Chanthaburi gem industry now realized that the future was in foreign
rather than local gems, and that Thai expertise in treating and cutting
stones could make Chanthaburi a focal point for the worldwide colored
The next major success for Chanthaburi came in the 1970's with the "geuda" sapphire from Sri Lanka. Another also-ran in the world gem trade, the geuda sapphire was pale and milky as a result of excess titanium. But the Chanthaburi burners were able to find the right heating techniques to turn these sapphires an outstanding cornflower blue. These sapphires are now highly regarded in the world market, and the bulk of the supply continues to be heated and cut in Chanthaburi.
By the 1980's Chanthaburi's position as the leading center for processing and trading colored stones was already secure. But events in the early 1990's made Chanthaburi the undisputed center for colored gems. In 1992 a major ruby deposit was discovered in the Mong Hsu area of Burma, about half way between Mogok and the the Thai town of Mae Sai. This find was hailed as the most significant discovery of Burmese ruby for thousands of years. But these Mong Hsu rubies were not the same quality as the famed Mogok rubies -- they had a tendency to a slightly bluish or purplish hue which was not as attractive. After some months of experimentation, the Chanthaburi labs found a solution which unlocked the full potential of these new Burmese rubies and satisfied the world demand for rubies with the distinctive Burmese look. That treatment is now standard for Mong Hsu rubies, and most of the world's supply passes through Chanthaburi.
Today Chanthaburi is processing and trading stones from new foreign sources, especially Africa and Madagascar. Virtually every variety of colored gem can be found here, and rough stone is brought from every mining location in the world to be cut and traded in Chanthaburi. What once seemed like the end of the gem business in eastern Thailand -- the depletion of the local ruby mines -- turned out to be a new and much greater opportunity. Ingenuity, hard work and experience, an international outlook and, no doubt, a bit of good luck, have made the little city in eastern Thailand the capital of the colored gemstone world.
New in Gems
Our buyers are in the market every day finding the best values for our customers. Here are some of the excellent buys we've made in the last week. Click on the gem names to view the latest samples.
- Blue Zircon from Cambodia: Blue has long been the most coveted color in zircon but the supply is limited. We've just found some fine specimens, well cut, in round, oval and diamond-cut shapes, in sizes up to about 3 carats. We also have some very nice matching pairs for earrings. If you're in the market for zircon, we think you'll be very happy with the quality of these stones.
- Tourmaline from Nigeria: Tourmaline is our second most popular gem (a close second to sapphire), and it's easy to see why. No other gem comes in such a rainbow of colors, and tourmaline's excellent clarity and hardness make it an exceptionally good value. We've just made a good buy of some fine untreated Nigerian tourmaline in a range of attractive pastel shades, in rounds, ovals, pears and trillions, mainly in smaller sizes.
- Hiddenite from Afghanistan: Hiddenite is the green variety of spodumene. It's fairly rare, but popular with collectors. We just found some very fine Hiddenite in the market and were able to buy a small number of pieces, in green and bluish green, in several interesting cuts. These are clean, good sized pieces with excellent color, ranging up to 12 carats.
- Aquamarine from Mozambique: It is always difficult to find aquamarine in good color -- so many of the nicer stones are rather pallid. We know many of our customers have been waiting, so here -- finally -- are some nice looking aquamarine. Enjoy.
- Spinel from Mogok, Burma: Burma is best known for ruby, but they mine some of the finest spinel as well. We've just added a wonderful range of new colors to our inventory, in shades from pink to rose to purplish pink to red and violet, as well as a wonderful silver bluish gray, mainly in rounds and ovals. Due to its excellent hardness and high clarity, spinel has become a real customer favorite. It's also one of the few gemstones that is never treated. We now stock nearly 400 spinel, in sizes up to 8 carats. We think it's one of the best values in the gem world today.
Top Grade Gemstones
Want to see the best of the best? Tired of sorting through our stock to find them? Now you can view our very best gems in one place by clicking the Top Grade Gemstones link on our home page. Once you're on the top grade gems page you can use the drop-down menu to sort the top grade stones by color, shape, weight, size or price.
This Month's Birthstone(s)
Most months of the year are associated with a single birthstone. But a few months, like October, have more than one. The traditional birthstones for October are Opal and Tourmaline. So if you're lucky enough to be born in October, you have the choice of two entirely different gems; indeed, two gems that are as different as two gems could be. Tourmaline is thought to inspire creativity and was used extensively as a talisman by artists and writers. Opal has traditionally been regarded as a symbol of hope and love. If you're considering an opal for an October birthday and want something unique, have a look at our Fire Opal and Moss Opal as well.
Gemstones Worth Knowing
In a new feature this month, we focus on some of the lesser known gemstones. This month's featured stone is Chrysoberyl.
If you're looking for a brilliant and durable gem in the golden-yellow color range, consider chrysoberyl. It's an exceptionally hard stone at 8.5 on the Mohs scale, nearly as hard as sapphire and ruby, so it's suitable for any kind of jewelry.
Chrysoberyl belongs to the same family as the more expensive alexandrite. We have chrysoberyl from Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Russia, in colors ranging from green to yellow to golden and brown, in sizes up to 5 carats. These are mainly eye-clean (VS to VVS clarity) and have never been treated. For more information see our Chrysoberyl information page
Finding Your Way Around Gemselect.com
In another new feature this month, we focus on some of the tools we've developed to help you find the gems you're looking for on our website. This month we look at the Search box.
We have a large inventory on our website -- more than 1,000 sapphires alone! -- and it can be a lot of work to page through all those gems to find what you're looking for. We have a number of shortcuts that could save you some time.
One easy shortcut is to use the Search box that you'll see on the right side of every page:
You can type in any combination of gem type, shape and color in the Search box and we'll show you just the gems that match your search criteria. So if you wanted to find a round blue sapphire, just type "round blue sapphire" in the search box. If you want to find all the different kinds of gems available in pink, just type "pink" in the search box and we'll show you all the spinel, tourmaline, rhodolite garnet, etc. that we have in some shade of pink. Or type "yellow octagon" to find all the octagon gems in yellow. You can also type in a country name if that's useful to your search -- you can search for "burma ruby" or "ceylon sapphire" or "india." It's easy and might save you some time.
Every month we answer questions of general interest from our customers. Please feel free to send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, with "Newsletter question" in the Subject line.