AZGem Gems
November, 2003
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.


Gem Origins - Brazil

Gem origins are of interest to many gem fanciers. This month we visit Brazil in our tour of important gem producing countries.

Brazil may well be the most prolific gem producing country on earth.

Located along the east coast of South America, the country dominates the continent. In turn, the country is dominated by it's extensive river systems, especially the famous Amazon River.


In the 1500's this part of South America was colonized by Portugal... with some significant influences by Spain and France.

The river systems gave the Portuguese entry into the continent's interior, and as a direct result the country's borders closely follow the headwaters of the various river systems.

The shape of the South American continent has been described as a head in profile, with Brazil being the face, it's nose pointing towards Europe.

Most gem production occurs east of an imaginary vertical line located behind the eye but in front of the ear.

Deposits occur in all parts of this region... in the northern rain forests, and the more arid and rocky southern regions.

Several major players in the gem industry speculate that many significant gem deposits exist in the lightly explored western reaches of Brazil as well.

The State of Minas Gerais is Brazil's most important gem producing region, and the city of Teofilo Otoni is the most important commercial center for colored gemstones.

I recently read a report that accurately described the city as being "located between the stony hills and rocky mountains that are so characteristic of the landscape of the state of Minas Gerais."

Historically gem mining in Brazil has been a low tech activity, with corresponding low yields from many deposits.

As with gem mining in other parts of the world, this condition is now changing.

Government regulation of the mining industry is increasing, based on environmental concerns and tax revenue desires.

These regulations are aimed at the large ore mining companies (including gold ore), but the tiny gem mines are being included.

This is hurting gem production because the small miner just cannot afford the expense involved in qualifying for and acquiring the newly required  permits and licenses.

As a result, larger gem mining companies are moving in, especially Canadian mining companies.

Brazil produces many significant gems... including emerald, aquamarine, morganite, and other beryls.

More topaz is produced here than any other country in the world.

While most people automatically think of white (colorless) topaz, treated to produce beautiful blue topaz, Brazil is the only known source for imperial topaz.

Alexanderite and other forms of chrysoberyl are  gaining importance in the country's gem inventory.

Spodumene, amazonite, brazilianite, and amber are also produced here.

At one time Brazil was the world's primary source for diamonds. It's today's primary source for tourmaline.

Brazil is a very important producer of quartz gems (amethyst, citrine, rutilated, smoky, crystal, and rare colors)

We'll cover some of these gems in future issues. 

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Industry News

Last month we reported on Jewelers of America and state governments urging imposition of sales   taxes on internet sales.

Now your internet connection may be taxed soon. The US Senate let the ban on these taxes expire recently.

If they don't act right away, states will begin imposing another tax on you through your internet service provider.

They can think of ways to spend your money faster than you can earn it.

If you would like to contact your elected representatives about this or any other issues, here are links to the Senate and House of Representatives email directories.


Jewelry Dealers

Now is the time to build your inventory for the coming season.

You should be buying...

  • finished jewelry pieces
  • loose gems
  • mountings
  • gold chain

You can buy some finished pieces from us or one of the other suppliers listed in your dealer information.

You know how to buy a loose gem from us and a compatible mounting from a listed manufacturer and have your trade shop set the gem to make a custom piece.

You should also have a few gold chains in stock. Look in your dealer info for a supplier... or check with me. Send an e-mail to

P.S. If you want to build a profitable website for your jewelry business (or any other local, small business), I recommend SBI!

There's a lot of exciting new things happening on the web to make it local businesses friendly.


Jewelry Dealers Program

Do you enjoy jewelry and gems?

Do you enjoy talking with friends and co-workers?

Take a look at our great Jewelry Dealers Program.

Carolyn Doyle

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The Dorado Company
P.O. Box 8232
Scottsdale, AZ 85252-8232