MARKET COMMENTARY – Chinese demand for Sri Lankan sapphires strong despite pandemic


Chinese demand for Sri Lankan sapphires has been strong despite the pandemic, says Armil Sammoon, Sri Lankan ambassador for digital trading platform Gembridge. He tells Jewellery Outlook Editor David Brough that the buoyant trade flow from Sri Lanka to mainland China and Hong Kong, also augurs for increased digitised gemstone trade by Gembridge in the coming years.

Chinese demand for Sri Lankan sapphires, notably blue and Padparadscha sapphires, has been strong despite the pandemic, Armil Sammoon, a well-known Sri Lankan gemstone dealer and Sri Lanka ambassador for digital trading platform Gembridge, said.

He also noted brisk Chinese demand lately for rubies, tsavorites and spinels, many of which arrive in Sri Lanka as rough stones from Africa for processing.

“There were delays in the early part of the lockdown, but from around late June/July 2020 shipments of goods picked up again as China recovered quickly,” Armil said.Armil Sammoon

Armil Sammoon

Some Chinese gem dealers were forced to remain in Sri Lanka for months due to pandemic regulations, and had facilitated more trade to China, he added.

Armil achieved a strong sale of seven sapphires, in a variety of colours, via Gembridge’s platform to a Hong Kong customer which sells fine gemstone jewellery in mainland China.Gembridge

“Gembridge is going to be a vital channel to boost digital gemstone trade from Sri Lanka to China and Hong Kong in the coming months,” Armil said.

“Some local dealers are still not very digitally savvy, but this will change with time, as the younger generations become more involved in the gemstone business. This is a positive signal for Gembridge.”

Chen Shen, Gembridge’s China ambassador who helped to popularize sales of pink sapphires on a TV shopping channel in China, said that blue, pink and Padparadscha sapphires are much sought-after in the Chinese market.

“The Chinese love for blue sapphire is heavily influenced by Princess Diana’s blue sapphire ring,” Chen said. “The princess’s ring design is the most common blue sapphire ring design in China.”

Attention surrounding Princess Eugenie’s pinkish-orange Padparadscha sapphire engagement ring has contributed to the popularity of Padparadscha sapphires in China.

“We certainly see more dealers promoting and selling Padparadscha,” Chen said.

Purple sapphires have a moderate uptake in China, but yellow sapphires have struggled, Chen added, noting strong competition from yellow diamonds.SCG

Gembridge provides an end-to-end solution for coloured gemstone trading, including insurance and door-to-door delivery.

The platform’s global network of senior industry ambassadors, including Armil and Chen, has deepened the marketplace and added extensive listings of coloured gemstones.

Trade fairs such as the duty-free Shenzhen show late last year will also continue to be key conduits for gemstone trade and will flourish alongside digital platforms, Armil said.