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[Source] Online rough gemstone sellers


#1

Hi,

I have heard from a lot of people, such as at Gram Faceting that any
gem dealer selling on any auction site is inherently non-trustworthy,
and that I should only buy my rough through word-of-mouth referrals
built up over years of personal relationships.

Is that really true?

I’m interested in the following auctioners of rough gemstone and I
want to know if they are legitimate and fair. I’m looking for
reputable sources of garnet and opal.

skygems, orcagems, davesopals, sirapatsorngems, mineralholics, orchids9,
RnJs-Rock-Shop

If you also have favorite gem rough dealers you could vouch for who
do not sell online or on auction I would also like to hear about
them.

Many thanks,
Andrew Jonathan Fine


#2

Hi, Andrew.

I have heard from a lot of people, such as at Gram Faceting that
any gem dealer selling on any auction site is inherently
non-trustworthy, and that I should only buy my rough through
word-of-mouth referrals built up over years of personal
relationships. Is that really true?

While the advice you quote is generally sound, it is more a
guideline than an iron clad rule. One way to help assure that your
auction dealer is honest is if you recognize them as members of
Orchid, or some other gemology or jewelry forum whose membership you
trust. In my case, I just read the auctions carefully, looking for
inconsistencies, vagueness, or other indicators that things might not
be as represented, and I had pretty good luck with that.

Other good advice is, always pay with Paypal or a credit card, since
those methods help with recovering disputed items. If you are buying
from an unknown seller, don’t pay more than you can afford to lose,
and accept that you will occasionally make a mistake. On the other
hand, a lot of auction dealers are honest, and with a very little
practice, the deceptive ones quickly become obvious.

With some exceptions, I have had a better record buying polished
stones from online auctions than rough, mostly because it is very
difficult to evaluate rough from descriptions or photographs, and
many sellers do not offer their very best at auction anyway,
especially starting at under a dollar. Many excellent gem dealers,
however, use auctions as loss leaders to promote their product lines,
and some sell exclusively at auction.

In the end, you just have to use your best judgement, case by case.

Good luck!
Steve McQueen
Gems Evermore


#3
Other good advice is, always pay with Paypal or a credit card,
since those methods help with recovering disputed items. 

While it’s always better to inspect rough gem material in person
before purchasing it, it’s not axiomatic that every internet seller
is out to cheat you. The Internet is like anyplace else - there are
honest people as well as crooks there. That said, if you do get
burned by someone who sells you inferior goods misrepresented as
being of superior quality, don’t think that Paypal will intervene on
your behalf. They don’t get involved in disputes like that; if the
seller sent you anything even close to what you ordered (such as
abrasive-quality corundum sold as fine sapphire), Paypal will side
with the seller. Also, if they manage to stall you for 45 days before
you initiate a complaint with Paypal, they’re in the clear - no
matter how egregious a seller’s conduct may have been, Paypal washes
its hands of the whole matter after that time has passed. You might
do better with a credit card, though, depending on the particular
card issuer.

Andrew Werby
www.computersculpture.com


#4

Hi,

One of my teachers turned me on to Thomas Schneider in San Diego few
years ago. I bought some aquamarine facet rough from him in person.
He was very knowledgeable and helpful. I have never bought anything
from him online before. But I can only expect the service would be
as good. As others have brought up on this thread, as a rule I like
to look at the rough in person before I buy.

Here’s a link:

Thomas M. Schneider

Thanks,
Aaron
http://www.aaronwilloughby.com


#5
That said, if you do get burned by someone who sells you inferior
goods misrepresented as being of superior quality, don't think that
Paypal will intervene on your behalf. They don't get involved in
disputes like that; 

Here is the simple remedy how to buy gemstones online.

Insist on GIA nomenclature. NO GIA NOMENCLATURE - NO DEAL! One of
the important GIA contributions to the Trade is establishing common
language, so gemstone trade can be done over the distance. If stones
arrived not as described, now you have a basis for complaint, and
Paypal and any other credit card would get involved, because you can
prove that it is not what I have agreed to.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#6

Leonid,

Insist on GIA nomenclature. NO GIA NOMENCLATURE - NO DEAL! 

Would you outline GIA’s current colored gem nomenclature for the
group?

What about an “Eye Clean” peridot, for instance? What Type gem
mineral is it? Is red tourmaline held to the same clarity standard by
GIA as red spinel, as an example?

GIA course work changed to a new colored stone grading system in
2002. I use the new nomenclature but I’m afraid people taking your
advice might not recognize it and think I’m not grading correctly.

Rick Martin
www.artcutgems.com


#7

Leonid, That’s all well and good for the part of the world that uses
GIA nomenclature, a large part of it doesn’t (Australia has its own,
that is somewhat related to the GIA system, but not quite the same).
The saving grace is that a lot (not all) gem related terms tend to be
universal (if using English [grin]).

As a rough dealer (see below, but please note I’m in the process of
doing a major update/reworking of the site), I try to be as clear
as I can be in my descriptions (Individually photographing stones is
not unusual for me), and if you’re not happy with what you received,
well “shame on me, how can I make it right?” is usually my reply.

BTW as a dealer I tried to stay out of this thread as I’m biased,
but well I guess I just couldn’t resist.

Happy New Year to one and All!

Cheers, Thomas Janstrom.
Little Gems.
http://tjlittlegems.com


#8
Would you outline GIA's current colored gem nomenclature for the
group? 

Sorry, but that is not something to be done via email.

I understand your concern about recent changes, but it is the best we
have.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#9

Would you outline GIA’s current colored gem nomenclature for the
group?

Sorry, but that is not something to be done via email. 

Leonid, you said GIA nomenclature should be used for buying rough
colored stone as I recall. The below applies to cut
stones only. There has never been a GIA grading system for colored
gem rough. Anyone who uses GIA diamond grading terms to describe
colored stones, rough or cut, is not using proper GIA nomenclature,
which is outlined very well at this link:

http://www.gemguide.com/news/GMN200705.htm

Colored gems are not comparable to diamonds and the GIA belatedly
recognized that a new grading system was needed for color, especially
clarity grading. Type I, II and III separations accept the fact that
not all gem minerals are created equal in terms of clarity, i.e.,
aquamarine (often loupe clean) and emerald (rarely eye clean), both
members of the beryl group, as examples.

No grading system for color is perfect, as Mr. Drucker acknowleges.
But the system outlined by him at the link describes current GIA
nomenclature for color.

Rick Martin
www.artcutgems.com


#10
Insist on GIA nomenclature. NO GIA NOMENCLATURE - NO DEAL! One of
the important GIA contributions to the Trade is establishing
common language, so gemstone trade can be done over the distance. 

Unfortuately, most standard nomenclature, GIA included, is designed
to describe polished stones. There are a lot of rough dealers out
there who may say “will probably cut VVS stones,” but the fact is
that you never know what is inside a rough stone, unless it has been
polished. (Yeah, I know, Refractol and other tricks, but we’re
talking about buying online here.) I am cutting an amethyst right now
that looked like it would come out I1 at best, but is shaping up into
a nice VS or SI. The point being that, in most cases, it is just not
possible to say with certainty what clarity grade, or sometimes even
exact color, a rough stone will yield when cut.

If in doubt, don’t spend too much. That way, if you are
disappointed, you didn’t lose too much. Also, in auctions, you can
check feedback, look at other items the seller is offering, and do
some other consistency checks to ensure that the deal is reasonable
and honest. In general, avoid sellers with blurry pictures, low/bad
feedback numbers, or ultra-rare stones at ridiculous prices. Expect
clarity to be about 1 grade lower than described. For some reason,
auction sellers often grade their stones optimistically. Finally, if
it doesn’t seem right, even if you don’t know why, let it go! There
is more than one source for any stone you can imagine.

On the other hand, if you are willing to take a chance, once in a
while it may pay to gamble. Just be aware that you are placing a bet
in such cases. (I got some really pretty simulated tanzanite one time
when doing just that!)

Happy hunting!

Steve
http://www.gemsevermore.com


#11
There has never been a GIA grading system for colored gem rough.
Anyone who uses GIA diamond grading terms to describe colored
stones, rough or cut, is not using proper GIA nomenclature, which
is outlined very well at this link: 

I do not remember saying anything about applying diamond grading
standards to colored stones. Description of hue, saturation, and tone
are applicable to rough as well as polished

As far as providing internet link to description of GIA grading
system or any grading system for that matter, is like posting
instructions for self-taught open heart surgery.

I intentionally avoided doing so, because in this case the saying
"little knowledge is a dangerous thing" is true.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#12
There are a lot of rough dealers out there who may say "will
probably cut VVS stones," but the fact is that you never know what
is inside a rough stone, unless it has been polished. 

That is precisely misrepresentation than needs to be avoided. Dealer
can only say how gemstone looks uncut (if we talking about rough).
Any prediction of how stone would look after been polished, for me
is a red flag.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#13
Here is the simple remedy how to buy gemstones online. Insist on
GIA nomenclature. NO GIA NOMENCLATURE - NO DEAL! 

Maybe, but it doesn’t apply to rough. I wouldn’t even know where to
start with a grading system for rough. There are seller descriptions
like “eye clean” or “90% clean”, but it depends on whose eyes :slight_smile:

One problem is that the faceter has a great deal of control over the
quality of the finished gemstone. From the same piece of rough, on
cutter may decide to produce a flawless stone, where another may
decide to cut a less perfect but larger stone.

Even for finished stones, there’s controversy. The late cutter Jeff
Graham said “I do not use or agree with GIA’s grading system” for
colored stones. That certainly didn’t stop him from selling his
product.

Al Balmer
Sun City, AZ


#14
Maybe, but it doesn't apply to rough. I wouldn't even know where
to start with a grading system for rough. There are seller
descriptions like "eye clean" or "90% clean", but it depends on
whose eyes :-) 
From my perspective clarity grade for rough should not be even
mentioned. 

I am looking for non GIA descriptor like “cobbed”. If you ask for
GIA clarity grade, and seller will provide with one, you know that
seller is full of H2S. However, hue, tone, and saturation are very
useful and should be asked for.

Even for finished stones, there's controversy. The late cutter
Jeff Graham said "I do not use or agree with GIA's grading system"
for colored stones. That certainly didn't stop him from selling his
product. 

Graham’s disagrement with GIA system is largely based on absence of
"flawless" grade. His point is easy to understand if one considers
that Graham was a competition cutter and could produce flawless
gemstone. I would be upset also, if some academic would make my work
non-existent based on statistical likelihood of the event was
virtual zero. I myself would like for GIA to reconsider their
approach, but this is very minor and practically does not affect
anything.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com