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. Below is facet image.
Cabochon is a smooth rounded polished gem has a domed top with a flat or curved base. Below are cabochon images. The good example is chalcedony, chrysoprase, coral or opal
Why some gemstones must cut in a Cabochon style?
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
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.
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$100,000 per piece. Below are some of the gemstones that can command big prices;
6. Tsavorite garnets
From the above mentioned gemstones, if you can manage to get piece weighing between 5-10 grams per piece. You are very much assured to make big sales of between US$ 1,000 to US$ 1000,000. But sometimes it may depend on the color.
If you may observe in auctions such as Christie's Auctions, you will discover that it is the same gemstones that I mentioned above that command big prices.
Sold at Sotheby for US$ 8.6 million
Sold at Sotheby for US$ 5.9 million
Sold at Sotheby for
US$7,338,462.HongKong April 2014
Sold at Christie HongKong for
US$3,331,380 May 2012
Sold for US$ 5,984,474
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.
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”.
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.
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”.
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
Also the company should provide a phone number, for customers to reach them out for clarifications
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.
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.
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.
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
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 we have a mix-up concerning the color change gemstones, multicolor gemstones and bicolor gemstones. Especially when handling the rough gemstones.
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”.
This one can be obtained by getting fluorescent bulb and even the sunlight can do the work just as good as the fluorescent bulb.
This can be obtained by using an incandescent lamp which has incandescent bulb or candle.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Let us look at the essence of gemstone identification, and what you should know
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.
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.
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 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
Gemstones is a subject just as good as any other subject, such as IT, agriculture etc. And it’s good if you are in gemstone business or you are planning to do gemstone business to know the terminology used in this business. Otherwise you may be a stranger in the gemstone market.
Here, I would like to show you some of the gemstone terminologies frequently used. You will not learn them in one day or one week, it may take few months or years to master them.
Simulant is a natural or manmade material that resembles a gemstone. Simulant gemstones can be natural, for instance diamond simulants can be either natural or manmade.
And they don’t have any of the natural diamond chemical composition, crystal structure or properties.
What happens is, simulants resemble or we can say looks like. Here is a good example,if you have a cut pink spinel and sold it as a pink sapphire. Here you have sold a simulant sapphire and not a spinel, whether you know it or no.
Another example is when you have a purple scapolite you can sell it as a tanzanite, whether you know it or no even if you are selling natural stones. Here you are selling a simulant tanzanite, in a simple language you have sold something that resembles.
That’s why it’s advisable to use more than one type of gem tools for identification, because it’s easy to confuse and mix up between the gemstones or take them to a gem lab for further identification tests.
So be very careful with the cut and the polished gemstones. Not every pink gemstone is a sapphire or a spinel or a tourmaline, make a thorough research before buying any gemstone or take it to the gem lab
There are two categories in gemstones, which are diamonds and colored stones. it depends on which category you are in or in both.
a. Use a diamond tester
You can use a diamond tester, which is specifically for testing diamonds that provides a quick, easy and reliable thermal conductivity measurement on a mounted or lose diamond. It is also known as “thermal tester”
b. Use other gem tools
c. Lastly is to send gem to lab gem for more identification
like the natural gemstone
Ø Man made
Ø Lab created
Ø Synthetic gem
Ø Lab grown
All the names above are talk about synthetic gemstones
Selling a synthetic gemstone is not a problem; all you need to do is to inform the buyer that what you are selling is not a natural gemstone but a synthetic gemstone.
Another thing that should be considered as a seller is that, when you are selling say ruby which is synthetic, then you should call it synthetic ruby.
Whenever you are selling synthetic gemstone, you should always remember to call it synthetic gemstone.
For instance,if it is a lab made sapphire, call it synthetic sapphire likewise if is a manmade spinel call it synthetic spinel.
1. Send your gemstone to the gem lab. Nowadays technology has advanced some of gemstones you cannot identify them easily; therefore it is important to take them to a gemologist who has modern tools for the job.
2. By using microscope you can identify the gemstone whether is natural or synthetic, by looking for Inclusions that can help separate natural or synthetic gemstones.
3. The loupe is kind of magnifier like microscope but this is most convenient, affordable around USD 10 you can buy it, small and portable. You can carry a loupe in your pocket or purse, or wear it on a chain around your neck. You can detect synthetic or natural gemstones by using a loupefor checking the inclusions that stone has.
But a word of caution this is for the experienced in using loupe, when used by someone with an experienced eye, a loupe is very accurate and It takes practice to handle and use a loupe effectively. If you don’t know how to use loupe please go and learn how to use it.
a) Hand loupes
Hand loupes are held in one hand for viewing the stones
b) Eye loupes
Eye loupes are either held in the eye socket or attached to eyeglasses.
Most gemologists, gem professionals, industry organizations, and government agencies agree that 10X magnification is the standard for using. 10X means that the item being viewed is magnified ten times.
It’s sometimes called 10-power.
10X is the standard for gemstone using, loupes are available in a variety of magnificationsfrom 4X to 30X.
Make sure you use loupe that its minimum magnifications is 10x
The word transparent in English explains the allowing of light passage from one end to another end. The same way in gemstones, transparency is the allowing of light from one side of the gemstone to another end of the gemstone.
In the gemstone transparency there are three major terminologies used or words used. Failure to know the three can make you see something else on the web, and once it reaches you, it will look different from the way you saw it on the web. It is not that you have been cheated but you did not know the terminology used.
These terminologies are
These words can be found frequently used in the websites that sell gemstones, and it is good to know what they mean otherwise you will receive gem quality from website that you don’t expect it.
These are the gemstones that have the ability to allow light to pass through. A good example is a glass the way it allows the light to pass through from one end to another end. Facet cut is more applicable if gem is transparent and in market can command high prices. If you see in the website or seller says the stone is transparent that means the light can penetrate from one site to another side of the stone.
Take note here, the stones can be transparent and same time can have visible inclusions. So transparent gem and gems that have inclusions knowing that there are different two things
These have a way of spreading light (light diffusion), light goes in the gemstone but is not allowed to pass the other end. To know and identify this kind you must be skilled or else go for courses on how to identify translucent gemstones.
These don’t allow light to pass through to the other end of the gemstone. Is like a piece of wood.
A good example are
So when you come across a sapphire or a ruby called opaque sapphire or opaque ruby, then you should know this one does not allow light to penetrate by any means. Gem cutters prefer to cut cabochon style if gem is opaque.
Being great in the gemstone business is very possible, here I am targeting a turnover of US$1,000,000 in your business. In this article we call it great. No one can mock you when your turnover per year is US$ 1,000,000.
There is no course you can attend and pass, then become automatically great. Neither is there any collage that teaches a person to be great in gemstone business. Likewise there is no collage that teaches a person to be great in gemstone business in his respective country. If you want to be a rich person or a president, you must learn from the former businessmen or former presidents, the same with gemstone. Being great you have to learn from the ones that succeeded in being great.
I will share three things and if you apply them by practicing them you can be a millionaire or a billionaire.
1. Gem Knowledge
This is one of the factors that can make you great in gem business, and this knowledge can be easily obtained. You can learn from gemological institutions or even from the websites which give gemstone knowledge.
My advice is for you to learn from the gemological institution, is good in order to get a good sequence. By doing so, you will know which one to start with and which one to end up with. This gem knowledge is not something to be ignored, because it will be hard for you to be a successful great businessman. Not knowing the gemstone knowledge in this current world is very dangerous. Because there are so many gem terminologies which you must know about, for you to succeed in the Gem World Market.
Nowadays is very easy to learn, you do not need to travel afar, you can learn “online” for instance from GIA institute for various courses.
2. Business Knowledge
For you to be great in gem business, you must have enough knowledge on how to do it locally and internationally. Learning about gem courses alone is not enough; you must have the techniques on running the business. Get to know the current business statutes, also you must be online, you must also know the transactions that are user friendly.
The good thing about business knowledge is that; it can be obtained by attending courses or through books on business. The cheapest way to get this knowledge is through book, which of course can be obtained easily and at a reasonable price in many local bookstores.
3. Wealth Knowledge
Here is where the greatest challenge is, because this one cannot be obtained in many institutions.
There are two ways on which you can obtain this knowledge.
(i) By reading the books of success and prosperity
(ii) Learning from those who have succeeded in this business.
Many who are in mining business cannot give a clear explanation on what kind of products they are actually dealing with. Please note, gemstones neither diamonds are not precious metals. Even if you are selling copper ore, know for sure it is not a precious metal. Not every metal is a precious metal, be reminded we are talking about precious metals not just any metal.
Precious metals are metals that are of great value and used in the jewelry business.
In world history you cannot mention three countries that produce gemstones greatly without mentioning Tanzania. I will show some cities that shook the world.
Mahenge in Morogoro region has been famous since 2007, for production of red and pink spinels with the best quality which resembled with the ones from Burma and Brazil.
Tunduru is in the region of Ruvuma, this city began to be known in the early 1990s. By the virtue of great deposits of sapphires, rubies, alexandrites, chrysoberyl. The uniqueness of this city is that, its gemstones are found on the river. In other word known as “alluvial deposits”.
Winza is another area in the region of Dodoma also famous in sapphires and rubies, whereby some of their sapphires are bicolored and some are multicolored. That is why most of the rubies from that place if not tested well can be mistaken for a pink sapphire.
Mererani is in a Manyara region not far from city of Arusha. It is about 60km distance from Arusha and 20km from Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA). This is a unique area because of the ONLY place where TANZANITES are found in the whole world.
Umba or Umba Valley in the Tanga region is also not left behind in the production of sapphires. The uniqueness of the sapphires that found in this area is; they contain different colors like blue, brown, pink, yellow, green, purple, color change and many more.
Matombo is another mining ground in the region of Morogoro; this town has become known in recent years around 2010. This town has a very good quality of ruby which can be compared to the ruby from Mozambique. Here to get a ruby weighing from 1-4 gram per piece is not a strange thing. I have been seen several different productions of rubies, but the ones from Matombo have a good quality for sure. They are very clear as much to match with red garnet, and sometimes you may think it’s a synthetic. By the virtue of its good quality, it stands to be unique.
Sumbawanga in the Rukwa region is about 1000km from the City of Dar es salaam, is known by its great deposits of Emeralds which can be stand as the quality of Emeralds from Zambia, Brazil and Columbia.
Ruangwa in Lindi region is greatly known by the production of Tsavorite garnets, you can’t mention tsavorite garnet without mentioning the town of Ruangwa. Other minerals that can be found in the nearby area of Namungo is gold. Some of gemstones that can be found in this place are rhodolite, color change garnet, hessonite, spessartile, zircon, topaz, apatite, and red garnet.
Shinyanga region in general is famous for diamond deposits, is 1500km by road from Dar es salaam. This city has been known for great diamond mining since 1940s up to this time the production continues.
In this article when we say expert, we are talking of anyone that has succeeded in gem business more than you. Many do not learn from those who have succeeded in their respective fields or career. This is a great challenge especially in this generation. Instead of envying the successful person, the best way to be like him/her is to learn from that person.
May I ask you, how many people you know have succeeded in gemstone business that you are learning from? How many gem stores or jewelry stores that have succeeded than you, and you are learning from?
Some may say reaching such people is not easy, some may say these kinds of people are not in our country. These are just excuses; you do not have to go overseas simply go to different websites and learn. Also you can read their biographies online or in gem magazine.
It is good to learn from those who have gone ahead of you and succeeded, no institution can teach you everything. Just humble yourself and accept the fact you need to learn from them.
Gemstone treatment is not a new thing in gemstone business, the essence is to improve the “appearance, durability or value” of the gemstone. We can say gemstone treatment is any human controlled process that has the purpose to improve the appearance, durability or the value of the gemstone.
Take note here, cutting and polished of the gemstone is human controlled process, but is not treatment process.
It is also good to know different types of treatments, simply because gemstones differ in treatment due to their nature. Some of the gemstones cannot be treated at all or we can say the scientists have not yet discovered the method of treat them. That is to say treatment is very important, for instance it’s common to treat Tanzanite by heat. By doing so, you may get blue or violet colors seen clearly, which will make it more attractive.
2. Cavity Filling
3. Colorless Impregnation
4. Dyeing 6
5. Fracture Filling
6. Heat Treatment
8. Lattice Diffusion
9. Sugar and Smoke Treatments
10. Surface Modification
Transparency or integrity is very fundamental when selling treated gemstones, let the buyer know that you are selling treated gemstones.
These two lights are very important in gemstone identification.
This is a normal light like sunlight and can be obtained by getting a lamp with fluorescent bulb.
This light is most needed in color change gemstones. This can be obtained by getting a torch or a lamp which has incandescent bulb. A good example is a candle light; it has the features and characteristics of incandescent light.
For you to see the color change in gemstones you must have an incandescent light. You can see the second color once applied on the gemstone. If the sapphire is green, once the incandescent light is applied it will change to pink or red.
In business another word for this incandescent light is “worm light”.
The words above are kind of a compound word they carry different meaning depending on the use. For instance you cannot say “I am selling fancy gemstones “,
You have to clarify by saying; “I am selling fancy colorgemstones” or “I am selling fancy cut gemstones”.
In diamonds the word fancy color is used more than cut or shape style. Fancy colored diamonds are Diamonds that exhibit yellow or brown color beyond the Z range, or that exhibit any other color.
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