search
  • Inicie Sesión
    Registrarse
  • Servicio al cliente sólo en inglés

    Número gratuito - EE. UU. & Canadá únicamente:
    1-800-464-1640

    Internacional:
    +66-39303404

  • Cambiar idioma
  • USD

Loose Gemstones - From the Mine to the Market

How do loose gemstones get from the mine to the international gems and jewelry market? Are there a few big buyers who get first choice of the best stones, leaving the second rate stuff for the rest of us? If you went directly to the mine could you get the best deal on loose rubies or sapphires?

Rough Lemon Quartz from Africa
Lemon Quartz from an African Gem Mine

We are asked these sorts of questions on a regular basis. The supply chain for loose colored gemstones is a mystery to many, including many gem dealers who don't buy or sell rough gemstones. By the time colored gems arrive in America or Europe they may have passed through dozens of hands since being mined, and each pair of hands that touches the gems adds another 20-50% to the final selling price. The prices would be absolutely amazing, if only the middlemen could be cut out. This would mean no more rip-off prices when shopping for loose gemstones!

Gemstone Supply Chain

One reason why the supply chain for colored gems is a bit of a mystery is that colored stones, unlike diamonds, are mostly mined by independent, small-scale miners, working in remote locations in far away places such as Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya, Pakistan, Burma, Afghanistan, Columbia and Bolivia. Mining is usually carried out with picks and shovels, and only rarely with heavy equipment.

In Sri Lanka, for example, there are more than 5,000 registered colored gemstone mining locations on the island. The majority of these pits measure no more than three by three meters, with a maximum depth of 25 meters. Colored gemstone mining is so labor-intensive that over 500,000 people in Madagascar are estimated to be involved in the gemstone sector, despite the fact that Madagascar only became an important gemstone source in the 1990s.

Rough Pink Tourmaline from Nigeria
Pink Tourmaline Crystals

Independent miners typically want to turn their hard work into cash as soon as possible. Usually this means taking the rough stone to a local market in the nearest town or selling the rough to someone who has transportation to the local market. Miners very rarely sell to foreign buyers at the mine. For one thing, foreign buyers must find the mine, which is often a difficult and dangerous task. Additionally, the miner is not really interested in disclosing his mining location!

The Local Gemstone Market

The local market may or may not be open to foreign buyers. Local businessmen see an opportunity to act as middleman who go between the miner and the foreign buyers, and there may be several levels of middlemen, who each take a share. These middlemen know the price that the rough stone will fetch in the international market and if the prices for gemstones are are too low in the local market they will arrange to take the goods abroad to maximize their profits. So the idea that you can take a trip to the mining source and buy loose gemstones at a tremendous bargain is really a myth.

The middlemen in the local market are not the only route to the international gems market. Many miners realize that selling to local businessman is not a good economic strategy. Why let the middleman take most of the profit when the miner has done all the hard work? Thus many miners develop business relationships with relatives or trusted friends who will take the rough stone to the foreign market and obtain a much better price.

Rough Rose Quartz from South Africa
Rough Pink Rose Quartz Crystals

Gemstone Trading in Chanthaburi, Thailand

Many of the African gem traders we see here in Chanthaburi, Thailand, have direct relationships with miners in their home country. These traders come to Chanthaburi because there are a large number of gem dealers here who know how to process the rough stone and will pay a fair market price for it. Most importantly, there is a constant demand here so that traders are assured of being able to move their goods quickly.

A gem processing center like Chanthaburi plays an important role in the international supply chain. Since gem cutting is still largely a cottage industry here, traders can sell small lots that wouldn't be of interest to a huge factory. Chanthaburi dealers reach the market for their finished loose gemstones via Bangkok or, in the case of GemSelect, through the Internet. A loose sapphire from the GemSelect website may actually have passed through only a few hands since being mined. This sort of efficiency in the supply chain can lead to huge disparities in price. Check the price per carat of loose sapphire, tourmaline and spinel in your local jewelry store and you'll get a clear sense of what happens when there are dozens of steps in the supply chain.

  • Primera publicación: October-16-2007
  • Última actualización: August-23-2017
  • © 2005-2019 Reproducción (texto o gráficos), sin el consentimiento expreso por escrito de GemSelect.com (SETT Compañía Ltda.) es estrictamente prohibida.
Pinterest Board Names
More Shapes
Piedras Preciosas Populares
  • Zafiro
  • Esmeralda
  • Rubí
  • Aguamarina
  • Circón
  • Ópalo
  • Topacio
  • Turmalina
  • Granate
  • Amatista
  • Citrina
  • Tanzanita
Todas las gemas (144)
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P R S T V Z Á Ã Ó
  • Aguamarina
  • Aguamarina Ojo de Gato
  • Amatista
  • Amazonita
  • Ametrina
  • Amolita
  • Andalucita
  • Andesina Labradorita
  • Apatita
  • Apatita Ojo de Gato
  • Augita ojo de gato
  • Azurita Druzy
  • Berilo
  • Berilo Dorado
  • Calcedonia
  • Calcita
  • Charoita
  • Chrysocolla
  • Cianita
  • Circón
  • Citrina
  • Coral
  • Coral Fósil
  • Cornalina
  • Crisoberilo
  • Crisoprasa
  • Cromodiópsido
  • Cuarzo
  • Cuarzo Ahumado
  • Cuarzo Fresa
  • Cuarzo Limón Estrella
  • Cuarzo Místico
  • Cuarzo Ojo de Gato
  • Cuarzo Rosa
  • Cuarzo Rosa Estrella
  • Cuarzo Rutilado
  • Cuarzo con marcasita
  • Diamante
  • Diásporo con Cambio de Color
  • Diópsido Estrella
  • Doblete de Ópalo
  • Druzy Amethyst
  • Enstatita
  • Escapolita Ojo de Gato
  • Escolecita
  • Esfalerita
  • Esfena
  • Esmeralda
  • Esmitsonita
  • Espectrolita
  • Espinela
  • Fluorita
  • Fluorita con Cambio de Color
  • Fucsita con Rubí
  • Gemas de estrella
  • Gemas de jade
  • Geoda ágata
  • Granate
  • Granate Alamandino
  • Granate Demantoide
  • Granate Espesartina
  • Granate Estrella
  • Granate Grossularita
  • Granate Hesonita
  • Granate Malaya
  • Granate Piropo
  • Granate Rodolita
  • Granate Tsavorita
  • Granate con Cambio de Color
  • Grandidierita
  • Hematita
  • Hemimorfita Druzy
  • Hiddenita
  • Howlita
  • Idocrasa
  • Iolita
  • Jadeíta
  • Jaspe
  • Kornerupina
  • Kunzita
  • Labradorita
  • Lapislázuli
  • Larimar
  • Madreperla
  • Malaquita
  • Mali Granate
  • Matriz Ojo de Tigre
  • Maw-Sit-Sit
  • Morganita
  • Nuummite
  • Obsidiana
  • Obsidiana Copo de Nieve
  • Ojo de Gato Actinolita
  • Ojo de Halcón
  • Ojo de Tigre
  • Ojos de gato
  • Peridoto
  • Perla
  • Piedra de Luna
  • Piedra de Luna Arco Iris
  • Piedra de Luna Estrella
  • Piedra de Luna Ojo de Gato
  • Piedra de Sangre
  • Piedra del Sol
  • Piedra del Sol Estrella
  • Pietersita
  • Pirita
  • Pirita Arco Iris
  • Prehnite
  • Rodocrosita
  • Rodonita
  • Rubellita Turmalina
  • Rubí
  • Rubí Estrella
  • Rubí-Zoisita
  • Serafinita
  • Serpentina
  • Silimanita
  • Silimanita Ojo de Gato
  • Sodalita
  • Sugilita
  • Tanzanita
  • Topacio
  • Topacio Imperial
  • Topacio Místico
  • Turmalina
  • Turmalina Cromo
  • Turquesa
  • Variscita
  • Venturina
  • Zafiro
  • Zafiro Estrella
  • Zafiro con Cambio de Color
  • Ágata
  • Ágata Dendrítica
  • Ágata de Fuego
  • Ópalo ojo de gato
  • Ópalo
  • Ópalo Boulder
  • Ópalo Chocolate
  • Ópalo Moss
  • Ópalo Negro
  • Ópalo de Fuego
  • Ópalo en matriz
Main Categories
  • Nuevas llegadas
  • Lotes de gemas
  • Las Piedras Preciosas Calibradas
  • Piedras preciosas por pieza
  • Gemas de grado superior
  • Pares Emparejados
  • Gemas Corte Cabujón
  • Drilled Gems, Briolettes and Beads
  • Piedras zodiacales
  • Las Tallas de Piedras Preciosas
  • Gemas elegantes
  • Gemas de estrella
  • Zafiro sin Calefacción
Servicio al cliente sólo en inglés

Número gratuito - EE. UU. & Canadá únicamente:
1-800-464-1640

Internacional:
+66-39303404

Ahorra Dinero
No hay gastos de envío para artículos adicionales
$8.90 envío en todo el mundo

Update Translation
 
Current Value
New Value
GemSelect Gemstones
X Cerrar ventana
Colored Gemstones
X Cerrar ventana
Colored Gemstones
X Cerrar ventana
Colored Gemstones
Tamaño y peso

Gems are always measured in Millimeter (mm)

Dimensions are given as;
length x width x depth,
except for round stones which are;
diameter x depth

Select gems by size, not by weight!
Gem varieties vary in density, so carat weight is not a good indication of size

Note: 1ct = 0.2g

Size Comparison Chart