GO 340 Gemstones & Gemology


Student Reflections - Fall 2000

The following reviews were written by you, the students, as a part of homework assignments. They are reproduced here so you can benefit from the wisdom of each other! The first section are reviews of webpages, while the second section review articles found in the online Gemstone Forecaster. Individual student authors are not cited and occasional spelling/grammar enhancements have been employed.

http://commerce.entelchile.net/lapislazulihouse/shop/home.asp http://www.walterarnstein.com/main.htm
http://www.gemhut.com/ http://wwww.gemmologists/tripod.com/
http://mineral.galleries.com/gallery.htm http://www.geogem.com/
http://www.hallmark-gemstones.com/peridotinfo.html http://www.rarestone.com
Genis, R. (Fall, 1999). New Nigerian orange garnet hits the market. The Gem Forecaster, 17(3)
Genis, R. (Fall, 1998). The Russian diamond scam. The Gemstone Forcaster, 16(3)
Genis, R. (Summer, 2000). Emerald branding. The Gemstone Forecaster, 18(2), 1-3
Genis, R. (Spring, 1995). Ruby: The king of gems. The Gemstone Forecaster, 13(1)
Genis, R. (Winter, 1996). Colored diamonds: Australian pink. The Gemstone Forecaster, 14(4)
Genis, R. (Summer, 1999). Colored stone magazine on investing in gemstones. The Gemstone Forecaster, 17(2)
Genis, R. (Summer, 1999). In the news. Gemstone Forecaster, 17(2)
Genis, R. (Summer, 1998). Burma star ruby and star sapphire. The Gemstone Forecaster, 16(2)

Gemstone Webpage Reviews

This is a review for the lapis lazuli house, found at http://commerce.entelchile.net/lapislazulihouse/shop/home.asp (no longer active). At the beginning of the page, they gave a brief history of the stone. Telling how it was highly favored by ancient civilizations especially by the Egyptians. Lapis lazuli was in many cases favored even more highly than gold, and was a favorite of Cleopatra who adorned herself heavily with the stone. The stone was also ground up and used for the pigments in their eye makeup and for ritual medicines. The stone was also used during the middle ages as well as the renaissance for the sky blue pigment within paint used in many frescos and altarpieces. The lapis lazuli stone consists of various minerals, particularly hauynite, sodalite, noselite and lazurite. The highly desired gold flecks or veins within the stone are caused by deposits of iron pyrite creating a shimmering effect against the brilliant blue. I personally have always had a great deal of interest in the study of ancient civilizations, and have always been fascinated with their jewelry. The stone lapis lazuli has always been one of my favorites. I feel the stone appears the most stunning when placed within a gold setting. Lapis lazuli can also be quite beautiful when used in architecture, such as within some Egyptian temples. The Lapis lazuli House web site has a rather large collection of lapis jewelry, set in both gold and silver. Many of their prices were rather reasonable. Overall an enjoyable site to visit.

I visited Walter Arnstein, Inc. at http://www.walterarnstein.com/main.htm (now password protected). They deal mostly in sapphires, but also offered coral, lapis, turquoise and zircons. The web page stated that they get most of their stones from Ceylon. They also state that they do their best to only offer natural stones and that most of their stones are AGL, GIA or AGTA certified. The pictures were good. When you clicked on the smaller picture, a window opened up with a magnified picture so that you could see the cutting detail better. The pink sapphires were the prettiest. Selection seemed to be small and they did not list price per carat on the website. They also do not offer ordering services online. You have to contact them by phone, mail or e-mail to do business with them. The site also offered pictures of the buyers in the locations where they go to buy the stones. Those were interesting. They did not much in the way of information about formation, mining or cutting of the stones.

I checked out the "Gem Hut" website at http://www.gemhut.com/. They say they "feature a collection of natural gemstones from around the world (and) will not display or sell any type of artificial, synthetic or simulated gemstones." They list over 250 different types of stones (that I counted on their list.) I checked out Topaz. I bought a Topaz ring last holiday season. Gem Hut has nice pictures of stones with descriptions and prices. They sell the stones through their site, of course. I understand now that the Topaz I bought was most likely irradiated and/or heat treated to achieve its' pretty blue color. "Some blue topaz are undistinguishable from aquamarine with the naked eye." Aquamarine (Beryl) "is usually heat treated to remove yellow components." Several of the gemstones I looked at were "sold". After all, they take Master Card and Visa, Discover Card and American Express.

GALLERY OF GEMSTONES, http://gemmologist.tripod.com/gemstone.html, developed by Certified Gemologist Bruce C. Courage, offers an array of interesting pages. The site includes something for everyone, from the student to the accomplished collector. It offers for sale both uncut and finished gems of numerous variety including diamond and ruby. In addition to selling gems the Gallery maintains an electronic exhibit of many types of gems including those possessing interesting visual properties. The site also offers a "Gem and Jewelry Consulting Service" to answer related questions. This is a well designed site with abundant gem information and is well worth a visit from anyone looking to further his/her knowledge of gemstones.

The Mineral Galleries, http://mineral.galleries.com/default.htm, is a site featuring uncut minerals for sale. Not only can you find pictures and prices, but they also have a searchable mineral database of significant value to students, educators, and amateur rock hounds, which is funded through sales of related items. This is a good site for general information.

GeoGem, http://www.geogem.com/, advertise specialization in certified quality diamonds, colored gemstone, 14 - 18 Kt jewelery, gem rough, and lapidary services. The webpage offers the following selection to look at: diamonds, gemstones, gemology, gem cutting, gem price list, and gem rough. The gemstone site gives photos of eight different cut stones. When the gem is clicked on, it gives a lot of information on the gem. The gemology section is a very thorough tutorial of basic gemological information. The webpage also offers information on prices and ways of purchasing gemstones. Overall it is a very informative site.

I checked out the peridot page, http://www.hallmark-gemstones.com/peridot, which is found within The Hallmark Gemstones page. Peridot was once called "the gem of the sun". It was believed to ward off evil spirits and also to cure asthma. Peridots are found in Australia, Burma, Norway, S. Africa, Zaire, Arizona, and in St. John Island in the Red Sea. It is a fairly hard stone (61/2 -7) with a fair/good toughness. The colors range from green, which is the most desirable, to yellow, to brown. The peridot is my birthstone and I think that it is very beautiful. I had asthma as a child, but as an adult, I do not. Perhaps, all of the earrings and rings with the peridot stones that I wore cured my asthma!

I liked the way they set up the http://www.rarestone.com page, with their catalog including a table of clarity standards and gemstone enhancement codes. For a newcomer like me, this was very helpful when reviewing their catalog. I also like the variety of the five people included, ranging from the "old man" to his daughter who was relatively new to the lapidary field. There was such a large variety of stones both rare and more common along with a large range in price that it would not be impossible for most people to own a gem of their own liking. I did, however take a fancy to the $4,000 + 6 carat oval pink-orange topaz. There were so many stones that I had never heard of before that were quite beautiful and also, within the diamond category, I got my first look at a blue diamond and a black diamond. I did note that many of the stones I looked at had a gemstone enhancement code of "R" which stood for "Irradiation: The use of neutrons gamma and/or electron bombardment to alter a gemstone's color. The irradiation may be followed by a heating process." I really enjoyed this site and may return to it for my own use at a later time.

The Gem Forecaster Newsletters Reviews

Genis, R. (Fall, 1999). New Nigerian orange garnet hits the market. The Gem Forecaster, 17(3).

The article talks about all the various colors of gemstones that are available on the market today. The new orange colored spessartite garnet is a large garnet that when compared to the Mandarin Orange garnets are better cut, are more brilliant, and are cleaner. There are many sites where these garnets can be found, one of which is in California. In Nigeria, the garnets are found in pegmatites, mined from a small alluvial deposit. This mine has produced stones up to 40 - 50 carats in size. The best stones are a pumpkin color, however this is a good stone for investors as the going price is between $100 and $1000 per carat. I thought this article was interesting. My birth stone is the garnet, and I didn't realize that there were so many colors of garnets.

Genis, R. (Fall, 1998). The Russian diamond scam. The Gemstone Forcaster, 16(3).

A huge international diamond scam centered within a business called The Golden ADA. The business was founded in San Francisco in 1994 and consisted of three partners, Russian Andrei Kozlenok who was the primary owner with 60% of the business, and Ashot and David Shagrins, two American brothers who each had 20%. The Golden ADA was apparently part of an effort to circumvent Russia's contract with the DeBeers Cartel. The "Closet" is the term used to describe Russia's huge storehouse of diamonds, emeralds, silver, platinum, and over 40 tons of gold. Yevgeny M. Bychkov, head of the Russian Committee on Precious metals and gems had access to the storehouse and was a mentor to Kozlenok. Bychkov planned to ship $500 million worth of goods from the "Closet" to The Golden ADA . The company received over $100 million in goods with the first shipment. They then proceeded to melt the and sell the gold and silver received, using the proceeds to pay for a $10.6 million diamond cutting facility with state of the art security, near down town San Francisco. The Golden ADA partnership then proceeded to spend an additional $10 million on personal items such as yachts and housing. Millions of dollars were also wired back to Bychkov in Russia. The second shipment of precious goods from Russia quite literally filled a corporate jet. The plan was for the diamonds to be cut at The Golden ADA's facility in San Francisco, but instead the diamonds were hauled to Antwerp and sold to companies controlled by DeBeers! The proceeds from these sales fetched $77 million which were then wired to a Swiss bank account.

This major upset within The Golden ADA company caused a huge rift between the partnership. Kozlenok attempted to bribe the Shagrins brothers to leave the company for $5 million each or "take a bullet to the head". The Shagrins brothers went to Russia to beg Bychkov to fire Kozlenok from the company. Bychkov then sent an aid to San Francisco who stated that The Golden ADA was looting the Russian Treasury. Kozlenok was forced to sign over his control of The Golden ADA. Meanwhile the FBI who had been investigating the company assembled evidence of theft, racketeering, and money laundering. The various scams associated with the company were approaching $1 billion. Some of the Golden ADA's money could even be traced to Boris Yeltsin. The IRS then raided The Golden ADA placing a $63 million lien on the company for unpaid taxes and seizing $40 million forcing ADA into bankruptcy. Two of the original three Golden ADA partners faced criminal charges in Russia. The Golden ADA was given control of the companies assets in a settlement with the Russian government in 1996. Bychkov was fired from his job by President Boris Yeltsin in 1996, but was later pardoned under general amnesty. Today he is the head of one of Russia's largest banks.

Genis, R. (Summer, 2000). Emerald branding. The Gemstone Forecaster, 18(2), 1-3.

This article discusses the state of the emerald market. It begins by looking at treatments and pricing. An example of pricing of treated stone was given, specifically the heating and fracture-filling of Mong Hsu, Burma rubies. Even though these treatments of the rubies were permanent, they still affected the value of the stones. Emeralds are declining in price in recent years due to conflict between buyers and sellers/treaters. Sellers believe values should be determined by final state appearance while buyers want value determined on how the emeralds appeared when discovered. The specific treatment of Gematrat was discussed. The creator of the process states that his treatment is permanent and he offers a life-time warranty. To clear up the disagreements, the American Gemological Laboratories have developed a new Emerald Grading Report. The report is new in that it includes a Clarity Enhancement Information section. Now sellers will be informing buyers of the amount and type of filler in the emerald. With full disclosure, buyers and sellers will be less at odds and possibly the emerald market will be stabilized.

Genis, R. (Spring, 1995). Ruby: The king of gems. The Gemstone Forecaster, 13(1).

This article briefly describes the history of the ruby from its discovery in India through its introduction to the British when they conquered Burma in 1885. Gem lore is also discussed. The article also describes the geology and chemistry of the gem as well as how color variation and mining location affect the value of the stone. The author indicates that "the major source of great ruby has always been the Moguk Stone Tract of Burma" and that, as of late, the Mong Hsu source is helping Burma produce "...more Burma ruby than ever before." The article continues with a brief analysis of how ruby is "cooked" to improve clarity and how it can be a reasonably sound financial investment.

Genis, R. (Winter, 1996). Colored diamonds: Australian pink. The Gemstone Forecaster, 14(4).

This particular issue of The Gemstone Forecaster had a significant amount of information about colored diamonds. Robert Genis wrote a piece about the (then) recent discovery of pink diamonds in Australia. As someone who came into this particular class with literally no knowledge of gemstones at all, I was fascinated by the fact that some of the most famous diamonds in the world are colored. I never actually knew there were blue diamonds. According to Robert Genis, "DeBeers cannot even compute the ratio of colored diamonds to white diamonds because they are so rare." Before the Australian discovery, any diamond that was classified as "pink" had only the slightest tinge of the color. Australia's pink diamonds have a little more color to them, and collectors are excited about them, even though most of Australia's diamonds tend to be small. The article says that Australia may be able to produce a few thousand carats of them a year. The experts are not really sure why the Australian diamonds are pink. They suspect that purple and pink diamonds may be created by the presence of nitrogen. The Australian pinks do have more graining in them, and when they are cut and polished, this can be manipulated to make the pink stand out more. "Experts believe there are no more than 4,000 carats of red, pink, blue, green, purple, yellow, and orange fancy colored diamonds for sale at any given time on the world market." In 1995, Sotheby's sold a 5.04 fancy pink pear shaped diamond for $442,500. The larger pink diamonds can easily sell for $100,000 a carat. As the article states: "Most (colored) stones disappear into collections and are not seen again for years." Some collectors specialize in one color, and if that color was pink, you can bet they were excited in 1996 when this new source was discovered.

Genis, R. (Summer, 1999). Colored stone magazine on investing in gemstones. The Gemstone Forecaster, 17(2).

Much to my surprise, this article states that most dealers hesitate to forecast a decline or rise in a particular gemstone and strongly discourage people from looking at the purchase of gems as an investment for money. However, everyone seems to be interested in how much their jewels are worth.

Among the "Big Three" of ruby, emerald, and sapphire, emarald has its supporters and skeptics. (Genis p.1)" Until the Gemological Institute of America comes out with its findings on emerald treatments the market is going to be cautious about the stone since they are unaware of its future value with these findings. They are concerned with the stones treatments and what might make them unstable. However, this makes emeralds a great buy and, if the market deems it valuable, would possibly be a good investment. Ruby and sapphire also are debatable since their prices are on the rise. Some people feel that by next year the price will be lower and the market will make a sort of "correction" to the monetary value of these colored stones. Dealers do have a sort of "sure thing" in the market right now with extra fine, unheated Mogok ruby or Kashmir sapphire. These stones continue to appreciate as if they ignore the market. No matter what happens with other stones, they still continue to rise.

Along with these three, other good buys include tanzanite, tsavorite, demantoid garnet, mandarin orange garnet (I would love to see this one), and color change stones such as alexandrite along with the Burmese red spinel. Rarity is a major factor in forecasting the value of a stone but is still no guarantee that it will rise. The writer points out that if supplies are too low, people will lose interest and prices will subsequently fall.

One stone that is mentioned as being watched closely is the Paraiba tourmaline. The current value of this stone is placed at $15,000 per carat but will probably not go any higher. "Price is a function of how well a stone is known, how long it has been marketed, and what sort of brand awareness it has, (Genis, p.1)" In comparison, the Kashmir sapphire is a more recognized stone and will probably hold or increase its value.

The above article seems to make the point that the market and dealers are very cautious about stating the current or future value of any of these gems. The phrase "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" may be appropriate here. If we are not to purchase gemstones for their future value, we should base our purchases on first, the quality of the particular stone and how much we may or may not like it personally.

Genis, R. (Summer, 1999). In the news. Gemstone Forecaster, 17(2).

The In the News section contained an article reprinted from the April 5, 1999 issue of Forbes, Colored Diamonds, Nature's Most Gorgeous Collectible, Are Beginning to Catch More Light. The article was about colored diamonds. In the article, Robert Goff discussed the rarity and value of colored diamonds. He also addressed the issue of fake colored diamonds. Fake colored diamonds can either be synthetic or real uncolored diamonds that have been treated to produce colored stones. At the point in time that the article was written, diamond prices had dropped. Mr. Goff felt that the time would be good to invest in colored diamonds. He also advised that it would be wise to only buy diamonds that have been GIA certified as it is hard to distinguish between synthetic and genuine colored diamonds without a lab examination.

Genis, R. (Summer, 1998). Burma star ruby and star sapphire. The Gemstone Forecaster, 16(2)

The article, Burma Star Ruby and Star Sapphire, is divided into two parts. In part one, I will discuss the importance and the guidelines of star ruby's and star sapphire's, review the book "Collecting and Classifying Coloured Diamonds" by Stephen Hofer, and mention a few amazing results from various auctions during 1998. In part two, I will preview the international market updates regarding the diamond, sapphire, ruby, and the emerald markets.

Ruby's and sapphire's are sometimes discovered with rutile, or silk, inside of them. When these stones are properly cut they may produce a six-legged star, which is very uncommon and highly expensive to purchase. Sri Lanka and Burma are the only two places known to produce these type of stones. The legs of ruby stars should be sharp and centered, and either milky white or silver in color. The stars show best in sunlight or under very bright indoor lights, otherwise they may be synthetics. Most star ruby's are pink instead of red. Star sapphire's can be blue or grayish in color. The gray one's tend to have better stars.

In the book "Collecting and Classifying Coloured Diamonds" Stephen Hofer gives some valuable information regarding colored diamonds. There have been twelve different colors of diamonds that Hofer has measured - black, green, gray, olive, pink, blue, orange, red, yellow, purple, brown, and white. He used a colorimeter to determine these colors.

The most astounding auction result was that called the Eva Peron Brooch. It is a small representative of Argentina's flag. It sold for an amazing $992,000! The brooch is platinum with seven baguette diamonds as a flag staff. The top and the bottom of the brooch each have three rows of blue square cut sapphires, and the center has three rows of square cut pave diamonds. WOW! Other auctions sold pieces ranging from $120,230 to $212,609. They ranged from colored diamonds to emeralds to ruby's.

In the international market updates, the diamond market has not increased or decreased, it is said to be moving sideways. Ruby prices are increasing because of their short supply. Sapphire's are selling the fastest due to their widespread availability and inexpensive price, while emeralds are the weakest sellers. Coscuez, Colombia provides 60% of the world's emerald supply. However, the emerald industry has been corrupted by drug traffickers, causing new investiments and explorations to decline, especially since new mines are very expensive to develop.

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This page originates from the Earth Science department for the use and benefit of students enrolled at Emporia State University. For more information contact the course instructor, S. W. Aber, e-mail: saber@emporia.edu Thanks for visiting! Webpage created: September 23, 2000; last update: January 7, 2007.

Copyright 1999-2007 Susan Ward Aber. All rights reserved.