Welcome to the blog of John and Laura Ramsey, two of the world’s most respected names and industry pioneers in the field of gemstone jewelry.
Here you’ll find all sorts of topics—ranging from jewelry industry news, and spotlights on specific gemstones and custom jewelry designs, to more personal stories about our related travels and experiences over the past 40 years. Most of all, we hope to provide in-depth educational information about jewelry and gemstones. As we love to say, “A knowledgeable customer is a happy customer!”
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Giant 720+ carat kunzite cut by John Ramsey and featured in Gems and Gemology. Ramseygems.com
A long time ago we were offered the opportunity to purchase the large kunzite crystal shown in the photo at the very top of this post. It weighed in at about 1 kilo which equals about 5,000 carats. After days of thinking and figuring we sawed the gem as you can see in the second photo. In photo #2 the sawed pieces are sitting on the saw itself. It was a nervous time but we were lucky and the sawing came out just fine.
In the third photo you can see the sawed pieces, one finished piece, and one preformed piece attached to the “dop” which fits into the faceting machine. Finally in the fourth photo you will see the largest finished piece which came out at about 720+ carats.
The largest two pieces wound up being sold to a gem dealer one of which he told me would wind up in his personal collection.
The third largest piece wound up in the collection of a university on the East Coast. The 230 carat “baby” of the group wound up with a gem dealer.
Large Rhodolite garnets are notable for their nice color despite their large size. Many gems have better color with more size but red garnets can be an exception. This beautiful specimen is over 40 carats and is just beautiful. Other red garnets such as pyrope and almandine tend to make beautiful stones in the one-carat size and get much too dark as they get bigger. Rhodolite was originally discovered in North Carolina and according to legend named after the rhododendron flower. Rhodolite is generally now found in Tanzania as its most prolific source. Through the years we’ve had a few spectacular large Rhodolite gems many from Tanzania and a few from Sri Lanka.
Alexandrite is known as the color-changing gem. In the case of the Alexandrite from Nova Era Brazil the change is most often the change from the color of an Indicolite tourmaline to the color of an amethyst. In both cases the colors are attractive. Other mining locations produce color changes that are different than Nova Era. For instance years ago when traveling to Sri Lanka we saw a few pieces of very expensive Alexandrite that went from muddy brown (with a little rusty orange) to muddy green (emphasis on muddy). The change was not startling but the colors were unattractive. About 16 years ago (or so) there was a discovery of Alexandrite in India. The colors in that case are nice to look at and resemble (to a certain degree) the colors of Morganite which are: kind of peachy to kind of pink (both phases are accompanied by a little, very little tan). The Indian stones are attractive and the color change is noticeable.
One interesting thing about the color change of Alexandrite is that most films and most cameras are partially color blind to the color-change. We ran across this issue when we wrote our first book. That was back before digital cameras and we had a devil of a time getting the color at all right. We went from Kodachrome to Ektachrome to Fuji and it was all a bust. Even now the digital cameras will tend to only see the blue or green phase and not see the other. Interesting to know how much more sensitive our eyes are in comparison to cameras and films.
Alexandrite is a color variety of the mineral Chrysoberyl. Chrysoberyl is the third hardest of the commonly known gems. Chrysoberyl is a crystalline form of Beryllium-Aluminate. As you may recall Sapphire and Ruby are collectively known as corundum. Corundum is the second hardest of the commonly known gems. Corundum is pure aluminum oxide. The second and third hardest gems both have aluminum as a major ingredient. Interesting!!!
Aquamarine is an elusive gem. On a worldwide basis there are people mining for aquamarine all the time. Much labor and capital is expended to find this elusive gem. If the public knew just how difficult it is to find aquamarine and bring it to market there would be a run on the aqua market and make it even more expensive and hard to obtain. There is an old saying that for there to be a market for strawberries everybody has to taste at least one berry. Aqua is in such short supply that even March babies only infrequently own their birthstone. We at Gems At Large have been successful in bringing lots of aqua to our USA customers at better prices than they have seen before. Enjoy the photo of this pair of 9mm aquas—unusual this large in round stones. All our best
What we call Pink Rubellite is simply a lighter color pink tourmaline that usually comes from a mine producing Rubellite. When a mine is actively producing there will be a number of shades of color the darker red stones are easily classified as Rubellite. The lighter color stone are usually called Rubellite in the country of origin but we get picky about labels here in the USA and believe that Rubellite should only be called such if the stone is red.
But this avoids some of the big issues. First of all Pink Rubellite tends to have the very best pink of all tourmalines—it is more pure—more of a Hot Pink color than any of the other pink tourmalines. Secondly, very few of these stones tend to come out of a Rubellite mine. Mostly when we have seen large lots of Rubellite in the rough they are all red. That is a good thing on the one hand but since the pink is so unusual it seems to me that it is a lot more rare. Thirdly, the red color being dark tends to hide a lot of the inclusions that are part of almost every Rubellite. So, when we find a Pink Rubellite that is fairly clean it is an amazingly rare find. The gem in the photo is perhaps one of only a handful of truly fine Pink Rubellite stones we have had while by comparison we have had thousands of the red ones—which are rare by comparison to other gems—but the fine quality Pink Rubellite—AMAZING!!!
The gem in the photo is pretty much the ultimate Santa Maria Aquamarine. A few years ago this stone came into our hands—literally—and amazed us all. A fellow I know in Brasil owns one of the mines in the mining district which produces the Santa Maria Aquamarine of fame. He made this stone available and WOW what a stone! It is about 11+ carats and about the most intense aquamarine blue we’ve seen to date. Now, that being said there is a pretty wide range of color produced from those mines down to some colors more normally found in the aquamarine range. Natural products are like that: unique gifts from Nature all according to what was happening in the Earth at the time. If that stone were available in today’s current market it would be for sale for many times the asking price of when it was produced. Why??? There was production back then and several mines and miners were active. Since then many have given up. Mines in that mining district seem to be a lot like slot machines. Put the money in and you may or may not get a reward. Many times we’ve heard about miners giving up after running out of capital and the next guy in at the mine hits a big pocket of gems right after he starts up. What a business….
As gems have become more widely known around the world spinel has become one of the beneficiaries. Always appreciated by gem connoisseurs, spinel has been gaining ground in popularity. If there had been large finds of spinel all through the years perhaps it would have been better known. But spinel is rare. How rare? That is always difficult to measure in a fragmented world market. One measure however is that large gems like our pictured stone cost thousands of dollars per-carat. This particular specimen is over 12 carats in weight. Other more widely available gems are still available for $20.00 per-carat or even less. That is probably the best measure of spinel’s rarity. It is difficult to find in the market—in large sizes, when you want it, in the cut you want and so forth—it is in better colors and larger sizes—unobtainium.
*The word “unobtainium” has been around for a few decades. One theory as to the origin of the term has it being invented by aerospace engineers as a material they would like to use but can’t find or afford in the creation of aero planes.
Kunzite was first discovered in the USA by George Kunz who, amongst other things, traveled around the USA examining mining sites and described minerals that had not been previously known. Kunzite was unique at the time based on its color. The mineral spodumene had previously been discovered but not the pink/lavender variety. Of course since that time good quantities have been found notably in Brazil and Afghanistan. As with most pegmatite minerals quantities of kunzite available in the market can vary wildly according to mining production. One of the best analogies to understand mining economics of minerals like kunzite, tourmaline and aquamarine exists in casinos. Mining these minerals is similar in many ways to putting money into a slot machine. Miners start with a certain amount of capital and keep putting money into the project. They may or may not hit a jackpot before their capital runs out. Sometimes a miner will give up and the next miner into the same mine will hit the jackpot. Note the gem in the photo. This gem is a wonderful example of cut and color in kunzite. The piece is 50.50 carats and is very nicely cut.
Last post everybody loved the picture of the rough-uncut Morganite crystal. We decided to add in another photo of rough Morganite. This time you can see the more normal orange color that a lot of Morganite displays coming out of the ground. From certain mines the color is intense enough that cut stones show a nice color as-is. Some people like the peachy color. If you take these stones and put them out in the sun—especially a hot Brazilian sun—they will turn pink. Many people like the pink color. The pink color is stable and will not turn a different color in the sun. If a person wants to accelerate the color change from Peach to Pink all you have to do is put the stones in a kiln. Run the kiln up to about 900` and turn it off. This simply accelerates a natural process and is accepted and well known in the gem trade.
Rough morganite naturally etched crystal obtained by John Ramsey in Brazil. Ramseygems.com
We’re making our books available for you to read—for free. Follow the links on the home page of http://www.ramseygems.com/ to our books. We are serializing the books so you can be part of the gem world right along with us. Gems can be appreciated on so many levels. Of course they are beautiful. However, there is so much natural history involved—geology, mineralogy—the very history of our planet. It’s like finding out your favorite movie star is also bright, kind, a real life hero (or heroine), a job creator and a philanthropist.