THE GEMSTONE FORECASTER VOL. 15, NO.4 - PART TWO

TABLE OF CONTENTS PART TWO

US CUSTOMS SEIZURE

The Unites States Customs Service recently seized a cache of colored diamonds. The diamonds are presently graded by the International Gemological Institute (IGI), but the government has stated they will be re-graded by the GIA. Here are the major diamonds that will be up for sale. Look for further details in upcoming Gemstone Forecasters.

SizeShapeColorClarity
3.04MarquiseFancy BlueSI2
2.21EmeraldFancy Intense Purplish PinkI1
1.97SquareFancy Intense Purplish PinkI1
1.83EmeraldFancy Purplish PinkVS2
1.15RoundFancy Purplish PinkSI1
1.12OvalFancy Intense YellowSI2
1.02OvalFancy Purplish PinkSI1

HOW CRASHING ASIAN MARKETS MAY AFFECT THE GEM MARKETS

What are the ramifications for gem prices from the weak Asian financial markets? Will this affect the United States diamond and colored gemstone markets? There are two theories that make sense.

First, these dramatic drops will hurt wealthy Asians (the prime buyers of luxury gems), not to mention dealers who may have their wealth intertwined in the real estate and stock markets. If Asian consumers lose money in the financial markets, they should have less disposable income to purchase luxury items such as gemstones. Reports from Asia indicate consumers are selling their jewelry to cover their stock market losses. In Thailand, consumers are selling gold, diamonds, cars, and watches to obtain liquid cash. Diamond prices are weak in Thailand because of this reality. This will have a negative effect on gem prices. Is this the reason gold is trading under $300 per ounce? If this scenario turns out to be true, Southeast Asian gems should be less expensive overseas.

The opposing view regarding this situation is that Asians traditionally have a high regard for gold and gemstones. Recent Asian auction buying seems to indicate that wealthy Asians are turning to gold, diamonds, and colored gemstones as currency hedges. Once you lose faith in financial markets, where are you going to put your money? Into private, portable vehicles like gold and gemstones. If this scenario plays out, you can expect colored gemstone prices to rise as Asian buyers place more and more of their assets into gems.

Finally, it must be remembered that the United States is the largest consumer of diamonds and gemstones in the world. It may also come to pass that the effect of the Asian turmoil will be negligible, irrespective of what transpires there.

INTERNATIONAL MARKET UPDATES

DIAMONDS
Argyle Pinks
The recent tender of 55 fancy intense purplish red and pink diamonds sold for record prices. The sale broke the previous record of $4.5 million, but exact figures were not released. However, the average was over $100,000 per carat. The exact prices were kept confidential but Argyle said the prices were "exceptional." The main stone was a 1.78 oval purplish red. A total of 59 stones weighing 58.64 were sold. The Australian pinks represent 0.1% of Argyle's production.

"So..You Need A Diamond"
In a recent article by Fred Cuellar in "The Wedding Pages", he states:

  1. The average person pays twice as much as they should for an engagement ring.
  2. One out of three diamonds is laser drilled.
  3. The average diamond sold in the United states has been overgraded.
  4. Eighty percent of fancy cut diamonds are cut to save weight resulting in diamonds that have lost their potential sparkle.
  5. Three out of five diamonds sold are incorrectly weighed.

What is the solution? Simply buy a diamond with a GIA Diamond Grading Report!

Deal with Russia
DeBeers and Russia finally signed a 13 month agreement after three years of negotiations. The agreement ends in December, 1998, with a two year renewal option. DeBeers stock fell on news of the agreement. Here are the highlights:

  1. Russia will sell DeBeers $550 million worth of diamonds. Russia's annual production is about $1.2 billion. The diamonds will be of all shapes and qualities.
  2. DeBeers will buy $1 billion worth of diamonds that Russia cannot cut economically.
  3. Russia will sell 5% of the first $550 million to the open market as a price checking mechanism. There is a 20% market window for Russia to sell other diamonds.
  4. DeBeers will sell Russia diamonds to help nurture the Russian cutting industry.
  5. There will be regular meetings between Russia and DeBeers.

Antwerp Woes Continue
Belgium police recently arrested 10 more diamond dealers. All were arrested in conjunction with the collapse of the Max Fischer bank. The police also raided a currency center in the middle of the diamond district, looking for transactions involving the trading of diamonds for drugs. Many Antwerp diamond dealers are considering relocating to other countries.

COLOMBIA
Elections
The October elections in Colombia caused widespread violence. Rebel forces killed 24 candidates, kidnapped dozens, and forced hundreds to withdraw from the elections. Rebels also attacked a hydroelectric plant, causing power shortages. The Colombian peso started to fall as nervous international investors began pulling their money out of the country. President Samper offered to negotiate with the rebels but they refused.

New Emerald Treatment
A new emerald treatment, Gematrat, was recently introduced. According to the producers of the treatment, it is colorless, stable, and permanent. You can put treated gems in an ultrasonic cleaner, a steamer, and even recut the stone without damage. We will be submitting samples for treatment and the results will be discussed in future newsletters.

THAILAND
Bangkok Gem and Jewelry Fair
The show was very slow and most exhibitors barely paid for the cost of their booths.

Chantaburi
This is the second largest gem capital (after Bangkok). The area continues to thrive as a cutting center. Prices are supposed to be lower than Bangkok. This area has been removed from the financial difficulties, such as bank closures, of Bangkok.

SRI LANKA
Gems Not Affected by Rebels
Gem production is still operating despite recent rebel attacks. The Tamil rebels have been concentrating their attacks around Colombo, but have not targeted the mines. The mines are located 50-60 miles east of Colombo.

Expo Sri Lanka `97
The show featured once-in-a-lifetime large blue sapphires. The Sri Lankans are competing with the Thais by cutting their own goods. At one time, all the rough was shipped to Thailand for heating. The Japanese have stopped buying from the Thais because they refuse to disclose what they have done to the stones. The Sri Lankan dealers are disclosing to the Japanese when they heat stones. Also, the Thais are known for their use of heavy equipment in mining and the Sri Lankans still depend upon manual labor.

BRAZIL
International Colored Gemstone Association (ICA)
The conference was held in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. This is the organization which ran the Year of the Ruby promotion. Most dealers said their ruby sales increased between 25-50% due to the promotion. Due to lack of funding, there are presently no more promotions planned.

The ICA finally reached agreement for disclosing the treatment of gemstones. Here is the letter code:

(ED: Although this should not affect clients who buy/sell with AGL Colored Stone Grading Reports or GIA Diamond Grading Reports, it is a code that will be used among dealers. Hopefully, this will begin a process of full and open disclosure to the ultimate consumer.)

CAMBODIA
Cambodia remains in the middle of a civil war. Meanwhile, there are still five or six Thai miners searching for blue sapphire around Palin.

TANZANIA
The Tanzanian Mineral Dealers Association put off its August auction due to lack of production. Expect higher prices in this material.

NAMIBIA
Mandarin Orange Garnet
Production of the beautiful mandarin orange garnet is now halted due to a cave-in at the mine. Although no one was hurt because the workers were at lunch, this means it will take considerable financing and heavy equipment to get the mine back on-line. The mine was producing 20-25,000 carats a year, with 85% going to the Far East. Gems over 1.50 are non-existent and prices have doubled.

COLLECTORS CORNER

Peridot (Hardness 6.5-7)
Peridot is the gem variety of olivine. It is created by volcanic pressure. Peridot is sometimes found in meteorites that land on earth. Due to the presence of iron, the gem only occurs in green. Colors range from a light yellow green to 7-Up bottle green.

Peridot was originally mined in ancient Egypt. It was reported to be Cleopatra's favorite gem. Many believe the famous Egyptian emerald mines were in fact peridot. The Romans called the gem "evening emerald" since its color remained the same at night. European churches are adorned with gem peridot. The 200 carat plus peridot which adorns the Three Magi at the Cologne Cathedral was believed to be an emerald until the 19th century. The Smithsonian has a 310 carat peridot from the St. John Island in Egypt.

Most peridot is mined today by Apache Indians on the San Carlos reservation in Arizona. The problem with the Arizona peridot is it usually only occurs in small sizes, up to three carats. Peridots are also mined in Burma and China. In 1994, peridot was discovered in Pakistan's area of Kashmir. The mine sits above 15,000 feet.

Due to the gem's softness, do not subject the gem to rapid temperature changes or put the stone in hydrochloric or sulfuric acid. Also, be careful when mounting the stone.

Peridot is a relatively inexpensive gem and can be purchased for $100-$200 per carat up to 8 carat sizes. Large 20-40 carat Burma or Pakistan gem peridot can fetch $150-$300 per carat. Peridot's best color depends on mass. The larger the peridot, the easier it is to find a vibrant green. These gems are not heated or irradiated.

Morganite (Hardness 7.5-8.0)
Morganite is the pink variety of beryl. Morganite is from the same family as emerald and aquamarine. Beryl is derived from the Greek word "berullos", which meant crystal. Morganite mostly occurs in pegmatites within granite rocks. Morganite was named after the banker and gem collector J.P. Morgan. George Kunz wanted to honor J.P. Morgan for his gem donations to the American Museum of Natural History. Also, J.P. Morgan was his best client and George Kunz traveled the world finding gems for him. The gem is colored by traces of manganese. Morganite varies in color from pastel pink/peach to lavender. The larger the stone, the better the color. Small stones tend to wash out. It was first discovered in California. The first commercially viable source of the material was Madagascar in 1908. There are also deposits in Brazil, Mozambique, Namibia, Afghanistan, and Russia. The largest and most well known Morganite is a 598.70 cushion from Madagascar in the British Museum collection, although the American Museum of Natural History has quite a collection. Many Morganites start as peach color but they will fade. Therefore the stones are heat treated to stop their colors from fading and create permanent pinks.

Kunzite (Hardness 6.5-7)
Kunzite is the pink variety of spodumene. The most famous Kunzite is a 880 carat gem at the Smithsonian. Kunzite is trichroic which means there is a color intensity variation when the crystal is viewed from top to bottom or from other directions. The top and the bottom of the crystal have the deepest colors. Therefore, the gem must be cut along its C-axis for the best color. Kunzite also has perfect cleavage in two directions, which means a sharp blow can cause the gem to break in half. Due to the gem's trichroism and cleavage, the gem should be considered fragile. The gem is named after George Kunz, the famous buyer for Tiffany and Co. in the early 1900s. He was a pioneer in the science of gemology and wrote "The Curious Lore of Precious Stones".

The stone was first commercially mined in California in 1902. It is usually found with Morganite and pink tourmaline. Today the stone is mined in Afghanistan, Madagascar, and Brazil. The stone varies from lilac to pale pink in color. Ideally, you want a deep pink lavender. The larger the Kunzite, the better chance it has to be vibrant pink. The most intense Kunzites occur at 30 carats plus. Kunzite trades for $50-60 per carat under 10 carats and can reach $100+ per carat for fine gems. Kunzite is usually a clean gemstone. It should be protected from light and heat because it tends to fade. Kunzite is both heated and irradiated.

Red Beryl
Gemstone Mining Inc. (GMI) recently bought out the three year option from Kennecott Exploration Co. for $41 million for the Ruby Violet Mine in Utah. GMI hopes to produce 25,000 carats per year. The problem with red beryl production has been only collectors will pay a premium to get the material. The new company plans to cut all qualities of red beryl, not just the top gems and market the stone in Asia. Kennecott was yielding less than 9% from rough to finished gemstones. A new marketing program will be launched that hopefully will maintain the stone's collector status but create more demand for lower quality gems and mineral specimens.

Demantoid
Rumors appear real that a new demantoid deposit has recently been discovered. The new finds are of relatively large size and gem quality. Colors range from yellowish green to green to blue-green.

GEM TIDBITS

Princess Di's Jewelry
It is believed that Princess Di owned about $27 million worth of jewelry. Many of the pieces were handed down from the Queen. She wore the 1914 Queen Mary tiara with pearls and diamonds. When she was married, Queen Elizabeth gave her a $3.2 million emerald and diamond choker. Diana often wore it as a headband. She also will be remembered for her love of pearls. All of her jewelry will be returned to the royal family.

Meanwhile, the Russian diamond agency, ARS, will name a 64.22 carat diamond after Princess Di. It was discover two days before her death.

Gem Robberies
On October 8, 1997, the Coin and Jewelry jewelry store in Oregon was robbed by two armed men in less than 10 minutes. They ordered the owner and an employee to lie face down in the back room. One man cleaned out the display case and the other was a lookout. They threatened to kill them both. They fled by car with about $30,000 in gold chains, bracelets, and necklaces, $30,000-$40,000 in diamonds, and some Black Hills Gold jewelry. The owner went outside to get the robbers' license plate and was shot at. The shots missed him by a foot. Police arrested two suspects and more arrests are expected.

Cartier
Two armed robbers stole $1.7 million in gems from Cartier in London. They entered a Cartier workshop through a skylight and threatened two workers with shotguns before escaping with the valuables. Cartier is insured and stated none of the gems belonged to clients.

Rapaport Diamond Report
October, 1997
An Interview with Henri Barguirdjian, CEO of Van Cleef and Arpels
"Colored stones (ED note: As opposed to diamonds.) don't get as much interest from consumers. A fine ruby is rarer than a D-Flawless, but few people know that."

PRIVACY

What does the IRS know about you? When you fill out your tax forms, be aware the IRS has this information at their fingertips:

Encryption
Do you want to encrypt the hard disk drive of your computer? Do you want to keep your computer files secret from hackers and prying eyes? You can check out the software F-Secure from Data Fellows at: http://www.datafellows.com/f-secure/


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.
The following is for snail mail only:
Write:
NGC
P. O. Box 42468
Tucson, AZ 85733
Call: 1-800-458-6453 or (520)-577-6222

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