Jewelry has always fascinated people from all over the world. With a history of more than 75000 years, jewelry and the loose gems that are used to build these wearable masterpieces, still fascinate and represent a crucial part of human history. Archaeologists found them all around Africa and in some parts of Russia as well.
Egyptians were famous for their colored jewelry with semi-precious gems, stones and crystals encased in gold, copper or silver. Greeks started using loose stones at round 1600 BC and Indians have an amulet with 9 gems (diamonds, pearls, ruby, sapphire, emerald, topaz, cat’s eye, coral, and hyacinth) to represent the Maharajah’s power and the totality of the Hindu universe when all nine gemstones are together.
Jewelry in general, and loose stones in particular, provide various insights into how both ancient and modern cultures function in terms of beliefs and traditions. Nowadays, custom jewelry is a great way to express an individual style and thanks to the internet, getting creative has never been so easy.
Some loose gems are easy to acquire, as they are scattered around the world, but certain stones are more rare than others. Usually, these gems are brought to surface from small-scale mines located in developing nations, thus the reduced prices for these stones.
Loose Gems Types
The multitude of colors in which these stones come, also assure the diversity of jewelry than can be made with them. It is this sheer diversity that also generates a variety of names and meanings. Let’s look at the main gems that we can find on the market:
The Sapphire, which is essentially an aluminium oxide (Corundum), is a wonder of the gem’s world. Usually, the Corundum comes as a red-colored compound that is used to cut rubies. A ruby is nothing more than a Corundum in its natural condition. When the Corundum appears in other colors, such as blue, we have sapphires. Despite the general belief that sapphires come only in blue, they also exist in other colors aside from blue: colors such as pink, yellow and opaque black, depending on the materials that are present in the compound (iron or titanium).
Emeralds are by far the most glamorous stones you’ll ever see. The beautiful, natural green color, makes this stone one of the jewelry makers' favorite choice. There is no such thing as an ideal emerald, and if you ask me, it is the unique imperfections that make them beautiful.
Emeralds are created from Beryl (an aluminium and glucinum silicate). The soft texture of the emeralds make them rather hard to polish, so this stone must be handled and then worn with great care. It was generally used for crowns and heavy jewelry pieces, as the gem is substantially lightweight in comparison with other gems.
Tanzanite is also a light stone, generally used for large, opulent jewelry. This beautiful and rare stone is available in shades of blue and crimson, and can be found in a single location in the world – Tanzania (Merelani Hillsides of Kilimanjaro, Tanzania) - thus the name of the stone.
Aquamarine (ocean water in Latin) is a blue cyan variety of Beryl. Extremely valued in the refined and handmade jewelry industry, this gem is usually associated with emeralds. From blue to fade cyan, this gems can be found on all continents. The biggest ever found, was found in Marambaia, Minas Gerais, Brazil, in 1910 and it weighed over 110 kg.
The largest cut aquamarine gem is the Dom Pedro aquamarine, now housed in the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History.
Loose Gemstones Prices
What determines the cost of top quality gems? There are a number of factors that affect the price of the gems. The majority of the gem mines are located in under developed nations and usually, the actual miners don't know anything about the price and the rarity of the gems they are looking for.
Compared with developed countries, local miners receive extremely low salaries, and they mine to earn a living. The miners sell the gems to interested parties, then these parties sell the gems to knowledgeable purchasers, and so on, until it reaches the central market. Every pass of a gem, means extra money to be paid by you. The gems may pass through up to seven sets of hands before arriving to gem market and then to you. You are just another element of the whole process.
Becoming a gem investor implies huge amounts of money. The best procedure would be to find your own supplier, one or two levels beneath the market price, but even this move is quite risky, as you never know the quality of the gems that suppliers may have. How would it be to purchase gems three levels underneath the market cost?
Going to the main producing countries, may be a good idea if you want to buy with a first or second level price, but there are some risks you will take by doing this, not to mention that you’d have to be an expert in gems to avoid being bamboozled.
If you need some gems for a wedding ring or for some jewels, simply locate a reliable supplier of gems either in your country, or from the country in which the gem mines are situated. Nowadays, with the internet, finding the right gems is far simpler, but it has more risks than before. Because the Internet helps the trading procedure, the costs are considerably lower than before. Still, be careful.
Not having a face-to-face deal, is already a risk you’re taking. Take every caution necessary to prevent unnecessary rip-offs. Don’t complete the deal if you don’t have a money-back guarantee policy assured. Remember that only after manual inspection it is possible to see if the gems are genuine or not.
A good retailer will insist on respecting these rules and policies. If you sense something that doesn’t seem right, don’t complete the deal. Only work with reliable partners when purchasing gems. After all, we’re not talking about some spare pocket money. Try to find other people that live or used to live in that region. They will usually help you check the origins of the gems you want to purchase.
Remember that loose gems can be acquired with little effort as long as you do your homework. Buying gems from somewhere else than from a local jewelry market can save you a lot of money, but it could also make you lose them if you are not paying attention.