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.
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.
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Shopping for peridot is a lot more complicated than one might think. First, you need to know that color, clarity, cut, size and origin effect the value of the gem you are buying. The finest peridot comes from Burma, Pakistan and Arizona and each have unique attributes.
If you want vivid, deep green peridot your best bet is from Burma and Pakistan. Though Arizona material may be deep green it is very hard to find high quality gems over 3 carats with out clarity issues and a lot of Arizona peridot has more of an olive green color. Ivid deep greens are very rare. That being said, many people want peridot from Arizona and will pay a lot for stones over 5 carats that are deep green, have good clarity and a nice cut. Made (or found) in the USA is still quite attractive to many buyers.
Lets start with, Pakistani peridot. In order to even access the mining sites you must climb high into the treacherous, Himalayan Mountains if the weather even permits a climb on the year you chose. Some years, the weather prevents any mining but when the gems are found they can be of incredible size and clarity; sometimes even exceeding 100 carats in a cut gem.
Pakistani peridot is known for its size, excellent clarity and intense leaf to parrot green color. It is often cut by the miners into a, “mine-cut,” which is a rough preliminary cut that shows the clarity and color and must be recut by a more skilled gem cutter after it is sold. The price of the gem has been climbing and for larger stones expect to be paying up to 1000.00 a carat. Even wholesaler’s are having problems finding the gem at reasonable pricing which makes the retail price of peridot climb yet higher. Demand for this gem is growing by leaps and bounds each year since the discovery of this material becomes more popular with people who like vibrant green gems and are not willing to pay the sometimes astronomical price for large emeralds.
Again, a closer look at this fantastic Burmese peridot set in this euro-style ring is a fine example of the very high quality gems coming out of Burma. A lot of this material is from old rough and gems of large size and the prized neon-green coloration is getting harder and harder to obtain and the Burmese gems ability to almost luminesce in even low light situations makes it highly desirable. Burmese material can be leaf, parrot or grass green but the sleepier silty material is the color and clarity that does the magic tricks in very low light. This is the type material that Cleopatra prized and referred to as her, “evening emeralds,” and many peridot thought to have been owned by her were once thought to be emeralds. The mine where Cleopatra’s peridot came from played out long ago but this Burmese material has all the qualities of her gems and is therefore prized by many jewelers who know their clients will be wearing their jewelry in nightclubs and restaurants and want a gem that does not go dark in that situation.
Arizona peridot of fine color though very hard to find is worth its weight in gold (often more,) and fine green stones of 3 carats or larger are prized for jewelry and by collectors as well. This material is often found in 1 carat or below in fine gem quality and while some people like the olivine color that is most often found in the Arizona gems people still prefer bright green gems of good clarity. So, when the gems are found they are difficult to obtain or very expensive easily getting to or near the 1000.00 a carat range. If you are fortunate enough to find material over 3 carats and having all the qualities of the aforementioned peridot’s then it would most likely be a wise investment. And the gems from Arizona (of top quality,) can rival their cousins in Pakistan and Burma.