Colored gemstone country of origin determination is a subject that
many colored gem enthusiasts, collectors, and investors find to be
important to their endeavors.
Some recent gem industry news stories on this subject have prompted
questions such as... "How is it possible to know exactly which
country an individual gemstone came from?" and "Why is it
important to know where a specific gemstone was mined?"
Colored gemstone country of origin determination can be a significant
factor in the value of an Important Jewel sold at auction - such as
sapphire sold at auction by Sotheby's.
Colored gemstone country of origin determination can also be important
to private gem collectors and museums.
The origin of gems such as tanzanite and red beryl are known because
these gems occur in only one location. Maybe deposits of these rare gems
will be discovered in other countries someday. If so, I'm confident that
origin determination criteria will be developed for them also.
While many species of gemstones can be identified as to region,
country, or even the mine of origin, many commercial gem labs limit
origin determination service to ruby, sapphire, and emerald.
Now that high value Paraiba tourmaline has been found in more than one
continent, some labs will determine the origin of this copper nearing
Image credit: Stone Group Labs
For centuries gem origin was a matter of observation. If, for example,
it exhibited the attributes of a typical sapphire mined in Sri Lanka, it
was labeled a Sri Lanka-type sapphire. However, since more recently
discovered sapphire deposits in Africa can yield stones with similar
appearance, this type of origin determination is no longer sufficient.
Gem investors and collectors covet Kashmir sapphires, who's
appearance is an intense velvety blue... and who's origin is known to be
the Kashmir region of the Indian subcontinent.
Science and laboratory instruments have given gemologists new ways to
study and catalog the observable characteristics of a gemstone. The
availability of documented comparison stones, the ability to determine
trace elements in the makeup of a particular stone, the observation of
inclusions, and other tell-tale facts can help determine that stone's
Colored gemstone country of origin determination methods, scientific
equipment, and skills have been developed over the past sixty years or so.
Refining methods and improving laboratory equipment will continue to
enhance the ability of gem labs to determine origin.
Image Credit: GIA
The Gemology Project has an important and interesting report available
on this subject. A portion of that report is reprinted below. Next month,
more of the report will be published, as we continue to explore this
Collectors of gemstones and minerals often attach great
importance to a gemstone’s provenance or country of origin. In
"A Question of Origin," according to Mr. Richard W.
Hughes, (1990, ,
n.p.), formerly, there was no method of geographical origin
determination for colored gemstones or diamonds; a gemstone or
diamond’s “mine-type” was strictly based on overall quality
and appearance or color. For example, a ruby of an “intense,
highly fluorescent red” was sometimes called “Burma-type,” or
“Burma-like,” even when the ruby was not mined in Burma. In the
1940’s and 1950,’s the GIA, along with others in the gemology
field, developed the system of quality analysis for diamonds; and
mine-types were no longer used in describing diamonds. Some examples
of the mine-types used to describe diamonds are “Golcondas” or
“Premiers,” and several others. Also, during the ‘40’s and
‘50’s, studies initiated by Dr. Eduard J. Gübelin, proved that
it was possible to identity a gemstone’s geographical origin and
sometimes even the exact mine it came from based on the gemstone’s
inclusions rather than using its overall appearance (Hughes, 1990, A
Question of Origin, ,
of Origin Determination: Dr. Eduard (Edward) J. Gübelin
The late Dr. Eduard J. Gübelin of Lucerne, Switzerland
“devoted his life and career to unveiling the mystique of
gemstones and was recognized as the authority on inclusions in
gemstones. His great knowledge of mineralogy and the jewelry
business combined with his passion and admiration for gemstones made
him one of the founders of modern gemology and the father of
gemstone origin determination (Gübelin Gem Lab, Ltd., n.d.,
“Legacy of Dr. Eduard J. Gübelin,” ,
n.p.).” During his 70-year career, Dr. Gübelin collected over
5,000 rare and commercial gem specimens, which included organic
gemstones, from different localities. He began to determine the
origin of gemstones by systematically documenting, classifying, and
categorizing gemstone specimens he collected from the mines and
locations he toured. Based on the microscopic features or inclusions
in the gemstones he established a “strict characterization” of
gem deposits. “His concept is based on the comparison of a
gemstone of unknown origin with gemstones of known origin; by
determining their similarity, and the degree of resemblance of
gemstones from different mining sources (Gübelin Gem Lab, Ltd.,
September 2006, A Holistic Method to Determining Gem Origin,,
p. 122).” In the early 1950’s, Dr. Gübelin’s gemological
studies led to an increase in the interest of different mining
sources, the science of gemstone geographical origin determination,
and gemological laboratory country-of-origin reports which are used
by every auction house today.
Mines produce a wide variety of gemstones, usually of low to
medium quality, with the finer gemstones forming only a “tiny
fraction of the whole production,” including those which are found
at the most prestigious sources. The precious gemstones, ruby,
sapphire, and emerald, may show price variations and some command
premium prices based on their provenance since part of the colored
gemstone marketing and branding concept includes origin, even though
these stones may not always be of high quality. “Origin” should
not be used to reflect a certain quality of colored gemstones, nor
should it be used as a description of a color type (Hughes, 1990, A
Question of Origin, ,
n.p.). Today, some top-quality gemstones from recently discovered
deposits, such as the sapphires found in Madagascar, with similar
geology as their highly-valued gemstone counterparts, are not only
impressive, but are also found in remarkable sizes; yet, since they
are not from a well-known or prestigious source, they are accepted
as nothing more than beautiful stones by most in the trade (Gübelin
Gem Lab, Ltd., July 2006, The Roots of Origin Determination,,
p. 66). With the exception of spinel, tourmaline, pink topaz, and
alexandrite, geographic origin determination is not yet available
for other gemstones.
Recognized for being largely responsible for the development of
the science of origin determination pioneered by Dr. Eduard J. Gübelin,
Gübelin Gem Lab, Ltd., determined that it is a “key
requirement” for gemological laboratories to have access to an
authentic and complete collection of reference stones, which have
had their gemological properties properly analyzed and fully
documented, and their geologic-genetic environment is known (Gübelin
Gem Lab, Ltd., July 2006, The Roots of Origin Determination,,
p. 69). The reference stone collection must contain a sufficiently
high number of samples from commercially relevant mining areas and
deposits worldwide which include reference stones from exhausted
mines or deposits where production has ceased. It is usually very
rare to be able to collect samples directly from the host rock in
the mine. The research field gemologist collects sample stones from
mining areas and deposits worldwide by adhering to strict criteria
and guidelines for collection. Extreme care and caution are
recommended before samples can be incorporated into a reference
collection because receiving stones from a source other than one
claimed can have disastrous results. The process and method which
the sample stones are collected is fully and properly documented;
and then, are compared with the analytical data from the reference
collection, or gemstones from a known source, such as the mining
area, geographic location, or country, to determine and confirm the
origin of the collected samples. One problem research field
gemologists face is that of maintaining a current and reliable
population of sample stones. Since new material is being found
almost daily, tracking changes of the properties and chemistry of
new and old deposit production can be a daunting task (Gübelin Gem
Lab, Ltd., September 2006, A Holistic Method to Determining Gem
p. 126). For example, the best reference stone population of Ceylon
sapphires collected 20 years ago may not be as valid for comparison
as recently collected samples might be (Hughes, 1990, A Question of
n.p.). Therefore, gemological laboratories must continuously acquire
new information through research that must be repeatedly updated.
Samples must be collected and updated from mines that are open or
reopen every year worldwide. Some colored gemstone mines or deposits
may become depleted or inaccessible due to socio-political
complications which can make it quite difficult for the research
field gemologist to collect specimens. Providing information on the
geographic provenance of a stone is the goal of the origin
Therefore, “the goal of origin determination is to provide the
geographic provenance of a gemstone and can be defined as:
the attribution of a stone to a specific geological-genetic
environment (or a specific type of deposit) and
the attribution of a stone to a mining area, a geographic
locality, or country (Gübelin Gem Lab, Ltd., July 2006, The
Roots of Origin Determination,,p.
To be continued next month
Colored gemstone country of origin determination is an important
piece of information for collector and people buying and selling higher value
gems... and can be an interesting factoid for those who own gemstone jewelry to
Top - Colombian emerald
Next - Tanzanite
Next - Brazilian Paraiba tourmaline
Next - Sri Lanka blue sapphire
Next - Kashmir blue sapphire
Next - Modern gem microscope
Next - Burma (Mogok( ruby
Next - Dr. Eduard J. Gübelin
Next: - Gem special offer - Chrome
Diopside, the affordable emerald green gem
Next - Industry News - Iconic Las Vegas
Next - Dealer Product Image - Amethyst
Ring in Sterling Silver
Last - Dealer Program Image - Pink
Spinel and Sterling Silver Earrings
A Google search for links or images using keywords such as
gems of burma or gemstones mined in colombia
can return some very interesting information and websites.
Here is this month's special gem deal.
Gem: Chrome Diopside... the other natural emerald green gem. The
substitute for the May birthstone
Color: Emerald green
Quality: Gem quality, and no
visible inclusions. Our cutter in Thailand describes the stone as... Natural
gem, best quality 5a green Chrome Diopside.
We have other shapes, sizes, and
shades of gems available.
We keep gem prices low by buying quality gemstone rough
worldwide, and having the rough material cut by our gem cutters in Asia.
Gem Industry News
Las Vegas Gem and Jewelry Shows
Jewelry Week in Las Vegas is upon us.
It all started with JCK Las Vegas - The Jewelry Industry's Premier
Event. JCK Las Vegas bills itself as the leading jewelry event in North America.
This jewelry industry trade show is open to all jewelry professionals. This four
day event is huge - in several ways.
This is where jewelry retailers can learn about emerging trends in jewelry.
Every imaginable product for people working in
and around the jewelry industry seems to be on display. Manufacturing
equipment, hand tools, software, display lighting, packaging, and so much
Jewelry designers and manufacturers introduce
their new lines of merchandise at this show
Table top goods, high end luggage, clocks and
watches, it's all at this show.
The sheer physical size of the show is
amazing. It is huge.
The American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) Gemfair Las Vegas is a companion
event. Gemfair and JCK Las Vegas are held at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.
As always, this AGTA show is about loose colored gemstones.
The Gem & Lapidary Dealers Association
(GLDA) Las Vegas Mirage Gem & Jewelry Show is, as the name states, a show
featuring loose gems and finished jewelry. It is a more intimate show with
industry respected vendors.
Other shows have been added over the past several years. Collectibles,
timepieces, and other themed shows are held up and down the Strip during this
The Spring season lets you work both sides of your business.
As always, mine your customer list for gift occasions... anniversaries,
birthdays, and more.
You can also be replenishing your inventory. Holiday sales left sucessful
dealers with cash on hand and depleted inventory.
Be the Quality Jewelry Discounter.
Do you enjoy jewelry and gems?
Do you enjoy talking with friends and friends