Buying stones in Brazil

I am going to Rio De Janeiro next week and I know Brazil is known for
its Tourmalines, which are one of my favorite stones. I was wondering
if I might be able to buy them cheaper there than in the states. Does
anyone know if this is the case and if so, any stone dealers there
that are reputable? I want to buy cut stones, not rough. Also, any
other types of stones I should be on the lookout for in Brazil?

Know your stones and use a higher power loupe for ID. A good friend
of mine who sells stones came across a beautiful padparadsha sapphire
and had to just have it. Spent about $500 on it. It was a synthetic
stone, worth closer to $35.

Judy Shaw, GJG

Yes, Judy Shaw is correct. "Know your stones, and use a higher power
loupe. " My brother-in-law was an engineer working in Brazil. He
brought home quite a few stones, for which he paid quite a bit. Each
and every one of them was synthetic, worth a fraction of what he

Alma Rands

Hello Annie Moran,

I have visited many different areas in Brasil to buy stones. Rio is
definitely not the place to buy stones. I am sure you can find
stones there but they will be much more expensive then the prices you
will find in the states. I have found very good prices in Brasil but
the towns are quite a distance from Rio. Belo Horizonte is the
closest and most economical city to find stones, the problem is
finding the part of town where they sell them. I couldnt tell you
where in Belo Horizonte because I dont have the addresses any longer.
Do you speak Portuguese? There is so much I could tell you, where to
go, how to buy, the only thing is I know nothing of you… Feel free
to contact me off Orchid. I would enjoy telling you about my
experience, what to expect and what the best towns are.

Steven Brownlee (Miami Florida)

(Where you learn the art of jewelry making)

PS. if your anywhere near me, I have a may pieces of tourmaline for sale.

Hello, all

I do not recommend travelling to Brazil and buy your stones in a
local store. It’s a hard business down there and some of them are
not always only interested in selling Find yourself a
dealer or a local person who knows how to handle with local stores or

This is what I did. I have whatever I ask for and don’t need to wurry
about the inside treads. Yes, I have to pay more for a good service,
yes they are more expensive. The big advantage is that I can order
what I need, get what I need and the price is still fair for the
service I get. I can even have gemstones cut according specific
dimentions without extra charge and that while I’m sitting at home
and do whatever I want to do.

I can not give you the specifications of this person. It’s not
because I don’t want to but due to the reason that this person
already has enough customers and can not handle more. Please, do not
feel offended, it has nothing to do with racisme or anything else!

It toke me a long time before I found anybody like this person. I
know it’s not easy, but the relationship build up in time with this
person, is now based on a close friendschip. Still, business is
business and we like to keep it this way.

Yes Judy, you made your point and it is completly right. KNOW what
you do and be sure of what you get. Do not spend your money to
something of what you think it is or should be. Your customer will
find you if you sell him something different. Expressions like “I
didn’t know…” or “I thought…” will kill your businness. Be very
focused and specific. BTW, certification are made by the millions
and mean nothing if they are not based on a knowen international
organisme like GIA, IDTC or others. Fake gemstones are a big
business and “they” are getting pretty good in making them. Fake
certifications too, but most of the time only for budgets which we
can not handle… as far as I can speak for myself-)

Enjoy and have fun


I live in Brasil, and Rio is the worst place to buy stones. First
because is not safe, second because there you will find a tourist
price (very high price). I use to sell for jewelers in Rio, and when
I’m there I’m very worried about my safety. I sell just for people
that I know and trust. I have friends that knocked at jewels shops,
showed their merchandise, and after that were pursuit by thief and
even by policemen trying to rob them. Is a dangerous city,
principally if you don’t know the place, and if you deal with
I live in Minas Gerais (the state were are mined and cuted
most of brazilian stones).

I can help you in Brasil, contact me direct by my email


Know your stones and use a higher power loupe for ID 

I’ve never been to Brazil, so you can stop reading if that puts you
off - a couple of things I’ve acquired over the years, though. I
hope the first doesn’t apply to people here, but I’ll tell it:

A man called me out of nowhere and said his auntie had died. She had
traveled extensively and had acquired “quite a collection” of
The man was not rich, and hoped it would at least pay for
the funeral. I said I wouldn’t buy it, but I’d tell him what he had,
what to do, etc. He brought me “the best of it”. What he showed me
was mine run and floor sweeps all carefull packaged to look like it
meant something. I told him the bulk of it was worth a hundred bucks
IF he could find anybody to buy it. See Hans Meevis’ posting today
about diamond prices and cruise ships, FYI.

You are an idiot American (Australian, British) tourist until your
words convince them otherwise (Know your stones and use a… ).
Best advice I’ve been give about buying overseas: Look at the goods,
smile, and say, "Very nice, now where’s the good stuff?

I used to do some world traveling buying rough when I was young.
There’s an adage that holds true for those who don’t know, very
clearly, what they are doing: “Color is always most expensive at the

Wayne Emery

Anyone know where to go in Minas Gerais for stones?

Hello Annie Moran,

I go to Brail a couple of times a year, and it pays to know a
reputable dealer. If you call me off line, I will get you in touch
with Robert Lowe from Brasil, who happens to be in the US at the
present time.

He may know of a dealer in Rio, or if you are going to Sao Paulo,
can get you in touch with his partner.

I have been dealing with them for years, they have the highest
quality and best prices that I have been able to find.

They are both welcome in my home any time they travel in the US, and
they have been my guides all through the gem districts of Brasil,
North and South…

Robert P. Lowe Jr.
Lowe Associates - Brasil
1-650-648-8493 robertplowejr at

Love and God Bless

Best advice I've been give about buying overseas: Look at the
goods, smile, and say, "Very nice, now where's the good stuff? 

Reminds me of a story one of my gem dealers told me years ago. He
bought (at the time) most of his goods in India. He would have to go
there for at least two months at a time because the process went
something like this: He’d get there and go to a few locals and tell
them he wanted to buy stones. People would start showing up at his
hotel room with goods. Invariably they were junk. So he would send
them away and say that he needed better stuff. He’d sit and wait.
Someone else would show up with slightly better stuff but still crap.
He’d send them away. This would go on for weeks and weeks until
finally new guys would show up with the really good stuff. THEN he’d
start buying. Which would bring more guys with good stuff. Almost
every time he went he would have to go through the same process.

My advice: If you’re not a GG or have equivalent training and
background, and if you don’t know legitimate dealers out there, don’t
buy a thing. What are you going to do when you get home and none of
it is what it’s supposed to be? There’s no recourse once you’ve left
the country.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC

I would give you the same advice I give to my customers when they
ask how they can get the best bargain when buying diamonds on a
cruise or emeralds in Columbia or opals in Australia or whatever it
is that’s supposed to be cheap wherever it is they are going.

Consider any purchase just like gambling in Las Vegas. Don’t gamble
with money you can’t afford to lose. The odds are all with the house,
or in this case with the locals. They don’t have the same rules we
have at home, especially in a country that isn’t your own. Many
consider themselves to be bound by no rules at all.

A cruise ship jeweler I once knew told me that the easiest person to
rip off was the person that knew a little bit about jewelry, but
thought they knew a lot. They would show something that even a rank
newbie would know isn’t right, and then compliment them on their
knowledge and their savvy and then bring out “the good stuff”. It’s
the same scam played on some people going to Las Vegas. They read a
book or two, then spend a few weeks playing online poker and think
they have it all figured out. That kind of person is the easiest mark
a real gambler can find. Let 'em win a few hands, get a little cocky,
tell them “Wow, you’re good!” and then close in for the kill. If you
find the wrong person in Brazil (or anywhere else for that matter)
and they think you might fit into this category at all, they will try
their best to take you for all they can.

So unless you are a GG or something equivalent and plan to take along
a refractometer, a loupe, specific gravity fluids and a few other
gemological odds and ends, don’t buy anything jewelry related, unless
you just want a souvenir or two. If you want to go on a trip and buy
some nice tourmalines, go to Tucson next year. In my book, that’s
still a bit of a gamble, but it’s a safe enough bet to make the game
worth playing.


Hi David,

If you find the wrong person in Brazil (or anywhere else for that
matter) and they think you might fit into this category at all,
they will try their best to take you for all they can. 

yes you are wright. Bad intentioned people can be found everywhere.
But here in Brasil are many professional dealers.

I chose to live in Teofilo Otoni, to be close to the action, and
this gived me the chance ( after more that 20 years here) to learn a
lot and know people.

Some years ago a guy came to me with an emerald, about 5 ct
wonderful color and very clean. After I checked out with all
equipment and filters, I discovered that was a synthetic. I asked him
if he bought it in rough or already cut ( if so he could be foolish
by the seller).He said that he bought the rough and if I want he have
more in the same quality. As the guy used to work sometimes for a
friend of mine, I said that was not interested at that time, and told
my friend what happened. Where is that guy now ? Out of business of

You can lie for some time to many people, you can lie for a long
time to one people, but you can’t lie for a long time to many people.
Like him there are many others that come and go. And even experienced
dealers can be foolish ( and I now very, very experienced dealers
that were foolish at least once).

But talking again about Brasil- is not so wild and dangerous to come
here, if you know the correct people.

From this lovely land that I chose to be my home - Brasil.

Vlad Radu Poenaru


I would like to concur, I spent a short break in Basil flew into Rio
and drove south for a short retrite. We had a great time didn’t speak
any Portuguese and found the people and the accommodations to be
great. I hope you have a great time