Writing just recently about emerald it made me think about Rubellite. Rubellite just like Emerald is considered to be a Type 3 gemstone. Type 3 gemstones are known for their having eye visible inclusions. The fact of Rubellite and Emerald is this: if a person wants the beautiful color of these 2 gemstones they have to put up with the inclusions. We think it is worth it!!! One of the differences between Rubellite and Emerald is that many Rubellite gemstones are dark enough that the inclusions are not readily seen. What is seen is the amazing red color and some nice reflectivity from the bottom facets—beauty, all beauty.
Some people might wonder why I did not use the term Rubellite Tourmaline. That is due to the fact that Rubellite is a color of tourmaline. “Rubellite Tourmaline” is a redundant term. In any case Rubellite is a favorite gem of mine. Rubellite was my first important color in tourmaline. Early on in my career I was able to cut some Rubellite from one of the tourmaline mines in Southern California shortly after a nice pocket of it was found. This coincided with my entry into the gem business. This was in the early 70’s. Much of this material was heavily flawed as is much of the Rubellite ever found in the world. This is true of Rubellite and certain colors of Pink tourmaline.
I was lucky enough to participate in most of the big Rubellite finds throughout the world, one way or another, since the early 70’s. Southern California, Newry Maine, Jonas Limas (Minas Gerais, Brazil, late 70’s), Goais Brazil (early 80’s), Afghanistan (early 80’s), Nigeria (2000-2001), Mozambique 2010, and Undisclosed find happening right now. While each of these finds was Rubellite, each of them was a slightly different color. California material was quite pink, Jonas Limas was a little purple, Goais Brazil was very red but a little too dark in all but a few gems, Afghanistan was a little light and a little pink, Nigeria was perhaps the biggest quantity and best color overall—quite red, Mozambique was a little purple and Undisclosed is quite nice.
We’ve all heard from time to time the term Price Point. Mostly this is a trade term used in business to business talk. People in many businesses try to “hit a price point.” It is a fact that it is possible to crank the cash register more frequently with more affordable items. Unfortunately in many cases this means cheapening a product until it really is not as good as we all might want. How many products have we all bought that seem like a great deal due to an attractive price only to regret the lack of quality—clothing that lasts only a wearing or two, a water faucet that lasts only a year or two, and on and on. I’ll bet that we could generate thousands of examples amongst ourselves. Our goal with Gems At Large® has always been to put quality ahead of price. Look at the difference between the two rings in the photos. The light weight flimsy looking ring is a stock photo of what we would call a “price-point” ring. The shank is so flimsy it is what we refer to as a dental floss shank—so light weight and flimsy that a good firm hand shake would seemingly bend it into a different shape. The nice looking other ring is a Gems At Large® ring. In the Gems At Large® ring quality was the first consideration. Of course in the Gems At Large® ring cost more—it didn’t hit a price point. It achieved what we, here at Gems At Large® have come to call a Quality Point™.
There are plenty of places to buy price point merchandise. Our goal is to give you the opportunity to find and enjoy Quality Point™ gems and jewelry. Our goal is to make quality available–as affordably as we can–with our years traveling the world seeking and finding world quality gems and jewelry.
Another word important here is “value.” Value is actually irrespective of price. An item of good value is one that is priced fairly for what it is. An item may have a low price and still be a poor value if it is not even worth the low price. On the other hand an item may be quite expensive and still be a good value—if it is worth the price paid.
Andalusite is strange and beautiful and really quite hard to find in larger sizes. Andalusite is notable for a very strong pleochroism with a different color associated with each of 3 different crystal axes. Note the different colors in the gems in the photo. Also note the rough, uncut gems in the background.
For a number of years, years ago, we had a wholesale client who was anxious to buy all the larger sizes of Andalusite we could supply. His demand lasted quite a while. What a wild around the world chase he started. That first year on a trip to Sri Lanka we found one very beautiful Andalusite cut gem that was very large at over ten carats. And then—no more Andalusite in Sri Lanka on subsequent trips.
Later that year on a trip to Brazil we encountered a fellow that had some rough Andalusite. He wasn’t officially in the gem business but his main business took him by some Andalusite mines in the state of Espiritu Santo. These mines were worked as side businesses by coffee growers. Their coffee plantations were very remote and nobody visited the growers and the growers didn’t visit anybody—except for Valdomir. Valdomir sold chemical fertilizer to the coffee growers and had to visit them regularly. He was their access to the world and the man who could bring their Andalusite to the market. For a few years back then Valdomir dominated the Andalusite business and we had an exclusive with Valdomir.
One of the best things about that quest for Andalusite was getting to know the state of Espiritu Santo. The capital of that state is Vitória. Vitória is one of the most beautiful settings you can imagine. The setting is a lot like Rio de Janeiro but without the city sprawl. There are the large inselbergs similar to Sugar Loaf and Mount Corcovado, a beautiful bay and relatively fewer people.
There are some things which are too exciting to sit around and wait to talk about. Aqua for March is one such item. If you’re one of the millions of people who saw James Cameron’s Avatar you might recall that what the bad guys are after is called “unobtanium.” Unobtainium (note the different spelling)* has been used in literature as “any fictional, extremely rare, costly, or impossible material.” This last definition according to the Wikipedia online encyclopedia. Hmmm, seems to me that we’ve been dealing for years, in the gem business, in unobtainium—for millennia. Take for example the aquamarine in the photo. At over 70 carats and top color please just try to find its equal. Eventually over a few years of looking it might be possible.
A few years ago we were looking for a similar gem for a client while attending the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. We, of course, know the biggest and best aqua dealers in the world. There was nothing that year in top color available over about 10-12 carats. The mines had simply not been producing.
Of course, the truly fun thing about the gem business is that an item impossible to find today might pop up in a mine somewhere tomorrow. Lots of adventure!!!
The aqua in the pendant at a high end retailer who would carry such a piece would easily charge over $350,000 for the stone or more. But really, based on its rarity it should be more.
*The movie used one spelling and general fiction has used the other
We have been singing the praises of cushion cut gems for many years. Now is appears that the world agrees as a record price for a Sri-Lankan sapphire was set on November 11 just past.
The sale was at auction held at Christie’s Geneva jewelry auction and the stone is known as the Blue Belle of Asia. The gem in question is reported to weigh in at 392.52 carats. The sale price was in excess of $17.7 million USD.
The sapphire in the photo is a cushion cut stone and looks remarkably similar in many ways to the Blue Belle. Of note about the Blue Belle is that its origin is Sri Lanka. So far in our experience truly large sapphires that are beautiful tend to come from Sri Lanka. Why? Many other sources of sapphire can tend to make great looking stones in more normal sizes but would be much too dark in giant sizes like the Blue Belle. Many large famous sapphires in museums and crown jewel collections that are notable for their size are from Sri Lanka. One such gem is the Star of India (mined in Sri Lanka) which is part of the collection of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
During our trips to Sri Lanka many of the dealers would rhapsodize about fabulous outrageously large sapphires being sold from time to time and being slipped away and never seen again. I for one believe it. Not that these occurrences are common but certainly they have happened. Just imagine!!!
The uber-rich of the world have declared large fancy colored diamonds to be the darling of their attention. Just a few weeks ago the gavel descended at Sotheby’s marking yet another sale of an important blue diamond. This time the gem came from the estate of Mrs. Paul Mellon (a.k.a. “Bunny” Mellon) . At 9.75 carats the stone was not the largest fancy blue gem to be sold lately. On the other hand the color of the gem rated the term “vivid” and is quite a bright blue. The auction took place in New York. Reports of the action were that the auction of this one piece took over 20 minutes and included at least 7 bidders. The successful bid came from Hong Kong. The Asian origin of the successful bid is no surprise as a number of successful auction winners have come increasingly from that part of the world.
The final price of the blue diamond was in excess of $32 million USD or over $3.3 million per-carat. This sale blasted away old records for the sale price of a blue diamond as well as the per-carat record for the price of any diamond regardless of color (or lack thereof).
The best Rhodolite garnets are truly amazing to see. Especially in the bigger sizes. The stone in the photo is a 44+ carat amazing gem. This particular stone was mined in Sri Lanka which produces some unexpected gem varieties in its gem gravels. “Gem gravels” you say? Yes, lots of the gems found in Sri Lanka are in alluvial deposits where the stones are truly in gravel form and all rounded and stream worn.
From Sri Lanka we’ve obtained many different types of gems: Star Sapphires (both blue and pink), Rhodolite garnets, Cat’s-eye chrysoberyl, Alexandrite, Blue sapphire, Pink sapphire, “Common” chrysoberyl, Cat’s-eye alexandrite, Andalusite, Yellow sapphire, and Spessartite (garnet). Not bad for a little Island down at the tip of India.
One more thing. A couple of the meals we’ve experienced in Sri Lanka were some of the best anywhere in a long lifetime of world travel. Our first Chai tea experience was in Sri Lanka in 1981. They are ahead of their time!
Some years ago, maybe 10 or 15, a movement began to make Tanzanite a birthstone option for December babies. The other two older options while perfectly great gems had not quite captured the desire quotient of other months’ birthstones. Tanzanite has been a big hit with the public almost from the beginning. Take a look at the Tanzanite in the photo—big, great color, clean and well cut. What could be lovelier?
Note that the gem in the picture has a nicely and fully saturated color. That is a sign of a higher quality gem. It also is a stone of decent size at over 12 carats. Mmmm!
Tanzanite is a one-location gemstone being found, so far, only in one mining area in Tanzania (hence the name). As a gem, Tanzanite was discovered in 1967. I was lucky to be cutting Tanzanite early on in 1973. As of 1973 word was getting out about Tanzanite but still back in the day information was slow making its way around the world—no TV home shopping, no internet, no digital photography.
August babies have a lot better birthstone than they may have imagined. Ten cool facts that they may not know about peridot.
1. Cleopatra’s famous emeralds may have in fact been peridot.
a. The island of Zabargad in the Red Sea off of Egypt is an ancient source for peridot.
2. Zabargad Island is also known as Topazios Island and St. John’s Island.
3. Peridot comes from several sources around the world—Burma (a.k.a. Myanmar), China, Afghanistan, Pakistan and San Carlos Reservation, Globe Arizona USA!!!
4. While peridot comes from a number of sources, reliable sources producing large fine quality gems remains elusive. Want a lot of small peridot gems—no problem. Want a lot of large fine peridot gems—take a ticket and stand in line.
5. Peridot crystals from Zabargad were easy to identify as from that source in that many o them were exposed to sand storms through the ages and displayed a sand-blasted surface.
6. Great color in peridot is also the perfect spring green—green and gold slammed together.
7. Peridot comes from deep in the earth’s mantle and is brought up to the surface in volcanic activity.
8. Peridot also comes from outer space. Meteorites have been discovered with beautiful peridot inside.
9. Peridot only comes in green as opposed to many gems which come in a veritable rainbow of colors. Such versatile gems include: diamond, sapphire, garnet and of course the rainbow gem—tourmaline.
10. Peridot is one of John Ramsey’s favorite gems to cut and polish.
Fitting into the theme of world records being set for gems and jewelry the spring auction late in April by Sotheby’s saw a new per-carat record for a sapphire. The gem is recorded as being a 28+ carat Kashmir gem. According to the auction house the proceeds of the sale are going to charity. With a total price exceeding $5 million USD the per-carat price was over $180,000.
In the lore of colored gemstones Kashmir sapphire is the bench mark. The purity of the blue in Kashmir stones is indeed stunning. Traditionally the Kashmir stones are said to have slight haze but that seems to vary from piece to piece. After spending months maybe years of my life in Thailand (ruby/sapphire central for the world) and seeing gem after gem I would have to say that a fine Burmese sapphire can be every bit as lovely. Some traditionalists may want to disagree but that is just fine. To a true lover of gems they are all like a family—each member is wonderful on their own and for their own unique characteristics.
For instance, about 10 years ago or perhaps a few more there were some fabulous blue sapphires from Madagascar which were certified as untreated. Many of these gems were absolutely stunning. A great Ceylon stone is also beautiful. In fact many of the most famous sapphires are Ceylon stones residing in the important state collections of the world.