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.
Rubellite is a form of tourmaline which closely resembles ruby. Specimens have been found in royal jewel collections mistaken as ruby for centuries. Under modern testing techniques large rubies mounted in crowns, necklaces and scepters have turned out to be rubellite tourmaline.
Rubellite is one of the most valuable tourmalines and can sell for thousands of dollars a carat. Lower quality or standard pink and red tourmaline may sell for much less. The word rubellite was coined from the root word(s), “ruby like,” which morphed into the more scientific sounding term, rubellite.
The price of tourmaline has gone up substantially with the resurgence of interest in colored gems and popularity of tourmaline which comes in virtually every color. The most expensive varieties are rubellite and the (usually,) artificially heated newcomer, “Paraiba,” tourmaline which is subjected to high heat to go from pinkish red to greenish-blue or “swimming pool blue,” that is so prized in jewelry. Naturally occurring (no heat,) Paraiba, blue tourmaline from Brazil can exceed the price of unheated sapphire and sells in excess of 10,000.00 a carat.
Heating also improves clarity, so beware of the, “too perfect,” rubellite. While Paraiba for the most part has gone down in price; rubellite continues to increase in value right along with its namesake, the ruby. As ruby prices soar the price of rubellite climbs too. Rubellite like emerald is a type III gem, meaning it rarely comes without inclusions (imperfections visible to the naked eye) however, unless the imperfections detract from the beauty or integrity of the gem they do little if anything to bring down the gem’s value.
You will almost never see an emerald without eye visible inclusions and the same goes for rubellite.
Rubellite should have inclusions and the “gemmy,” look of an emerald; only in the ruby range shades of red to purplish pink. While they do exist, the chances of you finding a large (5 carat +) rubellite without inclusions for less than $10,000.00 a carat would be, odd and highly suspect. If a rubellite has no inclusions it is most likely not of the highest quality, or even a fake. However, as with emeralds, the inclusions should not detract from the beauty of the gem. In other words, expect inclusions in fine rubellite and emerald it is part of the gems identity and signature. If the inclusions detract from the gem’s beauty, on, too close to the surface, or unattractive, pass it by. If the gem is beautiful get over this American obsession with clear and clean, which is fine for diamonds but not rubellite, or emerald, again like emerald they are Type III Gems.
After color and clarity, origin affects value in rubellite the most. The finest rubellite we have seen comes out of Nigeria. Mozambique and Brazil and is a dead ringer for the color of a top ruby. This material is expensive and hard to come by but some dealers were fortunate to buy the rough early on. This allows those dealers to sell the gems at competitive pricing, for now.
Rubellite has retained, even gained in its value and is considered by many in the jewelry industry to be a top investment gem but be sure you know who you are dealing with. If in doubt it is strongly suggested you buy a gem certified by experts such as the labs of GIA. They can detect heat, type of stone and even the origin of a gem. Though large (5 carat+), rubellite can still be too expensive for many people to invest in if you buy wisely it should maintain its value and may be handed down from generation to generation.
Rubellite is hard enough to be worn in rings, but most people consider it too precious for everyday wear. Gems are always safer in pendants than on the hand and a large rubellite set in an enhancer and hung from a strand of pearls can make a regal statement in any crowd. But it will take daily wear if you choose, but avoid chemicals.
Remember, a top-quality gem does not need diamonds to be beautiful, usually small accent diamonds are enough. A good stone should look good even if mounted alone in a solitaire mounting. Diamonds drive the price up. If you do use diamonds, high quality is better than larger inferior diamonds. A lot of younger buyers are choosing man-made diamonds which are real diamonds but not earth- mined and they are conflict free plus less expensive than earth-mined diamonds.
A quality rubellite set in jewelry with accent diamonds will be more rare than the diamonds surrounding it. Diamonds are not rare as gems go. They are expensive because the mine owners control the release of the gems to keep demand up. They have to store them in underground vaults because if they were all released at once people would start thinking about the fact that you can buy diamonds at Walmart, but not rubellite tourmaline.
One other fact is, the finest rubellite is never brown in tone. Pigeon blood red, (purplish pink) is the finest color of rubellite tourmaline, at least as far as most jewelers are concerned.
Places Rubellite are mined:
Afghanistan, Nigeria, Madagascar, United States, Brazil
This blog was written by Ezekiel Loftin of Chateau Peridot a subsidiary of Twisted South LLC.
In mid 2018 Ezekiel (Zeke) Loftin purchased one of the rarest topaz on the planet. A flawless 80.90 carat, dichroic, Russian Imperial Green topaz, cut from rough discovered in the Old Imperial Mines of Russia.
(above – The dichroic gem changes color, golden green in sun/candle light and a mint green in standard indoor light or shade).
These mines are now locked and closed but had operated for centuries under the Russian czars supplying much of the material for the Russian Imperial Gems. The rough was smuggled out of Russia at great risk in the 20th century. Two pieces of the rough were sold to the Japanese Imperial Jewelry Company who supply gems and make jewelry for the Japanese Royal Family and the last of the rough was cut into this 80 carat, flawless, Imperial green topaz in Europe in 2017. It is believed to be the rarest and surely one of the most beautiful topaz in the world.
It has a name, Zeke Loftin calls it the, “Ekaterina Topaz.”
Collector, Zeke Loftin of Twisted South, purchased the gem and is in his collection to date. Zeke Loftin explains, “People have no idea that over 99% of the topaz on the market, especially blue, is irradiated in nuclear reactors to make it turn a deeper color and/or heated, to enhance color and clarity. The fact that this huge, green topaz is completely untreated, unheated and has not been altered or irradiated make it astronomically rare. Alteration of this gem from rough was limited to a world class cut and polish. Adding to this the rare location and huge risk someone took purchasing and removing this gem from Russia is a story we have been encouraged not to even tell We were asked to withhold known names; with exception of where the other two pieces cut from this rough went, stated prior.
The gem changes color from mint green, to a golden green when viewed in sunlight, or candlelight. Here shown in sunlight streaming through a window.
The original Imperial colors of topaz were green and pink, with some blue. They were called, “Imperial,” because they went directly into the Royal gem collection of Russia though some of the material was gifted to other rulers and almost all were bought up when Russia fell. Tiffany’s auctioned off what remained of the Imperial gems in the early 1900’s. Many of the Imperial pieces were stolen by courtiers and servants and used to flee Russia during the revolution. Huge gems were recut into smaller gems to avoid recognition and jewelry pieces worth fortunes were melted down. Servants even stole gems and sold pieces worth millions of dollars for as little as 50.00; to flee the chaos when the crown fell. The entire royal family was executed, even the children.
Elizabeth, ruled Russia with an iron fist and was responsible for bringing, Catherine the Great (for which the Ekaterina Topaz was named), from Poland to marry her nephew Peter, the last pure descendant of Peter the Great. She owned over 30,000 of these elaborate and bejeweled gowns and that alone kept the Imperial Russian mines running day and night.
People think this happened so long ago, but the Royal family were slaughtered in the Russian Revolution in the early 20th century. So many diamonds were released onto the open market when the Royal Jewels were dispersed that the huge, diamond company, De Beer’s was concerned that diamond prices would crash. The royal crown, covered in diamonds weighed 8 pounds alone. American industrialists and royal families around the world clamored to get hold of pieces of the Russian collection. Tiffany’s, assembled as much as they could of the collection to bring to auction, but even gems within the assembled, catalogued collection by Tiffany’s were disappearing from the auction list. They were speculated to be pre-sold, secretly, for staggering amounts of money prior to auction. Most likely, purchased by an American Industrialist.
Above, you see pieces of green beryl and topaz (Along with enough diamonds to make DeBeers concerned,) from the royal collection. Photos of the Royal Collection, (Much was never recovered and no complete photos of the collection exist), along with correspondence about the missing items during the historic and mysterious Tiffany’s sale of the, Russian Royal gems. Note the true, Imperial Pink Topaz necklace.
Now the term “Imperial Topaz,” has been snapped up as a brand name to sell golden-pink topaz coming out of Brazil, (usually heated), but I assure you, vibrant pink and green Russian topaz held that distinctive title, prior. Golden-pink topaz from brazil can sell for about 2500.00 + per carat (even when heated,) and there is a lot more of this material so you can easily stamp a market price on it. This green topaz of Russian origin, the original imperial topaz is so rare there are no trustworthy auction records to refer to because it is simply unavailable to sell. Most green topaz you may find online and in brick & mortar stores will be treated with dye, mislabeled (Green quartz, chrome diopside, light emerald, glass), irradiated or heated. A search of Russian Green Topaz on Pinterest turned up only chrome diopside, emeralds, green zircon and at the top of Pinterest is the amazing, 80 carat, “Ekaterina,” Imperial Green Topaz; which is listed on Loftin’s company, Chateau Peridot, but given a random price and always marked SOLD, or ON HOLD.
True Imperial topaz. Russian pink, in a necklace from the Russian Imperial Collection.
Loftin was asked why he priced it at 10,000.00 and then marked it SOLD. He replied, “Because I want the world to see it, but I have no interest in selling it now. Certainly not for 10 grand. Hopefully, it will end up in museum, maybe alongside gems from the same mine from the Russian Imperial Collection. We have considered having it monuted into a necklace. It can be given a price but it is truly priceless and with nothing to compare to it on the market this gem is worth what someone would pay for it. To be honest this is as close to priceless as I will probably ever get.
Prior to the Tiffany’s auction of the Royal gem collection.
This teaberry pink spinel is an example of the gems women are choosing in place of Diamonds. Millennial buyers want rarity, color and value.
Most of the cost of your engagement ring is the main stone, usually a diamond in the past. Did you know engagement size diamonds are not rare, they are a controlled commodity. The huge diamond companies keep them vaulted underground and release them in increments. If they released all of them at one time the cost of diamonds would crash. Like in the movie, Blood Diamonds this would really happen which is why the huge diamond companies wanted the free flowing mines shut down, too many diamonds were flooding the market without the careful inventory control. Think about this. Walmart sells diamonds but never an untreated blue spinel, sapphire or ruby. They are really rare and they are not abundant enough to even fill an order and unlike diamonds the more spinel that hits the market the higher they go because many of the mines are depleted and there are no huge underground warehouses hoarding the excess material.
Blue spinel is an example of a gem so rare that when one buying surge hit the market it depleted almost the entire supply in Sri Lanka, Burma and Vietnam. The price went off the chart and it will rise even more in the future unless they find a new source and currently there is not one. That makes spinel an investment gem. Something you buy now because it may not be there later or be so expensive like Burmese and Kashmir sapphire it will be mined out completely and sell for astronomical prices per carat. And blue spinel was never treated like 99% of all sapphire it was naturally the vivid blues, pinks, violets, purples and reds. Blue is now treated with cobalt which is the natural element in spinel that makes it blue. The treated stones are generally gray or muddy in color and almost worthless and treated spinel is not worth much more and can be detected by the labs like GIA. Ruby can still be found untreated as well as sapphire but if we send the same gem to two labs they can come back as treated from one lab and untreated from the other. Spinel treatment on the other hand is of only one type and can be easily and accurately detected. The bulk of the blue spinel gems we have at Chateau Spinel were purchased prior to any treatment even being available so we have high confidence in our gems and our sources.
Ruby and sapphire even if treated with simple heat only are often much more beautiful than any diamond. Diamonds sparkle and have the illusion of being rare regardless of size and now they can treat diamonds to improve their color and clarity. All treatments lower the value, period. Even oiling an emerald can drop its value by over 10,000.00 a carat! The labs can even detect oil on the gem from the equipment they use to mine the rough.
Untreated good. Treated bad is a simple rule of thumb. Exceptions are simple heat in sapphires. Just assume your sapphire is treated unless you have a GIA cert saying otherwise.
Also, people are now buying synthetic diamonds like Moissanite that are lab created diamonds that will fool diamond testing equipment. Why? Because the equipment only realizes they are a real diamond not that they are manmade. These manmade diamonds are creeping into the market every single day and being sold as natural earth mined diamonds.
People are choosing diamonds as accent stones for engagement jewelry which allows them to add nicer diamonds at a smaller size and then add a ruby, spinel, emerald and even rare garnet or tourmaline as the main gem. Sapphire also continues to be a popular choice as the main gem in engagement rings and blue spinel (untreated, see our blog on buying blue spinel,) is an up and comer more rare than ruby, sapphire and diamond and comes in extraordinary shades of pink, red, clear and the rarest and most beautiful blues.
By purchasing your main gem you can get as much as 300% savings and stretch your engagement budget. Chateau Peridot will allow you to make reasonable offers on gems just like they do their wholesale customers (jewelers) but you have to ask (via email firstname.lastname@example.org , and we generally do not advertise this fact. Chateau Peridot will also allow you to use their artisan and wholesale jewelers to design and build your ring in platinum and gold settings and you can have an original ring for less than the cost of a cookie cutter ring setting. They do not mark up settings by 100-300% but instead offer it as a service for an average 29% fee or less.
Here are some examples of main stone alternates available at Chateau Peridot and you may make offers as high as 50% off on any gem. More than that and your request will possibly be rejected or we would counter. On some gems we have room in price due to our bulk buys and cutting our own rough which we buy direct from the mines or our agents worldwide. Pricing is formulated based on the current value of the gem. I would not make offers on sale items. Below are blue and pink spinel, green tsavorite garnets cut by an award winning gem cutter, and top quality ruby.
You may visit the site here Visit Chateau Peridot Site
High Quality, Blue Spinel rough is running low in Sri Lanka due to increased demand for one of the rarest blue gems on earth. Supplies of the quality rough gem cutters need to supply the jewelry trade is almost exhausted due to recent surges in demand for the once untreatable gem. A gem that is so rare it makes diamond seem common appears to be rarer than people thought.
The new demand for this rare gem has caused the prices to push the 2500.00 a carat range for premium and larger blue spinel gems. It has historically been mistaken for sapphire just as red spinel is frequently mistaken for ruby even ending up in Royal Collections and Museums mislabeled as sapphire and ruby in the past. Now modern techniques can be used to determine if a gem is spinel or sapphire/ruby.
Spinel is literally found right alongside rubies and sapphires making it even more difficult to separate except by trained eyes. A couple of years ago blue spinel demand rose as people began to find out that almost all rubies and sapphires are treated and heated to enhance their color and clarity. Spinels however, had no available treatment since heat did not help the gem and it was considered to always be an untreated gem.
Now, the Sri Lankan’s have almost exhausted the high quality rough they need to cut new blue spinel, which was primarily mined out years ago. They had done cheaper mine cuts on the rare spinel reserving their better cutters for sapphires they found in the same mines/areas prior to the value going up over 400% . Now, the blue spinels with top color and clarity but inferior “mine cuts,” has had to almost all be recut, causing a further reduction in the gem size which also drives the price of blue spinel up. Any blue spinel over 5 carats is considered to be very large.
The M’Gok (Burma,) mines, Tanzanian and Sri Lankan mines are not producing any substantial quantity of high quality blue spinels and the Vietnamese material now sells for as much as 2500.00+ for a quarter carat and is also getting tapped out and considered, to be quite rare.
A few savvy buyers like Ezekiel (Zeke) Loftin XII at Chateau Peridot in Lynchburg, Virginia stocked up on the gorgeous blue gem and now it is a seller’s market. To further complicate the pricing the Sri Lankan’s who are masters of sapphire manipulation have finally found a way to infuse cobalt (cobalt is the element that makes the spinel, turn blue,) into lesser quality blue spinel, so now there is the first available treatment for Blue Spinel called cobalt infusion. The best way to avoid cobalt infused gems (which tend to appear muddier in color and often too dark to hide defects) is to know you are dealing with a buyer who purchased older material, like Chateau Peridot and who deals with the gem regularly. Also only deal with dealers who are happy to send gems for certification from GIA if requested. The report will cost you more but the value of the gem rises more than enough to cover the extra expense.
GIA is a trusted lab. whom can easily detect cobalt infused blue spinel which have much less value compared to non treated spinel. Like sapphires the best material when gone will be replaced with treated and fake gems so the time to buy blue spinel is now before the best gems are gone forever and the only thing left is infused gems. This is what happened with Burmese and Kashmir sapphires which can go for millions of dollars a carat now. The Sri Lankans found a way to “burn,” in Kashmir and Burma type color which is their term for heating inferior sapphires to make them look like the very expensive untreated gems. Heating (burning) will deepen the color of poor colored sapphire to mimic Burmese and Kashmir sapphire which are nonexistent in top color unless you are very wealthy. Even heat treated Burmese and Kashmir sapphires have high prices. Heat treating though not effective for spinel clarity will melt the interior of sapphire and improve the clarity of gems with cracks and inclusions.
If history repeats itself the people who buy non-treated blue spinel now will have some very valuable gems in the future. Beware of synthetic blue spinel and even glass which as with sapphires and diamonds are used to rip people off. And now beware of cobalt infusion.
My first fascination with rocks cane from my aunt Sharon who was a geologist for the US government. She would take me all around in search of plowed fields and riverbeds looking for arrowheads and quartz. Then I discovered a meteorite and the fascination in my young mind was unleashed.
I have always collected gems and rocks but when I first saw a blue spinel and Burmese peridot I began to covet these gems. Before the price exploded I managed to make an amazing collection of both. Blue spinel I was originally purchasing at 200.00 a carat and now the price has soared to as high as 2500.00+ per carat and I am so glad I bought when I did. When I add a piece to my collection now I have to really haggle.
I buy these stones from miners and gem agents in Pakistan (Ceylon), Burma, Africa, Australia, Sri Lanka and Thailand. It has taken me years to build the trust and connections I have. No jewelry store in America, I dare say, could compete with me on price should I decide to do so. My collection is large and my gems were purchased very close to the mine and picked up in trade for rare garnet rough I owned. I also have some of the finest and most unusual colored gems but my best material is inn the blue range of sapphires though they are immensely more rare than blue sapphire and the price will continue. Among the most valuable blue spinel are royal blue.
Spinel come in virtually every shade of blue. What I love about blue spinel is that unlike sapphire it is not treated in any way or, “burned,” as they say in Sri Lanka by men at high temperature to make the inferior sapphires turn deep blue and melt out the imperfections. It is no longer an untreated stone when that happens and I was shocked to learn that over 90% of the sapphires we buy in America are heated and/or treated gems. If I wanted an ugly rock made beautiful I would burn one myself. This made spinel all the more beautiful to me since the spinel are discovered while mining for rubies and sapphires generally it also holds true that these beautiful blue gems have been mistaken for sapphires for hundreds of years and even ended up in royal collections identified as such.
When I opened Chateau Peridot it was my desire to allow people to buy their gem wholesale and then assist them in the mounting process at a vastly reduced rate so people who are not super rich can have and enjoy this fantastic gem in engagement rings, fashion jewelry or just to own as a collector. Much of the old rough from the mines is used up. The mines are playing out and many are not even producing. This gem will most likely be out of the price range of all but the very rich soon. Ebay is full of fake spinel so, “let the buyer beware,” but seek out blue spinel while you still can. Hold it, wear it and love it because it is a true natural beauty, and truly ultra rare.
I will accept offers on my blue spinel at http://www.chateauperidot.com Just pull up the one you want and and offer tab should appear as you browse the gem. Transactions are handled securely through Shopify and/or PayPal I will have the gem mounted for you near wholesale cost. No other discounts apply should I accept your offer. It never hurts to try, give it your best shot.