John and Laura Ramsey talk about Tanzanite and Tsavorite

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A couple of gems that we really love come from East Africa. Our first trip overseas together as young marrieds was to East Africa in early 1977. We were early adopters to East African gems and Tanzanite and Tsavorite were on our list even back then. We were dealing directly with miners in the region. As you can see from the photo there is a good reason the entire population of the earth immediately fell in love with these two gems.

While it is normal for Tanzanite to occur in larger sizes it is quite unusual for Tsavorite to come in larger sizes like the 6 carat gem in the photo. This is especially true for larger sizes in good colors. Some times Tsavorite is too dark or too light in the larger sizes. The piece featured is a “Goldilocks Just Right” color. If you haven’t added these two beauties to your collection you might want to save up. They’re worth it!


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© Ramseygems.com, Inc., 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from John and Laura Ramsey is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to johnandlauraramsey.com with appropriate and specific links back to this original content.

John and Laura Ramsey talk about Pearl for June

Image of a white pearl in a shell on a white background.Most people are very familiar with the pearl as one the birthstones for June. Alexandrite and Moonstone are the other two gemstones. Pearl, with its variety of color and shapes, is an organic gem loved and treasured for centuries. It is said that the Romans built armies from the sale of a single pearl while poems abound about its transcendent beauty.

The pearl was selected as a birthstone for June by the American National Association of Jewelers in 1912. Not only can you select your favorite pearl as a birthstone, you can also receive a pearl for your 3rd, 12th and 30th wedding anniversaries. The allure of pearls is far reaching.

Pearl is considered to be organic since it is formed inside mollusks such as oysters and the mussel. An irritant, perhaps a bit of sand or a stone, can get inside the shell. Nacre is then secreted around this irritant creating a lustrous substance. Layers upon layers overlap to create an iridescent luster. A pearl can take up to 8 years to be created. Principal oyster beds are in The Persian Gulf, the Indian Ocean primarily along the coasts of Sri Lanka and India, as well as the Red Sea. Japanese pearls are found near the coast in salt water. Polynesia coasts and Australia produce cultured pearls.

Types of pearls are extensive ranging from the natural to cultured (when the irritant is placed by man inside the living oyster), to baroque, Biwa, blister, black, Freshwater pearls, seed and mabe pearls. China and Japan cultivate freshwater and cultured pearls. Freshwater pearls also occur in the rivers of Germany, Austria, Scotland, Ireland, France and the USA (Mississippi). Colors range from white and creams to pinks and iridescent black.


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© Ramseygems.com, Inc., 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from John and Laura Ramsey is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to johnandlauraramsey.com with appropriate and specific links back to this original content.

The World’s Most Expensive Tourmaline: by John and Laura Ramsey

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Back in 1987 when we were all getting excited about the Nova Era alexandrite find in Brazil, there was a new find of tourmaline in Paraíba, Brazil.

Paraíba is in what Brazilians call the Nordeste (Northeast).  Looking at a map of South America Paraíba is a small Brazilian state that sticks out about as far East as any part of the continent.   The Nordeste is a generally dry area (they grow cotton in the Nordeste [does this remind anyone of Arizona and cotton]).  Apparently the Nordeste is in the rain shadow of South America.  If you also look at the shape of South America and Africa you can see that Paraíba fits nicely into the area of Africa now known as Nigeria.

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John and Laura Ramsey on Alexandrite

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Pearl is a great birthstone for June but Alexandrite is the excitement. With the advent of Chinese fresh water pearls, pearls have become almost too available. On the other hand, true, natural Alexandrite is, and will seemingly always be—rare and hard to find.

Currently the most available and yet quite nice material is from India, from the state of Andhra Pradesh. The color change can be quite nice and yet quite affordable by comparison with material from Russia or Brazil.

Be sure any Alexandrite you buy, of significant size or price, has been certified by a properly accredited appraiser or gemologist. For more information on Alexandrite, click here to read our previous blog post.


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© Ramseygems.com, Inc., 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from John and Laura Ramsey is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to johnandlauraramsey.com with appropriate and specific links back to this original content.

Emerald’s Whole Family is Fun

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Emerald is a variety of the mineral beryl. Emerald is the vibrant green variety of beryl usually colored by Chromium. In other colors beryl has other names. The blue color for beryl is aquamarine. Pink and peach beryl is Morganite (as shown in the photo above, featuring Morganite in its rough-uncut form, straight from the mine). Yellow and golden beryl is heliodor. Red beryl is Bixbite and so far has only been found in Utah. Colorless beryl is called Goshenite.

Chemically, beryl is a Beryllium-Aluminum Silicate. As mentioned, emerald gets its green color from Chromium. There has been an addition to “emerald” of green gems colored by Vanadium but the classic emerald look comes from Chromium rich beryl. Interestingly, the red in ruby is caused by Chromium as well. Emerald is a type 3 gemstone according to GIA terminology and therefore can be expected to have eye visible inclusions.

To read more about the history of Emerald, click here >


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© Ramseygems.com, Inc., 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from John and Laura Ramsey is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to johnandlauraramsey.com with appropriate and specific links back to this original content.

A Tribute to Evelyn H. Lauder

Evelyn_LauderI wanted to write a blog post about a dear lady I was lucky enough to come to know: Evelyn Lauder, the visionary Founder and Chairman of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (established in 1993).

John and I have been proud to donate some of our gemstones in jewelry over the years to help raise money for Breast Cancer Research. That is how I met Evelyn Lauder—daughter-in-law of the cosmetics giant Estee Lauder—in my hometown of New York City. We quickly discovered we had many things in common, including a love of photography, and both of us had written several books—Evelyn’s “An Eye for Beauty” was my favorite.

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Find Everything You Want to Know about Gems and Jewelry from John and Laura Ramsey

If you’ve been searching for a place to find facts about gems and jewelry, look no further than the expertise of John and Laura Ramsey. Their many years of experience in the gem and jewelry business enable them to provide honest, reliable, easy-to-understand and interesting facts about gemstones and jewelry.

Their sole mission? Education. If you visit their main Ramseygems.com website, you’ll notice it is not a sales website—because their goal is not to conduct transactions.  Their passion is to educate as many individuals and gem collectors as possible about identifying quality gems and jewelry.

Birthstone Spotlight: December Tanzanite, Zircon, or Turquoise

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Having a December birthdate I’ve always been interested in the birthstone for my month. My first experience with a birthstone came from my dad’s trip to Texas back in the way back day. He stopped in Arizona along the way and bought me a turquoise ring. Wow! That was cool. I don’t remember the year but it was a number of decades ago. I am guessing I was all of 6 years old or so. It was a cool ring in the Southwest Native American style. I began to learn about birthstones.

The tradition I was taught as a young person was that December had two birthstones: zircon and turquoise. Well that tradition has had some issues.

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Tantalizing Topaz by Laura Ramsey

Topaz 2To be born in November and to know that your birthstone is the long loved Topaz creates a certain pleasure. This special gem with its varying colors is my birthstone, so I can speak from knowledge.

As young travelers to Brazil, John and I were some of the first gem dealers to bring back Imperial Topaz in larger wholesale quantities. I remember vividly our first encounter with a large parcel of gem Imperial Topaz rough and thinking “what a marvelous, passionate color it is.”  Of course when buying gems, showing enthusiasm is not permitted (i.e., poker face!) and I remember how difficult it was to curb my enthusiasm. This is the emotion that came from seeing this rich red orange color in gloriously large natural crystals.

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Birthstone Spotlight: October Tourmaline by Laura Ramsey

Tourmaline colors

October brings us the dazzling colors of fall… burning oranges, vivid reds, blue greens and golden yellows—all colors that amaze and delight us. So it is with the birthstones for October, Tourmaline and Opal. Lucky you, October baby… you have your choice of both! This blog post will focus on Tourmaline.

With its many arrays of color, upwards of over 100 easily discernible colors, Tourmaline has fast become quite a favorite gem. It mirrors falls colors and then some with its’ Orange Tourmaline from Africa, Blue Green Tourmaline from Brazil and Rubellite Red Tourmaline from Nigeria and Brazil. Tourmaline even blends colors within a crystal creating what we call watermelon tourmaline because of its red and green combination. Party color tourmalines are just that…a happy party of subtle variations of color! Selecting just one color that is your favorite will be quite the challenge.

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