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1. Misunderstand concerning the word “Cabochon”


The word CABOCHON in the gem business is often used wrongly, to the point that some people miss the actual meaning of it especially here in Tanzania. If you are in the gem business make sure you use this word correctly.

The word CABOCHON explains the cutting style of a gemstone not the quality of the gemstone as many think. You will find that some miners and even gem sellers use this word to define the quality of the gemstone.

In the Gem cutting, there are styles which are famous, we will take a look at few of them.


Is a gem cutting style with many sides well cut and polished. The gem has to be transparent in order to cut as a facet. E.g. Diamond, Ruby, Sapphire or any other transparent gem. Above is facet image. 


Cabochon is a smooth rounded polished gem has a domed top with a flat or curved base. Above are cabochon images. The good example is chalcedony, chrysoprase, coral or opal 


This is another style of gem cutting, where as a gemstone is cut to design a desired figure or shape. E.g. map figure, car figure, animal figure etc. The good example is ruby zoisite  

Why some gemstones must cut in a Cabochon style?

  1. Some gems appear more presentable when cutting them cabochon. There are some stones in order for them to shine the gem cutter must cut the cabochon style, e.g. Moonstone, opal, Star Ruby, Star Sapphire, Sunstone. ruby zoisite, ruby fuchsite,
  2. The second reason is when the stone has visible inclusions, so to improve the value of the stone, it must be cut in the 'cabochon’ style.
  3. Some of the gemstones are “opaque”, they do not allow the light to penetrate e.g. malachite, agate, coral, ruby zoisite, ruby fuchsite, amazonite, aventurine and feldspar

I hope that you have understood the meaning of word “CABOCHON”. Let me remind you once again, it is a cutting style and not the quality of the gemstone. 

2. Gemstones that command great prices

Not every gemstone, you can sell at a big lump sum amount

There are some  gemstones that to make big money, you must sell many kg even tons. When I  say lump sum, I mean US$ 100,000 and above per piece of the gemstone. You can’t sell gems such as citrine, red garnet weighing 1 - 10 grams  for US$1,000 to US$100,000 per piece.  

Below are some of the gemstones that can command big prices;  

1. Diamonds 

2. Rubies 


4. Emeralds 



Here are some examples of big sales at Christie's Auctions

1. Ruby Ring 8.26ct Cushion shaped Sold at Sotheby for US$ 8.6 million   

2. Burmese Ruby 6.04ct Sold at Christie HongKong for US$3,331,380 May 2012   

3. Sapphire Ring 27.54ct Step cut Sold at Sotheby for US$ 5.9 million   

4.   Burmese Ruby 29.62ct Oval cut Sold at Sotheby for US$7,338,462.HongKong April 2014 

5. Kashmir Sapphire 27.54ct Step cut Sold for US$ 5,984,474  

3. How to buy Gemstones online

We  are in the information age, whereby you can buy many thing without any  geographical hindrance. There are couple of things you should take note  of while buying gemstones online. This will help avoiding of one to be  conned.  

Buying from B2B (business to business)

It’s  good to identify the website you want to buy gemstones from if it is  b2b or individual companies. In b2b, some companies or individuals  advertize their products and people either visit or shop online. 

These  websites are not concerned with the quality of the products advertised.  It is the responsibility of the seller to produce sufficient information  of the products. 

That is to say if you are buying from b2b make sure  you are satisfied with the product before buying it. Some of the b2b  websites are; “Alibaba” ,”Amazon”, “ebay”.  

Individual companies or a person

These are companies or individuals that  you can see b2b websites on the internet. 

But sometimes reaching them is  the bit difficult, and even if you manage to find them the assurance of  them is very little. 

Why? Because you are not sure whether you buying  from peson or company. 

Understand Gem Terminology


In  order to avoid loss while buying the gemstones, it’s good you  understand the gem terminologies or the gem language. Such as cabochon  cut, opeque , v1v2 , translucent or treated. There are so many gem  terminologies or languages, your assignment is to understand the  language used on displayed gem before purchasing it especially online,  where you can’t ask questions.

Don’t  be carried away by the picture displayed, rather get the details  provided. If you do not know the language used, go and find out first  the meaning before you buy. One may ask, where can I get such  information on gemology? There are so many institutions across the world  such as GIA which can provide such information, but you can also visit  some website for meaning such as “www.google.com”.

Physical Location

Make  sure the company you visit on web has a physical location address in  case of anything you can easily follow up. Precaution!do not purchase  online from the company you do not sure of whereabouts its location or  base. You can find such provide phone number and email address only no  physical address attached to it.  


Make  sure the company you want to deal with provides a company email,  because some websites have the contacts without providing their company  emails. Be wise do not fall on such traps. The company should put the  visible company email for the customers to access easily for both  purchase and enquiry  

Phone number

Also the company should provide a phone number, for customers to reach them out for clarifications  

Photos of company or staff

The  company should put the picture of either staff team (management),  C.E.O, or business owner etc., this is very important for it gives the  assurance to customer.

Legal Documents

This is another way of getting legal  information of the company from the authority of the legal documents  provider. It could be the ministry, revenue authority, licensing  authority, gemstone boards etc. 

Payment Modes

Know the payment mode used by the  company and see if it’s convenient for you before purchasing. For  instance not every country use “PayPal”, check the one provided if can  help you buy. 


 Since gemstones are precious, you won’t  give the postal address for delivery. Use courier companies to deliver  your parcel such as; 






it is easy to follow up on  them. 

You get to know the movement of your parcel from one point to  another. 

Return Policy

Get to know if the company has a “return  policy”. In some countries the return policy is difficult to implement.  For instance here in Tanzania, you have to pay for every gem you export  as well as import, even if the gemstone exported is return for one  reason or another, you will have to pay for it again. 

Make terms of  agreement when the gemstones sent to you are contrary to what you  ordered, on return policy issue. 

Advantages of Ordering Gemstones Online

First of all you save transportation  money which could be used to go where the gemstones are. Instead the  US$1000 that you could have used for air ticket can buy a gemstone  instead. 

Likewise  the money that could be used to board a hotel during your stay on  particular country, can also purchase the gemstone up to a US$500 for a  five day hotel pay. 

I therefore recommend you buy online once you know the procedure of buying


4. Understand Color Change Gemstones

Characteristics Of Change Color Gemstones

It shows two colors while it does not have two colors.

The second color can be seen while you use an incandescent light.

For instance the gemstone will change from green to red once is put under the incandescent light.

Nowadays !!!

Nowadays  we have a mix-up concerning the color change gemstones, multicolor  gemstones and bicolor gemstones. Especially when handling the rough  gemstones.  

Source Of Light

For  you to see the color change on the gemstone you must have two types of  light sources. That is “fluorescent light” and “incandescent light”.

Fluorescent light

 This one can be obtained by getting fluorescent bulb and even the sunlight can do the work just as good as the fluorescent bulb. 

 Incandescent light

This can be obtained by using an incandescent lamp which has incandescent bulb or candle. 

How to see the Color Change in Gemstones?

The principals are the same, even if it  is a synthetic sapphire. The same principals are applicable for all  gemstones. Just take a gemstone that shows the color change, then put it  under the fluorescent lamp, take for instance sapphire. 

To see the  second color, take the same gemstone put it under the incandescent lamp.

Then you will see the second color.

By  this procedure the sapphire which appeared green under fluorescent  light will change to red under incandescent light. 

And once taken away  from the incandescent light, it will return to green again.


The  multicolor gemstones are not the change color gemstones, such as  tourmalines is the multicolor and not the change color. Especially  sapphire gotten from Tanga region here in Tanzania has more than one  color. And this does not make this type of sapphire to be the change  color, famously known as “Umba sapphire”. 

The  amazing thing is the colors can be seen while under the fluorescent  lamp only, this confirms to you that it’s a multicolored sapphire or a  bicolored sapphire NOT change color.

Here are some color change gemstones

  • Sapphires
  • Spinels
  • Garnets
  • Alexandrites

Take  note since you are in the gemstone field, it is good you have those two  types of torch or lamp. That is fluorescent lamp/torch and incandescent  lamp/torch.

5. Avoid blind purchase


A  blind purchase is a purchase made without adequate knowledge on the  product you are buying. This kind of purchase sometimes can be on the  both sides, the buyer and the seller.

If  you are a customer and you want to buy jewelry from a jewelry store,  make sure you have enough knowledge on what you want to buy. If you  think you are not sure of what you buy, ask the seller about the gem or jewelry you intend to buy, may be a ring, earrings, necklace etc.

It’s  good to have enough information on the product, such as in which  occasions the item can be worn. Or what kind of chemicals or solutions  were used to process the product, to know how to treat while cleansing  it. Is it water only used to wash? or is there any special chemical to  wash it or cleanse it.

And  if you are a jewelry retailer used this opportunity to explain your  products to your customers, such as which ring to put on in which  occasion or in daily routine. 

6. Misconception about gemstones

Wrong belief about Gemstones

 There  is a wrong belief about gemstones, to the point that many people are  afraid to do gemstone business or learn about gemstone. We will be  looking for some reasons why is it so.   

Powers of darkness

Many  have connected the gemstone business with the powers of darkness. Many  have been forced to believe that for one to do the gemstone business  successfully, one must do some rituals to appease some spirits. Some who  own mines have been made to believe that, for the mine to produce they  must sacrifice to some spirits. And if you take a closer look, you will  discover these rituals and sacrifices are not that fundamental. Just  follow the principals to get the business done profitably

If  a mine collapse, check if the safety regulatory protocol was followed  during the mining process. If you use equipment either of poor quality  or less effective, be rest assured the digging will take a long time  before you get any minerals, or the tunnel has gone a long distance.

Also  if you dig for a long time without getting anything, it is very  possible you have missed the rock targeted. We have discovered that,  here in Tanzania foreigners come to do mining business and getting  gemstones without even using the powers of darkness (rituals and  sacrifices) one thing you will note about these foreign miners is, they  come with modern equipment and good experts in the mining industry. 

Simply  because gemstones are mined from underground, so some people conclude  that they are demonic. Let me ask about petroleum products such as  diesel or petrol we use in our cars, are they demonic? because they  extract petrol under the sea thousands of meters below sea level, yet we  use it in our cars unquestionable. Therefore gemstone is just as good  as any other product; the best we can do is to learn about it.

Fear of Frauds & Swindling

Many believe that gemstone business is full of Fraud and Swindling, in either selling or buying. Now the issue of Fraud & Swindling  is found in many areas of business not in gemstones only, and I can’t  deny the fact that it does exist. What is important is that get enough  information about the gemstone business, as well as the gemstones  products.

Not every red stone is a ruby, not every blue stone from Umba  is a blue sapphire. It could be a blue scapolite or lolite.    Get the  knowledge of gemstone and the use of proper tools for identification or  you can use a professional to help you, they could be a dealers, lab  technicians, and gemologists.

Fear of Robbery

Some  have been made to believe that once you have the gemstones at home, you  can be invaded with armed robbers. 

These concepts are irrelevant when  it comes to business. What you are supposed to do is to take necessary  security measures in order to avoid attracting thieves and robbers. And  during business transactions just take all the precautions necessary.

In finishing, I  would like to say that the three misconceptions I have mentioned are  irrelevant. These gemstones are the same that God created in the times  of Adam, they have not changed. 

Look around you, are there gemstones? go  and learn from those who have succeeded in this business, how did they  do it to reach where they are today.  

7. The difference between Blemish and Inclusion


Blemish  is an irregularity that is confined to the surface of a polished  gemstone, while Inclusion is enclosed within the gemstone or reaches the  surface from the interior. 


 In  other words inclusion is an irregularity in the gemstone, sometimes  within the gemstone or sometimes starting from the surface going to the  inner part of the gemstone. Most of the time when gemstone has an  inclusion, it is not easy to remove it. If you try to remove it by force  you will end up reducing the weight of a gemstone.  

Take note!!!!

Blemish is an irregularity on the surface of a gemstone, which means is easy to remove during gem cutting.

Some  of the blemish occurs during the gem movement. Gemstone blemish can  also happen after cutting if there is a poor handling. 

It is advisable  to pack well to avoid scratches which can lead to blemish, so pack well  and differently.

But one uniqueness about inclusion is, it can help identify the gemstone if is natural or synthetic.

8. How to identify gemstones

When  it comes to identify gemstones, you must know your   motive.  Whether a  natural or synthetic, neither cut is or rough gemstones sometimes they  confuse when it comes to distinction.  For instance a blue sapphire  looks very much like a tanzanite, or pink spinal looks like pink  tourmaline. Like brown zircon and brown citrine. And because of that you  need gemstone tools to identify and differentiate them.  

It is also advisable

  • to do at least three different tests to have the right identification. 
  • Also you must have adequate knowledge and know how to use the gemstone tools.
  • Absence of proper use of gemstone tools, or not having adequate knowledge on gemstones can lead to wrong results.

Reasons for Gemstones identification

Let us look at the essence of gemstone identification, and what you should know

  1. Is it natural or synthetic?
  2. Is it treated or not?
  3. Is it simulant or not?
  4. What is the type of the particular gemstone?
  5. Things to considering when identification gemstones


Color  is one of the properties used in identifying a gemstone. Some of them  by looking at their colors you can easily identify them. For example,  the colors on the opal gemstones are different from the color on the  agate gemstones. Some of the gemstones can be identified by the  combinations of their colors. Such as amethyst and citrine becoming   ametrine. In other case when we look at the gemstone and discovering  that it’s a sapphire red in color, then we call it ruby.

Let  us look at another example, how the color can distinguish a gemstone  from another.  When Beryl is blue in color, we call it “aquamarine”,  simply because it is blue in color. When Beryl is yellow in color we  call it “heliodor”, if it is green we call it “emerald” but it’s the  same Beryl gemstone.

I hope you have seen how helpful the color is in the identification exercise.


This  is another property in gemstone identification; you can distinguish  between one gemstone from another by its hardness. When a blue sapphire  is put together with a tanzanite, they look very much alike. 

But  hardness can distinguish them; the hardness of sapphire is 9 while the  hardness of tanzanite is around 6 to 7. This can be done by using  gemstone testing tools. Please take note, do not use hardness test to  distinguish between the natural and the synthetic gem,because both of  them have the same hardness.

Refraction Index

What  is RI? It is a ratio of light speed in the air to the light speed in a  medium. We have a single reflection(SR) and a double reflection(DR). The  instrument used here is called Refractometer. Through this instrument  you can know whether the stone is SR or DR. even when the gemstone is  unknown to you, by using Refractometer you can identify it. Gemstone  Refractive Index is like human fingerprint and RI is most useful method  in identifying gemstones. 

Specific Gravity

This  test is also very helpful especially to unknown gemstones, and in this  whole exercise there is what is known as “specific gravity testing set”  which have normal scale. But the scalemust be “legal for trade scale”. 

For “Gemstone identification”, you either get qualified personnel or go for training on gemstone identification.

Your eyes

Your  eyes are tool number one in gem identification. Some may not agree with  this truth. You can’t identify any gem without using human eyes.  Your  eyes can bring good result in rough gemstones.

There are other tools you must have them in gemstone identification like

  • Microscope
  • Dichroscope
  • Spectroscopes
  • Ultra Violet Light Testing Equipment
  • Polariscope
  • Fiber Optic Light System
  • Incandescent light