Gemology Blog

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sainte Marie Aux Mine 26-29 June 2008

Sainte Marie Aux Mine is a small picturesque town that is located south of Strassbourg in France, close to the border of Germany. The show is called "Mineral Fossils Gems and Jewels Show". It was quite an interesting journey to Sainte Marie Aux Mine and back to Melbourne. I had to fly and take trains to Sydney, Kuala Lumpur, Paris, Strassbourg, London and back to Melbourne because all flights/trains were fully booked. All all accomodation was fully booked too.

In the 2 week trip I met the most alien and unique set of people. I had to revert to my very basic German language skills as most people pretended that they did not know English except for some youngsters.

The show was huge. It was divided into a mineral area and a cut gem area. There are hundreds of white conical topped tents setup by the organisers and a very strong and strict security force. However, the thieves were more elusive than any I saw in Australian gemshows. I was warned by my neighbouring sellers that I should be more vigilant as the place was full of theives but I only realised what they meant when we went home on the last day of the show and did our inventory. Some of the very big gems were stolen at that show.

The big wholesalers were from India, Brazil, Morocco, Germany, France, Pakistan, Australia and Belgium. Overall the show was a success and a lot of fun.
Last 2 are pictures of the house we stayed in. The 2 ladies in the other picture were our hosts, who did not understand a word we said and we did not understand anything they said. But we still had long friendly chats...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Bead & Gem Show Caulfield 17-19 May 2007

Bead & Gem show is probably the biggest beads bazaar organised in southern hemisphere. At this show we sold mostly indian bead necklaces and some loose gemstones. The necklaces were made of mostly, wood, glass, bone, seeds, shells and metal beads. These necklaces have now become more and more famous and formed a part of summer fashion after I introduced them in 2007. Pictures of the necklaces can be seen here on our website.

The show was quite a big success because of huge turnout and ofcourse good sales. Most local and national retailers and wholesalers were selling in the show.

Apart from selling, I did two training presentations of gemstone microscopes as well at the show. I am not sure what went through my mind that made me do this. I did not sell any microscopes there!

On the right are some pictures from the show.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Pictures from Waverley Gemshow 2006

Australian Black Pearls
As usual Waverley gem club good show seemed quite busy and successful. I guess two major contributing factors are gemshow location is in a moderately posh suburb of Melbourne and secondly it is organised by women. This shows that women are good communicators and advertisers...

Ok here are some pictures that I took while my family and I were shopping there:

First one from top shows Black Cultured Pearls from Cook Island. They were quite big 10-12mm, but I am not sure, sorry forgot to measure them! The oyster in the picture is a black lip oyster in which these pearls are harvested.

Closeup of Nacre of Australian Black PearlsNext photo is a closeup which shows a cut pearl. You can see the white bead in one half and bead from the other half (on the right) has been removed. It shows that the nacre is quite thick, which is good.

Bob Bubeck Selling Australian Blue SapphiresNext is GAA Gem, "Bob Bubeck" selling his Australian Sapphires. I realised he is always very positive. When asked how were the sales this time, he always replies great, even if there is not a soul in sight! Well I guess if he is not that positive all of his gemology students at GAA Melbourne would leave gemology and start selling fruit...

Beautiful gemstone specimen displayHere is a picture of a nice display (as always) of Gem minerals from "Crystal Habit" . I am sorry I did not add a bigger picture.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Gem & Mineral Treasure Market Nov-2006

Sunday 19 Nov 2006
Cheaong Park, Corner Eastfield and Bayswater Roads
Ringwood East
Melway: 50 G7

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Nunawading Club Gemshow- Victoria - October 2006

Gem Exhibition - 40th Annual
Nunawading & District Lapidary Club
Saturday 21 October 2006
Sunday 22 October 2006

Beaumont Hall
Blackburn High School
Blackburn North

Melway - 47 K7

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Snaps from Frankston Lapidary Club Gemshow 2006

I wonder why most of the gemshows in Victoria are at the end of the year. All are organised from August through to November. May be they want to get the xmas customers. But there are hardly any customers as well!

Here are some photos that I took at the gem show:

Here is Megan Clark smiling and posing for the photo. She is my Gem-2 Practical teacher from GAA, Melbourne.

Next is Grant Pearson ready to test gemstones. He also teaches at GAA. Julie sitting next to him is my class fellow in Gem 2, GAA, Melbourne.

Below is a superb fossil specimen that was on sale.

Last is Darryl from Frankston & Penansula Lapidary Club. He is sadly watching his faceted gemstone, which he has put up in the faceting competition. He is sad because he thought that it was a tourmaline until I came an told him that it was not a tourmaline but a citrine. I hope he has recovered by now.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Gemstone Show in October 2006, Melbourne

Mordialloc Gem Fair
Gemstones, Beads and Mineral Specimens
07 - 08 Oct 2006
Citizens Hall
964 Nepean Hwy

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Gem Shows Aug - Sept 2006 Melbourne Australia

Frankston and Peninsula Lapidary Club
Gem Exhibition
26-27 August 2006
Cranbourne Public Hall
South Gippsland Hwy
Melway 133 J4

Waverley Gem Club
Gem Show
16-17 Sep 2006
Brandon Park Community Center
645 Ferntree Gully Road
Glen Waverley

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Diamond Gemstone Mercedez

Just a Mercedez, Covered with Diamonds! or are these CZ, shhhhh...

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Diamond dilemma

I promised a client that I will post more information about controversies relating to Diamond marketing and selling, but was quite busy in the last month and couldn't get time out. Well here is some more info:

Diamonds were not very well known before a century ago. Actually there were only a few places where diamonds were coming out of, for example India. Nor were diamonds very much liked by people, compared to rest of the gemstones because of an obvious lack of color. But the last 100 years have seen major developments in the way these gems has been exploited, hoarded and super aggressively marketed.

Monopoly by one big company(De Beers) meant that prices of diamonds could be increased far more than Emerald and Ruby, which are much more rare and far more beautiful than diamonds. You would probably be surprised to know that in reality diamond is not rare at all. It is found in huge quantities (unlike other precious gemstones). It is the hoarding of diamond that has caused artificial scarcity in the market.

I have pasted below first few paragraphs from Wikipedia at following link: Comprehensive article on De Beers
or go to

The De Beers Group is a Johannesburg and London-based diamond mining and trading corporation. They have historically held a near-total monopoly in the diamond trade, although recently other producers have developed new mines, such as in Russia and Canada, challenging their dominance. In 1994 De Beers was charged by the United States Justice Department with antitrust violations for conspiring to fix prices for industrial diamonds. On 14 July 2004 De Beers pleaded guilty to the charges and paid a $10 million fine. The plea has enabled De Beers to trade directly in the United States diamond market after years of acting through intermediaries. Using its monopoly, De Beers has created an artificial scarcity of diamonds, thus keeping prices high. The modern tradition of diamonds as a part of engagement in many cultures has been largely created by De Beers through an amazingly effective advertising campaign started in 1938. The "A Diamond is Forever" campaign not only convinced the public that the only suitable gift for engagement is a diamond, but also served to limit the market in used diamonds. [1]

De Beers distributes diamonds to favored customers (called sightholders) by selecting batches of diamonds themselves and offering them "as is". Now and in the past De Beers has sold diamonds mined from their own mines, most of which are in South Africa and Botswana. Currently, De Beers is involved in a joint venture that is developing a diamond prospect in Canada.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Is there a quality rating system for quartz gemstones?

Good question Kelsey Babineaux.

No there is no universal standard for quality rating of Quartz or any other gem except Diamond.

However, I tell my customers if the gemstone (including quartz) is Clean, Included or Slightly Included:


  • Clean: means that no inclusion can be seen in the gemstone with naked eye.
  • Slightly Included: means that the gem has small or very light inclusion/s which can be seen by naked eye but do not effect the beauty of the gem.
  • Included: means has inclusions which are big and abundant enough to make the gemstone look different and probably its beauty is effected.

We don't use terms like Loupe clean or terms used for diamonds because they are very impractical and have been tailored to increase the price of gems more than what it really are. I will explain more on this blog in a few days from now. So don't forget to visit the blog when you get the chance:

BTW if you are buying, for example, a tourmalined quartz then tourmaline in the quartz is not identified as inclusion since tourmaline is already implied as inclusion in the name of the gemstone.

However, I don't agree with this myself and I am planning to change the discriptions of my tourmaline quartz to explicitly say, for example, "Quartz is included by tourmaline crystals".

Saturday, April 22, 2006

List of Gemology Sites

Gemological Training Institutes, Laboratories and Related Sites
Accredited Gemologists Association – Private US-based gemological organization.
American Gem Society – Important diamond lab and jewelers’ association.
American Gem Trade Association – Parent organization of the AGTA Gemological Testing Center. The AGTA is an association of US and Canadian colored gemstone and cultured pearl industry professionals dedicated to promoting the natural colored gemstone trade. The association pursues its aims through the combined use of educational programs, industry events, industry relations and publicity to the trade and consumer, while maintaining the highest ethical standards among its members and within the industry.
American Gem Trade Asssociation Gemological Testing Center – North America's foremost gem-testing laboratory devoted to colored gemstones and pearls. The AGTA Gemological Testing Center is a member lab of the Laboratory Manual Harmonization Committee (LMHC).
Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences – Thailand’s first gemology school and lab and alma mater of the AGTA GTC's Richard Hughes and Garry Du Toit.
Canadian Gemmological Association – Canada’s national gemology association.
CISGEM – Italy’s well-known gemological lab; member lab of the Laboratory Manual Harmonization Committee (LMHC).
D-Gem-G – Germany’s oldest gemological institute and lab.
Gem and Jewelry Institute of Thailand – Bangkok-based government gem lab and school; member lab of the Laboratory Manual Harmonization Committee (LMHC) – Liechtenstein-based gem lab.
Gemmological Association and Gem Testing Laboratory of Great Britain – One of the world's oldest gemological organizations and labs.
Gemmological Association of All Japan (GAAJ) – Well-known Japanese gemological lab; member lab of the Laboratory Manual Harmonization Committee (LMHC).
Gemmological Association of Australia – National gemological association of Australia.
Gemmology World – Canadian Institute of Gemmology.
Gemological Institute of America (GIA) – Well-known US gemological lab and school; member lab of the Laboratory Manual Harmonization Committee (LMHC).
Gübelin Gem Lab – Well-known Swiss gem lab; member lab of the Laboratory Manual Harmonization Committee (LMHC).
HRD – Diamond High Council, Antwerp, Belgium.
IBGM – Instituto Brasileiro de Gemas e Metais Preciosos – Brazilian gem site.
International Colored Gemstone Association (ICA) – Largest international colored gemstone dealers’ association.
IGE – Instituto Gemológico Español – Spanish gemological institute.
International Gem Society – Gemological site.
Institut Gemmologique de France – Lyon, France-based gemological institute.
LabGem – Portuguese gem laboratory.
Laboratoire français de Gemmologie – Paris gem lab. – Mineral data on the web. – Site for the Sainte-Marie aux Mines mineral show in France.
Pegmatite Interest Group – For the pegmatite lovers out there.
Russian Gemological Server – Business, research and educational projects in gemology.
Scottish Gemmology
Swiss Gemmological Institute (SSEF) – Well-known gem laboratory and alma mater of the AGTA GTC’s Lore Kiefert; member lab of the Laboratory Manual Harmonization Committee (LMHC).
University of Texas Gemology Program – Nicely done pure gemology.
Press – Gem, Jewelry & Mineral Magazines
American Jewelry Manufacturer (AJM) – Magazine devoted to jewelry arts.
Australian Gemmologist – Journal of The Gemmological Association of Australia.
Colored Stone – Magazine devoted to the colored gemstone business.
Instore Magazine – Magazine for the American jewelry store owner.
Gems & Gemology – Fine gemological publication, from the GIA.
The Guide – From Gemworld International, publishers of The Guide, a wholesale price guide to gems.
IDEX Magazine – Magazine covering the diamond trade, with the occasional piece on colored gems.
Jewelers’ Circular-Keystone – Famous American trade magazine.
Jewelry Lady – Regular column from Debbie Yonick.
Jewellery News Asia – Hong Kong-based jewelry trade magazine (registration required).
Journal of Gemmology – Publication of the Gemmological Association and Gem Testing Laboratory of Great Britain.
Lapidary Journal – Magazine devoted to jewelry and lapidary arts. – Nice collection of news links on all aspects of the gem industry.
Lapis – German magazine for the mineral collector.
Mineralogical Record – Magazine devoted to the mineral collector.
Modern Jeweler – Magazine for the American jeweler.
National Jeweler – NYC-based jewelry trade magazine.
Professional Jeweler – Jewelry trade magazine. – Diamond price sheet; also has news about colored stones.
Rocks and Minerals – America’s oldest popular mineral magazine.
Gem & Jewelry Networks, Forums & Related Sites – Nice site for diamond lovers. – Personal site of Bangkok-based gemologist, Vincent Pardieu.
Ganoksin – Huge site for information on jewelry manufacturing and allied arts. – French gemology and mineralogy site.
Polygon – Gem trading and information network.
Pricescope – Online forum devoted to gems.
Rapaport – Gem trading and information network.
Find an Appraiser or Retail Jeweler
For a comprehensive online search engine of US and Canadian jewelry appraisers and retail jewelers, see these links:
Find an Appraiser
Find a Retail Jeweler
Major Gem & Jewelry Auction Houses
Bonhams & Butterfields – Gem, jewelry and mineral auctions.
Christie’s – Gem, jewelry and mineral auctions.
Sotheby’s – Gem, jewelry and mineral auctions.
Museums with Important Gem, Jewelry & Mineral Collections
Bowers Museum – Located in Orange County, California.
Carnegie Museum of Natural History – Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems, Pittsburgh, PA.
Harvard Mineralogical Museum – Mineral museum at Harvard University.
Hermitage – Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia houses a magnificent collection of gold and jewels.
Houston Museum of Natural Science – Fine gem and mineral collection.
Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History –Fine gem and mineral collection.
Louvre – One of the world’s finest museums, with many gems on display, Paris, France.
San Diego Natural History Museum – Mineralogy Dept. of this fine museum.
A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum – Located in Houghton, MI.
Smithsonian Institution –Fine gem and mineral collection.
Sterling Hill Mining Museum – Located in the famous Franklin, New Jersey area.
Tower of London – Home of the famous British crown jewels, in London, UK.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Phil: Cabochon Master

(This article is republished here from the "Gem People" website, which is being closed because of difficulty in managing it.)

Phil's last name not shown as per his request: for security reasons.

Phil is one of those artist who have a very practical approach towards their work of art. When I was learning Faceting, he told me (and I have not forgotten) to use good quality gemstones even though I am just learning. Because good quality material will result in a gem, which I can charish rather than throw away after a while. Phil likes to cabochon and then he makes jewelry with it, thus making it usable.

In the pictures below see Phil showing off his cab at the Bendigo Gem show Sept 2004. I tried to shoot him together with his girl friend but she shied away. Both of them are seen in almost every gem show in Victoria.

I tried to take photos of his beautiful piece of Jade but my hands shook and the light was not very good that is why you may not be able to see the real beauty of the artifact.

Phil was the Secretary of Nunawading & District Lapidary Club (in Melbourne, Victoria) when I first wrote this article for the original website. Now he is the president. He teaches short courses in Silver Jewelry Making at the club. I did the introductory course, where he taught us how to make a Silver ring. Phil does not conduct cabochon courses, which is a shame.

Phil is plumber by profession. You would find him at the club most of his free time.
 Phil Showing His Rough Rocks

Phil Showing Off His Teeth
Phils Cabochon Closeup

Phils Jade Cabochon

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Anatase and Brookite Crystal specimens

On my trip to Pakistan (January 2006), this winter, I saw very nice little specimens of Anatase and Brookite. For me these were quite exciting crystal specimens because they they are very rarely seen in the markets. These specimens were allegedly from Waziristan, Pakistan.

Looking at Anatase, at first sight I thought they were zircon crystals on a clay matrix because of their high lustre. The seller said that it was Anatase and later on I found out that he was not lying. Actually the crystals had basal pinacoid which zircon does not have.

Brookite was also new to me. It was reddish brown very thin crystal. It surely has a very nice look to it but I realised that it was breaking off from the matrix very easily.

Below are two pictures and some more info about the two gemstone crystal specimen.

The TiO2 group is composed of rutile, anatase, and brookite and their crystal system Tetragonal, Tetragonal and Orthogonal respectively.

Brookite Crystal Specimen

Brookite Formula: TiO2
System: Orthorhombic
Colour: Brown, Black, Red.
Lustre: Metallic
Hardness: 5½ - 6

Anatase Crystal Specimen

Anatase Formula: TiO2
System: Tetragonal
Colour: Brown, indigo blue, ...
Lustre: Adamantine,Resinous
Hardness: 5½ - 6

Saturday, February 18, 2006

ARC Gems Moving into Gemstone Wholesale

After a year long analysis of the market and customer requests, ARC Gems has decided to slowly move into wholesale of faceted gemstones, facet rough and specimens. We may move into gemstone bead wholesale as well but this may take longer than a year. Wholesale will benefit our bulk buying customer since the wholesale prices will be considerably lower than the retail prices.

At the moment the decision is to keep the wholesale prices open to all customers. Keeping the prices available to all customers will make it easy for the gemstone dealers to compare us to their current suppliers and we hope that they will make us their supplier in the future. However, we will review the decision of keeping the prices open in June.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Quartz Crystal Forms: Trigonal Crystal System

Here is the answer to the earlier quiz. I have labelled different 'forms' of Quartz crystals in the picture, by the following:
a. P: Prism
b. MjR: Major Rhombohedra
c. MnR: Minor Rhombohedra
d. Trapezohedron There were no identifiable Trapezohedron in the picture.
e. TBP: Trigonal Bipyramid

A set of similar faces is called a form.
In the picture below some of the faces show Striations. Striations are parrallel lines on some crystal faces. In Quartz these are Prependicular to the C-axis of the crystal. These lines tell us that the crystal may be a Quartz crystal. Other common crystal which has prependicular striations is a Sapphire but sapphire crystals are very small in size and very different in shape. Beryl (Aquamarine) and Tourmaline don't have Prependicular Striations. I remember long time ago someone was trying to sell me a quartz crystal saying it was Beryl!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Quartz Crystal Gemmology Quiz

Do you know that although quartz is the most commonly found crystal, it also exhibits the most complex crystalline habits. The three basic habits are Prismatic, Equant and Acute Rhombohedral.

Well here is a small challenge for gemmology students or quartz crystal lovers . There are pictures of several quartz crystals below whose termainations can be seen in some of the pictures. Can you identify which of these faces are:

a. Prism
b. Major Rhombohedra
c. Minor Rhombohedra
d. Trapezohedron
e. Trigonal Bipyramid

I will publish the answer in the July 2005. Note that some of the faces may not be present in these cystals.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Beautiful Aquamarine Specimen From Gilgit Pakistan

Below are pictures of 4 beautiful Gem Grade Aquamarine Crystal Specimens on Muscovite Crystal Matrix. These are ARC Gems new additions on the website. These specimens are from Haramosh Mountains, Gilgit, Northern Areas, Pakistan. The biggest one is at the bottom and the crystal is 80x50x35mm and 186grams. These are sea green blue. The dark background and mixed lighting has caused them to show bluer or yellower colors.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Lapis Lazuli Figurines from Both Sides

Top Row Left to Right: Elephant, Skunk
Bottom Row Left to Right: Dog, Cat, Sea Lion

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Gemshows In April 2005 Near Melbourne

  1. Gems and Gold Exhibition
    23-25 April 2005
    Gippsland Heritage Park
    Close to McDonalds at Moe
    Phone: 5127 3082
    Fax: 5127 8709
  2. Antique Bottles and Collectables Show
    16-17 April 2005
    Kernot Hall Princes Drive

    Phone: 5174 8050