Satisfactory Sales but Pricing and Sourcing Struggles, Wars, Influence 7th Edition of GemGenève

By Jennifer Heebner, Editor in Chief

AGTA dealers at the 7th edition of GemGenève, held Nov. 2–5, 2023, at the Palexpo at the Geneva Airport, had decent sales despite lighter traffic than at the spring 2023 edition.

Some 31 AGTA members exhibited (out of 175 total), the largest number of dealers present from any country, GemGenève officials revealed.

“American dealers are always the majority, then the Swiss,” explained Mathieu Dekeukelaire, Director.

Satisfactory Sales but Pricing and Sourcing Struggles, Wars, Influence 7th Edition of GemGenève

The trade-only GemGenève fair was born in 2018 just ahead of the demise of the 102-year-old Baselworld Watch & Jewellery fair. Baselworld took place annually until its last edition, held March 21–26, 2019. The 2020 and 2021 editions were not held due to the COVID-19 pandemic. By 2022, the event had been canceled permanently.

Many of the Baselworld Hall 3 exhibitors now constitute GemGenève, which was created by dealers and exhibitors (to both Baselworld and now GemGenève) Ronny Totah of Horovitz & Totah and Thomas Faerber of Faerber Collection. Because dealer-exhibitors created the fair, it’s not surprising to learn that nearly all interview subjects were pleased with its structure, treatment of vendors, and overall security.

“It’s a nice atmosphere because gem dealers run it,” says Jasmin Hentschel of Nomad’s, which has participated in the show since its inception.

Elias John Vock of ProVockative Gems agrees, adding that the event’s security is top notch. “It’s one of the most secure shows we’ve ever done,” he explains.

Natural Pearl and Diamond estate brooch from ProVockative Gems
Natural Pearl and Diamond estate brooch from ProVockative Gems


Sales & Offerings

Largely European buyers attend the fair to shop the top 1% of inventory—large unheated or untreated gemstones, rare estate goods, and fine pearls. Buyers are mainly from high-end brands while a few independent retailers are in the mix as well.

Michael Hakimian of Yoko London exhibited at the fair, but with loose Pearls and strands, not the finished goods his brand is known for. Hakimian brought all South Sea Pearls—no Akoyas or freshwaters—to GemGenève.

“I’m getting back to my roots with loose goods,” says the founder whose business started in the early 1970s under the moniker Euro Pearls. “The audience here has a lot of manufacturers and brands that create their own jewelry.”

A challenge for November GemGenève sales? Finding new inventory quickly for the exhibitors who had just participated in the September Hong Kong show.

“The customers are the same,” notes Kapil Seth of Malhotra. “It’s the syndrome of FOMO.”

Ashok Sanchetti of Pioneer Gems had just exhibited—and done well—in Hong Kong in September but still showed up for this fall fair. At press time, one of his biggest GemGenève sales was a pair of no-heat Sapphires (25 ctw.) from Burma.

On the day AGTA spoke to Manoj Bhandari of RMC Gems, Inc., a vendor of Mozambique Tourmaline, he had already sold 30 ct. and 35 ct. stones but still had plenty more special gems on hand. Amit Elian of 4Gs Trading sold a layout of square emerald-cut no-oil Emeralds weighing nearly 60 carats to a brand. David Nassi at 100% Natural had sold a 40 ct. lavender star Sapphire but still had a 50 ct. color-change untreated Sapphire for sale. Allen Kleiman of A. Kleiman Co. had a pair of oval 10.5 ct. Rubies available, while Nomad’s had top-quality Spinels—including a Luc Yen cobalt blue and a pink Vietnamese. “Everyone now has a Diamond, Ruby, and Sapphire,” says Mikola Kukharuk of Nomad’s, which began in Ukraine.

Team Nomads at the fair
Team Nomads at the fair
Market Conditions

For those paying attention, it will come as no surprise that prices for top goods continue to rise, a point confirmed (again) by dealers at GemGenève.

Prices for fine cultured Pearls have shot up tremendously (see here and here for proof), while colored gemstones have been climbing.

“Prices for color have soared, which is strange considering that prices of Diamonds are crashing,” observes Jeremy Hakimi of Colorline, Inc. “Fine gem prices are up between 50% to 100% just in the last year. And it’s not just on unheated goods. Plus, Sapphires in every color and every size—from 1 ct. to 40 ct.—are the highest I’ve ever seen.”

Gems like Spinel and specialty Garnets are also not immune to price increases. Kukharuk cited price hikes for Tsavorite and Mandarin Garnet and Spinels of all colors, adding that he is unsure how consumers will react to retail prices.

Pair of unheated Rubies (10.5 ctw.) from A. Kleiman Co.
Pair of unheated Rubies (10.5 ctw.) from A. Kleiman Co.

“We’re not sure if they’ll accept the prices or if the bubble will pop,” he reveals. “Thirty years ago, Western Europe and America were the only buyers of gems, but now Asian countries and others who are newly wealthy are also shoppers. When the market is up, other gems appreciate, too.”

While most dealers were satisfied with sales at the show, some thought purchases were lighter than the norm. Plus, while Asian and Middle Eastern buyers typically attend the fair, some noticed a dearth of the latter. Reasons include the two active wars—Ukraine-Russia and Israel-Hamas. “The market is quiet now,” says Sanchetti.

Emerald from 4Gs Trading
Emerald from 4Gs Trading

An opposing point of view comes from Elian, who suspects that the difference is fewer middlemen. “The market is more targeted,” he insists. “There’s less traffic but more serious people to conduct business.”

A final point with which all dealers can agree? “There’s never enough fine goods in the world,” says Malhotra.

This is proprietary content for AGTA and may not be reproduced.

To see live video interviews with AGTA members at the shows, click here. Interviews were conducted with Michael Hakimian of Yoko London, Jeremy Hakimi of Colorline, Manoj Bhandari of RMC Gems, and Lewis Allen of Crown Color. Additional show coverage and reported findings are also available.