statement on show activity from organizer Reed Events will not be released until tomorrow, but many gemstone dealers whom AGTA spoke to claimed that foot traffic and sales were down

Traffic & Sales

Kambiz Sabouri of Gem 2000 reveals that sales this year were not as brisk as 2023. “There are some election year concerns,” he says about buyer sentiment. “People loved the merchandise but were hesitant to pull the trigger.”

Other dealers, including some from Sri Lanka, were among the shoppers. “They were trying to see if they could make money on new purchases,” he adds. “It’s hard to replace goods right now.”

Peter Lee of Oriental Arts Co. observed some hesitation as well. “The mood is cautious,” he confirms. “And we are used to seeing a lot of international buyers, but some cut back on travel.”

Peers John J. Bradshaw of the eponymous firm and Pala International’s Carl Larson were also disappointed by traffic and sales. More stringent registration procedures—including providing a W-2 or payroll stub for employees—were enacted to protect both buyers and sellers and were well intended but posed challenges. Bradshaw suspects the frustrations discouraged some from attending, while confusion on opening day of GemFair on Thursday, May 30, deterred some shoppers from finding the AGTA section. “Some people didn’t know AGTA was open,” he says.

Rajiv Jain of D.M.M. Traders, Inc., spoke of slim margins, attendees not buying to potential, and a public that’s not spending.

Tiffany & Co.-made pendant necklace in platinum with a 30–35 ct. Namibian-origin Tourmaline, Pala International
Tiffany & Co.-made pendant necklace in platinum with a 30–35 ct. Namibian-origin Tourmaline, Pala International

Best Bargains’ Anita Agrawal also noted modest sales and for items in smaller sizes because of high gold prices.

“It’s been different since Tucson—there’s not as much positive news,” says Jain.

Both Robyn Dufty of DuftyWeis Opals, Inc. and Gemorex International’s Sourabh Lashkery also noticed lower traffic and midrange buyers. And while Dufty had a good first and second day, the best buyers were not there in force. “Quality buyers were not at the show because [JCK Las Vegas] is a jewelry show,” she says.

Finally, rising costs are another obstacle for dealers.

“If I had some new clients, I would be very happy,” says Lashkery. “But we need more quality buyers, and the costs for the shows are huge.”

Gems That Moved

Of the materials that sold in Las Vegas, blue Sapphires and multiple colors of Spinel were hits.

“Gem prices are still high, but we got some new clients for our color combinations,” says Raja Mehta of AG Gems & Jewelry, Inc. Mehta sells both loose gems and finished jewels.

Sabouri sold both blue and fancy-color Sapphires and fancy colors of Zircon, but all gems were smaller than in past sales. Samuel Sylvio Designs’ Samuel Sulimanov sold a bit of everything, from his niche in Paraíba Tourmaline to pink Sapphires, while Larson presold some Tourmaline and Zircon and even sold a faceted cultured Pearl at the show. “What we sold wasn’t super fine, but they were still some serious buyers here,” he explains.

Ring with a Vietnamese-origin blue Spinel with no treatment and a report from AGL, AG Gems & Jewelry, Inc.
Ring with a Vietnamese-origin blue Spinel with no treatment and a report from AGL, AG Gems & Jewelry, Inc.

Not surprisingly, Sapphires were a top seller for many. Jain sold more Sapphires than anything else, including in some of his signature fancy shapes. Agrawal sold green and teal Sapphires, and Patrick Gerardu of Gerardu Gems & Jewelry sold quite a bit of Montana-origin Sapphires, as did Chalchinsky. She even had some Montana Sapphire bracelet layouts, which are rare to find.

“A lot of people like Montana Sapphires because they’re not perfect,” she says. “You get tricolors and even some that resemble egg yolks.”

And though many weren’t buying bigger-ticket sale gems, Chalchinsky did sell a few smaller Rubies and pink Sapphires for inventory. “Two days were slow for us but otherwise we had a very good show,” she says.

Fancy-cut blue Sapphires from D.M.M. Traders, Inc.
Fancy-cut blue Sapphires from D.M.M. Traders, Inc.

And after a tumultuous year of prices and availability, cultured Pearls are still selling well. Yen maintains that he had strong sales thanks to solid overseas relationships with farmers. Among his toniest offerings: Tennyo strands of 9.5–10mm Japanese akoya Pearls. Tennyo is the highest-quality Pearl grade in the world (it used to be Hanadama), and Tennyo Pearls are sold with a certificate from the Pearl Science Laboratory in Japan stating that status.

“We were able to buy 11 strands for the year,” he says. “Because of the Akoya die-off in 2019, we will not see these again for a while.”

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