How To Buy and Mount Loose Gems.

FeaturedBlue, the rarest color in spinel.


Buying loose gems is a crap shoot. TV gem sellers promote them like used cars jacking the price up and then lowering it to make you think you are getting a good deal, but are you? Why in the world would they claim a gem is 25,000.00 a carat and then magically sell it to you for 1000.00 a carat. Think about it. They even tell you that you are doing a, “good job,” when you buy from them, that is like basic dog training. I have rarely seen good deals off the TV sellers. They have huge expenses for airtime and don’t buy that, “the owner is out of the room so we are going to get in trouble,” you don’t screw your boss or your clients (the people who own the gems they are selling,) and announce it on national TV. That is a marketing ploy like car salesmen use, “Let me talk to the big guy and see what I can do.” I have never found one gem I could buy from someone who bought it on TV they simply paid too much, period. If you want to buy gems from car salesmen feel free but you are going to get what you overpaid for.

We are a small family company, low overhead and we deal direct with the mine owners and yes ruby’s can sell for over a million dollars a carat but we don’t start our ruby at $1,000,000.00 and come down to make you think you are getting a deal. Finding high quality gems is hard work and you have to work fast, have the connections in numerous countries with miners, agents and cutters and wire large amounts of money overseas a risk most jewelers are not willing to take. We are not jewelers.

We are fine gem collectors who buy, sell and trade the best gems we can find at the best pspoz1.42prices. We grab them up before the big jewelers know they exist. We can’t even find gems at the large wholesalers that meet our standards. We use the large mounting houses for diamonds only and to mount gems at wholesale. We know most of the people overseas we deal with. While still risky it is controlled risk and by taking that risk we get the lowest pricing and best gems. If anybody takes a hit it is us not you and we deal in volume so even if you located our contacts they would charge you much more. We pay a fraction of what they list stones for. They know us, we know them. We also buy from some of the finest gem cutters in the world and even if you bought from these gem cutters direct you would pay more than we will charge you for the same material. They count on us for volume and continued trade so they do not undersell their wholesale customers.

How does buying my gem first save me money?

There are three ways to save money buying jewelry. By purchasing your gem first at a discounted price you have made a commitment with us. We will then offer you free basic design service and match you up with one of our gem mounting artisans or companies. We make our margin off the gems and a very small margin off mounting. This is completely opposite of most jewelers who make good money by selling you the gem they bought from a larger gem seller who buys in mass and not necessarily cherry pick the best gems. We make only a small margin off of the wholesale price for mounting your gem we do not double or triple the price of the mounting we make about 20-30% on the wholesale cost so in essence you are paying way below retail on the gem and mounting and getting free basic design assistance. Extended design assistance for custom work is usually a flat fee of 150.00 to 400.00 for gold, platinum and diamond accented mountings. For extensive artisan custom design though you still save it can run as high as your dreams (and pocketbook) can take you.

What if I want to have my jeweler mount my gem or just keep the gem as a collector’s item?

No problem, we want you to be happy the gem will still cost the same and we will happily sell loose gems. And if you do not like that loose gem you have twenty calendar days to return it for a full refund, just call us within 48 hours of receipt to let us know you are returning it. We do not refund any postage and insurance. We will give you a store coupon to offset your postage and insurance costs. Again, we want you to be happy. We do not charge a restocking fee.

What about your estate jewelry?



We buy estate jewelry here in Virginia because a lot of wealthy people are growing old here and their estates are sold by children or their estates and we buy for pennies on the dollar. We pass these savings on to you. We can sell jewelry worth over 10,000.00 often for less than half the price. Ask us about any gems and we will happily send any of our jewelry and gems for GIA certification for a fee you must cover. It does cost more but will raise the value of the gem you buy. If the GIA report does not say the item is what we said it was we will give you a full refund and since we ship to GIA from here you have no postage costs unless the gem passes certification. We will never try to mislead you or sell you inferior or fake gems.

Rarest Engagement Gems

Padparadscha Sapphire, GIA Certified, Natural GIA Certified Diamonds, 18k



Pink Topaz, to be mounted. No treatment, very rare. Most topaz is irradiated to get this color. Ready to mount. Brazil.


Teaberry Pink (also known as Imperial Pink) Malaya Garnet. Very Rare, ready to mount. One of the rarest garnets on earth. Hard enough for everyday wear. Perfect engagement gem. Rough Malaya garnet may no longer be legally removed from East Africa.


Considered the finest example of Russian, dichroic Rubellite. This super rare tourmaline is not the standard red or pink and comes with an information sheet explaining just how rare this gem is and why it is so dazzling and beautiful,) This mega-Rare, flawless, tourmaline is one of the rarest in the world. This flawless, master-cut gem is known as “The Tigress,” and it is as exotic as its namesake, the tiger. Shown here in shade it is even more dazzling in sunlight. An engagement gem for the wild child.


This neon-pink Mozambique Rubellite, though large at 7 carats, is stunning and would make any girl happy mounted in platinum with a couple of accent diamonds. A dead ringer for ruby this is natural, earth mined, Rubellite tourmaline.


Over 50,000 times more rare than sapphire; this blue spinel is from one of the rarest locations and most desirable, Madagascar. Usually over 3500.00 per carat for true Madagascan, blue spinel (untreated), you’ll be pleased with the price. About as hard as sapphire it will stand up to daily wear. Royal Blue!

Old Virginia Gem Co.

Intense, Apple-Green Garnet, Our Rarest!

fullsizeoutput_708aThough we deal with some of the rarest garnets on earth few compare to this Siberian gem, which is rare, on so many levels.

Hydrogrossular Garnet is one of the rarest gems on earth. It is almost always opaque and on rare occasion translucent. Then there is the rarest clarity in hydrogrossular garnet which is transparent. Even if you were to find this, “needle in a haystack,” so to speak it, would almost surely have inclusions; so factor in the rarity of an eye-clean gem and your proverbial needle is now in a haystack the size of the state of Texas.

Okay, so this is a very rare gem, right? But wait! Now, factor in color, the most desirable of which is – intense, apple-green. Then to make this gem rarer yet, let us get ridiculous and consider the source of this gem, one of the coldest, cruelest climates on earth – Siberia. Let us make it more preposterous and say you are even able to search for this gem in Russia’s, “frozen hell,” but, actually survive one of the coldest, most remote and desolate places on earth. Now, we must point at yonder mountain range, (the Ural Mountains), and inform you that the gem is somewhere hidden, “Up yonder.”

Stalin, and other Czars throughout the ages used Siberia to send their worst enemies to disappear, or die. There was no fate so feared in the Russian empire as to be sent to the tortious Gulag (prisons of death), in Siberia. Unless, you have the romantic, storybook resiliency of Dr. Zhivago, a trip to Siberia was/is generally a one-way ticket. If you don’t starve, you will freeze and you would be apt to freeze whilst starving. Finally, let’s add yet another level to the rarity of this gem and say you must be in perhaps the most dangerous part of Siberia and send you up a frozen mountain, (the Ural Mountain Range), to look for this, “impossible rock.” Now perhaps, you get an idea of how rare this gem really is.

So, when people ask me why I am asking 5500.00 a carat for this gem I tell them they would be better off to buy a fake, mislabeled, or treated gem off of eBay, ETSY, etc.; or they can head to Siberia in search of this gem and most likely come back with nothing close to this gem and spend more than the price of this gem on plane fare and the expedition if you could get approval to mine there. I can’t replace this gem, therefore I have established a price based on the beauty of this gem, plus a mere fraction of its rarity is factored into my price. It is priced at what I feel it is worth to me and I simply can’t replace this gem, I have looked all over the place.

Okay, enough about this gem, now let’s take a look at what is and what is not a hydrogrossular garnet. First of all, let’s exclude all treated gems though we will touch upon the various treatments and alternate names this gem is known by. The only treatment should be cut and standard polish. No heat, no glass filling or treatment of any kind, period. The gems I have found labeled or tagged hydrogrossular garnet online, (thus far), have all had heavy-inclusions, (especially a black-pepper type of inclusion, usually magnetite) or, they are milky, opaque, or a sickly green color, if green at all. Others have turned out to be fake, mislabeled and/or treated even when they are translucent (like jade), not transparent (like diamonds). One particular gem looked great in the photo but in the video was heavily pock-marked and far from translucent.

Many of the sellers who have what looks to be high-quality gems use tricky language to make you think your gems are untreated like using the words, “earth-mined,” and “natural,” and if read thoroughly there is usually some form of treatment within the verbiage. “Earth-mined or “natural,” in their interpretation simply means at least most of the gem was pulled out of the dirt somewhere on earth and it started life with at least some of the natural gem intact. It does not mean they have not coated, heated, glass filled and/or treated the gem.

New language now makes it illegal to use the terms, “earth-mined or “natural,” for glass/beryllium filled gems. Therefore it is safe to assume that this gem is best purchased from a dealer, or collector, you trust and whom might actually be apt to obtain gems of this rarity and quality.  Also, it should be a dealer/miner who  will agree to have the gem GIA tested and/or refund your money if you have it tested and it fails to be the described gem or has treatment of any kind. Keep in mind, a GIA test has taken over 4 weeks in some cases to complete and ship back so make sure to factor that timeframe into your bargaining and get it in writing! The dealer should know to some degree the history of the gem, from mine to market. If you trust their story, I know one dealer who has a romantic story for every gem in his collection. When I go to visit him I tell my wife I will be out, “romancing the stone,” ha…ha.

There are private gem laboratories that can give you much more detail than GIA on rare gems including origin but they are expensive and hard to book. If you have an extremely are gem you may contact me for lab booking. GIA does not provide origin reports on gems this rare. They will tell you what it is and if they detect treatment only.  Other commercial labs I would not even trust with those two bits of information.

So assuming you feel comfortable that you have located an untreated gem lets look at what makes up a hydrogrossular garnet and the difference between our focal gem and grossular garnet, grossularite, hebschite and demantoid garnet – which is frequently tagged as hydrogrossular garnet. A quick online search reveals the following quip:

Hydrogrossular garnet is typically translucent to opaque and is usually available as cabochons, but on rare occasion may be found as transparent, faceted gemstones. … Hydrogrossular is a variety of grossular garnet where hydroxide partially replaces silica.

Also we can identify that at least some quality of opaque/translucent hydrogrossular garnet is sold as jade, jadeite and sold under the misnomers: African jade, Transvaal jade and garnet jade.  I have also seen this gem selling as, demantoid garnet. 

Lets go shopping for transvaal jade, garnet jade, african jade and demantoid garnet under the taghydrogrossular garnet as well as for the real thing and see what we turn up today. First lets search Google for Russian Hydrogrossular Garnet Green Transparent



Contracting Your Own Jewelry Saves $$$$

Choosing and Buying Your Dream Gem

 One of the biggest ways jewelry stores make money is buying gems from a wholesale broker and then marking them up double or more. 

If the average gem changes hands 9 times before it reaches the, jeweler when is the stone best obtained? 

Answer: As close to the mine as possible, before it changes hands more than 3 times.

Each time a hand touches your gem the price goes up. It starts with a miner who discovers the gem. The supervisor of the miner sometimes gets a bonus along with the miner when a gem of value is found. For a very valuable gem the miner gives a small percentage to everyone on the crew which encourages the miners to not smuggle out the stone and sell it on the black market. The other crew members are more apt to turn in a fellow miner if they know they will be losing their bonus for being a member of the discovery team. But, mine workers still smuggle out stones which we do not encourage.

Then comes the “true broker,” who buys the gem(s) from the mine owner. The true broker markets the rough, uncut gem to a “buyer,” who takes a group of “rough,” gems to a cutter for grading/cut and then sells the stone(s) to another “wholesale,” broker as cut gem(s).

Either the stone continues changing hands (which usually happens,)or the buyer having paid for the cutting of the stones sells to yet another broker who markets the stones to either an American broker or a flipper who sells the stone to a jeweler or the general public. Sometimes a stone gets flipped multiple times at this point with the price of the gem soaring ever higher.

The average gem changes hands 9 times before reaching a jeweler or flipper and then you. Each hand it touches causes the price of the gem to rise. The way to get quality gems at true wholesale pricing means having a broker who deals with miners, cutters and a true wholesale broker and keep those extra hands out of the sale. This requires having a wholesale broker willing to sell single stones to an individual and who has connections around the world in or near the mines.

This is how we are able to offer you stones at prices your jeweler would not match even if they could find the rare stones we deal in. Jewelers prefer diamonds, sapphires, emeralds and rubies because these are easier stones to obtain from the large gem brokers and they pay for the privilege of not having to send money to foreign countries, track down rare stones and grab them as quickly as they appear as close to the mine as possible. As an avid collector of gems this is what I do. I always try to stay as close to the mine as possible. The only brokers we deal with are very close to the mine and we are offered these gems first, because we buy a lot and have established relationships world-wide. When we cut out hands, we save you money.