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Good quality stones at a good price?


#1

Hello all,

I recently went to my first gem show in Novi Mich. Actually it was
mostly a bead show. I found some good buys, almost too good and I
was wondering what everyone’s opinion on these shows were? Which
ones are the good ones, and which ones should you stay clear of? I
was mostly interested in the cabochons, however, there were only a
few vendors that had them. One vendor had precious and semi-precious
stones, cabs and cut. The prices to me were very reasonable. I’m
sure it’s a matter of getting what you pay for but some of these
stones looked as good as what I get from my catalog suppliers. some
didn’t. One vendor had turquoise. Large cabochons that to my
untrained eye looked beautiful. I’m trying to find a reputable
supplier, reasonably priced with good quality stones. Any
suggestions would be very appreciated. I’m a newbie to the forum and
to jewelry making and the help I get from this forum is
irreplaceable. I’m hoping when I become more experienced I too will
be able to contribute.

Thanks for your support
Sue in Ohio


#2
I recently went to my first gem show in Novi Mich. Actually it was
mostly a bead show. I found some good buys, almost too good and I
was wondering what everyone's opinion on these shows were? 

I can’t comment on the specific show, but have some general notions.
I attend the gem shows in Chicago-- International Gem & Jewelry.
They vary a great deal from one to the next depending on time of
year (there are three) with a lot of beads in September, finished
jewelry and a lot of non-jewelry junk in December, and the most
rough and stones in May. Prices can be significantly lower than
catalogs, plus you can pick and choose. As always, of course, it is
caveat emptor. Turquoise is especially iffy, IMO. At the recent show
here, I asked the price of a really beautiful graduated strand of
turquoise. It was $250. I asked whether it was dyed. The guy said,
“Would it be $250 for dyed?” I said, “It might be.” He said he was
insulted. I said, don’t be insulted, just answer the question. He
would not, so I didn’t buy. At least he didn’t just lie and say no.

The potential problem with gem show vendors is they are literally
here today, gone tomorrow, so returns may not be possible. I try to
buy mostly from the same folks, establish a relationship, so I can
feel comfortable. Of course, some offerings are just too good to
pass up…

Noel


#3

Susan,

Welcome to the wonderful world of rocks! I cut my own stones and
have for 17 years. One of the first things I had to learn is that
there is no such thing as a good cheap rock! If it looks too good to
be true for the price it usually is! Let the buyer beware definitely
applies here. It is quite an education, I can tell you that!

As to turquoise, a lot of it is stabilized these days. One of the
ways you can tell is by clicking a stone against your teeth. A
natural stone of good quality will make a sharp clicking sound when
you tap it against your tooth (LIGHTY!). Stabilized stones will have
more of a dull clacking sound. Also, if it’s an indoor show pick up
the cabochon and hold it against your cheek. A natural stone will
feel cold like a piece of steel whereas most stabilized material
will feel warmer against your cheek. Also, heating a pin to red hot
and touching it to the underside of the cabochon will produce a
burning plastic-like smell if it’s stabilized- usually anyway. There
are sooo many aspects to learn, far more than I can mention here, so
the best way I could help is to show you examples of what I have in
turquoise and send you images of different stones to help you learn
to identify them and their different grades. That would be the
easiest way.

I can be contacted at @kenton_stevens or via my girlfriend at
jfurth@yahoo.com. We can also direct you to several reputable
dealers that we know if you like.

Let us know if that would help.
Kenton & Jane in Los Alamos


#4

Mineral shows can be fun,especially those sponsored by a local
mineral society…because those exhibitors usually like to share
their knowledge with customers and will generally give you honest
answers to your questions. Also, by attending different mineral shows
you become familiar with different dealers and what they have to
offer.And don’t be afraid to ask questions about whether a stone is
treated, or where it comes from, or why this one costs so much less
than that one that looks the same…Anyhow, if you’re new to
making jewelry it’s a good idea to hone your skills on less expensive
cabochons so if you ruin a setting or crack a stone you won’t break
your heart or your bank account. If you run into something gorgeous,
save it for when you know you can set it.

Dee


#5
If you run into something gorgeous, save it for when you know you
can set it. 

Ah, yes… I’m still working up to setting that very first expensive
stone I ever bought, a three carat purple sapphire. And that
fabulous triangular sphene… I’m pretty colose now, I think. But
once I set them, I’ll have to sell them. I guess I’m a dragon at
heart, sitting on my hoard of baubles.

Noel


#6

I love a good mineral show; but high gas prices and escalating booth
fees have cut into the number of quality shows we used to get.
Vendors who would come twice a year have cut down to one show a year,
or—if they come from far away, not at all. Some shows have nothing
but beads and high end jewelry or novelties.

Always on the lookout for interesting stuff with jewelry potential,
I ran into a couple of unfamiliar specimens recently: Ethiopian Opal?
Like a jelly opal the color of fire agate with shifting inner fire of
red,green, orange and yellow and a flash of blue. The matrix is
pinkish and clay-like. The other stone was sold by a Russian vendor,
and (I hope my spelling is accurate) he called it stakhanovite. It’s
an opaque off-white cab, .laced with coppery-bronze splinters Two of
its components are sodium and titanium (that’s all I can remember
from the list he read off to me). It appears to be softer than
agate, but the ‘splinters’ catch the light beautifully.

Is anyone familiar with either of these? If you have worked with
either one, please let me know.

Dee


#7
Ah, yes... I'm still working up to setting that very first
expensive stone I ever bought, a three carat purple sapphire. And
that fabulous triangular sphene... I'm pretty colose now, I think.
But once I set them, I'll have to sell them. I guess I'm a dragon
at heart, sitting on my hoard of baubles. 

Smaug…[G]…!

I know this Dragon Lust well…

Fighting that is the delight the mortals get when they see and
purchase such baubles…caressed and wrapped in artful precious
metal…showing off their fires and lights of beauty…

Somebody somewheres once referred to sphene as “a peridot on
acid”…[G]…

I don’t have any yet…gotta be nice to it, too…it’s a softy…

Gary W. Bourbonais
a>j>P. (GIA)


#8

Hi

The other stone was sold by a Russian vendor, and (I hope my
spelling is accurate) he called it stakhanovite. It's an opaque
off-white cab,. 

The correct spelling would actually be stakan (it is difficult to
correctly spell many words because the alphabet is
different)…anyway, the word means glass (as in "may I have a
glass of water). This was just as an aside. I was thinking it could
be an interesting tidbit for your potential customers.


#9

Hi, Dee-

Are you looking to buy rough for cutting or are you looking for cut
cabs?

The reason I ask is that the ethiopian material (this is the stuff
that looks like little mudballs, right) is a crapshoot. I have not
cut the material personally, but that is because from what I have
been able to find out a few of the mudballs have nice opally bits
inside but most turn out to be just mudballs when you cut 'em open. I
hate buying mud by the gram :wink:

So I guess what I am saying is that I would consider the Ethiopian
material to be worthwhile only if it is way cheap, if it is already
cut or if it is broken open so you can tell the pretty rocks from the
mudballs.

FWIW, the ethiopian rough I have seen was not pinkish and claylike,
but rather a very dark brown. The pinkish stuff sounds more like the
Mexican material in which the opal is in a pinkish rhyolite matrix.

The russian material sounds like astrophyllite. A stakhanovite is an
overachieving Russian worker.

http://www.greatrough.com/rough_astrophyllite.shtml

Lee


#10

Kenton,

Hey, thanks for the advice on the gem shows and stones. I would love
to see some images of good quality stones. I’ve been pretty
overwhelmed and awed by the abundance of stones out there. I’m
trying to learn as much as I can as fast as I can. Not sure what the
hurry is. Guess it’s because I haven’t been doing this long and the
excitement of it all is still very raw for me. I would very much
appreciate it if you could direct me to some reputable dealers. I
much prefer recommendations to shots in the dark.

I tried both the email addresses you gave but it wouldn’t go out for
some reason. Here’s mine. @Susan_McMaster

Thanks again,
Sue


#11

Hi,

While it’s usually true that you get what you pay for, occasionally
there are better than average deals to be had on ebay. With the huge
initial success of Thaigem.com (although I definitely wouldn’t
reccommend them) lots of Bangkok and Chanthaburi dealers are selling
on ebay and the competition can sometimes force prices below what I
would normally pay in Bangkok. Especially if the seller is new and
has little feedback, you can sometimes find stones for a fraction of
the normal market value. The thing to be aware of is that most of
the photos are highly enhanced, mostly by upping the color
saturation, and sometimes these are bluff stones with a major flaw
that isn’t obvious in the photo. Some dealers seem to only sell
stones that are heat treatment casualties with dark blue spots that
they cover up with glare in the photo. If you take these factors
into account though, sometimes there are fantastic deals to be had.
Check out the feedback, scrutinize the photo, and good luck.

Douglas


#12

Hi Susan,

Try http://www.gemsdb.com

there are around 100 gemstone Suppliers and they are backed with a
3rd party buyer guarantee. Have a look. best of luck

Ahmed shareek
gemsdb


#13

Hi Sue,

I would love to see some images of good quality stones. 

Try this site: http://www.gemstone.org/gem-by-gem/gem-by-gem.html

Beth


#14
I would love to see some images of good quality stones. 

Check out Ganoksin Library > Gemology > Handbook for the Gem Buyer at

and

Library > Gemology at

for a wealth of infrmation!

hanuman


#15
occasionally there are better than average deals to be had on
ebay. With the huge initial success of Thaigem.com (although I
definitely wouldn't reccommend them) 

Douglas are you suggesting that Thaigem has good quality stones? If
you are then it is something that might be debatable on this forum.
How many people who are buying stones KNOW what makes good quality
stones? Do you know what you’re selling your customers as far as
quality?

Craig
www.creativecutgems.com


#16

If you care at all about the stones you are selling to people in
your jewelery then learn the angles and proportions for the material.
Know that if a dealer is selling for carat weight then the cut is
secondary and you could be buying ‘crap’ that you are in turn selling
to your customers (who luckily probably don’t know the difference,
but if they ever learn watch out)…

Craig
www.creativecutgems.com


#17
With the huge initial success of Thaigem.com (although I definitely
wouldn't reccommend them) 

This is not suggesting that Thaigem sells good stones. Exactly the
opposite in fact.

They just happened to sell a lot of them for a while. However, they
did inspire a lot of other Bangkok and Chanthaburi dealers to sell
on ebay as well, some of whom do sell nice stones for a very good
price.

Another cool site to check out is: gemwow.com They are run by
the folks at AIGS in Bangkok and have lots of interesting stones for
very reasonable prices.

Happy stone hunting,
Douglas


#18

Hi Beth, Hate to disagree with you. The ICA has a beautiful and
informative site but for the most part the photos do not display
really top quality gems or most desirable colors. They are a great
organization but photography isn’t their bag.

If you want to see some spectacular stones go to hammid.com Tino
Hammid photography

This man has photographed some of the world’s fines gems and done
much of the photos for AGTA.

Sali


#19

I have very much enjoyed following the conversations regarding
buying gemstones at a good price. What exactly is considered a good
price? How about using legitimate wholesale as a guide instead of
believing a $100 stone can be picked up overseas for $10.

Frankly, I don’t understand the logic of believing that you can
email Bangkok and get great deals. Chances are, (in most cases) " it
ain’t happening. " And if allowed I would like to tell you
why…

Most major dealers from Thailand and India and other parts of the
world, are not selling via Ebay or public access Internet. These
cutters furnish primarily to dealers who use quantity as well as
quality. They don’t wish to run the risk of loosing their major
accounts for small single stone sales. As a gem importer for many
years, I have never once seen one major cutting house sell on Ebay.
However, most of those you find are small Thai dealers who buy from
the major cutters. They have small office areas with 10 names on the
door. They buy mostly 2nd and 3rd quality stones from larger cutting
houses and promote these with starting prices of $1.00 US. Many of
these people bank on your not going to the trouble of returning an
item or…worse yet…Opps, we never received the return.

If I may suggest…if you are relatively new to buying
gems… Firstly, set your quality and price bracket you want to
stay within. Find a dealer you can work with and who sees you as a
potential upgraded user. Until you really know what you are doing buy
within your own country. Thanks to the efforts of AGTA & GIA we have
some pretty solid laws governing the representation of gems in the
US. Many countries can call it anything and get away with it.

Ebay can be a good place to start. Though there is loads of junk out
there, there are some very good dealers with nice merchandise and
some pretty realistic prices. Cruise through a few of the stones you
find of interest and then look at all their merchandise and ten
bookmark the ones that have consistantly good stones and value. Read
descriptions carefully and ask questions. Vague descriptions with a
lot of flowery words and no particulars can be a stay away clue.

I offer these remarks only as a suggestion. As in all businesses you
will find good sources and bad, with a few mistakes along the way. Go
slow and you will find many honest dealer out there and not too far
from home…

Sali
Casmira Gems, Inc.


#20

I checked out gemwow.com. They do have some nice pieces at
reasonable prices. But check out the kyanite cab at $ 650 ! Not a
very nice kyanite at all, bulging out of the top of the ring (recipe
for disaster with such a soft stone), and the price ! I have some
very good faceted kyanites that must be worth more than I thought.
I’d be interested to see if anyone buys that cab ring.