Natural purple scapolite from Tanzania
News for March 2017
More On Grandidierite
We announced in our previous news about the Tucson Show that transparent grandidierite was the rare gem hit of the show. We saw a little with various dealers and at prices that seemed quite high. However, we have since heard from others familiar with this discovery that the deposit is indeed very small and soon to be mined out kif it has not been so already. For those of you who just have to have one but cannot afford the prices of a 1 carats or larger size gem it appears that there will be plenty of gems under 0.20 carats available at much more affordable per carat prices, however, as the size increase above 0.20 carats the price also increases exponentially and if you would like a gem over a carat in size it will be pricey with the outlook indicating that the only direction for prices of these sizes will go up.
We acquired two transparent, faceted grandidierites in Tucson. One for our own collection should it not sell and one of a size that only the top collectors will consider. We will watch for the availability of smaller gems but for now will wait and see what prices are six months from now to see if our purchases were wise.
Springtime in the Rockies
As I write this we are only a few days from the first day of Spring. Here in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado it means time to get out and start digging. We heard from friends who beat us to the punch last weekend and visited one of our favorite locations about a 45 minuite drive from Salida. They did find a bit of quartz rough but more importantly signaled the beginning of the season when once again we must get into physical shape to dig in search of elusive gem rough.
We are blessed to have so many opportunities to search for gem rough here in the mountainous West. There are many areas where collecting is free for the casual or recreational collector and other areas where the cost is minimal. Searching for gem rough or minerals does not necessarily require heavy equipment or tools. The Colorado location for peridot requires little more than crawling on the ground and looking for grains of peridot. The South Platte River just requires a good eye to scan the gravel bars after the Spring run off to spot tumbled pebbles or cobbles of gem grade smoky quartz, topaz, and amethyst.
There are many other locations for the casual collector. Richard Pearl's "Gem Trails of Colorado" and Steven Voynick's similar "Gem Trails of Colorado" both offer many locations that are open to collecting. If this interests you pick up a copy of either of these book and start your search. Good hunting!
Selling Gems Cut From Rough Found on Public Lands
We have been told that we should not be charging for gems we obtained on public lands. This leads to the question, what should we be doing with them? If I am walking down a road in the national forest and spot a piece of facet grade topaz do I not pick it up because if I cut it I cannot sell it? That seems quite absurd but that is the opinion of one cutter we know. Then we ask what do you do with it? They then claim they sell it but only charge for their cutting. Again an absurdity in that supposed you find a sapphire in the stream bed in Montana that you cut into a gorgeous gem worth thousands of dollars but your time to cut it is only worth let say $100. Do you then sell it for the $100 giving the buyer a fantastic bargain which they are now free to go and sell for closer to the real value of the gem? Now if mining of the gem rough requires digging or machanical excavation that required equipment then that is illegal without a permit, otherwise just picking up a piece of rough from the ground it totally legal unless otherwise indicated in situations such as national parks or monuments, conservation area, or other areas where collecting is designated as illegal.
One of the points often put forward in literature that is published to assist the casual collector is "Collect only what you can use." This is somewhat awkward in that what do you define as a use? If I am collecting quartz crystals, how many can I use and how do you define use? Supposed I am searching on public land and find a pocket of topaz containing many crystals. How do I define "only what you can use" in this circumstance? If I can only use three crystals do I leave the remaining crystals behind? Of course not but in taking all of them you are violating the "only what you can use" definition.
Part of the fun in collection minerals or gem rough is the hunt. Treasure hunting can be quite thrilling when it produces results. We often visit Topaz Mountain to assist in hunting for topaz. We are joined by as many as a dozen other diggers who at the end of the day give their finds to the claim owner who often rewards them with a selection from their finds. One time the question was put forward as to why we dig and the answer was it that it was the hunt that offered the reward. With each shovel full of gravel or rake of soil that is a remote possibility that you will be turning over and discovering a topaz crystal or fragment and that it is the discovery of that crystal that represent value is what keep us returning to dig even though we may not walk away with what we find. The hunt is far more intriguing and incentive that often the results of that hunt are.
More "Memoirs of a Gemaholic"
Another installment of John's "Memoirs of a Gemaholic" is included in this issue of our newsletter. We have interspersed it in our "Gems Cut By Us" section in order for it to receive the attention it deserves. The first installment will still be available in the "Current News" section of our website. This month's story deals with the infamous missing parcel of rough and how it became lost and the circumstances of it being found. You do not want to miss this story.
Memoirs of a Gemaholic (1st Installment)
Over the years John has received numerous request to publish many of the stories of his gem and mineral experiences that have occurred during his lifetime. We are please to announce that beginning with this newsletter we will be including some of these stories each time we update our website. We will start with his earliest recollections of being interested in gems and minerals and then include various others as time progresses. We hope you will look for these stories online but if you do not have access and would like a copy let us know so we can mail one to you.
A Few Salida Fall Pictures
We hope you will enjoy the following pictures taken by Donna near our home in Salida as much as we enjoyed experiencing the moments.
A beautiful rainbow over Salida that ends on John's pot of rough gems. Taken from the deck of our home!
Golden aspen leaves above Salida. Mt Antero is the pointed peak in the background.
The hills above Salida full of golden aspen trees. (The snow is not far in the future!)
Apache at the Dust Devil Sunstone Mine, September 2015
Donna protecting us from rattlesnakes at the Dust Devil Mine (Someone has to do it!)
Remember, whenever possible we always invite our friends to join us on these trips. Nothing organized, nothing charged by us, just a lot of fun enjoying our passion for gems.
4 Peaks Amethyst Mine Tour
Six months ago, Rick Scott, owner of Scott Manufacturing that makes the Raytech Shaw faceting machine that John uses, brought it to our attention that twice a year the 4 Peaks Amethyst Mine near Fountain Hills, Arizona operates tours. He indicated that this Fall's tour would occur on October 10th and that he had signed up for it. After some thought John also signed up for the tour which included a helicopter ride to and from the mine at a cost of $400/person.
4 Peaks, Arizona as viewed from Sami's Fine Jewlery, Fountain Hills, Arizona
(The mine is on the fourth peak on the right)
An exceptional 4 Peaks Arizona Amethyst listed in the November 2014 "Cut By Us" section
Kurt Cavano, current mine owner of the 4 Peaks Amethyst Mine
The mine is currently owned by Kurt Cavano, who has owned the mine for 16 years and has operated tours during the entire time he has owned it. We met Kurt in Tucson soon after he purchased the mine and cut a gem for him back then which he told us he still possesses.
Donna in the 4 Peaks Amethyst Mine
Our group touring the 4 Peaks Amethyst Mine on October 10th (John, Donna, Trinity, and Rick Scott)
The tours are organized by Sami's Fine Jewelry of Fountain Hills, Arizona. Once we signed up they provided all the information and details as to our trip. We were scheduled to depart at 8:30 AM on the morning of October 10th from Sami's. We had been under the impression that the tour was full and since Donna had not signed up for the tour she had planned to remain behind. Upon arriving at Sami's we were told that there was one space remaining and Donna quickly prepared to fill it. The people at Sami's graciously offered to watch Apache while we were to be away for approximately 1 1/2 hours.
The base camp viewed from the incoming helicopter, 4 Peaks Amethyst Mine
Helicopter landing pad at the 4 Peaks Amethyst Mine
The mine entrance, 4 Peaks Amethyst Mine
We drove for about 1/2 hours to the site where the helicopter waited. Upon boarding it was about a ten minute ride over incredible scenery to the mine which is located on the southern most peak of the 4 Peaks. Our experienced pilot set us down on a perch at the end of the mine.
Kurt Cavano was there to greet us and take us on a very brief tour before allowing us to collect a little amethyst. The mine is a tunnel that enters an ancient quartzite. The amethyst is found within a pipe like structure that has been worked for hundreds of years. It is reported that the Spanards found the mine and that some of the amethysts found in the Spanish Crown Jewels are accredited as to having come from the $ Peaks Mine.
When it was time to leave, Kurt, as had been indicated early in the trip, inspected what we found and confiscated several exceptional pieces of rough that John had found. He did leave him with quite a bit of rough that with a little work will produce some fine gems.
We prepared to leave on the incoming helicopter which was to bring the next group to the mine for a tour, however, a cloud bank had rolled in and we ended up being stuck at the mine for an additonal 1 1/2 hours during which we scoured the area around the mine for additional specimens and rough.
Finally we were able to leave the mine and return on the helicopter to the landing area where an employee of Sami's was to meet us with a very anxious Apache.
Overall it was a very enlightening and exciting trip and we are planning to return next year to experience it once again.
We would like to thank the mine owner, Kurt Cavano, for providing the opportunity to visit this classic North American gem location. We would also like to thank the staff at Sami's Fine Jewelry for their hospitality and the attention they gave Apache while we were touring the mine. If you ever are in Fountain Hills, Arizona, look them up and see the incredible jewelry they offer that contains the finest 4 Peaks amethyst that comes out of the mine, as well as jewelry set with Arizona peridot and Arizona chrome pyrope (ant hill) garnet along with jewelry of exceptional gems from around the world.
If you would like to take a tour of the 4 Peaks Amethyst Mine, the information for next year's tours will be available on their website,
We are hoping to return next year in October or November when the tour is offered so if you would like to join us for this adventure let us know.
We included a stop at the Petrified Forest National Monument on our way home from 4 Peaks and have included a few picutres from that visit here.
Assorted petrified wood logs at the Crystal Forest, Petrified Forest National Monument in Arizona
John and Apache on trail at Petrified Forest National Monument
One very long tree section at the Petrified Forest National Monument
Petroglyphs at the Petrified Forest National Monument
Snow in the mountains above our office in Salida, Colorado upon our return on October 12th.
Mt Antero, Colorado is the pointed peak between the street lamp and the post office sign.
North American Gemstone Page
We are currently considering adding a page to our website that features gemstones that were mined in North America. This page would include gems that were found in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Many of the gems would be ones that we both collected the rough and cut the gems but it would not be exclusively these. Gems that were cut overseas from rough we collected as well as gems that were cut from rough from other sources would be included on the page.
North American gems do not receive the attention as those originating from other locations throughout the world as often these deposits are small and produce very little rough. We already list a large number of North American gems on our website but by creating a separate section to list them we feel will give them the added attention they deserve.
If we do add this page to our website we hope to have it up and running by the first of the year.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
We are often asked questions concerning our business and its history
in emails, at
shows, and over the telephone. We will attempt to address many of these
questions here and in the future and will keep them posted on our website.
If you have a question you would like us to address bring it to our
attention and we will attempt to answer it for all to see and enjoy.
When did you first become interested in gems and minerals?
One of my first recollections in life was playing with my older sisters
in a vacant lot
behind our home in West Reading, Pennsylvania. This lot used to be a
When I was about three years old I found a piece of limestone with transparent
crystals on it. It seems that from then on I was always drawn to transparent,
minerals which also in many cases could be cut into gems.
See 1st Installment of "Memoirs of a Gemaholic" on this page
Who taught John to facet gems?
John decided to start cutting gems after being in the business for several
faceting machine was offered to him for sale back in September of 1989
and it was just a
matter of time before he sat down and started cutting.
As to who taught him the best answer would be no one. John read the
books and started cutting on his own. The first gem he cut that is pictured
on our website (see below) is a good indication that he started from
This does not mean that he did not have help. Having been in the business
several years prior to beginning cutting he know several people in the
business who were
cutters who he could approach with questions.
Jerry Hess, Bob Spomer, Mike Gray, Buzz Gray, Mark Krivanek, Nanct Attaway,
and Art Grant have all been of assistance during the past 22 years of
During one period of time polishing quartz gems presented a problem
and as a result
John shied away from cutting gems like amethyst, citrine, and smoky
quartz. When he
mentioned this to Mike Gray in Tucson one year Mike suggested a new
even sent a sample polishing pad that corrected the problem and is still
Polishing a large topaz was causing problems just last year. John contacted
Spomer who recommended a slight change in the procedure he was using
the problem quickly.
Art Grant was particularly helpful during the early days of John’s
faceting when he
was attempting to cut softer rare gems such as calcite, cerussite, and
Similarly, Jerry Hess, who has since passed from this earth, gave advice
Mark Krivanek, who was a partner in business with D&J Rare Gems
during most of
the 1990’s and who is also an accomplished gem cutting in his
own right gave advice
during our association with him and has remained helpful through all
We have always been very appreciative of the fact that we had these
cutters to contact when questions arose and as a result have extended
Gem cutting is an activity whether it be a hobby or a profession that
offers one of the
most rewarding experiences one can have. Imagine the sense of accomplishment
must experience after seeing an unattractive piece of rough gem transformed
sparkling, beautiful gemstone as the result of one’s labor. Each
time John cuts a gem
there is the thrill of anticipation of the results once the gems has
been cleaned and its
beauty exposed for the first time.
What was the first gem you sold?
The first gem I sold occurred when I was finishing up my gemologist’s
the Gemological Institute of America. I was attending the labs each
day in order to
complete my training sooner. Back then when you had to identify gems
you were sent a
set which you identified and sent your finding back to GIA. An instructor
your results and send them back. This could take weeks. By attending
the lab it could be done in hours.
While at the lab another student was having a problem with an identification.
looked at the gem and told him it was a kornerupine. He asked how I
knew and I told
him I had one in my reference collection. He asked if I could get him
one which I could.
I sold my collection gem to him at twice what I paid for it and subsequently
sold about six other gems during the remaining days I spent at the
When was D&J Rare Gems founded?
We founded D&J Rare Gems soon after completing my gemologist’s
July of 1985. Our first advertisement was a classified ad in Lapidary
Journal. A friend
continued to assist us while we were living in Malawi, Africa from July
September 1988. Upon returning home from Africa we made the decision
to develop the
business into a full time venture.
On a side note, it was not until October of 2005 that I completed the
the Graduate Gemologist’s Certificate. Today GIA limits its students
to five years from
the time they initiate their studies until they can complete them for
a G.G. certificate.
How and when did you get started cutting gems?
I was always fascinated with cut gems and wanted to see how they were
we visited Sri Lanka during 1988 we visited a cutting factory and watched
were cut. This stuck with me and when I was offered a Raytech Shaw faceting
in September 1989 I jumped at the opportunity to purchase it. I had
a lot of gem rough
that I acquired while in Malawi and I also had some that I had collected
here in Colorado
so I had plenty of material on which to practice.
What was the first gem you ever faceted?
The first gem John faceted, October 1989, a 3.24 carat quartz from Missouri
The first gem I ever faceted was a colorless quartz that I had collected
Ridge in Chaffee County, Colorado. I cut a round brilliant gem that
turned out pretty bad
as I did not have anyone to instruct me as to what I was doing. All
I did was read the
instruction manual that accompanied the faceting machine and did my
best. My second
gem was also a round brilliant colorless quartz from Missouri Ridge
that turned out much
better. My third gem was a round brilliant smoky quartz from Mt Antero,
Colorado that I
ended up selling for $18.00. Since then I have cut thousands of gems
and look forward to
the opportunity to cut one whenever I can.
Subsequently I did receive lots of instruction and advice from many
of the gem
cutters here in Colorado and around the country. I’ve always appreciated
and gladly provide similar advice to others when they have a question
or a problem that
they can’t solve.
How much of the rough gems that you cut do you collect yourself?
Most gem cutters would love to say they’ve collected all that
they cut but that would
be extremely limiting in what they can offer.
I would say that less than 5% of the gems that I cut and offer in our
newsletter or on
our website are gems where I collected the rough. I do enjoy going in
search of gem
rough and make annual trips to collecting areas here in Colorado, Oregon,
other areas just to search for rough and rarely do I not return without
biggest problem is finding something of substantial value but then if
it was easy more
people would be doing it and the value would not be there. A lot of
the value in the gems
that I cut where I have found the rough is in the time and skill it
takes to cut one. We
open these field trips to our friends and customers and find that the
experience if often far more valuable than anything that any of us finds.
When did you live in Malawi and
what were you doing there?
We have over the years offered gems that came from Malawi and always
that we spent two years living there.
In 1986 we were hired by the Presbyterian Church USA to be teachers
at a school in
Embangweni, Malawi. John taught mathematics, algebra, geometry, and
while Donna taught biology and English as a second language. Our students
secondary level, grades 9 through 12 here in the US and ranged in ages
from 16 to 35
(yes, a few of our students were actually older than we were).
We arrived in Malawi in July of 1986 and spend the first months of our
traveling the country.
Our first experience with gems in Malawi occurred in the capital city
where were approached by street vendor with some tourmaline and aquamarine
Most of this material was heavily parcel worn and had surely been offered
for sale for
many month. We purchases a little and kept a watch for more.
Our next experience with gem rough occurred when we had settled into
in Embangweni. A man came to our door offering black tourmaline and
some red garnet.
We spent the next six months purchasing little bits of rough here and
there. It was
not until we were in the northern city of Mzuzu and we saw a sign for
a gem mining
seminar that we met someone purchasing gem rough commercially. Don Thompson,
rough dealers out of San Diego and his wife had relocated temporarily
to Malawi to
develop a gem business. He looked at the rough I had purchased already
most of it worthless. He show us how to examine rough for inclusions
which went a long
way to improving our purchases.
During the next year and a half we acquired what we could afford in
the way of gem
rough. The more we showed interest in rough gems the more miners sprang
brought us the product of their labor. This was evident one day when
we returned to our
home for lunch to fine 18 miners sitting by our door hoping to sell
what they had found.
One of the interesting findings of our time in Malawi was that we found
miners did not know what we would be doing with the rough gems we were
As a result I send a parcel of rough to Thailand and had it cut and
the finished gems
returned to us to show them. Most expressed amazement as they though
we were melting them down.
Some of our best purchases were made during our last three months in
One day we were approached by one of the miners who regularly visited
some exception aquamarine rough. He informed us that it came from a
new mine. We
expressed interest in seeing the mine but had reservations going to
it as our visas did not permit us to do so. He informed us that the
mine was remote and that he would send a boy to guide us to it the following
Saturday. Sure enough a young boy arrived at our door that Saturday
morning and proceeded to guide us deep into the bush where we came upon
a massive pegmatite deposit containing aquamarine. We were able to search
a little on our own and found some gem grade material.
We departed from Malawi in July of 1988 and have not returned since
we feel the gem potential of this African nation has still to be tapped.
We do hope to return one day and see if some of this unrealized potential
has eventually been mined.
Do You Buy Gems?
Although the answer to this questions seems obvious to most people it
one of the most frequently asked questions at shows and over the internet.
Yes, it would be nice if all the gems we offer came to us for free either
them (we would still have to purchase the rough) or by some magical
means where an
exchange of money does not take place.
We estimate that over 95% of the gems which we offer we have purchased
an outside source. We have been in business for twenty six years and
during that time we have spent many hours contacting various sources
around the world either by direct
contact at shows, email contacts, or as during our early days via snail
mail. When we
lived in Africa our only means of contact was by snail mail and with
a lack of other things
to do spent many of our evenings typing out letters of inquiry to various
During all these years we have established probably fewer than a dozen
we can depend on to offer us gems at prices which we feel we can offer
prices. These gems represent most of what is available in the world
such that if we
receive a request for something we usually know where to obtain it.
Now this presents a dilemma that people who want to sell us gems do
If someone tries to sell us some gems we have to look at it in several
First of all do we need what is being offered?
Say for example someone wants to sell us ten 8x6 mm amethysts of medium
This is what we would consider commercial goods. There are a lot of
sources out there
that will sell us such gems and generally we have an idea just how much
we would have
to pay for them should we need some. In order to purchase the amethysts
have to be priced at an incredibly low price in order to be attractive.
Second, can we expect to sell the gems being offered in a reasonable
Often when we are purchasing a collection we must evaluate how quickly
recover the money we are spending and then make a profit.
A few Summers ago we were offered a collection of some very fine gems.
for the collection was such that we felt we could recover what we paid
within six months
and then with what remained make a profit over time. There were also
a few things in the
collection that we did not mind keeping around. We purchased the collection
six months recovered the money we paid, however, even though this purchase
almost three years ago we still have some of the collection in our inventory
occasionally sell a gem from what remains.
Third, what is the quality of what we are being offered?
Many years ago we were approached at a show to assist in identifying
gems that a
person had purchased. It turned out that they had purchased 50 carats
of gems over the
internet for $16.95. Being courteous we took a look and during the course
of the next few
hours when we had time we were able to identify most of the gems in
however, these gems were at best what would be considered rejects. Many
of the gems
were what we call “parcel worn”. That is they had been handled
in parcels for so long
that their contact with each other had abraded them. Other gems in the
parcel were cut by apprentice facetors who were learning how to cut
on low quality, included rough of little value and in general were very
The person who owned these gems offered any that we were interested
in for sale,
however, there were none there that offered any value to us and we declined
Finally, are what we are being offered something we do not mind having
inventory at the price we have to pay?
What a dealer has in inventory will determine what that dealer’s
customers will be.
We hope to evolve into a dealer who deals just in high end, expensive
gems but that
takes time, however, if one even wants to achieve that status he or
she must have high
end gems in their inventory to attract high end customers. We have purchased
some high end gems for our inventory over the years with that in mind
and still have some of them in stock, but as is said “You can’t
sell what you do not have” so when such gems are offered at a
good price we will purchase them.
Do you cut all of your gems?
This question is frequently asked at shows and although we would certainly
sell just gems that John has cut it would be nearly impossible to do
so. We do believe
that because of John’s gem cutting interest that we select gems
to offer that are usually
well cut by someone else to offer on our website, in our newsletter,
and at shows.
The difficulty in offering only gems that John has cut arises in the
time involved in
On average it takes approximately 3 hours to cut a gem from start to
average newsletter lists approximately 100 gems. If the average time
to cut a gem is three hours the 100 gem represents 300 hours of work
in a month. This would
represent about one half of the time in a month which would not leave
much time for
other activities (Yes, we do have a life outside of gems).
The other factor that needs to be considered is that we often offer
gems for sale for as
little as $5. If John were to have cut that gem and it took him 3 hours
his gross wage for
the effort would be about $1.66 per hour. Back during the 1960’s
John’s first job paid
$1.60/hour but since then the economy has changed and things cost much
first job was pumping gasoline that cost 31.9 cents/gallon!). Also the
includes the cost of the rough gem and equipment and supplies so his
net wage would be even less.
We often joke with our overseas sources who run cutting factories that
are tough we will be moving closer to their cutting factory in order
that we can work for
them. Both of us usually get a good laugh out of the suggestion as their
more than $1.66/hours these days but certainly not what is necessary
to partake in gem
cutting in the United States today.
Do you conduct field trips?
We have in the past announced when we would be going on a trip to collect
gems and minerals and invited our customers along. The vast majority
of people who
have joined us are gemaholics much like us who find a weekend afternoon
gems much more desirable than watching professional sports (or in John’s
around the house). When the weather is good it is time to head for collecting
and we still invite others to join us.
Our Gem Fest in the past included a trip to our peridot claim located
about 25 miles
from our home in Salida where we crawled on our hands and knees and
picked up the
grains of loose peridot that could be found on the surface. Since 2011
was our last year
for Gem Fest we still invite people to join us when we go to our claim
and enjoy the
search for pieces of peridot that are large enough to facet.
We currently own or have an interest in three gemstone claims. The peridot
mentioned above, a newly acquired topaz claim in the Tarryall Mountains,
and a sunstone claim near Plush, Oregon. These claims are open to casual
collecting to our friends and customers who collect responsibly without
major disruption to the surface. If we know in advance of your interest
we may even join you on our claim and assist with your search.
We also announce major trips to collect well in advance.
Each May, John and friends meet at the sunstone claim for assessment
work as well
as digging for gems. Traveling to and from the sunstone mines includes
stops at Clear
Lake, Utah for labradorite and possibly Grand Junction, Colorado for
barite. We also
have tentative plans to visit the quartz mines near Hallelujah Junction,
Nevada to do some gem mining.
During July we make an annual pilgrimage to Montana for digging at Crystal
and some sapphire mining at the Gem Mountain Mine. We are looking to
additional locations to this trip in the future.
In September we hope to return to the sunstone mines and dig at both
our claim and
at the Dust Devil Mine where we have been most welcomed in the past.
There is lots to do each year and we usually run out of time long before
we run out of
interest in collecting gems.
We have received requests to keep October's new article
on appraisals available for awhile. It appears below.
Unfortunately at the recent Denver Show we were approached by more people
wanting to sell gems than wanted to purchase them. This trend has been
and more frequently during the past three years and in all likelihood
will not subside
Most commonly the price these people were asking was based on some form
appraisal and often they were hoping to sell their gems at retail prices
There are many types of appraisals and the value of the items being
vary dramatically depending on what type is represented. We will try
to explain each one
and hope that it clears things up for those considering selling their
gems or jewelry.
The first type of appraisal we refer to as an “Issuing
Seller Appraisal” or "Inhouse Appraisal".
These are the appraisals often referred to by TV gem channels to get
the purchaser to think they are getting a real bargain. The values stated
in these appraisals are often highly inflated far above what one would
pay for at normal retail jewelers. We recall one such channel a few
years ago selling 2 to 9 carat spessartite garnets of fair cutting and
quality offering the gems at $350/carat and telling the viewers that
they were appraised at $1,800 to $2,500/carat. They failed to tell the
viewer that these appraisals were conducted in house and that no independent
appraiser would either agree or give a similar value to the gems. These
“fake” appraisals are often used to convince the potential
buyer that they are a great “investment”. When you hear
such claims on a TV gem network we would recommend that you change the
channel quickly or get a good laugh from their false claims.
The next type of appraisal is a “Retail Appraisal”
or “Retail Replacement Appraisal”.
This type of appraisal is more realistic in that it will more accurately
reflect how much it would cost to replace the item described within
today’s market. This type of appraisal does not necessarily mean
that should you experience a loss or theft you will receive the retail
value in cash given in the appraisal. It does mean that an effort will
be made to replace with like kind and quality costing up to that amount.
One of our earliest
experiences in the jewelry and gem world was working at a wholesale
worked closely with insurance companies and would often replace a lost
or stolen items
for around half of the retail value. This often created hard feelings
when someone would “lose” an item and come into the store
wanting to be cashed out
for the full retail value. Fortunately we left that up to the insurance
company but had
many nasty encounters with those who thought we were cheating them.
The next type of appraisal would be a “Wholesale Appraisal”.
This type of
appraisal would assure the replacement of a lost item but would not
carry the high value
of a retail appraisal. Most home owner’s insurance policies have
riders for items that
exceed policy limits usually $500 to $1,500 in cumulative value. If
you have total
jewelry valued above this amount you would purchase a rider that would
insure an item
above these limits. Such riders would cost approximately 1% per year.
So for a $5,000
engagement ring one would pay an additional $50 per year to insure it.
A wholesale appraisal would value the same item around $2,500 and reduce
the yearly rider fee to $25. One can see that if a person owns a lot
of jewelry that the riders can become quite expensive and such an appraisal
can greatly reduce that cost. Most cities have wholesale jewelers who
work closely with insurance companies that will replace lost or stolen
jewelry at wholesale appraised amounts.
Another type of appraisal would be an “Estate Appraisal”
where the value is
established to allow for the distribution of someone’s estate
after they have passed away. The value stated in this type of appraisal
is often 1/3 or less of retail value to reflect similar reductions in
value of other items within the estate may have experienced.
Another type of appraisal would be a “Cash Value Appraisal”
or "Liquidation Appraisal". The value expressed
in this type of appraisal would reflect what could be receive for the
item if one wanted to sell it quickly or liquidate it. This value is
often 1/5 or less of retail value. If the item is in great condition
or of a particularly valuable gem it could be higher in that the item
could be resold quickly. The value indicated in this type of appraisal
reflects what most jewelers would pay for the item on the spot.
The next type of appraisal would be a “Scrap Appraisal”.
The value indicated in this
appraisal would be an indication of what the metal and gems are worth
in the current
market. Deductions may occur such as a 10% reduction below spot prices
for gold and in all likelihood a 50% reduction of the value of diamonds
below wholesale prices.
The worse type of appraisal would be a “Pawn Appraisal”.
This type of appraisal
lists the value a pawn shop would assign to your jewelry. This would
be well below scrap
value because the shop owner would offer to buy it at a price he or
she knows they can at least scrap it out at the still make money. Because
pawn shops are the easiest place to sell jewelry they can prey upon
those people coming in the door that have no other outlet to sell their
There are many other factors that will affect what you can sell your
jewelry or gems
for. We recall many years ago when we operated a jewelry store a couple
came into the
store and asked us if we would like to purchase an imperial topaz ring.
We estimated the gem to be at least 15 carats in size. At the time we
had $900 in our bank account and offered all of it for the ring. The
couple obviously offended by our offer left never to be
seen in our store again and surely feeling we tried to cheat them but
had we offered
money we did not have and they accepted we would have looked foolish.
An additional factor that may affect the selling price of a gem would
be the current
inventory holdings of the buyer. If someone was to offer to sell a fine
two carat tsavorite
garnet at a great price and the buyer did not have one in stock he or
she might be inclined to pay slightly more for it. If they have several
such gems in inventory and have not sold one in awhile they would most
likely offer quite a bit less.
More recently with the rapidly changing price of gold and silver the
daily spot price for gold or silver that may be offer to purchase such
metal may be less
than if the price had been stable for several months.
Finally current trends may affect the appraised value of an item. The
tanzanite may cause a buyer to pay more for it and thus its cash appraisal
value would be higher than say for a gem such as garnet or amethyst
which right now experience minimal demand.
Keep this article in mind or make a copy
of it so that you can refer to it should you decide to sell some of
your jewelry or gems in the future. It should at least give you an idea
of what to expect and open you to some options as to how to sell your
A poem By Donna Rhoads
We drove, we dug, we played & stayed
at many cool places this year.
We danced, we laughed, we shared
in the lives and hearts of our friends.
We hunted, we found, we praised and appraised
many gems that abound on this earth.
We studied, we cut, some failed, some sailed
into new homes and collections around.
We thank you very much and wish you a
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in 2013!
Donna and John Rhoads
D&J Rare Gems, Ltd.