We examined the development of Colombian emerald prices in major auctions over a 15-year period, focusing on lots with the highest bids (five lots per year). On the graph above, a sharp yearly increase in price stands out remarkably: around 10% per year.
Regarding the five highest quality lots, growth has been even more considerable, around 15% per year.
The exceptional performance of high quality emeralds has become more acute over time, the correlation between the two curves—all lots vs. the five exceptional lots—has decreased, particularly from 2011 onwards.
Overall, the graph is divided into three phases. Between 2001 and 2005, the two curves are close to each other and the average selling price per carat is between 15,000 and 20,000$/ct. Between 2006 and 2010, exceptional emerald prices rose significantly, to about $ 50,000/ct, while average aggregate sales remained below $ 30,000/ct. In both cases, the impact of the 2008 financial crisis is clearly visible, but fortunately it is followed by an immediate recovery in 2010. The curves continue to evolve in a rather synchronous manner even though the curve of high-quality emeralds jumps much more quickly. Starting in 2011, the average price for the top five lots was roughly $ 100,000/ct, and the average price of total sales was between $ 35,000 and $ 40,000/ct.
Looking more closely at these trends, we see on the one hand that the general market for emeralds places a high premium on goods of exceptional quality. On the other hand, the market for rare emeralds follows its own trajectory, one less correlated to other market trends.
As for supply, there is naturally a shortage of non-oiled emeralds with both high caratage (often more than 10ct) and “old mine” appellation.
As for demand, buyers are becoming increasingly selective because, due to the many certifications from laboratories, they have a greater awareness of how and when large stones are detected and recovered. Competition then pushes prices up.
A final significant influence in the market are large auction houses, which are funneling and hyping stones through huge sales more and more. This favors the emerging trend for record-breaking transactions (e.g., $162,000/ct for one Colombian Emerald, which isn’t even the record for an emerald), and pushes big sellers and big buyers into each other’s arms.
With all of this in mind, and provided that you are well advised, obtaining a large stone can be an excellent investment.