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912 Live Oak Park Rd South
Fallbrook, CA, 92028
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Pala International has consistently earned its reputation as the direct source for the finest colored stones.

May 2014

May 2014 Newsletter

Last week, Pala International and The Collector Fine Jewelry hosted a visit by forty-two members of the San Diego Retired Teachers Association. Above, Pala's Carl Larson chats with one of the tourees. (Photo: Geri Vigil)

Last week, Pala International and The Collector Fine Jewelry hosted a visit by forty-two members of the San Diego Retired Teachers Association. Above, Pala's Carl Larson chats with one of the tourees. (Photo: Geri Vigil)

Table of Contents

Pala at Las Vegas – May 29 – June 2, 2014

It's time to plan for the JCK Las Vegas show. Pala International will be there in force, with one of America's largest selections of fine colored gems.

Note: The JCK Show this year will run Friday through Monday.

When: May 29 – June 2, 2014
Where: South Pacific and Islander Ballrooms in the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, Las Vegas, NV
Hours: AGTA Gemstone Section
   Thursday, May 29 thru Sunday, June 1:
      9:30 AM – 6:00 PM
   Monday, June 2: 9:30 AM – 4:00 PM
Booth: AGTA Pavilion, booth AGTA514

We look forward to seeing our many friends there. Visit the Pala International Show Schedule for future events.

The JCK Mobile app is available here.

The JCK Mobile app is available here.

Mineral & Gem à Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines:
June 26–29, 2014

The 51st Sainte-Marie show will be held June 26–29, with the first two days limited to trade only. This year, Bill, Will, and Carl Larson will attend the show along with friend and fellow gem dealer Mark Kaufman.

Details are still forthcoming for the 51st Sainte-Marie show in June, but we thought we'd point to our friend Alain Martaud's limited-edition book, The Minerals of Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines. Alain discovered the Sainte-Marie mining district at age 14 and over the years has built strong relationships with collectors and museums, allowing the reader to access to a treasure trove of specimens and more.

The 208-page book, signed by the author, contains 356 photos of the minerals found in Sainte-Marie's Val d'Argent in the last millennium. The book also includes illustrations, maps and historic documents. The text is trilingual: French, English and German.

The book is available from the show's online store. 

The book is available from the show's online store

Lecture, Workshop at Bowers May 24

Next Saturday, May 24, the Bead Society of Orange County (BSOC) is sponsoring two events at the Bowers Museum. From 11 a.m. to 12 noon gemologist Mark London will present a free lecture titled "Story of the Oregon Sunstone," regarding the state's official gemstone. London is an award-winning jewelry designer and maker. According to the BSOC website, London's talk

will include a slide show and video on the mining and production of the very unique and beautiful "Oregon Sunstone." He will share information about the cutting, varieties and valuation of the Oregon sunstone and show some examples of the rough mineral as well as cut and carved sunstones and Oregon sunstone beads. The faceted Oregon Sunstone beads with copper inclusions (creating the unique schiller) are simply gorgeous. Mark will welcome questions from the audience and will be available to show the examples and explain their attributes.

London's appearance at the Bowers will begin with a meet-and-greet from 10 to 11 a.m. Following the lecture, from 1 to 4 p.m. BSOC will host a jewelry workshop, "Filigree Ribbons Necklace." Details regarding fees and reservations are available at the Bowers and BSOC websites.

Jewels of India in Moscow thru July 27, 2014

Three hundred examples of Indian jewelry, royal garb, and objets d'art, spanning five hundred years currently are on exhibition at the Moscow Kremlin Museums, through July 27. "India. Jewels that Enchanted the World" is a collaboration between the Museums and about two dozen institutions, jewelry firms, and private collections.

Various regions of India are represented in the exhibition as well as items from the Mughal Empire. Beginning in the mid 19th century, European designers like Cartier, Chaumet, Lacloche Freres, Mauboussin, Mellerio, and Van Cleef & Arpels turned to Indian clients, fashioning jewels in appropriate styles using their own techniques.

Contemporary jewelry houses also have their artistry displayed. Viren Baghat blends subcontinental and continental styles in the few dozen jewels that he creates each year. The Gem Palace, Jaipur, founded in 1852, has the distinction of having its own permanent display at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. Upon India's independence, Maharajahs were compelled to begin selling some of their treasures, some of which happened to have been created by the Kasliwal family of The Gem Palace; the firm thus was able to re-acquire its own creations.

Visit the Museums website to view images of some of the treasures on display.

Pala International News

This month we feature an extremely rare multi-colored tourmaline from Brazil. A 10.59-carat elongated emerald-cut accentuating a variety of colors from dark green to indicolite to pink and white then back to a fine blue-green blue hue. Complex and colorful tourmalines like this sometimes are harder to find than paraiba…. Truly a one-of-a-kind, this piece was the prize out of a collection we bought recently. This jewel is most likely from Araçuaí, Minas Gerais, Brazil, where fine indicolites have been know to come from.

Count the colors. Rare multi-colored Brazilian beauty, 10.59 ct, 24 x 8 x 6mm. (Photo: Mia Dixon)

Count the colors. Rare multi-colored Brazilian beauty, 10.59 ct, 24 x 8 x 6mm. (Photo: Mia Dixon)

Interested? Contact us!

Industry News

Sotheby's Sets Records

Sotheby's New York set another record on April 29 with its Magnificent Jewels sale. A world auction record for per-carat price for any sapphire was set by the sale of a Kashmir sapphire and diamond ring. The sapphire was purchased by the auction house more than thirty years ago. "Since that time," a press release states, "new records have been set and broken for sapphires, with the most recent, both in terms of total price and price-per-carat, set in November 2013 at Sotheby's Geneva by The Richelieu Sapphires, a pair of Kashmirs both in excess of 20 carats (US$ 8,358,520 total, US$ 175,821 per carat)."

Photo: Sotheby's press release

Photo: Sotheby's press release

The record-setter in question is a 28.18-carat sapphire exhibiting the velvety blue of the classic Kashmir variety. It is mounted in an Oscar Heyman & Brothers platinum setting, surrounded by tapered baguette diamonds. Its pre-sale estimate was $4–5 million; it fetched about $5.1 million—$180,731 per carat. The proceeds were to benefit a charitable foundation.

Also offered in the sale were many diamonds from the estate of entertainer Eydie Gormé. She received them as gifts from her husband and stage partner Steve Lawrence. According to a press release,

Eydie dreamed of owning a diamond in every shape, and when she received her 15.44 carat pear-shaped diamond ring the couple fondly nicknamed it "The Enterprise". The other diamonds in the collection include an emerald-cut Harry Winston stone of 17.40 carats, a marquise-shaped D color, Internally Flawless diamond ring received on the occasion of her tenth wedding anniversary, and a 5 carat round diamond in a polished gold mount. Lawrence once gifted Gormé with a gold jeweler's loupe lovingly engraved, "To Flawless, love VVS2," further testament to one of the great, enduring romances in show business history.

The moniker "VVS2" actually is the diamond clarity grade Very Very Slightly Included, meaning the inclusions are difficult to identify by a skilled grader at 10x magnification.

Photo: Sotheby's press release

Photo: Sotheby's press release

On Tuesday, Sotheby's set seven world records. Two involved a specific offering, the "Graff Vivid Yellow," pictured above: world auction record for a yellow diamond and for a jewel by Graff. The 100.09-carat cushion-shaped Fancy Vivid Yellow diamond brought in $16,347,847. As is not uncommon, the record practically set itself, since the pre-sale estimate was $15-$25 million. World auction records also were set for:

  • Price per carat for a round colourless diamond at $246,710
  • Price per carat for a Fancy Pink diamond at $601,228
  • Price per carat for a Fancy Light Pink diamond at $393.071
  • A various owner jewelry sale at $143,135,770
  • A jewelry sale at $143,135,770

An Engaging Ring

Speaking of big yellers, celebrity Jenny McCarthy sported a substantial sapphire when she announced on The View that she is engaged to be married to Donnie Wahlberg. Her fiancé, no stranger to theatricality (he was an original member of New Kids on the Block before moving into film), enlisted the help of McCarthy's son Evan to pop the question in an unusual way; you can see her tell the story for yourself.

Southern Beauty Blog used the occasion to provide readers with a roundup of ten memorable engagement rings on the fingers of women, from the Duchess of Cambridge to Mariah Carey. 

Bonhams Offers Largest Ruby Crystal

Next Tuesday, Bonhams Los Angeles will feature the largest ruby crystal ever to be offered at auction. It hails from the Longido Mine, Arusha, Tanzania. It weighs 100.53 lbs (228,000 ct) and measures 16 x 12 x 11 in.

Photo: Bonhams press release

Photo: Bonhams press release

The Bonhams lot details recount the story of the Longido claim by Tom Blevins and the purchase of another large crystal from Blevins by Ed Swoboda. This is the same story Ed provided us with before his death. See "Longido Ruby" on The above-pictured ruby is seven times larger than the one Ed obtained.

Burma Bits

Rights Groups Urge Obama to Extend Sanctions

This natural Burmese red spinel weighs 2.94 carats. Inventory#18981. (Photo: Mia Dixon)

This natural Burmese red spinel weighs 2.94 carats. Inventory#18981. (Photo: Mia Dixon)

Last week, 29 human rights groups signed an open letter to President Obama urging him to extend the policy of "national emergency" that would keep in place the few remaining sanctions against Burma.

Ironically, this call for sanctions comes only two months after the U.S. State Department issued its "2013 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices," which reads in part:

During the year the government’s human rights record continued to improve, although authorities had not fully or consistently implemented legal and policy revisions at all levels, particularly in ethnic-minority areas. Observers reported marked decreases in systemic human rights abuses committed by the government, such as torture, disappearances, and the forced use of civilians to carry military supplies in some ethnic border areas.

Upon the report's release, Secretary John Kerry remarked:

As today’s report makes clear, Burma still faces the normal challenges, from reforming an undemocratic constitution to ending discrimination and violence against religious and ethnic minorities, but we must continue to encourage progress even as we speak honestly about the problems that persist.

Trade and Economic News

Burma's trade deficit hit a new record high of $2.65 billion, due to strong import figures during the 2013–14 fiscal year, as reported by Eleven Media Group (EMG). This is in stark contrast with FY 2012–13, when the figure was about $91 million. Burma had a trade surplus of $100 million in FY 2011–12.

EMG also reported that China was Burma's top trading partner during FY 2013–14, at $7 billion, accounting for 30% of Burma's trade. Thailand came in second at $5.5 billion.

Foreign investment in Burma could be enhanced with the anticipated passage of mining reforms, according to The Myanmar Times on Monday. The reforms would amend a 1994 law that contains uncertainties and bureaucracies considered to be unattractive to investors. The amendments also will deal with tax income enhancement and a process for legalization of small-scale and illegal miners.

Fighting in jade-rich Kachin state could be quelled by a peace monitoring commission set up by the Kachin Independence Organization and Burma's government, it was reported Tuesday by The Irrawaddy. The article stated that some residents of the area believe that when a ceasefire broke down in 2011, the logic behind it was for the government to seize control of local natural resources like jade and timber.

Bite-Sized Bits

  • Inter Press Service: In a story about Burmese migrant workers, it was stated that "Myanmar is the world’s largest exporter of teak, jade, pearls, rubies and sapphires" (emphasis ours)
  • Myanmar Times: In a story about timber smuggling, it was noted that more than 8 tons of black-market jade were seized in Htone Bo village, Sagaing District, Sagaing Region, in central Burma
  • Eleven Media Group: A little less jade—229 kg, worth about $100,000—was seized on the Mandalay–Muse highway

Pala Presents

With Pala Presents, we offer selections from the collection of Pala International’s Bill Larson, who will share with us some of the wealth of information in the realm of gems and gemology. And, as with this edition, gemstone-related collectibles.

Thrice-Blessed: Birthstone Collecting Cards

In some Christian traditions, May is the month of Mary, mother of Jesus. Her feast day, May 31, celebrates the visit she made to her cousin Elizabeth at which time the child Elizabeth held in her womb leapt in recognition of the child Mary carried. One of the scriptural readings for the feast, Luke 1:39–56, contains passages that would become enshrined in Christian liturgy, the Ave Maria(Hail Mary) and the Magnificat ("My soul magnifies the Lord…").

Tradition has it that April 6, 2014, was the 410th anniversary of Mary's revealing her "preferred" title of Mater Ter Admirabilis (Mother Thrice Admirable) to the Jesuit Fr. James Rem, in Ingolstadt, Germany. This notion has been extended to conceive of Mary as thrice-blessed, some interpreting the blessings as Mary: Mother of God, Mother of the Redeemer, Mother of the Redeemed (believers).

Our birthstone card below mentions the child of May being thrice-blessed. In Buddhism, the tradition is that three major events in the Bodhisattva's life occurred on the full moon in the month of May (Vesak): his birth, his enlightenment, and his death. This day is observed by many as the thrice-blessed day.

Two other collecting cards for May are available here.

Two other collecting cards for May are available here.

For more information on birthstones, see

Take It or Leave It

Venus in Bling: Bryan Ferry Allures, Offends, Endures

Your editor recently re-viewed video compilations of musician Bryan Ferry and his band Roxy Music from 1973 through 1994. I was struck by the video imagery displayed and how it is mirrored in much of the Ferry/Roxy album artwork. It's awash in gemstones and jewelry (amongst other elements of fashion), in uncomfortably stale and meticulously staged images of women—deluxe if not delightful (to parody a song from the second Roxy album), especially when Ferry's appreciation for Third Reich representations is taken into account.

Ferry turns 70 next year, but rather than wait for that occasion to craft a critique of his superficial side, I'll do it now. For the record (so to speak), I've been influenced by him as much as by anyone else in the arts, but also have been ired by his employment of women as mute mannequins. Back in Roxy's heyday (their last studio album was released in 1982), one might be likely to pick up a copy of Andy Warhol's Interview magazine, as I did in early '81, vandalized by a "THIS INSULTS WOMEN" sticker. I wonder how many Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry albums received the same treatment…

In the essay that follows, I take a cursory look at Ferry's employment of the female form, and his use of gems and jewelry in the photography of his album covers and promotional videos. For those not familiar with his work, this will be an introduction to one of the most influential musical and representational stylists of the last forty years. Read the full essay here.

Model Kate Moss was Bryan Ferry's muse for his 2010 album. He took his inspiration from Édouard Manet's painting by the same name, swapping the original's velvet choker for an antique aquamarine necklace.

Model Kate Moss was Bryan Ferry's muse for his 2010 album. He took his inspiration from Édouard Manet's painting by the same name, swapping the original's velvet choker for an antique aquamarine necklace.

— End May Newsletter • Published 5/16/14 —

Note: selects much of its material in the interest of fostering a stimulating discourse on the topics of gems, gemology, and the gemstone industry. Therefore the opinions expressed here are not necessarily those held by the proprietors of We welcome your feedback.