In our newsletter this month:
The Price of Gold
What's going on in the gold market? Is gold becoming like oil, where the price just continues to go up and up? Is world demand for gold pushing up the price to record levels? If so, who's buying all the gold?
Though both gold and oil prices have been rising rapidly along with many other commodities, the demand for gold does not appear to be based on consumer market demand. Gold has some uses in the electronics industry, but for the most part gold is not an industrial metal, unlike copper or platinum. About 70 percent of gold consumption is for jewelry. But when gold prices are very high, gold jewelry sales fall. Since production of gold is steady, that should lead to falling prices, shouldn't it?
It seems as though it should. But gold attracts speculators as well as jewelry buyers. When the financial markets - traders, mutual funds, hedge funds and so on - decide to buy gold, they buy it in vast quantities. They don't even need to buy actual gold to affect the gold price; speculators trade in futures and options as well.
Why is so much cash moving into gold? Experts point to the credit crunch set off by out-of-control mortgage lending in the USA and the falling US dollar. Low interest rates, a slowing economy and worries about international oil supplies have apparently led financial institutions to move a lot of cash into the safety of gold.
So is the high gold price just a temporary bubble? There's reason to think that it is, though no one knows how long the bubble will last. The gold price has been high before. In fact the recent $1,000 record is not a record at all. In January 1980, gold reached a price of $850. Adjusted for inflation, that's $2,200 in 2008 dollars! By 1999 the price of gold had fallen all the way back to $250.
Developing countries, especially China, are increasing their consumption of the world's oil reserves. But the demand for gold is reasonably steady. When the financial markets move cash out of gold and into stocks, bonds or real estate, the price of gold will fall, probably as quickly as it increased. All of us in the gem and jewelry business are looking forward to this.
Recently we've added new articles on topics ranging from padparadscha sapphire to feldspar gems and zoisite. If you're interested in learning more about the history of the gemstone business, we are also adding short biographies of some of the most interesting figures. See our new pieces on Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, Friedrich Mohs and William Earl Hidden. Click the link to see all our gemstone articles.
Rare and Unusual Gems
Sapphires tend to be cleaner than rubies, but large flawless sapphires weighing over 3 carats are quite rare. This outstanding violet-blue sapphire from Sri Lanka, at 4.76 carats, is a good example of the excellent large sapphires that can still be found at affordable prices. But we see very few of them.
The color of this sapphire is reminiscient of fine tanzanite, but with all the virtues of sapphire (superb hardness and no cleavage). Though the lighter shades of blue sapphire have not been as highly valued as the darker tones, the lighter colors actually exhibit great fire and brilliance.
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Happy gem hunting,
Your friends at GemSelect
- First Published: July-01-2008
- Last Updated: October-28-2014
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