Modern Jeweler’s Consumer Guide to Colored Gemstones by David Federman

By David Federman

Since early 1989, a gem broker i have identified for years has been calling me each few weeks to short me on mounting mayhem in Colombia's profitable emerald industry. The troubling gist of those calls is often this: there's a full-fledged turf conflict occurring among that South American country's bustling drug and gem trades for regulate of its emerald ex­ port company. in line with this broker and several other others, anyplace from to 4 thousand emerald humans, often miners and deal­ ers, were murdered considering that 1980. doubtless the gem zone, itself by no means gun shy, has retaliated in complete and in variety. in any case, the 2 teams have banded jointly in an intermittent alliance opposed to a standard enemy-Communist guerillas-with effects the CIA could envy. I point out this bloodshed as a result of whatever the gem broker as soon as stated to me: "I guess you by no means contemplate what a gem has to move via to get to a jewellery store:' he is correct. I are inclined to reflect on coloured stones as issues of attractiveness, no longer gadgets of ugly strength struggles among mining kingpins and drug lords. are you able to blame me, or somebody with insider wisdom, if a gem sheds any reference to its previous as soon as sculpted via a cutter into the glittering mar­ vel we see in a jeweler's exhibit? Like Odysseus hearing the sirens' tune, we develop into sufferers of an aesthetics-induced amnesia.

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There the gem's sales have been the weakest in decades-and are getting weaker. Mass volume jewelry manufacturers in the United States have jilted this blue beryl in favor of an overly abundant and less expensive look-alike: irradiated blue topaz. "It's a matter of economics;' explains a Los Angeles gem cutter. Per-carat prices to jewelry manufacturers for bulk aqua are at least 10 times what they are for bulk blue topaz. Elsewhere in the world, however, near-giveaway prices for blue topaz have not shaken jewelry-maker loyalty to aqua.

But to merely call the Hope Diamond blue doesn't do full justice to its color. Experts rhapsodize about its indigo hue, and extol its red, green, purple and black highlights. However, says Susanne Steinem Patch, author of "Blue Mystery: The Story of the Hope Diamond," the gem's color is intensified by its blue-velvet museum display setting. "When unmounted, and viewed in daylight, it appears more of a sky-blue color;' she says. A RICH AND COLORFUL HISTORY The Hope's history, prior to its purchase by its namesake, Henry Philip Hope, for roughly $90,000 in 1830, is as speculative as it is spectacular.

51 CORAL The natural pearl isn't the only worldwide casualty of pollution in the planet's seas. Now coral, the other great organic sea·gem, is in big trouble-at least in its finest, most coveted red colors. Just shop the major movers of coral in New York's Manhattan market. At one importing company on 47th Street, the closest to pure red in coral is salmon· pink material. And because the current cost for decent red coral is so high, the firm doubts it will be buying premium grades any time soon.

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