市場情報 JNA Mar/Apr 2021 | 39 Polished rubies from Veerasak Gems Co Ltd Veerasak Gems Co Ltd 的拋光紅寶石 F or many centuries, rubies have symbolised passion and power – their fiery colour prized by the kings and queens of Europe, the tzars of Russia and the shahs of the Mughal empire. These beloved stones continue to dazzle the jewellery market today. Gems from the Mogok Valley in Myanmar are deemed to be the finest and most valuable, proven by top- performing rubies sold at international jewellery auctions. According to Gemburi Co Ltd Managing Director Phuket Khunaprapakorn, ruby deposits were discovered in a few regions mainly in Thailand and Myanmar around 40 to 50 years ago. Today, these deposits are exhausted. Jeffery Bergman, founder and director of 8th Dimension Gems, explained that rubies from Mogok remain highly sought after, with larger and better-quality stones selling at prices twice to 10 times higher than their counterparts from other origins. Over the past decade, however, Mozambique has emerged as the largest source of fine-quality rubies, changing the landscape of the global ruby trade. Fine stones can also be found in Madagascar, Vietnam, Tanzania, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Greenland. Khunaprapakorn said rough rubies from Madagascar are of medium to low quality, and largely set into more affordable jewellery. Greenland meanwhile produces both cabochon and facetted material, majority of which require heating and fracture filling with borax, according to Bergman. Major markets for top-range rubies are the US, Europe and Asia while medium- to fine-quality stones are traded mostly in the US, Mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan and the Middle East. Demand for stones of lower quality typically comes from India. Strong demand, tight supply Veerasak Trirotanan, president of Thailand-based Veerasak Gems Co Ltd, revealed that premium-grade rubies enjoy stronger demand from buyers seeking one- of-a-kind gems. “With natural resources continually being depleted, fewer extraordinary rubies are discovered, resulting in supply shortage. On the other hand, commercial-grade rubies are common,” he noted. Sales have recently dropped though due to widespread Covid-19 travel restrictions, continued Veerasak, adding that traders now mostly rely on digital images and virtual communication, “which cannot portray the complete characteristics of a gemstone, making inspection more difficult for buyers.” Bergman noted that while demand for commercial- quality rubies softened in 2020, top-grade gems were still favoured as evidenced by the sale of a 6.41-carat Pigeon’s Blood Burmese ruby for US$2.8 million at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong. Joe Belmont, founder and director of Thailand's KV Gems, also attested to the continuous demand for fine, unheated rubies above 2 carats during the pandemic. Phillips’ Worldwide Head of Jewellery Graeme Thompson explained that with increasing prices of high- quality stones, rubies have become a viable investment tool. Dmitry Zyubenkov, founder and director of Geveling Ltd, added that prices of rubies at auction increased 80-fold in the last 20 years while those of commercial goods did not go up as fast and remain dependent on jewellery trends. According to Philippe Ressigeac, COO and co-founder of tech software company GemCloud, prices across all categories were stable pre-Covid-19. Medium- and commercial-quality rubies however face price uncertainties due to business disruptions. The increase in prices of Burmese rubies meanwhile could be attributed to the higher volume of Mozambique goods in the market, disclosed Ressigeac. He commented, “Once you get a product in volume flooding the market, retailers become interested and invest in marketing. You then have a fringe of buyers that request only the best from a certain product range. In this case, Burmese rubies are deemed the best.” Thompson added that demand for alternative options like Mozambique rubies is on the rise, owing to the lack of Burmese goods in the market. Despite this growing trend, the market remains slow to embrace alternatives, so Burmese rubies remain highly desired. “Mozambique rubies are relatively new – the mines were only discovered in 2009 – but already, we are seeing interest levels from serious collectors surpass that in Thai rubies, for instance,” he continued. Zyubenkov agreed that Mozambique rubies are gaining steam in the commercial jewellery market, but this has no bearing on the price of exceptional Burmese rubies. He said, “If you compare a 5-carat Burmese ruby with a similarly sized unheated Mozambique stone, the Burmese gem will sell for seven to 10 times more. There is not much difference in price among commercial- quality calibrated stones.” Business in a pandemic Production at Gemfields’ Montepuez ruby mine in Mozambique was suspended during the pandemic, with only essential activities being done onsite. The priority is to resume mining operations as soon as possible.