VOL. 20, #2, Summer, 2002
Collecting Gem Green Burma Jadeite, AGL Jadeite Colored Stone Grading Report, Risky Business, Gem News, Notable Quotes, Spring Auction Report, Gem Thieves, Burma Gem Market Update, Collectors Corner
COLLECTING GEM GREEN BURMA JADEITE
by Robert Genis
Jade is one of the most misunderstood gems in the world. Few jewelers or gem dealers have a clue about the stone. If these people do not understand it, how can they explain the goods to their customers? The Asian cultures have revered this gem as a symbol of protection and sought this gem for centuries. Confucius (551-479 BC) believed jade had 11 virtues, including benevolence, fidelity, polite etiquette and sincerity. To Taoists jade was edible and could keep one physically immortal. In Buddhism, the Pure Land is composed of gold, silver, agate, coral, amber and jade.
In the West, few have ever seen this fascinating gem in its top qualities except for jadeite connoisseurs. Most people see an opaque olive green nephrite in jewelry stores and think of this as jade. Few realize, top green jadeite resembles the finest Colombian emeralds and can sell for thousands of dollars per carat or more. Many exquisite pieces have recently sold at auction for millions of dollars. For example, the "Doubly Fortunate" necklace of 27 approximately 15 mm jadeite beads, sold for US$9.4 million in November 1997 at Christie's Hong Kong. Each bead sold for approximately $350,000!
Nephrite vs. Jadeite
Mineralogist Damour discovered the difference between jadeite and nephrite in 1863. Jade refers collectively to two different minerals-jadeite and nephrite. Jadeite and nephrite have different physical and chemical characteristics: They also have different crystal structures, colors, specific gravities, refractive indices and hardness.
Interestingly, jadeite and nephrite are graded in reverse. The best nephrite is clear and white, also know as "water jade." This is probably due to the fact in China, only nephrite was available before the 18th century. The highly treasured pieces of the emperors were creamy white in color and translucent. The best jadeite today is imperial gem green. Since the mid-1700's, jadeite was transported from Burma to China and the Burmese green jade was eventually deemed superior.
Many believe jade comes from China. Although some came from China's western region, the highest quality green jadeite has always come from Burma (Myanmar). Jade is also mined in Alaska, Canada, New Zealand, Siberia, Taiwan, Central America and other locations.
A number of gems are mistaken for or passed off as jade. These include serpentine, carnelian, aventurine quartz, glass, grossular garnet, also called "Transvaal jade", soapstone and recently Australian chrysoprase. That is why it is important to have an independent grading report from a major laboratory, if you are considering purchasing an important piece of jade. Watch out for terms like "Korean jade", "Canadian jade", or "new jade" for these gems are usually never jade.
The only acceptable treatment method is waxing the jade after the stone has been polished. Surface waxing is considered part of the traditional finishing of jadeite. Some dealers use an A through C treatment system. Type A jadeite has not been treated in any way except surface waxing. Type B Jade has been soaked in chemical bleaches and/or acids and impregnated with a clear polymer resin. This results in a significant improvement of transparency and color of the material. Type C jade has been artificially stained or dyed and is not acceptable. Collectors should only purchase Type A jade.
Jade occurs in a myriad of colors. The primary colors are green, lavender, yellow, black and white. Of course, rarest and most valuable is the Imperial jade or the green gems. However a combination of two colors is deemed desirable by many in the trade. It is chromium in jade that gives the stone its green color.
Grading Burmese Jadeite
How do you grade jade? Grading jade is similar to faceted gemstones but slightly different.
See the sample American Gemological Laboratories (AGL) Colored Stone Grading Report for Burmese Jadeite.
Here are the most desirable factors:
Intense Even Green Color
Color is the most important factor in the quality of jadeite. As a general rule, the greener and more saturated the piece of jade, the better. This is the same theory used with emeralds, tsavorites, demantoids and other green gems. Top Burmese jade contains 65%-70% green according to the AGL grading system. The secondary colors tend to be yellow and sometimes blue. Small amounts of grey may also be present and large amounts of grey is not acceptable. The color should also be even to your eyes, not splotchy or mottled. Ideal tone is medium or 50-70. If the tone is too light, the green will not be intense. If the tone is too dark, it affects transparency and can "black-out."
The most desirable jadeite is translucent or semi-transparent. The higher the translucency, the more valuable the jade. Most jade will not look like the transparency of a colored gemstone. Opaque jadeite is considered less valuable. You want to be able to see inside of the gem and not have the opacity of turquoise.
The cleaner the jadeite the better. The finest jadeite has no inclusions or are hard to see with your naked eyes. Most jadeite has some inclusions and this is acceptable if not predominant. Like most colored gemstones, the clarity should be Moderately Included Two (MI2) or better You can find blotchy areas, veins, specks, spots and clouds in jadeite. Black inclusions are considered a negative in jade. Also, you do not want inclusions that break the surface or major inclusions that run through the stone. The best way to check the clarity of jadeite is with a penlight or by simply placing the jadeite between your eyes and a light source. Texture is linked to transparency- the finer the texture the higher the transparency. Texture will range from fine to coarse. You want an even texture, not a blotchy texture.
Burmese jadeite is most frequently cut into cabochons or double cabochons with convex bottoms. Due to the fact the gem is cut to maximize color, you sometimes see Burmese jadeite that is not totally symmetrical or perfectly calibrated. Some like oval jade pieces while others desire almost round shapes. This is a matter of personal preference. Just like judging star rubies and star sapphires, the domes should not be too high or too flat. Polish is important with jadeite because the higher the polish, the better the luster and depth of color. Top jadeite possesses an almost "watery" luster. Cutting and finish should be Good (6) or better.
Many dealers say jadeite is less expensive in the United States than in the Orient. Like most gemstones, the larger the piece of jade, the more valuable the piece. Burma jadeite is bought and sold on individual pieces according to MM sizes. The most common sizes are 8mm x 10mm, 10mm x 14mm, and 13mm x 18mm. The 8 x 10's are usually 2-3 carats. The top material around 8 x 10mm in size can wholesale for $2000-$3000 per carat. Once you get to 10mm x 14mm's, the price per piece increases by a factor of 4. Top gem green bangles, beads and carvings can start at $10,000 and rise rapidly in price.
Collectors should consider Burmese jadeite for their portfolios. The same reasons you collect unheated Burma ruby, sapphire and untreated Burma spinel- the gems are rare, valuable, and have been desired for centuries. Plus, Burmese jadeite adds a rare green colored gemstone to a Burma portfolio. Whether you mount the stones or place them in your safety deposit box, collecting Burmese jadeite may become a passion. Just ask the Chinese emperors.
by Robert Genis
Anyone deeply involved in the colored gemstone market has at one time or another been able to liken the experience to "Alice in Wonderland" - things are not always what they seem. New Madagascar ruby somehow finds itself in Yangoon being passed off as Burma ruby. Traders in Mai Sai and Chanthaburi, Thailand represent synthetics and diffused gemstones as naturals to foreign buyers. Country of origin and treatment issues are something colored stone dealers have been facing for years. With the advent of new processes, it now appears the diamond trade may have to grapple with it, too. Lack of communication and cooperation among the many levels of the gemstone market is not a new phenomenon. Occasionally, there is some reciprocity in information sharing, but it is the exception, not the rule. There will always be an unscrupulous gem trader attempting to take advantage of others, especially when a new product or treatment enters the marketplace. Even the most seasoned gem dealers can fall victim:
An excited diamond dealer bought a gem with "natural fancy intense yellow" diamond grading reports from two laboratories. He decided to send the diamond to a third well-known lab. This time, the stone came back as an HTHP diamond. Crestfallen, he wondered what the stone was worth now, since he had no recourse with the seller. He finally concluded the stone's value was the cost of a brown diamond and the $350-$400 treatment, plus the cost of the laboratory reports. Obviously far less than he paid.
A gem broker offered an 8 carat Kashmir sapphire to a gem dealer for $18,000. The gem dealer would not buy the stone without independent confirmation from a laboratory. The broker argued he would not let the stone out of his sight without payment. An agreement was worked out; the broker would hold the dealer's cashier's check until the results from the lab were known. A few days later, the lab identified the stone as heated Ceylon. When the dealer called the broker for the return of his money, the broker's response was "Too bad...I already sent the money to the owner in Thailand." The dealer eventually sold the stone for $8000.
A lady in San Francisco bought a beautiful emerald cut blue sapphire from a local wholesaler. She took it to a reputable jeweler to have it mounted. The local jeweler appraised the entire piece for $10,000. A few years went by and she took it to another appraiser for an insurance update. So far, so good. Finally, she need some minor repair work on the piece. A new jeweler, in the process of repairing the piece, broke the sapphire. Upon further examination and a lab report, the sapphire turned out to be diffusion-treated and only worth $175 per carat. The original wholesaler was out of business.
A major ruby was going to sell for $3 million, however, the buyer wanted a lab report. The lab suggested the stone needed to be cleaned with acetone to remove any oil in the stone before a full grading report could be issued. The seller agreed and the procedure was done in front of both parties. When the oil was removed, the inclusions in the gemstone became dramatically obvious. The stone finally sold to the buyer for $1.3 million.
What is happening here? The entire jewelry industry is being negatively affected by diamond and colored gemstone treatments and dubious origins. It has permeated all levels - from the miners to the final retail consumer.
According to Joseph Menzie, Vice President, International Colored Gemstone Association (ICA), New York, New York, "The problem with the diamond and gemstone business is the learning curve. There are so many stones and so many new treatments, it takes time for labs to catch up. People will always get taken. A lab needs the proper equipment, treated stones and control stones plus the time to figure out how to detect the treatment. Take, for example, the brand new heated/diffused Madagascar corundum being sold as padparadscha. I am sure many stones were sold as natural padparadscha before anyone knew the stones were treated. Eventually, some of these stones will make it back to the labs and will be detected. Then there will be hell to pay for the dealer or jeweler who sold the goods."
Know Your Sources
Of course, it helps if you have developed sources over long periods of time. Theoretically, these sources will stand behind you if there is a problem. However, Menzie adds, "You could buy a stone from your best buddy for 30 years. He could tell you, "No problem, the stone is Burma and no heat." However, he could still be wrong. Maybe he thought the stone was Burma and no heat when he bought it." Menzie continues, "Today colored gemstone dealers are paranoid to put treatments or country of origin on invoices without a grading report. Sometimes we make sales contingent upon a lab agreeing with our assessment of a gem."
Buyers are most vulnerable when a product first enters the market. This is the time to be cautious. It will take the labs some time to figure out the origin or treatment. Stories abound of dealers buying new "Burma" ruby that turned out to be from Viet Nam. Other early buyers of Burma ruby later found out their goods were heated and fracture-filled. Buying early can have dire consequences. On the other hand, some dealers lament not buying the first round of Paraiba tourmaline when it entered the market because they feared it was treated. Those who bought first and asked questions later made serious money. The same could also be said for the small pocket Brazilian alexandrite in the late 1980's. As one colored gem dealer said, "This is risky business."
C.R. "Cap" Beesley, Director of Research for the Gemstone Standards Commission states, "The solution to this problem is we need a higher level of cooperation between the treaters and the laboratories. Surely if we can get analytical data back from a rock on Mars we can figure out what has been done to a diamond or gemstone we are holding in our hands." Bill Barker, Scottsdale, Arizona, AGTA Laboratory Committee warns, "If you intend to sell any diamond or colored gemstone without documentation, be prepared for the eventual lawsuit. If there is any doubt in your mind, the stone in question must be graded by a major laboratory."
This article was originally published in the May 2002 Rapaport Diamond Report. You can subscribe for $180 in the United States or $250 internationally at:
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Tourists Form Pressure Group
Twelve tourists recently walked into the Tourism Authority in Thailand to urge an end to gem scams. The pressure group contends in eight days they said they were able to find 55 people who had been ripped off. Most victims are lured to jewelry stores in a well-organized operation. Tourists are told by taxi drivers that the places they want to visit are closed and they should go to a jewelry shop. At the shop, they are told that the gems are worth at least three times the price in their home country. The group wants law changes, tougher action against offenders, and better warnings for tourists. They want to redesign the gem scam warning leaflet for the Tourism Authority of Thailand. A source from the Tourist Police said the best way to avoid the problem is to avoid being greedy. People who want to make big profits out of a small investment fall for these scams. There are no inexpensive gemstones in Thailand and making huge profits in gems is not simple.
Auction fraud continues to be the number one fraud on the internet according to the FBI's Internet Fraud Complaint Center. There were about 21,500 complaints in 2001.
Money-Laundering Rules For Gem Dealers?
The U.S. Treasury Department is considering whether to apply money-laundering rules to dealers of gemstones and jewelry. The Bush Administration, aims to thwart terrorism with these new policies. The new rules will reportedly include requirements that companies train employees to detect money-laundering methods, establish policies to identify risks and minimize opportunities for abuse, and commission independent audits.
Emeralds and Arthur Groom
Arthur Groom started colored gemstone branding in 2000 when he introduced his Gematrat emerald treatment process and marketed the gems with American Gemological Laboratories (AGL) Emerald Grading Reports. It was defined as branding because Groom offered a virtually permanent emerald treatment process and an independent grading report. At that time, the AGL document came with a double image; the first was the Gematrat emerald in natural light and the second was the stone shot under ultraviolet which revealed the blue-colored tracer. Rather than a marketing ploy, Groom contends, "This branding process will restore confidence to the battered emerald market for retailers. If you stop and think, emerald treatment is actually one of the less dramatic treatments of all colored gemstones. All that emerald treatments do is improve the gem's clarity. Think about the dramatic changes of tanzanite. You take a brown gemstone and turn it blue."
Today, he is marketing a new and improved emerald process, ExCel . The tracer is gone because people were trying to produce "knock-offs" and also because it did not work with the new ExCel treatment. Instead, Groom is lasering information about the stone on the girdle, including the level of degree of filler. Groom is still utilizing the American Gemological Laboratories (AGL) Emerald Grading Reports on which the degree of filler can fall into 9 different categories. Groom believes the AGL document, "is a vital selling tool that numerically describes the color of a gemstone" and "I never lost a sale because of full disclosure."
At least 42 miners died of suffocation in northern Tanzania after an air compressor failure in a tanzanite mine in late June. This is the worst tanzanite accident since April 1998, when 100 miners died after torrential rains flooded 14 mine shafts in Mererani.
Wall Street Journal, April 10, 2002, D2
"Recent evidence suggests investors may be shifting money into so-called hard assets possibly at the expense of more liquid securities, such as stocks. Today's baby boomers are building one of the biggest financial bridges between working life and retirement and are looking for a place to put their accumulated wealth. Spooked by jittery financial markets and burned by dot-com blowouts and corporate accounting debacles, investors are returning to tangible assets that could be poised for stronger returns. And as the economy emerges from a recession, investors could be anticipating a return to inflation."
Rapaport Diamond Report, May 03, 2002
"We are not selling food or clothing or shelter. We're selling beauty. And there is still a market for discerning collectors."
Lisa Hubbard, executive director of Sotheby's International Jewelry.
Most of the auctions held in the spring were mixed to weak. Here are the most important colored diamond and colored gems sold.
A 1.05, oval, red diamond was the second red diamond recently sold by Phillips. The rare red sold to a private for only $442,500 or about $421,000 per carat. A 1.92 was sold in December for around $860,000 per carat. This stone was very similar in color to the red diamond sold by Phillips in December. Some in the industry argued whether or not the color was truly red.
They also sold a brooch with a 3.45 triangular, flawless, deep blue diamond with 6.50 carats of white diamonds for about $750,000.
Sotheby's sold a 3.03 marquise, vivid blue, IF, diamond for over $257,000 per carat and a 2.03, heart shaped, intense orangy pink for $73,000 per carat. Also, a 1.27, rectangular, reddish brown sold for $20,155 per carat. A 6.94 Kashmir sapphire sold for $25,000 per carat.
Christie's sold a 5.01 Burma ruby for $35,000 per carat and a 26.39 cabochon Burma ruby sold for slightly over $26,000 per carat. A 10.28 Kashmir sapphire sold for almost $26,000 per carat. A 2.77 Colombian emerald sold for approximately $19,000 per carat and a 6.13 Colombian emerald for about $30,000 per carat.
In colored diamonds, they sold a pear shaped, 7.15, vivid blue for approximately $365,000 per carat and a 2.03, rectangular, SI2,deep yellowish green for $145,000 per carat. A 3.93, intense yellowish green diamond fetched almost $29,000 per carat.
Faberge Egg Sells for $9.6 million
|The "Winter Egg", a crystal egg encrusted with more than 3,000 diamonds was sold at Christie's auction in April. It topped the previous record for a Faberge egg by more than $3 million. It was was expected to sell between $4 million and $6 million. The glittering egg made for Russian Czar Nicholas II. The new buyer remained anonymous. They are difficult to buy because of the competition among private institutions or museums around the world. The Faberge "Winter Egg" was given by the czar to his mother on Easter 1913. Faberge produced 50 eggs between 1885 and 1916. The egg is made of finely carved, transparent rock crystal and hinged to encase a small Easter bouquet. It has diamond borders with platinum and crystal shaped inlays to simulate ice crystals. A cabochon moonstone rests on top of the egg marking the date it was created, 1913. It sits on a crystal base adorned with platinum and inside the egg is a platinum Easter basket with flowers in gold, garnets, and crystals. The basket symbolizes the transition of winter to spring. The egg, the base and the basket together contain over 4,300 diamonds.|
Former Detective Gets 15 Years
Former chief of detectives of the Chicago Police Department William Hanhardt, 73, was given a 15-year prison sentence and ordered to pay $5 million in restitution for running a jewelry theft operation. Hanhardt's theft ring is suspected of stealing approximately $40 million from traveling salesmen, none of which has been recovered.
Once upon a time, William Hanhardt was known as a cop's cop. He had worked closely with the FBI and piled up commendations, including one from J. Edgar Hoover. He had such a legendary police career that Hollywood modeled a hard-boiled TV character after him. Over the decades, Hanhardt headed the Central Investigations Unit, was a commander of the burglary section, chief of detectives, and one of a handful of deputy superintendents. He retired in 1986 as a captain. During his career, he chased a ring of home invaders down the street and waged war on burglary rings and thieves who made off with televisions, cigarettes, plus jewel thieves. After his 33-year career ended, Hanhardt became a consultant to "Crime Story," a TV series about an elite team of Chicago detectives that takes on the mob. Decades ago, people started to say mobsters were paying the master detective $1,200 a month. Hanhardt's name also showed up in the little black book of a murdered labor racketeer and he was on the witness stand for the defense in the Las Vegas jewelry burglary trial of reputed mobster Anthony Spilotro. Hanhardt's lawyers dismiss the accusations as the words of lowlifes who held grudges.
Hanhardt has not spoken publicly since being charged, but in a 1995 interview with author Richard Lindberg, he offered his perspective on life as a cop: "You knew that you're going to get screwed over eventually, so you went into the game with that thought in mind. You got a wife. You got kids. So you got to think about the future, right? But I never liked thinking about the future. I liked to live for the moment." The FBI pursued Hanhardt with dogged detective work and wiretapped his home phone. The feds also obtained copies from an informant of index cards with information on jewelers used by Hanhardt and others to conduct surveillance. Hanhardt's doom may have been sealed by 1999 when a member of the ring was in a nasty divorce that involved a bank safe- deposit box. It contained uncut diamonds and jewels.
$1 Million in Diamonds Stolen From Tiffany's
More than $1 million worth of diamonds were stolen on May 4 from a Tiffany store in Sydney, Australia. Two armed robbers, wielding a gun and a sledgehammer, burst into the store in broad daylight, forced customers and staff to the floor and then smashed open a display case containing diamond rings with stones ranging from .5 carats to 4 carats.
Vacuum Cleaner Thieves
Thieves behind a rash of daring jewelry heists in Paris have used a new innovation- a vacuum cleaner. In June, four men on motorcycles roared up to a jewelers in a wealthy Paris district, smashed glass displays and used a battery-operated, hand-held vacuum to suck up the goods. In one swipe, they sucked up jewels that usually have to be picked slower by hand. The men raced away from the scene of the crime on motorbikes. Eight jewelers in Paris have been robbed so far this year, compared to 13 in 2001. Police suspect more than one group is involved in these jewelry heists. Some robberies are highly slick and professional and others more haphazard.
Recent Gemstone Reports
Reports from Mogok Burma indicate supply remains dismal keeping prices high. Especially difficult to find are two plus carat Mogok rubies and three plus carat Mogok red spinels. Mining areas where activity was once robust are now closed. Some hard rock mines have not even bothered to drain the rainy season water from their mine shafts. The Dattaw hard rock mine used to be a thriving village of tents whose inhabitants spent their days breaking calcite. Now, it is almost deserted with no tents.
Current license holders are subleasing their permits to speculators who are attempting to consolidate the mining activity. Many of these consolidators made their money in other ventures, and are members of ethnic minorities such as Kokang Chinese and Wa. The new license holders are using more modern equipment, but it doesn't seem to be yielding any benefits. The Mogok mining people believe these carpetbaggers' lack of success is because they are not offering proper tribute to Mogok's guardian nat (spirit) Bo Bo Gyi.
According to figures released by the Myanma Gems Enterprise (MGE) under the Ministry of Mines, in the fiscal year 2000-01, the production of the country's jade fell by 9.76%, ruby fell 37.9% and sapphire increased by 33.8 %. We expected the jade and ruby figures to be lower and are surprised the sapphire numbers actually show an increase. Of course, these figures represent total production, not simply gem qualities.
Further evidence of the shortage of goods is U Paing (UMEHL), the government/private sector joint venture operators of the seven top Mogok mines. They used to conduct twice a year rough auctions. At this year's March MGE auction, U Paing did not participate at all. U Paing officials also stated publicly every single one of their mines is losing money. Shwe Pyi Aye, one of the most famous mines, may be closed down shortly and its land sold to the adjacent golf course.
The Burmese auctions have been selling $20-25 million per year, but this always contains the proceeds from jade sales as well as Mong Hsu material. The jade sales are made to Hong Kong and Taiwanese dealers. The Mong Hsu material is sold to Thai heaters for treatment. The sales of Mogok gems in the auctions over the past few years were usually on the lower side of $1 million. The Mogok gem ruby material is largely made up of small pieces of ruby, suitable for pave and melee. Groups of Mogok people-buy this material, cut it and make low priced jewelry for sale within Burma. Approximately ninety percent of the Mogok lots offered at auction are these small low quality goods. Obviously, the best stones are immediately sold to an awaiting international market and never make it to auction.
On the political front, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was recently unconditionally released after 19 months of house arrest. She has pledged to return democracy to military-ruled Burma. Her release had been one of the main demands of the West, which had placed severe economic sanctions on the impoverished country to force political change. The sanctions have caused increased unemployment and the departure of international firms has undercut the Burma economy. The United States had stopped all aid to the country. Since 1995, over 50 multinational corporations including PepsiCo, Wal-Mart, Texaco and ARCO have cut ties with Burma. Some foreign diplomats believe Burma will now have a democracy in a couple of years.
|According to British Press reports, a rare purple diamond has surfaced in London. The diamond was graded by the British Gemological Institute in London It is believed to be one of its kind and originated in the Amazon basin. It is being called "The Supreme Purple Star". Reports say the color goes from a deep purple to a deep to vivid purplish red. The weight is reported to be between two and five carats. Some speculate it is more likely between four and five carats. It is believed that the collector was unaware of the rarity of the stone when he took it to a London appraiser. The owner will have the stone graded by a major laboratory with plans to sell the stone. The clarity appears Imperfect from photographs. Some speculate this diamond may be rarer than a red diamond and might sell for more on a per carat basis. Others contend it is worth less than a red diamond. The owners are hoping the diamond will fetch about $4 million per carat.|
|A 179-carat black, pear-shaped gem, named the "Vulcain," will be auctioned in France. The interior is amber-colored crystallized graphite formations. It took experts 15 years to cut and polish the diamond and was reduced from 380 carats. The stone is expected to fetch more than $1 million. The diamond is the size of an egg and is mounted onto a platinum and white gold broach.|
Jade Mystery Solved?
The Olmecs lived in central and southern Mexico from 1000-400 B.C., and traded in blue-green jade. The material has been found from Mexico to Costa Rica. The mystery was this color of jade was never seen naturally in any quantity in the area. Collectors, geologists and archaeologists have been trying to solve this mystery since the 18th century. Now, scientists believe they have discovered the source of this jade in Guatemala. In 1999, Russell Seitz, a geophysicist from Harvard University's Center for International Affairs, started looking through reject piles of dealers of jade in Antigua, Guatemala. He found some of the blue-green material. He returned in 2000 and followed the farmers who had collected the material. They walked for two days to the area where they had been digging the material. Workers had scratched open a trench 50 yards long and two yards wide with a large blue-green vein of jadeite.
He returned with a team of scientists in 2001. They discovered the remains of an ancient mine, and a rock as big as a tank with a translucent green-blue area. Some speculate Hurricane Mitch in 1998 may have played a role in uncovering the vein. The quality of the material found so far is considered low-quality and not good enough for jewelry.
The Guatemalan Government stated the scientists never applied for a license and has denounced the explorations as illegal. A company which makes and sells replicas of Mayan jewelry and artifacts in Antigua claims they discovered the blue-green material in 1987.
Large Diamond Rumor
In April, Sierra Leone put border guards on alert after hearing rumors that a massive diamond was unearthed and that dealers may smuggle it out of the country. The diamond is alleged 1,000-carats and was believed to have been found on April 22. If true, the gem would be the second largest ever found. The biggest was the 3,107-carat "Cullinan" diamond found in South Africa in 1905.
The information provided in this newsletter has been derived from research and sources believed to be reliable. However, no guarantee is expressed or implied as to their validity. Opinions included herein are subject to change without notice. The gem market is speculative and unregulated. Certification does not eliminate all risks associated with the grading of gems. Recommendations are meant for those who are financially suited for the risks involved. Past performance is not a guarantee of future performance. Neither NGC nor The Gemstone Forecaster guarantee a profit or that losses may not be incurred as a result of following its recommendations. They may also hold positions in areas they recommend. Subscribers should not view this publication as investment advice, nor is it intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security.