Market Insight From a Colored Gem Dealer

Bill Vance
Vance Gems
Interview with Bill Vance, Vance Gems
Bill Vance, a colored gemstone dealer from Delaware, sounds the twin notes of apprehension at the increasing worldwide scarcity of high-quality colored-stone rough, and excitement at the investment opportunity this presents for the middle-range buyer. He forecasts rising demand and falling supply of gem-quality rough with no end in sight, due to mines becoming defunct and miners leaving the industry. What is selling at gem shows now, he says, is only the high end “best of the best.”

Middle-class buyers from India, China, and the Far East with disposable income are acquiring peridot, tourmaline, blue zircon, tanzanite, and other colored gemstones. Although this is driving prices higher, according to Mr. Vance it is not yet too late for buyers in this country to purchase, for example, a good-size 5- to 6-carat tanzanite for $400-$550 per carat. Such a gemstone will continue to gain in value, and thanks to currently low interest on savings and other investment instruments, is literally “better than money in the bank.”

As a GIA Graduate Gemologist himself, Vance is enthusiastic about the value of a rigorous gemological education, followed by plenty of exposure to material in the field. Since the public is increasingly knowledgeable about purchasing gems, it is imperative that gem-related businesses hire educated and ethical personnel. Credibility is everything, and those in the field with well-earned good reputations will be able to stay the course.
His advice to students?  “Always trust your instruments, never ever sight-identify, and don’t be afraid to say ‘I don’t know but I’ll find out for you.’”

Mr. Vance has been involved with buying, cutting, and selling colored gemstones for decades. He received his Graduate Gemology Diploma in 1983. In his interviews, Mr. Vance discusses the reason for the current price increases in gemstones, availability of gemstones in the market, gem cutting, building credibility in the trade, and advice to young gemologists.