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Newbie at buying good stones

Friends-- I hope some of you will be kind enough to advise me. I
am beginning to work in gold with my silver, and to do work which
emphasizes stones much more than before. As a result, I need a
better class of stones. I’m in the Chicago area, and go to the
International Gem and Jewelry show here (one coming up this month).
I am comfortable enough buying the low-end stones I have been using,
but feel very uncomfortable judging the value, worth, quality of
diamonds, sapphires, etc.

I’ve read all the info on Orchid about GIA programs, etc, but I
don’t really feel I can take the time to become a full-fledged
expert. How can I begin buying stones with confidence? I browsed the
Creative Gems site last night, and was going to order a couple of
things to try them out, but the minimum shipping charge was a third
of the amount of my tentative initial order. Maybe that’s still a
bargain–I have no idea!

I guess I am hoping for, at least, a dealer or two that can really
be trusted to give me my money’s worth, even if my ignorance may
make me easy to cheat. What do you other non-experts do when you
want to start buying diamonds and the like?

As you can tell, I’m quite nervous about this step. Please forgive
me for the length of this–and thanks for any and all help!


Go to and locate a gem and mineral club in your area.
Contact them, join the club, see if they have a show. You should be
able to learn a lot from them in a short time.

Cathy Gaber

Noel, Knowledge is power. Also I would say that experience is the
best teacher. With those cliche’s out of the way, I encourage you to
reconsider the GIA home study program. I run an extremely busy
retail design studio, and have done so for over 25 years. I am well
versed and connected in the gem arena, both in color and diamonds.

After all these years I decided to enroll in the GG program with
GIA. I make the time to do each section and feel this program is
rounding out my education. I try to read articles in the different
trade magazines dealing with gems, and find this keeps me current,
as new and wonderful gems are always being found, and prices on old
favorites are constantly changing.

Try David Myerson in Indiana. Myerson fine Gems. He deals in better
goods. 800 228-8187.

The best way to make more money is to add zeros. Peace, David @
David-Brooks Goldsmiths Hallowell Maine

Dear Noel, if you are not going to be able to take the time to
attend GIA classes you must trust your dealer. I find that here in
Tucson bargains are purchased all the time by locals who are not in
the jewelry business from the gem show from dealers who will be
leaving the area very soon. These shows really are for those who know
what they are looking at and I find that there really are few
bargains. You get what you pay for. Orchid has many good cutters and
stone dealers who contribute. Try Gerry Garleneau ( I hope I didn’t
butcher your name too badly Gerry) for starters Sam Patania, Tucson

 I've read all the info on Orchid about GIA programs, etc, but I
don't really feel I can take the time to become a full-fledged

Truly, you can’t afford not to take the time to get the proper
education. It will be something you use throughout your career as a
jeweler and will also add an element of professionalism that your
customers will all appreciate. That being said you can always find a
list of reputable colored stone dealers from the American Gem Trade
Association (AGTA) or you can email me off list and I will provide a
few names for you. Daniel R. Spirer, GG Spirer Somes Jewelers 1794
Massachusetts Ave Cambridge, MA 02140 617-491-6000

Noel, You must get an education on There is no
substitute. I am a gemstone dealer, at both wholesale and retail
shows. In the wholesale selling environment I expect my customers to
be knowledgeable. As a dealer I am not there to educate a wholesale
customer. I am there to sell you products. In wholesale I have a
strict no return for money policy unless there is some drastic
mistake I have made in representing the product. A wholesale buyer
is supposed to know what they are doing. I give each wholesale buyer
ample opportunity to look at the stone. When they buy the stone it
is their stone.

In retail I must take the time to educate my customers. I expect
them to be uneducated. I give them a five day return policy for
unaltered products. After five days the no return policy is strictly
enforced, unless I have made a mistake.

Yes, I have made mistakes in the past. Especially on gemstone
treatments and identification of synthetic versus natural. It is
very difficult. Even with 20 years experience I have been fooled. I
will admit it. Most dealers will not.

Either way my prices are the best for the quality I have to offer.
My guarantee is that the stones are exactly what I say they are or I
will gladly refund your purchase. If I do not know if the material
has been treated I tell the customer that the treatment is unknown.
My website is You may see me at Western US
gemshows. I will gladly show buyers the quality of the stones and my
pricing. Drop by.

Gerry Galarneau

 Orchid has many good cutters and stone dealers who contribute. 

I fully endorse all of what Sam said. In addition to appreciating
the service and integrity of Gerry (and his wife, Marty) Galarneau
(, I highly endorse Robert
Lowe. He is an Orchid member, and an American expatriate living in
Brazil. He brings me the most wonderful tourmalines, opals, quartz
and more, from that gemologically rich region of the
world. He comes to the U.S. a couple/few times a year, and I always
spend more than I can afford to when I see him. I know other Orchid
members also have happy and successful relationships with Robert, as

Contact info:
Robert Lowe
Lowe Associates - Brasil
Gemstones, Rough, Specimens (in Brazil) (in U.S.)

All the best,
Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)