AZGem Gems

July 2016


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The World's Most Useful
Gem & Jewelry Monthly Newsletter

Written by Carolyn Doyle for customers of
The Dorado Company

and other visitors to the website who subscribe.




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Usable Gems... and a little opinion.


Colored Gemstone Country of Origin Identification


Image credit: Sotheby's


Colored Gemstone Country of Origin identification is a relatively new area of expertise, as this series of articles has explained. Only a few organizations offer this service commercially. And the service is often restricted to rubies, sapphires, and emeralds.

Proper identification depends largely on these keys...

Knowledge of the characteristics of gems coming from a particular area (mine, gem field, or region).
Identifying the presence of those characteristics in the gemstone being examined.

For example, a ruby from the Mogok Valley gem fields has some characteristics that differ from rubies mined in neighboring Thailand, China, of India... and even different from those produced in Mong Hsu, Burma (Myanmar). Each was created in slightly different geologic conditions. Temperatures, pressures, and the natural elements present, all contributed to make these rubies different.



Image credit: Sotheby's


Colored gemstone country of origin identification services are showing signs of expanding those services. A few labs are offering (or considering offering) identification services for tsavorite, alexandrite, and some of the other high value color change gems.

And this brings us to another key consideration - market value.

I think of the two keys mentioned above as scientific knowledge, and the art of applying that knowledge (testing and observing). Several academic and commercial labs have the knowledge and ability to identify the geographic origin of numerous gem species, but the value of many gems do not justify the cost of determining geographic origin.



Image credit: GIA


Tsavorite garnet occurs in only two locations that I am familiar with, so origin determination should be possible now.



Image credit: GIA


Identifying the geographic origins of other green garnets presents much more of a challenge. Garnets are what politicians call "inclusive". During the formation of these gems, they welcome a variety of elements to join in, resulting in variations of garnet hybrids.


Image Credit: GemRite


This hybrid characteristic applies to most garnets, whether relatively rare and pricey, or commonly occurring and inexpensive. Practically all garnets are hybrids. This makes geographic origin determination difficult. It even makes identification of a garnet's chemical composition challenging.



Opal occurs in a number of places around the world. Some of these carry names associated with their most common occurrence, such as Peruvian blue opal and Mexican fire opal.

Most play-of-color opal (including precious opal) comes from Australia, and more recently Ethiopia.



The Colored gemstone country of origin determination report from the Gemology Project - Parts One and Two, were reprinted in trhe space below in the May and June, 2016 (last two month's) editions of this newsletter. This month, the final portion of the report is published.

This report is written for gemologists, academics, and research scientists. It can be complicated. Don't worry about the detail, a general reading will give you a general idea of gemstone origin determination.


Origin Determination – Continued from last month

This information is courtesy of The Gemology Project

Challenges for Origin Determination

How do laboratories determine the country of origin if gemstones are formed in similar genetic environments or geological and mineralogical conditions, yet, their geographic regions are located great distances apart? For example, sapphires originating from the Sri Lankan and the Kashmir region have similar or overlapping gemological properties, which make determining a separation between the sources almost impossible. With the scenario of gemstones having very similar properties which are from different locations, instead of searching for one diagnostic feature to separate the sources, a comprehensive view of the gemstones is considered, such as the identification and description of inclusions, analysis of chemical elements, and spectral properties. “Evaluation and interpretation of the observed features, combined with additional advanced analysis,” may allow a laboratory to reach a conclusion on the geographic origin of the gemstones (Gübelin Gem Lab, Ltd, August 2006, The Limitations of Origin Determination, p. 62).

There are also various mines and deposits, which are scattered over a geographical location and categorized as a single entity, such as the Montana sapphires found in the United States, which produce stones which differ not only in color, but also inclusions. Sapphires from the Missouri River mines differ from those found at Yogo Gulch as well as the sapphires found at Rock Creek. Unfortunately, in this case, there is no distinction between the localities of the deposits, even though each of the deposits produces sapphires with differing and distinct characteristics (Hughes, 1990, A Question of Origin, n.p.)..

Laboratories that provide origin reports are vulnerable when new gemstone treatments, synthetics, or newly discovered material enter the market. It is necessary that the laboratories are able to research new finds by visiting the new deposits or mines, and research new treatments and synthetics possibly before they enter the market. One scenario laboratories may face is when a consumer’s colored gemstone is sent to 2 different laboratories for origin determination with differing results of the stone’s provenance from each of the labs. The consequences may be dire for the consumer. For example, at the May 2009 ICA Congress Speech of Dr. Adolph Peretti, Dr. Peretti shed light that the “misinterpretation of a gemstone’s origin may possibly provide a gem dealer with a huge premium. If a consumer sends the gemstone, for example, a ruby, to one laboratory for origin determination, which declares the ruby of Burmese origin, and then the consumer sends the ruby to a different laboratory, which concludes that the ruby is of Vietnamese origin, the consumer may lose the amount of money the dealer made with his initial premium. The ruby mentioned in the hypothetical scenario was from a new deposit and had not been examined by laboratories for origin testing before it entered the market and was sold to a consumer (ICA Congress Speech of Dr. Adolph Peretti, May 2009, "Research report summaries on the origin and treatments of valuable rubies from Tanzania and tourmalines from Brazil and Mozambique," n.p).” However, the percentage of these conflicting origin reports is relatively small. Misidentifying the origin a gemstone is usually an unfortunate consequence of the lack of funding and research needed to provide accurate origin determination, but, it is a necessity that labs are able to ensure the integrity of their gemstone country-of-origin reports. If the origin for a gemstone cannot be determined, laboratories will state that “no origin” could be determined for the gem in question. For example, when a laboratory tests a stone for its geographical location, but findings of the gemological test results and observations are insufficient, or uncertain, the opinion of the gemstone’s origin should not be given.

Dr. Peretti discussed another challenge for laboratories which provide origin reports are the problem encountered in the gemstone market which involves the provenance of Paraiba Tourmaline. Paraiba Tourmaline, originally discovered in the state of Brazil in 1989, is a copper-bearing tourmaline of greenish-blue color and the most valuable tourmaline in the world. The recently discovered copper-bearing tourmalines from Mozambique, as well as those from Nigeria, are being called “Paraiba Tourmaline,” by some laboratories and gemstone dealers, regardless of their origin. “Comparison of statistics of copper-bearing tourmaline from Mozambique and Brazil show that different colors and sizes are found from both origins. In general, copper-bearing tourmalines from Mozambique have more color varieties, while tourmalines from the state of Brazil are more color intense at equal sizes.” A “non-educated” consumer may believe he or she is purchasing a Paraiba Tourmaline from Brazil, when actually in reality, the tourmaline is from Africa. Since a huge price difference exists between the origins of copper-bearing tourmalines, with the Brazilian Paraiba Tourmalines commanding much higher prices, this dilemma “may lead into legally critical situations (ICA Congress Speech of Dr. Adolph Peretti, May 2009, "Research report summaries on the origin and treatments of valuable rubies from Tanzania and tourmalines from Brazil and Mozambique," n.p).”

Benefits of Origin Determination

At the 2007 ICA Congress Lab Session, Mr. Christopher P. Smith discussed with attendees that gemstone geographic origin determination is not “an exact science” and is still in its infancy. Also attending the session, Mr. Vincent Pardieu stressed the necessity and importance gem laboratories must not only strive to keep up with technology related to treatments and synthetics; but also research new gem deposits to keep up with the growing demand for origin determination reports. (ICA Congress Lab Session, May 2007, "Labs Tackle Question of How to Help Industry, Build Consumer Confidence at ICA Congress," n.p.). With the 2008 United States of America government ban on the importation of rubies from Burma into the US still in effect, county-of-origin determination, particularly for corundum, has additional importance to the trade as well as consumers. Origin reports may have a serious political purpose when they are used to prevent the unregulated sale (smuggle or launder) of “conflict gemstones” (Lesney, 2001, Precious Provenance, n.p.). Thus far, the attempt to implement a system, similar to the Kimberely Process for diamonds, to ensure that a ruby is not from Burma, has been unsuccessful since the “majority of ruby-producing areas are highly decentralized. Other ruby deposits discovered in Africa, such as the beautiful and usually unenhanced Winza ruby, recently discovered in Tanzania Country, show promising alternatives for sources which may produce gem-quality stones. In 2002, Columbia Gem House of Vancouver, Washington, in the United States, implemented a mine-to-market promotion to bring rubies into the U.S. from Malawi by developing a local mining industry and partnering in community and social developments (Smith, et al., 2008, Inside Rubies, p. 141).”

Understanding the genesis of gemstones helps in the determination of their geographical origin, thus improving prospecting strategies for mining gemstones, such as corundum, which could also be used as a method for controlling the trading circuits. The need for 3rd party certification for gemstones from gemological laboratories, including country-of-origin reports, can also help support and grow the industry. Consumers of gemstones not only want to know the gemstones they purchase are being identified properly and that they are reasonably priced, but, also, they also want to be reassured that the gemstones are from conflict-free sources. Laboratories hope to build and sustain consumer confidence through the issuance of colored gemstone country-of-origin reports. Today, consumers purchase over 50% of gemstones via television shopping networks and the internet which has forced traditional jewelers to reexamine how they sold gemstones. Jewelers are now more likely to provide gemstone provenance with gemstone identification reports for their high-end gemstones. Laboratories also work closely with those in the trade to be able to provide origin reports and certificates for gemstones at a reasonable price, as well as educating people in retail to speak confidently about the gemstones they sell (ICA Congress Speech of Dr. Adolph Peretti, May 2009, "Research report summaries on the origin and treatments of valuable rubies from Tanzania and tourmalines from Brazil and Mozambique," n.p).

Most gemological laboratories invest a certain amount of their resources in scientific research activities, which is usually used “in-house,” but, is also shared with the gemological and geological communities through research publications. An effective way of obtaining first-hand access to scientific results is through the cooperation of researchers and research organizations (Gübelin Gem Lab, Ltd., September 2006, A Holistic Method to Determining Gem Origin, p.126). .

Intellectual Requirements

Origin determination requires a thorough understanding of the geological processes. The “interpretation of small-scale gemological observations requires constant verification with the scientific models of large-scale geological environments (Gübelin Gem Lab, Ltd., September 2006, A Holistic Method to Determining Gem Origin, p.126).” It is recommended that most gemologists at a gemological laboratory, who are involved in origin determination, hold a degree in the earth sciences, such as mineralogy, petrology, crystallography, geology, or a related field. To be able to successfully tackle the challenges of origin determination, this academic foundation should be complemented with “solid” gemological training and several years of experience in a gem lab. The analysis of gemological properties and interpretation of the resulting data and observations alone exceed the level of knowledge taught in standard gemological training (Gübelin Gem Lab, Ltd., September 2006, A Holistic Method to Determining Gem Origin, p.126).




Colored gemstone country of origin identification is a challenging field for gemologists. Chemical composition trace minerals, typical microscopic inclusions, and other characteristics can identify where a gem was born, thanks to early gem industry professionals.



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Photo Information


Top - Mong Hsu Ruby (Burma)

Next - Alexandrite (Russial)

Next - Tsavorite Garnet (Kenya)

Next - Demantoid Garnet (Russial)

Next - Malaya Garnet (East Africa)

Next - Opal (Ethiopia)

Next - Color change Garnet (East Africa)

Next - Amethyst (East Africa)

Next: - Gem special offer -  Ruby pear 

Next - Industry News - Chopard storefront facade

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 russia or green garnet can return some very interesting information and websites.




Gem Offer



Here is this month's special gem deal. 


Gem:     Ruby

Color:     Great red color

Quality:     Slightly Included, probably heat treated, nice inexpensive gem

Shape:     Pear 

Dimensions:     8.7 x 6.9  mm

Approximate Weight:    1.94 carats

Price:     $100, plus shipping ($5)

Send me an email (with anti-spam) (carolynatazgemdotcom) and tell me that you want this fine gem.

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.


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Gem Industry News


Chopard sues Fararri Express and it's international news



Chopard, a premier jewelry design and fabrication firm, is suing the courier service Ferrari Express.

Although the events occurred entirely within the United States, the international press has reported on the lawsuit.

British news source The Daily Mail summarizes the story this way...

Jewelry firm sues courier company after delivery driver leaves $15million of bling in the back of his truck which was promptly stolen

Ferrari Express picked up the 53 jewels from Chopard's shop in New York
Chopard wanted a celebrity to wear the $15million jewels at the Grammys
Instead of storing the gems in a safe, the driver left them in his van at night
Thieves stole the van which has been parked in an unsafe neighborhood


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Jewelry Dealers


jewelry dealers wholesale


If you attended any of the Las Vegas Jewelry Week shows you are busy deciding how the loose gems you purchased should be turned into finished jewelry. If you bought loose gems from us instead of going to Las Vegas, you're probably doing the same... but with more money still in your pocket.

Sales opportunities slow down this time of year... but they still exist. Mine your customer list for gift occasions... anniversaries, birthdays, and more.

Be The quality jewelry dealer at a lower price.



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Jewelry Dealers Program


jewelry dealers program


Do you enjoy jewelry and gems?

Do you enjoy talking with friends and friends of friends?

Could you use an extra income source?

Take a look at our great Jewelry Dealers Program.



Carolyn Doyle

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