2003 Tucson - what was new in the gem field: The following are a few
significant new items in the gem / mineral field at this years show
that I feel are worth mentioning.
One was a very beautiful rich saturated magenta raspberry red
variety of beryl. The rough crystal pieces I saw were of a stacked
tabular crystallization and were translucent not transparent in the
10 to 50 gram size range. Originating in Madagascar, renown for fine
morganite, it is thought that the material may be different enough
from normal morganite to possibly represent a completely new
mineral. I saw two stones which were cut into cats-eye cabs in the
3-4 carat range. Both were of exceptional color and one had a good
eye the other a "killer" top quality eye. It was a true gem of
unique & exceptional quality. I also heard rumors that this new
material is yielding some transparent clean areas suitable for
faceted stones. It is definitely something to be on the lookout
Another notable gem item in this years Tucson show was the major
amount of Russian demantoid garnet recently discovered. It seems
that the original alluvial deposits mined in the days of the Czars
has been rediscovered and mined in a more efficient way. Pala
International had the bulk of the material, but many other dealers
had significant quantities and stones from these new mining efforts.
Most of the stones were of sub carat sizes. There were also many
stones over 1 carat and up to 10 carats. The best stone I saw was in
the 4-carat size range. These stones are heated to improve the color
from olive- chrome green to pure chrome green. Unusual for garnet
which is normally not treated in any way, but then again demantoid
is an unusual garnet. Many of the stones were rudimentarily cut and
in need of better lapidary work. Probably due to the haste to get
them to market. Hopefully their cutting will improve in the future.
The third item was fake strawberry quartz. Large faceted bead
strands, spheres, eggs, and rough chunks of very beautiful
reddish-bronze-pink colored transparent material were being sold in
numerous different shows under the name strawberry & raspberry
quartz. Being that I sell genuine strawberry quartz from Kazakhstan
I took particular note. Upon close examination the new material
showed bubbles, swirls and layering, all telltale evidence of glass
- not quartz. I'm sure these unknowledgeable (unscrupulous?) dealers
sold plenty of this material to unwitting customers. It is a shame
to have a deception of this size so wide spread throughout the show.
Hopefully this situation will correct itself soon.
Lastly there seemed to be more rough green gem tourmaline at a
reasonable price on the market than in past years. The African
dealers told me that it came from the Congo. The material consisted
of green pencil diameter crystals ranging from yellow olive green to
a purer green with a slight touch of blue. Nothing very blue though.
Much of it was a very pleasing color and should yield nice green
stones in the 1-5 carat sizes.
In general dealers (including myself) felt the show was only so-so.
Nothing unexpected considering the world's political and economic
situation. All in all it was a successful show. I wish I had sold
more so I could have bought more. (A couple of kilos of green
tourmaline rough would have been nice.) I'm sure that was a feeling
many people shared.
I hope you all had a good/successful time there too, at least those
of you who went. And for those that didn't I hope this report is of
interest. See you next year.
Steve Green / Rough and Ready Gems http://www.briolettes.com
Briolettes in over 50 different materials and precision