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GemSelect Newsletter - October 2008

In our newsletter this month:
Gemstone Certificates Back to Top

The gemstone business has traditionally been based on trust, where deals were sealed with a handshake and a dealer's word was his bond. We still think of our own business in those traditional terms, but we recognize that the world is changing. With so much business being conducted on the Internet, buyers and sellers rarely have the chance to look each other in the eye and establish trusting relationships.

We have always tried to be scrupulously accurate and complete in the description of our gems, and we back it up with an unconditional money-back guarantee. But for those customers who want the added confidence of third party verification, we are now offering gemstone certificates from a respected authority here in Thailand, the Burapha Gemological Laboratory (BGL) and the Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences (AIGS).

We test samples from nearly every parcel of gems we buy, so we have a high degree of confidence in the descriptions we provide on our website. But if you'd like a test report for the specific gemstones you purchase from us, you now have an opportunity to purchase a certificate for most gem varieties when you put an item in your shopping cart. When we receive your order, we'll take your gems to the Burapha Lab and have them tested, then send you the certificates with your order.

The certificates are what is known in the trade as identification reports. They describe the specific gem by weight, size, color, cut and shape, and identify it by type, such as 'natural sapphire'. The certificate also includes a small photo of the gem. The cost to produce this type of report is very reasonable, and we are currently offering these certificates for USD $15 (BGL) - $30 (AIGS) per gem tested. That is much less than you would pay at a lab in Europe or America, and we also save you the work of obtaining the certificate. Please note that if you request a certificate for an item that is a pair or lot, the lab will test just one of the gems in the pair or lot.

It is important to note what these certificates do not include. They do not cover gem treatments, except those which are easy to detect such as fracture-filling. Testing for treatments such as beryllium diffusion requires specialized equipment and additional lab time. The certificates also do not certify country of origin, since this is an opinion that only a small number of labs in the world can offer with any confidence. It is also important to note that they are not appraisal certificates; they scientifically identify the gemstone, but they can't tell you the market value of the gemstone. But if you (or your customer) need assurance that you are buying a natural gemstone of a specific type, these certificates will do the job at minimal expense.

Rare and Unusual Gems Back to Top

Each month we feature a rare and unusual gem from our inventory. This month we feature a very large aquamarine from Mozambique.

Natural Octagon Facet Aquamarine
Natural Octagon Facet Aquamarine

Aquamarine is a member of the beryl family along with emerald, morganite and golden beryl. With a hardness of 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale, all the beryls are excellent jewelry stones. But where emerald can be fragile due to its many inclusions, aquamarine tends to be much cleaner. Even so, very large aquamarine gems are rarely found with perfect clarity. This 19.12 carat piece from Mozambique is an exception. Graded IF, it has the classic aquamarine blue and a very well executed step cut. It is certainly one of the nicest large aquamarine stones we've seen in recent years.

Customer Questions Back to Top

Every month we answer questions of general interest from our customers. Please feel free to send your questions or suggestions to our support team at!

In your September newsletter you talked about Burmese jadeite. Is jadeite the same thing as jade? Thanks, FB, Australia.
What was traditionally called jade is in fact two separate and distinct minerals; jadeite and nephrite. They have different chemical compositions, levels of hardness and densities. They even have different crystal structures. Jadeite comes mainly from Burma. The rarest and most valuable jadeite is called imperial jade, and is colored by traces of chromium. It has a color that rivals fine emerald, though imperial jade is slightly more yellow in tone. Jadeite is generally very expensive, while nephrite is still quite affordable.
Is all red tourmaline called "rubellite"? Or only some? I'm confused about this, so your help is appreciated. JN, USA.
It's a very good question, but not an easy one to answer because there is no clear agreement in the gemstone business about the meaning of "rubellite." Some think the term refers to any red tourmaline; others claim it should be used only for tourmaline with a vivid ruby-like red. We recently published an article on the topic of the rubellite rubric; click the link to read it.

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