I've had a couple of recent trips to Myanmar (formerly know as Burma), and found lots of nice spinels in all colors but I focused my buying on the nice reds. The reds are outstanding due to the incredible fluorescence of these Burmese stones. Under UV light they have an unreal glow to them (see photo below); in normal daylight the fluorescence ramps up the saturation and intensity of the color. It's too bad that many of the stones that I saw were so poorly cut, but I did buy a couple of poorly cut (but deep) stones to recut because they were clean and had top color. Some rough spinels were offered including the awesome crystal shown in the photo below, which I would have bought except the owner was expecting an insanely high price. Maybe on my next trip I'll see some reasonably priced material.
I've just returned from annual buying trip to the Sri Lanka gem markets with nice sapphires, spinels and garnets. It's always cool to be one of the few Westerners to visit these markets where I get to see great stones, with many of them new to the market. As expected, there are plenty of sapphires to choose from, but there are always interesting stones such as cat's eyes, alexandrite and rare stones like sinhalite and andalusite. In addition to locally-sourced stones I also see many from East Africa, as Sri Lankan buyers purchase rough in those countries for cutting in Sri Lanka.
There were some opportunities to explore the area around the gem markets, so I saw the traditional blowpipe heating, gemcutting and rough stone markets. As a cutter, the rough stones were fascinating, but since rough stone exports from Sri Lanka are prohibited to protect the local cutting industry I couldn't bring any home.
I was also honored to be invited to speak at the 2016 International Gemology Academy conference this year, with my presentation on Gemstone Photography Techniques. The presentation was very well received, and I made many important contacts as a result. My broker tells me I'm now famous in the local community! I can't verify that, but I was introduced to several industry contacts including some dealers in Colombo that specialize in world-class sapphires. If you've ever wanted a top sapphire (like the 10 ct sapphire shown below) please let me know - I can probably find it for you.
I've just returned from a fantastic trip to Namibia, a place of stark and unparalleled beauty. Namibia is a mineralogical hotbed and is well known for such gemstones as diamonds, demantoid garnets, amethyst, tourmaline, and unique mineral specimens such as peitersite. It was great fun driving the remote back roads along the Skeleton Coast and in the Spitzkoppe and Erongo mountain districts, watching out for wildlife, poking through thousands of mineral specimens at the roadside shops, and searching out gemstone dealers and prospectors in the few small towns. My trip produced some interesting material, and new stones will begin to show up on my website in the coming months. If you haven't done so already, please sign up for my newsletter in order to get notification of these new stones.
I'd never been totally happy with my Asscher step cut design, so worked with the design in GemCad and found a way to optimize it so that a single design works well for all materials. A test cut in flawless white zircon shows that the hard work paid off!
The Jewelers of America and the American Gem Trade Association just announced that spinel has been added to the official list of birthstones! So if you or someone you know has an August birthdate, check out my spinel page.
In case you hadn't noticed, there's a new Finewater storefront so the purchasing experience should be more streamlined. There is now a cart for multiple purchases, a credit card payment option, and automated order management emails, as well as additional details on each gemstone for sale. Additional store features will be added in the coming months (as well as a number of new gemstones) so please check back often.
As usual, the Tucson gem shows were a lot of fun. I wasn't really looking for much new material, but I still managed to purchase nice small parcels of peridot, morganite, zircon, garnet and spinel. Once I finish some on-going cutting projects I'll start to work through this material and get the new stones up on the website.
I've just returned from another successful buying trip to Sri Lanka, where I purchased an assortment of sapphires in a wide variety of colors and sizes. I also found a few nice tsavorites and alexandrites. Most are well cut and will be sent soon to AGL for ID reports; the others I will recut when time permits. Expect to see these posted later this month and early next year.
I spent a few vacation days in Bogota enjoying the gold and emerald museums, while keeping my eyes open for nice affordable emeralds. I came back empty handed - except for nice memories of gold and emeralds!
Thanks to the subscribers that took advantage of my subscriber-only private sale earlier this month. There will be another sale later this year so please remember to sign up for my newsletters on the Contact page. I'll be cutting more spinels, zircons and tourmalines in the upcoming months, and may possibly have some emeralds from an upcoming trip to Colombia.