Author: jordan

Demantoid Garnet Rarity & Gemology with Prosperity Earth Ep. 10

Listen to Part 1 here.

Listen to Part 2 here.

Demantoid garnet expert and Madagascar miner, John Ferry, discusses the rarity, gemology and sellability of green andradite garnet known as demantoid in this podcast episode, part 2 of a complete interview including details about the mining in Madagascar.

It’s worth noting that this podcast episode compares Russian demantoid garnet to Madagascar demantoid garnet and explains the noticeable value difference between the two.

Related Links

Connect with Prosperity Earth: Website | Instagram | Email

“Demantoid Garnet from Antetezambato, Northern Madagascar—Internal Characteristics and Their Use in Deciphering Geographic Origin” by J. C. (Hanco) Zwaan

Timestamps

0:15 Intro

1:01 “Demantoid is the most undervalued of all colored gemstones in the world.”

1:55 Discovery of Demantoid Garnet in Ural Mountains, Russia

2:22 Sub-Adamantine Luster of Demantoid Garnet

3:26 Distinguishing Demantoid Garnet from other Andradite Garnet

4:35 Russian Demantoid Garnet vs Namibian and Madagascar material

7:15 Rarity of Demantoid Garnet

10:35 Advice to Salespeople

13:23 Durability of Demantoid Garnet

20:53 Value of Demantoid Garnet; Price Comparisons between Russian vs Madagascan material

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Demantoid Garnet Mining in Madagascar with Prosperity Earth | Ep. 9

Professional miner, John Ferry of Prosperity Earth, discusses their vertically integrated demantoid garnet mining operation in Madagascar with Jordan in Part 1 of this two-part podcast interview.

Demantoid Garnet is a green andradite garnet revered for it’s “diamond-like” brilliance, having actually more fire than diamond. Prosperity Earth’s mining operation is particularly focused on improving the economy and environment near their mine in Madagascar by empowering individuals and the community they mine in.

Related Links

Connect with Prosperity Earth: Website | Instagram | Email

“Demantoid Garnet from Antetezambato, Northern Madagascar—Internal Characteristics and Their Use in Deciphering Geographic Origin” by J. C. (Hanco) Zwaan

Timestamps

0:12 Intro

3:42 Interview with John Ferry begins

4:24 John’s Origin Story

8:30 Differences between Russian, Namibian and Madagascar demantoid garnet material

11:27 Shoutout to The Journal of Gemmology article (differences in inclusions and mineral deposits between Russian vs Namibian and Madagascar)

13:00 The discovery of demantoid garnet

14:11 The beginning of demantoid garnet mining in Madagascar

15:90 The current demantoid garnet mining operation in Madagascar

19:26 Ethics in Madagascar demantoid garnet mining

20:50 Community impact of gem mining

26:22 Gem cutting in Madagascar

34:50 Conclusion

The “Curse” of the Hope Diamond with Tea & Gemstones

The “Curse” of the Hope Diamond with Tea & Gemstones

Podcast rockstar, Jennifer Sieverling, takes a break from Tea & Gemstones to discuss the history of the most famous blue diamond in the world with Jordan on this episode of Jewels of the Trade.

Jennifer is a professional historian who discusses a variety of jewelry-related topics on her podcast, Tea & Gemstones, including famous jewels of history, modern trends and royal jewelry, history of metals and more!

Connect with Jennifer: Blog | Instagram | Twitter

Listen to Tea & Gemstones: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | YouTube

Resources Mentioned: UV Penlight | Book: The Smithsonian National Gem Collection — Unearthed |

Transcript

Jordan: Every gemstone has a story, and just like the people who wear them, the tales of some of these magical nature nuggets are crazier than others. I’m here with historian Jennifer Sieverling, known for her gemology podcast “Tea & Gemstones” which focuses on diamonds, metals, gemstones and jewelry in history as well as in the modern spotlight.

Thanks for joining us, Jennifer!

Jennifer: Hi, I am so happy to be here! Um… are you calling me a little crazier than others? Haha, but I can’t dispute that I guess… Usually I just talking away to myself, it is so lovely to have someone else here on the microphone with me.

Jordan: Hahaha! You can’t be crazier than me, although you are CRAZY smart when it comes to gemstones which is why I’m thrilled to have you here sharing your wisdom. Jennifer and I will be talking today about the Hope Diamond.

Jennifer: Okay, I want to ask… do you think you are in charge of your destiny?

Jordan: Are you trying to sell me something? We already have a vacuum! hahaha

Jennifer: If you have a vacuum that changes your destiny, let me know about that haha- Okay, let me ask this question: What about the concept that an inanimate object can enact change to people’s circumstances?

Jordan: I actually get this question a lot from retail customers when I’m selling jade at trunk shows. I don’t believe jade has any mysticism or power, but other people have for literally thousands of years, and some of that superstition (or whatever you want to call it) has carried on.

Jennifer: Yes! Just that sort of vibe! It sounds like a high-minded philosophical discussion until you realize it’s a concept we’ve been familiar with since childhood. On the benevolent side we have things like a rabbit’s foot on a keychain. Looking for four leaf clovers in the playground grass or picking up a penny. A necklace or charm bracelet featuring a horseshoe. On the darker side, there’s avoiding walking under a ladder, opening an umbrella indoors, breaking a mirror or anything with the number thirteen. But where do gemstones play into this? Well, across time and cultures, humans have been obsessed with gemstones. How could we not be? These amazing stones come in every known color, with wonderful properties not shared by anything else in the world. It’s no wonder many cultures have attached divine or mystical properties to gemstones. Yes, science explains how gemstones are formed with heat and pressure and chemical reactions… but take a long deep look into the swirling colors of an opal, crack open an oyster to reveal a black pearl, see how alexandrite changes from red to green depending on the light source or consider how there is no substance harder than a diamond and try to tell me there isn’t something otherworldly about gemstones. So it isn’t a surprise that throughout history, mankind has attributed magical powers to gemstones, including an influence on luck, fate, destiny… or a curse…

Jordan: Today, Jennifer is going to tell us about the history of the Hope Diamond, one of the most famous, or maybe infamous, diamonds in the world. Jennifer is actually a historian with her own incredible podcast of which I am a fan, Tea & Gemstones.

Overview of the Hope Diamond
Jennifer: I think a lot of times, we as people care about jewelry because of the history attached to it, more than the price tag value of the piece… We love who the jewelry was owned by, where the piece has been. Like you hang onto your granddad’s favorite signet ring because he wore it everyday and you felt it when he patted your shoulder as a child, or you love the silver necklace you got back in college and wore on your first date with your now husband… it’s the memories and the association with the past that make the love… and it works both ways! If memories can be the basis of love, um…  If your boyfriend cheats on you, the diamond earrings he gave you can have the worst juju and it doesn’t matter that they’re a full carat, you dont. Want. Them. Anymore!! hahaha

Jordan I saw that all the time when I worked in retail! I think that’s how divorce rings came to be; people want to remount their diamond to get rid of the bad juju. It’s interesting the way we associate memories and emotions with tangible things. 

Jennifer: That’s a really interesting idea; like a stone has bad juju, but we can take control of that juju somehow and alter or control it… But, Okay, so what do you do when you’re presented with one of the most epic gemstones… this magnificent blue diamond, one of the most gorgeous ever found on this planet… but man… this thing has some baaaaaddddd juju. Some awful memories and history associated with it. Is that the gemstone’s fault? Does the Hope Diamond have the power to influence the lives of those it comes into contact with? What if the curse is fiction? Can you take the risk if it’s… not? 

The history of the Hope Diamond can be traced back to 1653 Tavernier supposedly acquired the rough in India in 1653 (if it’s the same stone), I believe his record of sale to King Louis XIV was in 1666 (which is of course predicated on the belief that the French Blue was in fact the Hope Diamond, which I think it was.)

Jennifer:So nowadays gemstone companies try to be very transparent about stone origins, but we don’t actually really know where and when the Hope Diamond was discovered, which I guess is the downside to your origin story taking place in the 15th century. If an enormous blue diamond was discovered in more modern times it probably would instantly have it’s own hashtag and a circulating meme. 

Ooh and an autotuned theme song! Do people still do that? I’m not very hip…

But in 1666 you’ve gotta settle for a small mention in a London newspaper that a merchant had acquired the blue diamond. “Acquired”…we know the Hope Diamond came from India. But where exactly in India is swathed in mystery. It gets very Indiana Jones, one rumor is the diamond was plucked from the eye of a statue of a Hindu god, who then put the curse on the diamond as retaliation. But odds are it came from the Kollur mine in Golconda, India. Fun fact, our first records of the Hope Diamond describe it as a 112 carat “lumpy triangle”. But there was a reason for this unattractive lumpy triangle shape… and it has to do with what I mentioned earlier with people believing gemstones have power and influence over the world around them. The Indians who mined the diamond…  they did not cut gemstones for maximum sparkle. Instead, they tended to preserve as much of the stone as they could, only cutting out cracks and other imperfections. This, it was believed, maximized the gemstone’s ability to protect one from evil influence. Um… so maybe the Hope Diamond curse was unleashed because people recut the diamond so much and lessened it’s evil fighting power. Because it was recut multiple times through the centuries- we know of at least three cuttings- until it arrived in its final form weighing in at 45.52 carats. It went from original lumpy triangle to now it is in kind of a ‘walnut’ cushion cut shape. But back when it was a triangle, it was sold to the King of France in 1668. He called it “the French Blue” and he is the one who ordered it’s first recutting in 1673. He liked to wear the diamond on a ribbon around his neck for quote “special occasions” unquote. But owning the world’s first blue diamond didn’t mean good luck for the French Royal family, they were overthrown and beheaded in the French Revolution and all the French royal jewels- including the French Blue, aka the Hope Diamond, were stolen by a mob in a week long riot in 1792. We have no idea where the diamond went. Napoleon when he was emperor of France swore he would find it… but I mean, he said he would conquer Russia too, and look how that turned out haha 

A magical stone like the Hope Diamond isn’t going to vanish from history. Twenty years after it was snatched by looters, it resurfaces in the hands of a diamond merchant named Daniel Eliason… only it’s… smaller. When it was the “French Blue” it was about 67 carats. Now it’s about 45 carats. So the speculation is the French blue diamond from the looters was recut. So somewhere out there is 22 missing carats of this blue diamond. Wonder where they are.

Jordan: I like to believe the mysterious Brunswick Blue, which has it’s own crazy story, was cut from the French Blue, and I hope it’s still out there somewhere in one piece…Although it was probably recut into a bunch of smaller stones. Interesting fact about the Hope Diamond: It fluoresces red, and I believe it is the only blue diamond known to fluoresce red. So it’s said that if the Brunswick Blue were ever found, should it fluoresce red, it’s very likely that it came from the French Blue.

I love that the Hope Diamond has like, “a tell”- this giveaway characteristic that can’t be faked or imitated, it just adds to the mystik. Well, this one big piece we know of, the 45 carat piece, it gets sold to a new King, King George IV of England. And his bad luck is that he spent all of his country’s money… and if you think about the size of England’s empire, that is quite the feat. When King George died in 1830 the diamond was sold to pay off some of the king’s debts… and it ended up in the hands of a guy named Henry Phillip Hope…. A world famous diamond collector. This guy’s name is the pronoun that would stick to the tricky blue diamond for forever. 

That was very interesting to me when I found out because I always thought it was called “Hope” because of the feeling of hope, I didn’t realize it was someones name. Super fun (albeit random!) fact about Henry Hope. He actually helped the US finance the Louisiana Purchase. This guy was stupid rich.

I did not know that! Yes, Henry Hope was indeed rich. But his descendants didn’t make such smart choices with the family funds. Hope’s family would make a lot of bad business decisions, and ultimately his great-grandnephew got into a bad deal about like, betting on horses and his showgirl wife, and he actually lost the Hope Diamond by court litigation to pay debts. It was purchased by a jeweler company called Joseph Frankel’s Sons & Company… and  they, hey-… let’s play “guess the bad luck”. For $500 what will you take? 

Jordan: For $500, I’ll take “Death and Destruction,” Alex.

Jennifer: Haha- Well it’s bankruptcy! Three for three of the last Hope Diamond owners lose all their money and subsequently the gemstone. And people are starting to notice… in 1908 the New York Times ran an article about the diamond’s woeful history… and I mean, salacious gossip sells- hey- there’s something that’s no different than modern times. Other newspapers, perhaps less constrained by facts and sources than the reputable New York Times ran their own versions of the history of the Hope Diamond and they… spiced it up. They said things  like it played a role in Marie Antoniette and her husband the king being executed at the guillotine, talked about the origin of being yanked from an ancient statue’s eye socket… I mean, that sure makes for an interesting story… rather than the facts that a bunch of old dudes who cannot manage their finances have lost the stone. Is that the stone’s fault? 

Well, the Hope Diamond makes its way into some pretty famous hands… the Cartier brothers in Paris. So there was a famous novel called “The Moonstone” written by a British author named Wilkie Collins.

Jordan: If I’m not mistaken, I think that book is where the “opals are cursed” myth comes from…Right? Did I make that up?

He wrote the novel in 1868… let me give you the ClifNotes of the plot… there’s a huge cursed yellow diamond, plucked from the eye of a Hindu deity statue in a temple by foreign conquerors and the stone proceeds to cause murder, kidnapping, insanity and death all over the world until it’s returned home to the eye socket from wench it came. Sound familiar? So one of the Cartier brothers named Pierre, he’s a savvy salesman…. He has both a friendship and business relationship with a woman named Evalyn McLean. Evalyn was pretty wild… Pierre Cartier compared the newspaper stories about the Hope Diamond to the cursed diamond in the novel, and Evalyn was enamoured with the drama of the diamond. She purchased it from Pierre for about $5 million dollars in today’s money.

Jordan: Evalyn McLean was kinda…odd….wasn’t she?

Evalyn did some kooky things with this world class stone… She took it to a church in 1911 to have it blessed to remove any lingering curse-y-ness… and apparently as the diamond sat on it’s cushion awaiting it’s blessing, a bolt of lighting crashed across the sky and thunder shook the building. Everyone at the blessing was really freaked out but apparently Evalyn laughed and declared, “I’ve worn my diamond as a charm!”. She wore it everywhere. Get this… She used to let her Great Dane, his name was Mike, she used to let her dog Mike wear the diamond around his neck on his walks. 

Jordan: Can we take a second to note that she named her dog Mike? That’s like naming your cat Karen. So great!

She used to deliberately “lose” the stone at parties and make all the children there look for it as a game. She lent the diamond out to brides to wear as their “something blue”, can you imagine? 

Jordan: Bless her heart…

She even pawned the stone once to raise money for an investigation into the kidnapping of the Charles Lindburgh baby. But it was all mischief and humor… it is unshakable… the bad luck that seems to follow the Hope Diamond, I mean- I can’t help but feel so intrigued as I lay all the history out, it’s a compelling case for just… man, is this stone cursed?

Jordan: My best friend once called and said “I think my house is haunted!” and I was like “Don’t be ridiculous, your house isn’t haunted. Houses aren’t haunted. People are.” hahaha…I think everyone has bad things that happen to them…And more than that, I think people cause bad things to happen to themselves because they’re complacent, self-obsessed, or just…stupid. I guarantee that in every circumstance where misfortune befalls the people in this story, poor choices were made! hahaha

Jennifer: So poor vivacious Evalyn, life starts taking a darker turn for her. Her 9 year old son was hit by a car and died. Her husband divorced her in 1932 and then went insane and was committed to a psychiatric hospital the next year. He ultimately died there 8 years later. Evalyn actually wrote an autobiography and she speaks of the Hope Diamond and ponders the possible curse. Here’s a direct quote from her book, “Father Struck It Rich”, quote, “For hours, that jewel stared at me, and at some time during the night I began to really want the thing. Then I put the chain around my neck and hooked my life to its destiny for good or evil. What tragedies have befallen me might have occurred had I never seen or touched the Hope Diamond. My observations have persuaded me that tragedies for anyone who lives, are not escapable.” end quote.

Jordan: I know this podcast isn’t about jade…and I do talk about jade a lot, maybe a little too much (haha)…But that doesn’t sound unlike Emperor Qianlong’s view of jade during the Qing dynasty. He was crazier than her for sure, but he felt very connected to his jade to the point of extreme obsession. 

 Evalyn at the time of writing her book in 1936 may have thought perhaps it was all just sad random happenings, but when her only daughter accidentally died of a sleeping pill overdose in 1946, Evalyn finally might have felt truly cursed. We don’t know any more of Evalyn’s thoughts about this, I wish we had more of her writings, but she died of pneumonia 7 months after her daughter passed. Some people think that Evalyn always believed in the curse, but she made light of it in public so not to concern others, and she wore the diamond as much as possible on her own person to protect others from being exposed to bad luck. Like, she was the “keeper” of the doom, keeping the diamond’s curse contained to only poison her life. I mean… Evalyn is the longest known owner of the Diamond. She certainly could have gotten rid of it. But she never did. After she died… the Hope Diamond was found in a shoebox under her bed, along with $4 million in other gemstones.

After Evalyn’s death, her estate sold the Hope Diamond to a Mr Harry Winston, one of the most famous high jewelers ever. And in 1958 Winston decided to donate it to the National Museum of Natural History- now the Smithsonian… and he sent the Hope Diamond in the mail. I mean, it was technically registered mail, but still.

Jordan: I’m pretty sure they walked it down the street…right? It was like a HUGE deal.

 Just through the postal service. He insured the box for $1 million dollars which cost Mr. Winston $2.44 postage at the post office. Today the diamond is insured for $250 million.

Have you been to the Smithsonian? I’ve never been.

Jennifer replies, natural conversation occurs.

I’d love to go, specifically to see the Hope diamond. I’d touch it if they let me, really test the curse theory haha. When the Smithsonian received the Hope Diamond, they actually received letters from the American people begging them not to accept it as it would bring a curse upon the nation.

I wish we had some of those letters around. 

I wonder if the Smithsonian has them! There were people who would photograph the Hope diamond at the Smithsonian and then something bad would happen to them so they would write letters to the Smithsonian blaming them. Not sure if society was quite as litigious then, but that would have been a hilarious lawsuit.

The original brown paper packaging from the mailing box Harry Winston used is actually on display at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum. Hey- do you think this is why the USPS has gone so downhill and has such a bad reputation now? Because the Hope Diamond went through the mail?

Jordan: Hahaha! I would love to deny their accountability, but the Postman Todd who delivered the Hope to the Smithsonian lived to be 68 and as far as we know lived a normal un-cursed life, and the Smithsonian since has certainly not seemed cursed.

Hmm, that would’ve been nice to pinpoint as their downfall haha Well, maybe Evalyn succeeded in her goal of keeping the curse within herself, because yes, you’re so right Jordan, the Smithsonian Museum certainly hasn’t seemed on a downward spiral since taking ownership of the Hope Diamond. It’s one of the most popular exhibits and Harry Winston’s donation inspired others to contribute amazing gemstones to the museum. Curator Jeff Post says, quote, “Since the arrival of the Hope Diamond, the National Gem Collection has grown steadily in size and stature and is today considered by many to be the finest public display of gems in the world. For the Smithsonian, the Hope Diamond has obviously been a source of good luck.” end quote.

And the diamond being in the museum means gemologists have gotten a chance to study it like never before, and the Hope Diamond can do some really cool tricks, can’t it?

Like glowing red? I wish I had a party trick as impressive as that!

I admire that the Smithsonian promotes the positivity of the Hope Diamond. The “curse” mythology really began with Pierre Cartier in a sales pitch to Evalyn McLean, who was pretty much the Paris Hilton of the 1910s. Cartier’s exciting tale was recording by McLean in her diary, excerpts of which made their way into the newspapers when talks began about donating the gem to the Smithsonian • Richard Kurin of the Smithsonian actually published an incredible book on the Hope Diamond where he broke down 3 categories of people who had interacted with the stone: Definite owners, Possible owners, and close family members associated with the diamond will all of their ages of death. The average life span of owners of the Hope Diamond is a bit more than 68 years old. The average life span of possible owners and stewards was 72 years old. So. Premature death, overall, is actually not associated with the Hope Diamond which is a hilarious fact to know; I love that he actually sat down and did the math. I think the real story of the Hope Diamond is much more interesting than the fantastical story of Cartier’s sales pitch, and I think there’s ample evidence that it isn’t cursed which lends credibility to the anthropological observations surrounding the Hope Diamonds. I think people want to believe in the Curse, I think they love it. I think it’s the reason it’s the most famous diamond in the world. There are diamonds that are bigger, more valuable, but I don’t believe any diamond is more well known. They say any other blue diamond of this size and color would be valued around $40 million or so, but the Hope diamond’s current estimate stands at $350 million. It’s because it has a story.

Jennifer: After everything the Hope Diamond has been through, I like to think it is enjoying retirement at the Smithsonian. It must be a great relief after being stolen, looted, worn by everyone from kings to dogs, pawned, shut up in vaults, sold, sold, sold, and sold… to just sit nicely on a blue velvet pillow all day long, not being bothered. And on the subject of bad juju… The Hope Diamond is displayed behind bulletproof glass… that should be enough to contain any curse. No bad vibes can escape. It can only bring joy and pleasure now, to those who come to gaze at it. 

Jordan: I like to believe the Hope Diamond is not cursed.  I think the “curse” made it very sellable, and isn’t it human nature to blame our mistakes on things other than ourselves? 

Correlation is not causation, although truthfully, plenty of people came into contact with the Hope Diamond and went on to live perfectly regular lives as documented by the Smithsonian. I’ve always looked at the Hope Diamond as a perfect example of the power of media…There’s no record of anyone believing that Tavernier stole the diamond from a Hindu God…Until Cartier allegedly said that to Evalyn McLean, who wrote it in her diary, which was later published in the newspaper – branding the Hope as cursed to the American public. Much of Pierre’s wild story to Evalyn McLean was unfounded in truth, and according to her diary he admitted to knowing beforehand that she considered bad luck objects “lucky for her,” implying he knew it would make for a good sales pitch. 

Jennifer: That is so interesting to me, she considered bad luck objects “lucky for her.” I mean, objectively she had some rough circumstances come her way after she took ownership of the Hope Diamond… but maybe it did protect her in some way. Maybe things could have been a lot worse. Hows that for a way to end. Congratulations, it could’ve been worse hahaJordan: Life is funny. Well Jennifer, thank you so much for sharing that incredible story! Jennifer, please tell our listeners how they can reach you and where they can find YOUR podcast which is full of history, fashion, and incredible stories of jewelry, gemstones and metals. 

Nephrite Jade Diving with Just In Jade

Nephrite Jade Diving with Just In Jade

In this podcast interview, Jordan talks to Justin Barrett from Just In Jade about jade diving in Big Sur, California. Justin is a jade diver and carver who sells a variety of artistic jade carvings in Big Sur Jade, BC Jade, Yukon Jade, Guatemalan Jadeite, Wyoming Jade, and more!

Justin has been carving, prospecting, and diving for jade for decades. He is known for his organic-style jade carvings and sculptures, as well as pendants and earrings.

Related Links

Connect with Justin: Website | Instagram

Justin’s Portfolio

Jade Adventures

Show Notes

About Just In Jade [3:57]

Nephrite Jade Varieties [6:15]

Nephrite and Jadeite Formation [7:41]

Big Sur Jade Value [13:01]

Cultural Perspective Toward American Jade [14:48]

Incredible Jade in the Ocean [19:00]

Learning Jade Carving from Just In Jade [27:00]

Tsavorite Rarity and Quality with Bruce Bridges

Tsavorite Rarity and Quality with Bruce Bridges

Interview with Tsavorite Expert

In Part Two of the interview with Bruce Bridges, owner of Bridges Tsavorite, Bruce discusses Tsavorite Garnet’s rarity, quality factors, tsavorite for everyday wear (bridal), mint garnet, and advice for sales professionals.

“Tsavorite is 1,000 times rarer than emerald under 3cts and 5,000x rarer than emerald over 3cts.” -Bruce Bridges, Bridges Tsavorite

Related Links

Connect with Bruce: Website | Instagram

History of Tsavorite

What is Tsavorite?

Tanzanite

Listen to Part One here.

Show Notes

Tsavorite Rarity [00:52]

Tsavorite Color & Quality Factors [7:00]

Mint Garnet [10:18]

Tsavorite Engagement Rings [19:16]

How to Sell Tsavorite [24:59]

Tsavorite History with Bruce Bridges

Tsavorite History with Bruce Bridges

In Part One of this two-part interview, Bruce Bridges discusses his father’s discovery of tsavorite, their mines in Kenya, and how the name “tsavorite” came to be.

Bruce Bridges is the owner of Bridges Tsavorite. Bruce’s father, Campbell Bridges, embarked on a lifelong adventure after discovering tsavorite in the 1960s. Tsavorite is a rare variety of grossularite (garnet) whose rich green color comes from traces of chromium and/or vanadium oxide. Compared to emerald in appearance, this lesser-known gem is actually rarer, more durable, and more affordable.

Selected Links from the Episode

Connect with Bruce: Website | Instagram

History of Tsavorite

What is Tsavorite?

Tanzanite

Listen to Part Two here. (coming soon)

Full Show Notes

Growing up in the mines [3:00]

The discovery of tsavorite [7:30]

Tsavorite nomenclature [20:00]

Connect with Jewels of the Trade

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Gadgets For Jewelers: 3 Must-Haves for Jewelry Store Social Media

Gadgets For Jewelers: 3 Must-Haves for Jewelry Store Social Media

Social media has become an inconvenient necessity, juxtaposing the old-world methods of goldsmiths, craftsmen, and bench jewelers. While extremely beneficial for small businesses, the hassle of social media can be overwhelming; increasing the need for strategic efficiencies that will alleviate the added stresses of Facebook, Instagram, and…dare I say it…TikTok.

When showcasing your tiny pieces of detailed artwork, the photographs are the most important part. If hosting frequent SLR macro and styled photo sessions is not a manageable system for your jewelry photography, you may consider using the device you currently hold in your hand: Your phone.

While many jewelers use LED lightboxes specifically designed for phones, I personally have not had experience with this and will instead focus on some inexpensive alternatives that cater to the convenience of photographing your recently completed work while still at the bench. These methods for better photography can also be used for sharing photos with customers if trying to make sales over the phone or the Internet.


#1. Macro Lens (Phone Attachment) for Jewelry Photography

I just recently decided to try out this inexpensive macro clip-on attachment for my phone pictures, and woah. At the low price of only $20, I regret not getting this sooner.

✓ Can use with or without phone case

✓ 3 Interchangeable lenses

✓ Cheap and easy

✓ Drastically improves photo quality

My phone is the iPhone 12 PRO Max, so the camera is already pretty good. Because of this, I didn’t think I needed gadgets to improve my phone photography. I was wrong. So very wrong!

The clip-on attachment fits my phone perfectly and can be adjusted to use on any of my 3 phone lenses. It’s small, comes with 2 other lenses for the clip-on attachment, and even has a little carrying bag with it. The attachment really shines in videos, but here you can see a side-by-side comparison of my iPhone photos with and without the attachment. Something that really surprised me about this lens was the perceived depth of field it added to my photos.

iPhone photos taken with no attachment (left) and with the macro clip-on attachment (right)

#2. Ring Light for Jewelry Photography

The ring light is lightweight, takes up very little space, and you never have to charge it. It’s not the best lighting in the world, but it’s convenient and easy to use. You will be able to see the ring in super reflective stones, so keep that in mind. It’s not super noticeable to the layman, but here is an example of how a stone may reflect the ring shape:

Photo of Mason-Kay’s Ice Jade taken with an iPhone + macro attachment and a ring light next to a window.

I actually have 2 ring lights that I recommend. They both plug in via USB so it makes them super convenient and easy to use at trade shows. If you’re wanting to use it on the go (at trade shows, etc), you might consider buying a portable charging block which you can use for your phone, the ring light, etc.

✓ Can use at the bench or at trade shows (portable)

✓ Convenient, easy, and requires no knowledge of lighting


#3. Microscope Phone Adapter for Jewelers

In addition to this phone adapter, I also have a nice camera adapter I use to attach my SLR to my microscope. However, when in the store or on the go (especially when communicating with vendors or customers), this is definitely the easiest way to take photos through a microscope.

Everything about it is adjustable: how it fits onto the eyepiece, how it holds your phone, even the orientation of the camera. After you’ve practiced with it a little, you’ll grow to really like it. Here are some photos I’ve taken with this gadget.

For more helpful tips for jewelry stores, check out these articles:

How to Host a Successful Trunk Show

How to Use Pinterest for Your Jewelry Store

3 Reasons Every Jewelry Store Needs A Blog

3 Tips for Selling Jade

How to Use the Mason-Kay Showroom

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“Turquoise Fever” Mining with Emily Otteson

“Turquoise Fever” Mining with Emily Otteson

Turquoise miner and reality television personality, Emily Otteson, discusses American turquoise, variscite and White Buffalo mining, the impact their television show has had on the Otteson family business and the future of the turquoise market. 

Emily Otteson and her husband own multiple turquoise mines in Nevada and are featured on the hit television show, Turquoise Fever. 

Selected Links from the Episode

Connect with Emily: Shop | Instagram | Etsy

Turquoise Fever: Watch Now

Gemstones: Turquoise | White Buffalo | Poseidon (Variscite)

Full Show Notes

Mining in Nevada [4:16]

White Buffalo is Dolomite-Calcite; NOT Howlite and NOT “White Turquoise” [12:10]

“Turquoise Fever” the TV Show [14:25]

Connect with Jewels of the Trade

Newsletter | Website Instagram | YouTube

Ruby and Sapphire Market Predictions with Jeremy of Color Source Gems

Ruby and Sapphire Market Predictions with Jeremy of Color Source Gems

Colored gemstone expert Jeremy Chalchinsky joins Jordan to discuss his recent buying trip to Bangkok and his resultant insight regarding sapphire and ruby supply and demand for the near future. He also shares stories of his experiences as a traveling wholesale gem expert.

Jeremy Chalchinky works with his father as Color Source Gems to offer an array of wholesale colored gemstones to retailers in the United States. They are a member of AGS and AGTA.

Selected Links from the Episode

Connect with Jeremy: Website | Instagram | Facebook

Full Show Notes

Color Source Gems Info [3:49]

November Bangkok Buying Trip [11:56]

Ruby and Sapphire Market Predictions [23:38]

Connect with Jewels of the Trade

Newsletter | Website | Instagram | YouTube

Are jade bangles on Amazon made from REAL jade?

Are jade bangles on Amazon made from REAL jade?

Video Transcript

Authentic, guaranteed natural jade bangles in appealing colors and qualities sell appropriately for $600, $1,000, $2,000 and easily into the tens of thousands of dollars for fine quality with desirable color and translucence.

So why are so many “natural” jade bangles online $10, $50 and $100?

Why the price difference? Why are some so cheap and others so expensive?

The answer may be that some of these “affordable” bangles Aren’t. Really. Jade. 

Today, we’re going to get to the bottom of this and find out which of these bangles are and which are not actually natural jade as advertised.

Before we get started, thank you so much for watching. If you’re new here, this channel is dedicated to spreading accurate information about jewelry and gemstones so please consider subscribing to our channel. Give this video a “like” if it helps you, and before we get started, answer this question for me in the comments: Is having natural gemstones important to you or are you also interested in treated stones, lab-created gems and simulants? There is no wrong answer! I just want to hear what you have to say.

In this video, we’re going to show actual gemological testing of jade bangles from Jade Expert Jeff Mason of Mason-Kay Jade in Colorado. 

The types of tests typically used for determining the authenticity of jade are

Refractometry and Spectroscopy

Refractometry can help us determine if a stone is jade or another gemstone entirely, which I talk more about in my video “Are Jade Rollers Made from REAL Jade?”

And Spectroscopy can reveal if jade is natural and untreated or has been impregnated with polymer or resin.

Let’s start with the DNTENG bangle from Amazon labeled “Chinese Natural Jadeite Jade” for $22.49.

This “jade bangle” comes with a “cert,” which from experience I know means nothing. Only trust gem reports from reputable companies such as AGL, GIA, Mason-Kay Jade and other labs your local jeweler may recommend.

So looking at the bangle, this piece is gorgeous and very gummy/translucent. The #1 indicator that this isn’t natural jade is it’s appearance, as a natural jade bangle of this translucence would be much, much, MUCH more expensive than $20. But. We are gemologists, and we test to know best.

Here is Jeff Mason spot testing the DNTENG bangle using a refractometer.

Jeff: “Not jade. No question, a clear quartz reading.”

Quartz! 

This explains the low price point as quartz is quite abundant and inexpensive.

Lots of people turn to the Internet when trying to determine if jade is real or not. Unfortunately, almost all the advice I’ve seen pop up on a quick search is completely unreliable and sometimes downright wrong. I know I’m a random person on the Internet, but please believe me when I say not to trust random people on the Internet. As I’ve mentioned before in other videos, if you have any questions about natural jade you can always ask your local jeweler or the jade experts at Mason-Kay Jade.

Let’s talk about some of the “indicators” the Internet touts as reliable that actually aren’t reliable at all:

#1. The scratch test. It is true that if you take a steel knife to jade, the jade won’t scratch because the jade is harder or more resistant to scratching than the knife. However, many jade simulants are also harder than steel. Therefore, the resultant lack of a scratch is not a conclusive indicator. What if it’s jade and it scratches? That would bring into question the material it was scratched with, which may be another material harder than jade or even have quartz dust or some other dust of a gem harder than jade on it.

#2. The cold test. I’ve even heard some ignorant jewelry professionals say that if you pick up a stone in question and it’s cold, then it’s jade. This is moronic. Lots of gemstones are cold. “Cold” is relative. Just think about it for like two seconds.

#3. The break test. Interestingly enough, the Internet says if you drop your jade bangle or jade roller and it breaks, then it’s probably jade. And if it doesn’t break, then it probably isn’t jade. This is hilarious because nephrite and jadeite are the two toughest (meaning hardest to break) gemstones on the planet. I’m not saying they won’t break if you drop them, they totally can. But. Come on. I’m curious about this, so I am going to drop all 3 of our jade bangles in question today, just for fun.

We have to drop each bangle from the same height onto the same surface so I’m just going to drop them from chest height onto the sidewalk. 

Fake Jade Bangle from Amazon #1 broke upon hitting the sidewalk.

Moving on to bangle #2. This one looks almost the same as the first one. It is called “Jadeite Jade Bangle” on Amazon and sells for $99.99. Yes, it’s more expensive than the first one, but the price is still low enough for this type of translucent appearance that it’s probably a fake. Let’s find out what it is!

Here is Jeff testing this bangle with a refractometer.

Jeff: “Quartz.”

And here is Jeff testing that same bangle for the presence of a polymer with FTIR, or infrared spectroscopy.

Jeff: “We’re finding more impregnation in quartz.”

I wonder if this impregnated quartz bangle will survive the break test.

Fake Jade Bangle from Amazon #2 broke upon hitting the sidewalk.

On to the 3rd and final bangle. This bangle from KaratGem is called “Natural Jadeite Jade Round Bangle” and sells on Amazon for $94.99. This is opaque, it’s teeny tiny. What do you think? Do you think this is jade? It’s so small!

Jeff: “jadeite jade”

So I was a little surprised since it came from Amazon, but refractometry showed that it’s jadeite. Is it natural jadeite though? Some jade is acid-bleached and impregnated with polymer or resin which we call ‘B Jade’ which is often not disclosed. We test for this presence of polymer using Spectroscopy, and it’s very important to know because ‘B Jade’ is valued at about 5-10% the value of Natural ‘A Jade,’ which is not a quality grade, it just means it’s untreated. If jade is dyed, it’s value is EVEN LOWER. 

We test to see if jade is dyed first because regardless of polymer, dyed jade has little to no value. Here is Jeff Mason testing this jade bangle for dye. He’s shining a light through the stone to find a dye line.

Jeff: “Not a dye line.”

Next, Jeff is going to use his spectroscope to see if there is any polymer or resin in the jade.

Jeff “If I had to make a call, I’d say it’s natural.

WHAT?! Amazon sold a piece of jade that was actually jade? I am shocked.

Now let’s drop it and find out if it breaks!

Real jade bangle from Amazon did break upon hitting the sidewalk, possibly due to pre-existing internal fracturing.

There you have it! If you are interested in buying any of these bangles, I’m including links below. If you would like a natural jade bangle that is adult-sized and guaranteed untreated and beautiful, ask your local jeweler about Mason-Kay Jade. You can buy natural jade from your local, independent jewelry store or order it from Mason-Kay directly but be warned — choosing a bangle is tricky and getting the size right really warrants help from your local jewelry store so please go and see them! 

Thanks so much for watching my video, check out the links in the description and don’t forget to subscribe!