Gem Show Shopping

Sea Change in the Desert: True Signs of Gem Show Recovery in Tucson

Sea Change in the Desert: True Signs of Gem Show Recovery in Tucson

I really didn’t expect it but Tucson was hoppin’ this year! Yes, there were fewer shows, fewer vendors and virtually no international business except for a small boatload of Russians that came here via Los Angeles they said. And much of the “just looking” crowd was missing too. But the people who did come out for the shows were ready to spend, and the vendors were ready to sell. You could definitely sense change in the air.

With regard to available inventory, the main two things I noticed were that a lot of vendors dug deep into their vaults and unearthed gems that hadn’t seen the light of day in years. I was able to find Mahenge, Tajkik, Ceylon and Burma spinel, as well as a stunning bi-color unheated ruby oval that is hanging out at AGL for a cert as we speak. The owners of this material were ready to move it out and made me fantastic prices. The second thing was that a lot of vendors had inventory shipped from their international partners. My opal guy – Adam S., was displaying gems from his friends in Australia, for instance. And Steve U. from New Era Gems, who happened to sit across from the aisle from me on my hopper flight from Denver, told me he had spent the last few months sitting in Bangkok buying gems while getting a knee replacement (in fact, he had not been in the US in over a year!).

There was also a bit of a shift in what was available. Madagascar for instance does not have any safe shipping methods, and with the borders closed, there’s no new inventory. Sri Lanka meanwhile is shipping out a lot (though much of it to Hong Kong). Burma is a political mess, so there’s no production there and Brazil is shut down. But there are exports through Tanzania.

Aside from this, the shows had a fun old school “ad hoc” feeling to them.From what one vendor told me, many people exhibited, and also attended, on very short notice. Information gets around by word of mouth. The first weekend might be slow because the buyers are checking out what there is, but then they are letting other buyers know that there’s inventory, and then those buyers fly or drive out for the second week. That way, the shows gain momentum over the course of the 2-2.5 weeks they are running.

And which shows were open? Here’s my list: 22nd Street show, Pueblo Show, Mineral City, JOGS, and Inn Suites at Tucson City Center (which goes by a different name almost every year). There was also a show next to the Pueblo show but I didn’t go to that. All the shows were pretty much “open air”, either in huge tents or in well ventilated motel rooms that were open from both sides. Many attendees and vendors were vaccinated so the atmosphere was more relaxed than I’ve seen since March 2020. It was a nice vibe and I was so happy to be out there. I was sorry to hear that the AGTA was not running with only 14 people signing up, but the parking lot at the convention center was under construction anyway, and with so much short notice attendance, I don’t see how the more expensive shows could have pulled it off, organizationally speaking. That meant that the vendors with high value inventory (which requires the security of an AGTA show) could not exhibit, or at least they couldn’t exhibit high value goods.

But let’s talk some more about my purchases. If you followed my YouTube postings, then you already have a good idea. I got a lot of black opals this time; the material was just so wonderful I couldn’t resist! I purchased a new batch of Benitoite (nothing large though, my biggest is a matched pair just under 3mm), some Rhodochrosite from the Colorado Sweet Home mine - each time they blow up a pocket my vendor gets the pick so every few months there will be a batch. So hopefully there will be more rhodo to come.


Black Opal


While in Tucson, I also got the chance to interview Adam Sawiki from A & S Opals and we had a lovely chat about Australian opals:

You already know about the Gahnite, but I found a few more cabs and even some gahnite melee that I will be listing out when I get a chance.  I bought more unheated sapphire pairs, both blue and purple/lavender, and a gorgeous pair of white sapphire stars. I also found some lovely tourmaline from Afghanistan, and even some older tourmaline elongated pears for earrings. That material is no longer available and has correspondingly gone up in price but I love those long narrow earring sets! 

Gahnite Cabochons


White Star Sapphires


Indicolite Tourmaline


Bicolor Tourmaline from Afghanistan


Green Tourmaline Matched Pair of Elongated Pears


And because I love those types of earrings so much, I couldn’t help fall in love with this opalized wood that has varying shades of blues and greens.  I bought a small boatload of matched pairs that would make lovely long earrings.  They can be set in a simple pronged wire frame with an accent stone on top that’s rare, like paraiba, or demantoid, or benitoite – this would make a larger earring, yet with rare gems.

Yeah for Tucson! Let’s hope it’s a sign of a true turnaround... 

In case you missed it on YouTube, here is a short video previewing some of my newest acquisitions:

And here are a few more of my fave Tucson treasures:

Princess Cut Ceylon Spinel (Sold)


Lavender Spinel Cushion (Sold)


Lavender Spinel Cushion - Sold


Peridot Round from Pakistan


Matched Pair of Pink Mahenge Spinel


Burma Spinel Cabochon


I also found some other really interesting pieces that are mostly a bit of a departure from the fine rare gems you are used to seeing from me, but I thought they were quite lovely and had to share as well:


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A New Year, a New Dawn... And A New Tucson

A New Year, a New Dawn... And A New Tucson

Ok so it’s a kind of mini-Tucson.  There will be several shows: 22nd Street Show, Mineral City, Pueblo Show, JOGS, Holidome show, and others.  And YES, unless something very drastic happens in the next few days, I will be there on the weekend of 9th April for a couple of days.  There will not be any international vendors of course, which is always the fun part for me.  I see many of the US vendors throughout the year as they are in NY, and/or I get shipments from them.  However, as you know, we try to curate special pieces and small melees selections, not move entire parcels regardless of quality, and this has been tough to do in the past year.  Like many other sellers, we’ve had to rely on what is being sent to us by mail and occasionally commit to larger purchases to keep supplies moving.


Platinum Spinel, 4mm Round


Speaking of supplies, many are running a bit low these days and prices have risen accordingly.  Just last week one of my vendors asked me where he could get larger peridot (really, peridot???).  He had sold out! 


Kornerupine from Tanzania


Countries like Madagascar, Mozambique, Tanzania and Brazil are not producing gems; export from these countries has largely been via direct travel, not the mail system.  Because some countries cannot afford the vaccine, or because they have corrupt governments that deny COVID’s existence, many of these countries are getting hammered by the third wave.  Rumor has it that the death of Tanzania’s president was due to COVID (he claimed that it wasn’t real), but the official story is that it was a heart attack.  My friend Doreen in Kenya told me she’s stuck in Nairobi with no job because the University is closed, and the roads to the country, where she and her son would be safe, are blocked.  My Paraiba gemstone supplier has placed calls to Brazil and the story is much the same.  There’s zero production, anyone who can hide is hiding. Burma is in the midst of a military coup, and Bangkok, Thailand, the main cutting center of colored gems, is not getting its usual influx of rough. Vietnam is closed, both in and out, and Vietnam’s gem trade has always relied on cross-border travelers.  So, we all have to make do with what there is.


Burma Spinel Oval Pair



Madagascar Sapphire Mismatched Pair


But yours truly always holds back a few treasures, and I get contacted by my overseas vendors regularly, so I am managing to keep things trickling in.  I can’t wait to hear Tucson news, and I hope to do some live interviews.

Now, specifics: I have made an appointment with my benitoite vendor and until then I am putting up what I had held back. I’m down to melees though, so don’t expect to see anything else before Tucson.  I hope to get a few bigger pieces there but I will only be shown a selection based on my requests.  The production is divided up among those of us who specialize in benitoite (that’s just a handful of US sellers) and usually doesn’t make it to the general public.


Benitoite Pair


I will of course see Dudley Blauwet and hope to score more spinel and more unheated sapphire pairs, as I am down to my last one on Etsy, and there’s nothing left here, either.  Dudley has had to match them from his stock because he has been outbid by the Hong Kong market so he’s not able to purchase more for the time being.  Larger than 5mm pairs are next to impossible to source unless they are already in the United States.  There are available pairs, but they go at a premium.


Afghanistan Spinel 4mm Round


As I mentioned above, Paraiba tourmaline supply is way down with no new materials coming out of Brazil until they figure out what to do about COVID.  I am holding back some smaller stuff; email me for more info if you are interested.  I can still get melees here in NYC.  


Paraiba Pear


Some more smaller silver and platinum spinels will be available in the shop soon, as I am processing those as we speak.  From what I was able to gather, the true greys from Burma – the ones that have little to no secondary colors – have become scarce.  There used to be oodles of this stuff because it was used as practice material when teaching cutters, then discarded.  But a couple of years ago it had a sudden surge in popularity and now it’s hard to get.  Go figure.

I expect to be able to source more black opals as one of my opal suppliers is in New York State and he has much of the rough here in the US also.  Plus, you can still ship from Australia.  Not sure I will be buying any, as I still have some material here, as well as boulder opal.


Free-form Boulder Opal


My special treat for you, however, is not going to come from Tucson.  It’s in the mail to me, from overseas: a small parcel of faceted gahnite!  I’ve never had it or seen it, so your guess is as good as mine regarding how it looks in real life.  A vendor I know listed 4 parcels and 3 were gone before I could get a keystroke down in my email.  I secured the last parcel, and this will be a one-off.  It was spotted on the Bangkok gem market, bought, cut, and now it is owned by me and only one other person.  Gahnite is from Pakistan and loosely belongs to the spinel family. It is ocean blue with some hints of teal, good saturation, not too dark.  It is cobalt-bearing and open color but not neon.  Just a nice color from what I can tell.  The per carat price will be about $1500 and the pieces will range from .1-.22 carats.

And that’s it for now, folks. More reports will come directly from Tucson.  Wish me luck and safe travels.  (If you are concerned, I have an AirBnB to myself and will be cooking for myself, all the shows are outdoors or in larger tents, and the weather will be nice, so there will be plenty of ventilation.  Arizona has just dropped all COVID restrictions which means I will be extra careful and wear a mask at all times, regardless of the rules.)  

If there is anything in particular you would like me to keep an eye out for, email me before I leave for Tucson, on April 8th, and let me know!


Coming Soon: Emerald, Sapphire,18 kt Yellow Gold



Rhodochrosite, Paraiba, Green Gold


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Fortune Favors the Brave: Treasures Unearthed at The Denver Show During a Pandemic

Fortune Favors the Brave: Treasures Unearthed at The Denver Show During a Pandemic

Somewhat belatedly, here’s my review from the Denver gem shows:

I arrived two days before the shows started because I was given a "Vendor Pass" so that I could get into the show at the Crowne Plaza during setup day.  This was so that I could pick gems in peace without crowding and so that I could get the best picks.  Dudley had reserved some parcels of demantoid garnet for me from his secret stash, so I was able to secure some unheated pairs and a few carats of the deep vibrant greens in 2mm rounds.  He also recut some spinel that I had gotten in Madagascar but didn’t know quite what to do with. Finally, Dudley had set aside some recut cobalt spinel but those are already sold out. Apparently, those were acquired some time ago but were very poorly cut so he had to have them reprocessed (and ended up tossing a bunch that was useless), and was able to make new parcels. 

In addition to those buys, I got more Russian emeralds along with lavender, purple and blue sapphires (the blues are mainly heated just because there’ve been requests for the popping colors). I bought a few spinels as well, some white sapphire kites (so cute — especially for earrings), and a few other odds and ends. 

I went to pay a visit to New Era Gems as well but there was not much new material. Apparently, Steve, the owner, had traveled to Thailand in February and has since been stuck there, so there are no new goods, or not very much. 

I saw one of my opal dealers and got several black opals, all cut in Australia. This, too, was the result of someone getting stuck somewhere due to COVID-19. This is my US opal guy from upstate NY, not the Aussie guy whom I have not seen since February (but who is doing well, I hear).  My US opal guy got stuck in Australia for 4 months. He essentially traveled around illegally because they were on shutdown and there were considerably high fines for traveling during the shutdown (starting at $1000 for the first offense). Along with many others, he mined illegally in small groups in the outback.  He cut his gems there as well, which he doesn’t normally do, but I gathered from his enthusiasm about getting stuck, that it was overall a very positive experience. Now his mom and dad have him back and I think they are pleased. Younger people are always up for the experience of course, and in the outback with so few others around, I guess the risk of getting caught was reasonably low.

Finally, I went to my benitoite vendor and got some newly processed material. He explained that after Tucson, when everything shut down, his rough ended up stuck in China for some time but he finally got some shipments again. He had bought his benitoite rough several years ago when the mines were still active. He works up several carats each show and parcels them out in small batches, so he doesn’t run out (since the mines are all closed now). I think that’s a smart move. Prices for those melees stay fairly constant as does supply, as very few buyers only get a few boxes every few months. The same vendor also has Rhodochrosite and he explained that the Sweet Home mines are producing a bit again after a new pocket was found. Those gems are super soft though, so I am always reluctant to buy them, but as long as I don’t have to set them for you I am happy to get more. The best way to set them is with yellow gold or platinum and then two prongs pushed down before sliding them in sideways, then bending the other two prongs gently. They are definitely not good for rings.

I have attached a video for you that I took with Dudley on my last day there.  He talks quite a bit about the state of the industry.  In Dudley’s view, there will be long term consequences for the gem industry, and many of the gem dealers and jewelers who were just hanging on might not make it.  Dudley talked about his future travel plans, his views about Tucson 2021, and at the end there is a very interesting bit about how he met his "family" in Ratnapura Sri Lanka, how he groomed them to become his suppliers, and where things stand nowadays.  Dudley talks very quickly so there are a lot of little bits in between, for instance about how he got started buying unheated gems and more.  Enjoy watching.

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Travel During a Pandemic: How I Got Around the Denver Shows Safely

Travel During a Pandemic: How I Got Around the Denver Shows Safely

Travel certainly has changed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in certain respects, this has been for the better.  While my heart goes out to the travel and restaurant industries, I don’t miss the long security lines at Newark Airport or the packed flights –- my flight was about 80% full but I was given a 24-hour warning from the airline in case I preferred a different flight.  Kudos to United Airlines for cleaning all planes between flights (no more hurriedly swapping out passengers from one flight to the next within the same half hour and finding the trash from whoever had your spot an hour ago stuffed into your seat pocket.)  

Social distancing was urged everywhere in Newark and in Denver.  I appreciated the zrero-tolerance-but-still-friendly announcements about masks: you'll get a first warning, then a second warning, & if there is a third infraction, you will be reported to the Captain with the possibility of being denied a future flight. And while the sealed snack pack with pretzels, water and a cookie was a bit skimpy, it was announced well ahead of time that there would not be meals for purchase in-flight but that Newark airport had availability of touch-free shopping, should you wish to stock up beforehand. Additional advantages and time-savers were 1) the lack of waiting on the runway at Newark Airport and 2) we boarded back to front/deboarded front to back, 6 rows at a time.  It’s amazing what kind of congestion among people, cars, and planes we were willing to find acceptable pre-pandemic, just for the sake of saving some money!

My hotel experience has changed as well.  I booked Woolley’s for the first time because it was within walking distance to the show and I liked that it was both four star and independently owned.  Room service, as it was, is now gone thanks to COVID, but everything you could want or need was available upon request.  Towels, trash bags, extra coffee pods, soap, shampoo, etc... all were delivered to your door within minutes.  Breakfast was “grab and go” and barely above McDonald’s standards: McMuffin-esque egg with sausage and drippy cheese, a piece of fruit and a coffee.  That was a real downer for me since I’m a big breakfast person and one of my factors in hotel choices is a well-rounded, all-inclusive breakfast with fresh items and omelets made to order – something Woolley’s is actually known for, in normal times. Nothing that comes out of a carton for me!  If they can cook dinner and offer room service for dinner as well as provide generously spaced out hotel restaurant service, what makes breakfast such a problem?  But I let it go.  Instead, upon discovery of only dried milk packets for my morning coffee (a total no no for me and a reason to avoid any Holiday Inn), I went to my Amazon app and ordered a Prime Delivery: a couple of hours later, my fridge was stocked with fresh turkey, cheese, bread, salad, almond milk, seltzer and a couple of treats for me.  Delivery was to my door, contact-free.  

The pool was closed, and thankfully this was announced on the website or I would have been pretty disappointed.  But the gym was open, by appointment only, with frequent cleaning. Special key provided and gloves required.  So all in all, a very good experience as far as safety from contagion.  Even if I was a worrywart, I would have said I felt safe. But I’m more of a “calculated risk” person and so the better description from my point of view was that I estimated the risk of getting sick as very low, and therefore acceptable for travel, and I found my estimations to be better than expected.  My restaurant experience was the same (25% occupancy for indoors in Colorado, and lots of space), otherwise I just walked everywhere except for one Uber to the other gem show.  Mask compliance was as high as NYC in my anecdotal experience.  And NYC has the highest compliance rate in the US.

At the gem show itself, the booths had double the amount of space between them, and everyone I know (and really everyone there period), was extremely conscientious including temperature checks at the entrance and crowd control.  My Benitoite supplier did private appointments only and immediately upon entering asked what my comfort level was in terms of having some chips, or getting a coffee, space between us etc.  Since I expect to travel to Germany in a few days and need to protect my mom and not risk any positive COVID test, I was grateful that I was asked.  The only downside for the vendor in terms of my wearing the mask was that he’s hard of hearing, and since COVID he has realized his extreme reliance on reading lips in addition to listening.  We agreed that with 6 feet of separation, I would lower my mask when I spoke and he would not so I was safe in terms of travel to Germany.  We also kept the window open for ventilation.  

Aside: This fall, my significant other has started teaching again at Tufts.  He’s one of perhaps 15% of their professors who teach in-class, so he is in an empty building, teaches 20 students in a lecture hall, and gets tested weekly.  Because many of his students are foreign but residing in the US, I ordered him some masks with a cut out window so they can see his lips.  I saw on Etsy that those are marketed for those who are hard of hearing.  I’m going to suggest those to my vendor.  International students, by the way, were largely not readmitted to the US if they left before COVID.  Maybe none of them were but I am not sure.

For a little appendix (blogs are only supposed to be one page long), here’s the travel experience of my friend Jochen who was in Tanzania last week to source minerals. Jochen is 75 and has diabetes as a result of spinal meningitis contracted about a decade ago. So he has to always calculate risk, COVID or no. He certainly can’t be stuck in a hospital somewhere in Africa where, sadly, there are few to no respirators.  

But he also has the travel bug and he loves his rocks, so when Tanzania decided to be one of the very few countries open to any traveler, because as the president “explained”, there’s no COVID-19 in Tanzania, Jochen started to evaluate his risk.  Obviously, Tanzania has just as many or as few COVID-19 cases as the rest of Africa, despite what anyone says.  Granted, considering the shorter life expectancy of 60-65 in Tanzania with less obesity and less smoking as well, there’s also a chance of seeing fewer obvious cases.  Testing doesn’t really exist there, so when all is said and done,  it may sadly have to be measured by an increase in death rates as opposed to an increase in positive tests.  80% of COVID deaths are in people over 65 years old, so my very simple math says that Tanzania should see way fewer deaths than the US and perhaps not a marked increase of deaths over other current diseases, of which there are plenty there.

That said, a 75-year-old German with diabetes has no less, but perhaps even more risk of contracting COVID in Tanzania, so he has to think differently from (a) public announcements and (b) the average younger person’s point of view.  And he did.  Jochen decided that his trip should be no longer than the minimum incubation period so that he would not end up sick in Tanzania: 3 days.  He took a young and healthy travel buddy with him, traveled business class for extra space, refused all room service in the hotel which was occupied by 4 people total (easy social distancing).  He shopped for two days in a specially rented room in the newly established trade building – the only place where wholesale gem trading is now allowed.  He brought a box of masks for anyone who came near him, and only his broker was allowed in the room – with mask.  Moustache, the broker, laughed about it at first (no COVID, you know…) but as Jochen made clear, “no mask”, “no deal”, and therefore “no brokerage fee” was in the end very convincing, especially after months and months without any foreign buyers.  

Jochen wore safety goggles (so no minute particles would get into his eyes and he wouldn’t be tempted to touch his eyes either,) he wore an N3 mask, and he sanitized frequently.  He was rewarded with several hundred very nice specimens and a negative COVID test in Germany so he returned happy!  But he’s quarantining for a few more days just in case...  Tanzanian sellers were probably over the moon that someone came to buy, and Jochen now has new stuff for the Munich show in October. I guess one just has to want it badly enough so one will find a way!  Perhaps not a general rule to follow, but I’m so glad it worked out for him. 

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The Shows Must Go On: Heading to Denver Shows During COVID

The Shows Must Go On: Heading to Denver Shows During COVID

Yes, I’m going to actually do this!  

I am heading out to Colorado on September 9th for four days to attend two of the shows I usually go to.  The “Denver Show” and the Colorado Mineral and Fossil Show are still scheduled to take place, but in a diminished capacity.  In addition to that, some of the vendors that I usually buy from are renting suites at the Crowne Plaza where the Mineral Show is happening and are taking private appointments.


With international trade being severely disrupted and mining at a virtual standstill in some locations, US vendors have to do what they can to trade inventory to serve their clients.  This isn’t all bad actually because many of us stock up too much to keep the goods and money flowing to and from the far corners of the world. It’s important to have variety, to show new inventory, and to keep up relationships with mining countries.  But when that’s not possible many vendors dig deeper into their safe and find materials they have not yet cut, or that need recutting, and that hadn’t been touched for years.  There can be the occasional deal on higher priced items as some vendors feel it is time to dig a bit deeper into the gemstone piggy bank and trade some inventory for cash flow.  Depending on availability, this is not a bad time to buy.  I will see some of my favorite vendors in Denver, including Dudley Blauwet, who lives there anyway.  I may catch up with some other friends of mine like Brett Kosnar who lives in Denver as well.


I’m not sure what kind of inventory I will see, but I do know some new sapphires have come in from Sri Lanka via various backroads.  I am getting some more spinel as well, more Vietnamese materials this time, but I’ve also been promised some baguettes and other lovely cuts.  I should get some more Benitoite, and the rest will be a surprise for you and me both.  I will keep the social media channels open and advertise as much as I have time for.

Obviously I’m going by myself this time, and it won’t be the usual social event for me.  My German friend Jochen Hintze from Jentsch minerals is not coming – in fact he is going to Tanzania at around the same time.  I will report on this when he’s back (safely).  It’s a risky trip but he’s put a lot of safety measures in place.

Speaking of, in case you are concerned, here’s how I’ve arranged things for myself: I travel economy plus, empty row right now (and I can switch rows if needed or upgrade), I take the airport shuttle to my hotel, which is in walking distance from the show so I will not need a car or any car service.  My hotel, Wooley’s, is open for breakfast and dinner and offers room service.  I have a fridge, microwave and coffee maker.  Obviously I will wear a mask, and for the occasional encounter where my opposite refuses to engage in the same courtesy, I keep it beyond six feet.  I can’t believe that not everyone is 100% convinced of the value of the mask.  Even a simple cloth mask lowers the chance of transmission by 40%, which can reduce and keep the virus at below pandemic level within less than 6 weeks.  The shows have double wide rows this year, social distancing should be easy – in NYC on public transportation and indoors people have duly been practicing it for months and it’s success should be obvious.  There will be many sanitizing stations and most of the areas have somewhat higher ceilings for space.  The Denver Show is mostly in very well ventilated buildings.  I’ll have to take an Uber there but that will be the only time.  I expect that the local “just looking” crowd that usually shows up but doesn’t spend money will be largely absent so that those of us who come to actually buy will not experience much crowding.  Also, both shows will limit capacity on the first day I’m told.  Lastly, I’ve arranged for some private meetings.

It’s all going to be very curious, to say the least.  Am I worried?  No, not really, as I think logic suggests that with the proper measures in place your chances of getting sick are extremely slim.  Also, I’m not volunteering in a hospital or anything like that.  Colorado’s numbers are low and remain that way, which is good.  Let’s just hope no forest fires get in the way, or travel is disrupted by hurricanes in the south.

We live in interesting times.

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The Show Must Go On: Vegas in New Jersey

The Show Must Go On: Vegas in New Jersey

As advertised in our previous newsletter, we have decided that even though the Las Vegas show is cancelled, we will source some fun new product for you and have our annual Vegas sale anyway!  To be honest, we are all starting to get antsy here in the epicenter.  New York vendors are slowly going back to their offices a couple of days a week, though they do not take personal appointments.  Many of the buildings are open so that those who have rented space to operate small workshops can go in, access their safes, their machinery, and to receive/make shipments.  They have to make rent, if nothing else!  And while I very much miss physical gem shopping, I confess I am seriously “over” Vegas.  Gambling is boring to me, the food is overpriced, and its waaaay too hot! 

So, instead of Vegas shopping, I am doing it virtually, like most of you.  Overseas packages are trickling in, and my vendors are sending me emails, texts, or WhatsApp video for me to peruse.  They all know my taste, and I know their product, so I’ve arranged with a handful of them to get some brand sparkling new inventory!  Some of it will be on short term memo, some long term memo, and some of it I will purchase outright. 

As you read this blog, I have a favor to ask: if there’s anything you would like to see, tell me asap, as some of these packages are coming to me in the next few days.  As I am getting shipments for “selection” (meaning not yet memo and I pick what I want to buy), I can show you items without you needing to commit right away!  But please act fast.  Additionally, if you are getting private photos from me of gems that may get returned to the vendor, I ask for your discretion in sharing them so that if the material goes to another seller at a later point, that person does not feel undercut.  Because yes, rare goods don’t necessarily get pitched by one person so all of us sellers have to be respectful of that.  Whatever is on my website, on the other hand, is exclusive to our shop and public.

And what, you may ask, am I getting?...  Here’s an overview for you:

Paraibas: despite previous indications to the contrary, a small parcel made it from Hong Kong to NY and a subset of that parcel is arriving here shortly.  I get to make a very quick pick and then I have to turn around the parcel and ship it back so others can pick as well.  I’m getting faceted gems only as the cabochons don’t seem to be moving in my shop.  And Brazilian only, none of that overpriced Mozambique material...

Custom Ring Featuring Paraiba and Sapphires
Green and Blue Paraiba Pendant

Ceylon Sapphire: I hit a home run a few of weeks go with three nice bright blue rounds flying out of the shop at record speed!  So I’m getting a few more, as well as some matched pairs.  I’m keeping sizes a bit smaller so that these don’t become big ticket items for you in this ever-changing world.  I’ve asked for purples and lavenders as well, but there aren’t pairs coming, just single slightly larger gems. 

Pink Sapphire and Silver Spinel Ring
Ceylon Sapphire

Other sapphire: I’ve asked for some Montanas and some smaller Madagascan 4x3 pear shapes.  I will see what turns up, as that package is being prepared for me now.

Tanzanite: one of my vendors has old stock of unheated material as well as some nicer rich colored blues, I’m getting a little of that and I am getting more purple garnet.

Spinel: As always, this category has to be broken up into locations, as each is unique.

  • Mahenge: I’ve asked for some but I do not know what’s coming. It will be a surprise to you and me both.
  • Mozambique: that’s the silky looking pink stuff, there will be some singles available.
  • Burmese: there’s some melee coming my way, and I have asked for one or two bigger stones but that is still being negotiated.  I will have a few red round pairs available in the 3.5-4mm range, and some more singles in 2-3mm.
  • Vietnamese, my new favorite: yes coming, possibly more single pieces.  Lilacs, lavenders, and I think down the line (later in June) a little surprise in a reasonable price category.  (Nope, I’m not giving it away!)
  • Cobalt: possibly, there’s some material being recut and I am waiting to hear if and how it will make its way to the US from Bangkok (it’s in with a larger parcel of color change garnet I had bought in Madagascar that needed recutting).  Same on hauyne (the other cobalt spinel, lol).  I get approached about that stuff through various channels, so if someone has it I usually find out.  But that too is a “still in the works” thing and may not happen right now.
Hauyne Custom Ring with Paraiba
Hauyne and Pink Sapphire Layout

Emerald: my New York connection for Colombian material just sent me photos of some nice matched pairs, and a single round is waiting to be listed.  Since I can’t go to Colombia right now and probably won’t until next spring, I will stick with my previous source.  He’s always had excellent material and prices anyway.  Some Russian material is making it to me as well.  

Custom Ring with Russian and Afghani Emeralds

In further news, I am still hoarding some Tucson gems that you may see online or you can request private photos: there’s a little bit of Benitoite and some more Demantoid Garnet.  I have not listed either because I will not get more until next year, most likely. 

Ok that’s all for now, folks.  To be continued!  Stay well, stay safe.


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Tucson Gem Haul: Find Out What's Coming to the Shop, Before it Gets There!

Tucson Gem Haul: Find Out What's Coming to the Shop, Before it Gets There!

My panshir emerald melee is now sorted (see below,) I'll be offering sizes from 1mm-2mm in small batches.  Some small Russian emeralds are coming up.

Panshir Emerald Melee
Panshir Emerald Melee

I also secured more beautiful boulder and black opal from Australia.  More sizes and colors of sapphire and ruby melee being listed as we speak, as well as more Vietnamese spinel including some collectors sizes that I'm super happy with.  The lavenders and lilac colors are very hard to get, and to me, very unusual because they have almost no notes of secondary gray. 

Vietnamese Lavender Spinel
Vietnamese Lavender Spinel

What I didn't buy much of was tourmaline - prices seemed very high at the moment.  I did buy paraiba melee of course but prices on those have gone up as well.  I was surprised that there still were any.  A couple more larger paraibas will be listed in upcoming weeks.

Burmese Red Spinel
Burmese Red Spinel

For more new gems, be sure to follow us on Youtube!  Here are a few of the latest videos, showcasing our brand new gems, straight from Tucson: 



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Greetings from Chilly Tucson!

Greetings from Chilly Tucson!
Updates on Yvonne's gem buying trip to the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show!  Find out what she's finding as soon as she gets it -- and there's still time to let her know what she can purchase just for you! Continue reading

Pack your Virtual Bags: You’re Coming to Tucson with Us!

Pack your Virtual Bags: You’re Coming to Tucson with Us!

Hooker Emerald Brooch

Hooker Emerald Brooch, designed by Tiffany & Co, previously exhibited at Tucson Gem & Mineral Show & worth $5,000,000 USD!!!

I can't believe how quickly the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show is coming around this year: I got back from Germany last Thursday night, where I spent a lot of quality time with my mom, and then I realized: I leave in THREE WEEKS!  I changed my Tucson travel dates this year because several shows start before my big ones (i.e. AGTA and GJX shows.) The AGTA gives booths only to their own vendors, and the GJX has a long waiting list to get a spot, so gem dealers like my opal vendors and some of my spinel vendors attend some of these other shows instead.

Here then is the big question: is there really anything new this year?  How’s this even possible?  Well it actually is possible thanks to new finds, such as a spinel find in Vietnam last summer; with lucky buys from my vendors, and with lucky buys from yours truly, those will arrive from overseas in February.

Let’s start with, well, ME.  As my friend Jochen from Jentsch Minerals was just in Madagascar, I bought some high quality grandidierite through him.  This time the gems are a bit larger, but not so big that they will break the bank.  On my WhatsApp the colors looked juicy and the gems sparkly, but my friend Gael is still learning to take adequate video (and admittedly he doesn’t have a state-of-the-art cell phone).  

In other ways, too, my “Tucson buying” has already started, as several of my vendors have given me the opportunity to make pre-show selections.  I have several boxes of Burma spinel melees on my desk already.  You will see these roll out in the next three weeks.  If these move well, I may stock up!


I have also negotiated to buy up an old production of Vietnamese lavender and lilac spinel pear shapes, small sizes, good for earrings, stacking rings, and I will come up with some other designs for them as well.  I will be able to price those fairly reasonably.  I was hoping for more lilacs and neon pinks in other sizes but right now that market is wiped clean.  But, some larger purples and lavenders are an option for me.  I’ve seen most of what will be presented via WhatsApp, it’s just a question of what I want to put aside...These pieces would be more expensive though, figure on several thousand for one piece since they also weigh a couple of carats, so it multiplies out in two ways (price and carat weight).

Related to this, I of course, keep getting asked about paraiba.  Having scoured this market for years, this is what I know: there are about 6 decent paraiba vendors in all of Tucson.  One or two are Brazilian with outrageous prices and they don’t allow you to memo gems.  I don’t buy there.  I wouldn’t be able to offer a return and the price would be high for that.  There’s another vendor, not Brazilian, who has top (top top top) quality pieces but those are in the 30K and up range, so I haven’t ever bought those.  But, they are amazing!  Another vendor from the US used to have stuff but he’s fairly sold down and I’ve passed on the rest.  The final two with anything but crumbly overpriced stuff are here in NY and I see their selection before it goes to Tucson.  I have three pieces that I am holding back on for now, available only upon request, and for the moment at least, I have no plans to buy in Tucson directly.  For me personally, and therefore for you, there’s no advantage in doing so.  If you have requests, please let me know and I will source if I can.  For the rest, as you know there will be a sale coming up, so you can buy the stock I still have.

Regarding the melee paraiba, there is a little bit left with my melee vendor, and I source it as needed.  I would buy it up but it would tie up all my cash flow, so that’s not an option for me, but production of these ended years ago.

In other news, I am negotiating for a small production of benitoite before it hits Tucson (it sells out on the first day)!  I was also shown some Vietnamese ruby and sapphire melees that I am interested in, but I haven’t made a decision yet...

I am going to stock up more on the high quality moonstone this time.  The main cost there is from cutting, not lack of availability.  If there are any requests, please let me know as I will be a very busy bee this year!  

The other thing I will stock up on are ruby and sapphire melees in all colors and sizes.  This is pretty much an all day thing, or a several day thing, as I have to match down suites.  The vendor has pre sorted parcels, i.e. 5 shades of lavender rounds in the 2-2.5mm size.  He will then sift out, say, 2.2mm from the shade I like best, but then I still have to match them.  Sometimes I think there are as many lavender and purple shades of sapphire as there are stars (or maybe I’m seeing stars as time passes).  Matching these is a job only for the obsessed.  So it’s fine for me…

Let me list here what I can get, and if you want to help me, in a manner of speaking, let me know what you might like, i.e. size, shape, amount.  Otherwise, I will just pick what I think is best.  

Blue sapphire: shades of blue, vibrant to light to dark, 1-3mm rounds mainly but other shapes also.
Ruby and pink sapphire: same idea, from light pink to deep pink to ruby color, all pre-sorted.
Lavender sapphire: light to medium, not super dark, but nothing in 1mm.  1.8 is the smallest I’ve seen.
I can also get teal, tealish-green sapphire, and I can get other shapes: 4x3 ovals, marquis, small pears.

Anything aside from lavender is heated or a mix between heat and no heat.  Lavender is usually from Madagascar and is not heated, just because at the moment, that’s the main supply line for this shade.

I’m sure I’m forgetting something, but for now this is all I can think of.

One final note.  Photos: I will of course keep you posted on Instagram and Facebook, and I will put out as many listings as I can manage.  What I will not do, however, is publicly post photos of gems that I haven’t bought yet or of selections at booths.  I don’t usually do that anyway, but as this has become a widespread practice, here’s my two cents. Vendors don’t like it, especially for finer goods.  Once a gem is “out there and been seen”, possibly with exact specs, those gems are kind of “spoiled”.  And if several people show the same gems, it gives a false sense of availability.  

There are also small sellers that pre-sell goods based on vendor photos at a low markup.  But they can’t offer a good return policy and they run the risk of selling you something that is no longer available once you pay.    

On Instagram, I’ve also even seen photos from wholesale websites (taken without permission,) sometimes shown by several different vendors, but when you ask, the gem isn’t available.  I’ve witnessed a small retail jeweler doing so on his website, and I’ve even had my own photos taken and reused both on Etsy and on Instagram.  I’ve even seen sellers photograph gems in vendors' boxes with the price on the front, thereby signaling that they were selling without a markup, when in reality, wholesale vendors provide (sometimes steep) discounts on that product.  
As much as I love the internet as a selling platform, I find that it provides a lot of confusing information, and I don’t want to add to the confusion.  Whatever I have for sale is either (a) mine, or (b) given to me on legitimate memo and just for me to sell for the duration, and (c) to the best of my ability, has not been in the hands of other vendors.  Caveat on that: sometimes I decide to show a gem that I co-own, or that I know is on a friend’s website, or that I was told has been shown around.  That’s ok, as long as I can make that decision.  But increasingly, I have decided to forego some selling opportunities because the gem has “been around the block already,” possibly at a multitude of prices.  So if vendors show me their rare goods, I usually ask them directly.  That way I can give full disclosure to my own clients so that they can make the best decision for themselves.

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From Venice to The Venetian: CRD Heads to Vegas

From Venice to The Venetian: CRD Heads to Vegas

Still jet lagged from my recent trip to Venice, I am already packing my bags again!  The Las Vegas AGTA show starts Thursday the 29th and guess who will be the first at the door?  😊  We are all curious to see how this year’s show will do as there’s been some reorganization.  The AGTA has moved back to its earlier location, the Las Vegas Convention center, and the JCK will be at the Sands Expo and Venetian, with a new special section dedicated to colored gems and diamonds.  As a result of this split between locations, some vendors have chosen to just exhibit at the JCK instead, others exhibit at both.  So, we will be shuttling back and forth, checking out what’s new at both shows.


Those of you who keep a keen eye on our shop even when things are quiet (like when yours truly is overdosing on gelato while sitting in a gondola), you will have noticed the recent quick turnover of several Mahenge spinels from old stock.  We’ve seen a recent and well-deserved flare up in demand for this gorgeous gem and have done some early sourcing just this week.  We will feature our treasures on our site in the few days – as quickly as we can do photos and listings.




Jaimeen from Prima gems let me rummage around the older boxes amidst their Vegas packing frenzy and I’ve unearthed a few real “gems” – no pun intended.  Two of the pieces I grabbed, a round and a cushion, were actually handpicked to be featured in their JCK booth with mainly has jewelry (whereas the AGTA has mainly gems and some beads) – they were in a different tray and I asked if I could have them.  I also lucked out with three small tsavorites, also old stock, from Jaimeen’s private stash.  “You work with those,” he said.  Too nice to go to the larger wholesalers – or some such.  Many of the larger companies that Prima supplies to may not (this is my view) distinguish between the nice and the superb when they manufacture jewelry.  So, if my timing is right, I can get some of the true standouts from larger parcels before they move on to the manufacturers.

My Paraiba vendor also called me just before I went off to Europe because a new batch of blue glowies had arrived from Brazil and he wanted me to have first dibs.  The parcel hadn’t even been processed yet; he was still doing the basic sorting into price categories.  You see, these vendors have to negotiate on larger and unsorted parcels, they make a price, buy, then do the more refined grading.  Sometimes these negotiations are just over the best pieces in the parcel where those need to cover costs and most of the profits, the rest is extra.  So, for instance, a parcel may contain 3 paraibas in the 3-4 carat range that might be valued at $250,000.  Those can be the focus of the negotiations, and the small pieces are graded more precisely later – and it’s those smaller parcels CRD tucks into.  We’ve been putting these gems out slowly over the last month but also held back some, so watch for new listings of Paraiba.

Speaking of Paraiba, I also plan to stock up on some more melees.  The vendor prices have gone up for those – and they were never cheap to begin with – but they said they’d hold the price for me for a little longer, unless someone comes in and makes an offer for all of it.  In any case, while that stock has been selling down slowly, they have told me and I am sure it is true: there’s no additional melee being cut, so what’s left is what there is.  I am going to avoid buying 1mm sizes because those ARE already higher in price, even for me, but I can get 1.3, 1.5 or 1.6 and 1.8mm pieces as long as my purchase makes a full carat.  Everyone else must buy a full carat of any size they want – this is a seller’s market after all.  But I often get treated more nicely, as it were, because my purchases are relatively small but consistent.  Plus, I’d never ask to memo melee and they know that, nor do I pay late.  The rule for a small buyer like me is to always pay small purchases immediately and do so on a consistent enough basis that the vendors can count on this income. 

What else will I buy?  Well not sure.  I think ruby melee and emerald melee, as well as more smaller sizes is on my list.  Also, I will look to get more spinel melee in different colors (some of you have already noticed that I got a pre-Vegas shipment of the platinum color and I have another light grey to be listed).  I’m not sure about the calibrated Jedi’s, the largest size I can get is 2.5 and I have that, but I will be there on the first day and the vendor will probably hold some back for me if I let them know early.

Is there anything else you are interested in?  Just shoot us a note, pre orders are best but we will try to respond anytime!

And let me end with a few items that are not likely to stay in the shop after our sale because they are going back to the respective owners at the end of the show.  If you are eyeing any of these, please contact us, and we will re-memo them.  We always value your input as to what items are currently your faves and what you’d like to see more (or less) of, even when you aren’t necessarily buying.


8mm Trillion Green Beryl

African Sapphire Cushion Cut

10x6mm Elongated Cushion 2.38 ct Peach Sapphire Unheated Ceylon Sapphire 

1.22 ct Pear Lavender Ceylon Sapphire

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