contact us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right.

912 Live Oak Park Rd South
Fallbrook, CA, 92028
United States

+1 (760) 728-9121

Pala International has consistently earned its reputation as the direct source for the finest colored stones.

July 2014

July 2014 Newsletter

Information on demantoid garnet from Pala International has been kindly translated into Chinese by Yan (Dorina) Shen. She is a language teacher who studied at Nanjing University. We're grateful for the gesture.

Information on demantoid garnet from Pala International has been kindly translated into Chinese by Yan (Dorina) Shen. She is a language teacher who studied at Nanjing University. We're grateful for the gesture.

Table of Contents

Pala at JA New York Summer Show
July 27–29, 2014

Pala International heads to the East Coast later this month for the trade-only JA New York Summer Show. Stop by to see one of America's largest selections of fine colored gems.

See this list of seminars to be held at the show.

When: July 27–July 29, 2014
Where: Jacob K. Javits Convention Center 
Hours: AGTA Gemstone Section
   Sunday, July 27: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
   Monday, July 28: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
   Tuesday, July 29: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Pala International is in booth 2573. See the JANY website for more information. Visit the Pala International Show Schedule for future events.


MAD Man: John Hatleberg at NYC Biennial

This past January we looked at the work of John Hatleberg who, in addition to creating original works of art, has made exact replicas of the world's most famous diamonds. We pointed to a Public Radio International profile of Hatleberg that was accompanied by a series of photographs, one of which is of his workstation. This is not your ordinary jeweler's bench. It's a work of art in its own right: a baldachin, or canopy that tops an altar, throne or doorway. The word comes from Baghdad, source of the brocade that originally would have been used. Bernini's famous Baldacchino in Rome's St. Peter's retains the look of rich fabric.

When your editor toured with a Catholic volunteer choir in 1985, our local clerics in California pulled some strings, and we were honored by singing in St. Peter's Basilica, the famous mosaicked cathedral in Venice. I don't think I'd ever seen an "altar screen" before, separating the pews from the presbytery, site of the altar. The screen consists of eight red marble columns topped by fourteen sculptures, themselves considered Gothic masterpieces, by Pier Paolo and Jacobello Dalle Masegne, with a towering, massive crucifix. Behind the screen, over the altar, is a great, ornate baldachin, known as a ciborium. Bas-relief decorations adorn its columns. To get a taste of 14th-century attention to detail (along with some 21st-century sarcasm), here are a few lines from the Basilica website's description of the canopy.

The four monolithic shafts in oriental alabaster, worked in pairs by an outstanding Maestro with less able helpers, are divided into nine sections separated by horizontal strips which are in turn divided into nine small arches containing one or more figures in high relief. The dark background of the niches gives an almost total plasticity to the scenes. In the 324 niches there are an overall 108 scenes with one or more figures representing the life of the Virgin and the life and passion of Jesus Christ. In several detailed cycles, set out in a horizontal or vertical reading sequence, there are individual episodes from the canonical and apocryphal Gospels.

In his apartment across from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, John Hatleberg has repurposed a small, carved-wood, polychromed baldachin into a work surface. The table has legs fashioned as Solomonic (helical) pillars, the same forms as the iconic columns of St. Peter's Baldacchino. Perched atop the horizontal surface are four sculpted, arched flourishes, creating their own virtual canopy beneath which might have stood a three-dimensional image of Our Lady.

Hatleberg's workstation, together with various small items on it that serve as his muses, are now available for viewing as part of the inaugural "NYC Makers: The MAD Biennial" at New York's Museum of Arts and Design. Also displayed is one of the end-products of his meticulous labor upon the beautiful bench—the Koh-i-Noor diamond replica, which took six months of faceting to accomplish. He will be without these sources of inspiration until the show closes on October 12.

The exhibition brings together the work of 100 or so artists, designers and artisans from all of New York's five boroughs. Hatleberg is among quite a crowd that runs the gamut from high art to low, including filmmaker Sally Potter, Wigstock founder Lady Bunny, artist/musician Yoko Ono, and performance artists Karen Finley, Laurie Anderson and Meredith Monk. Oh, and the faux-er than thou sparkly art of Raúl de Nieves.


Haute Joaillerie at the Biennale des Antiquaires

On the other side of the pond, an eleven-day biennial will be held September 11–21, 2014, in Paris's Grand Palais. The Biennale des Antiquaires (Antiques Biennial) will feature premier jewelers, as shown by several sneak peeks via online magazine Blouin ArtInfo. The number of purveyors of haute joaillerie has jumped from 2012's ten to fourteen this year.

For Cartier, the Biennale will be the only chance to see its "Royal Collection" of 100 unique pieces that won't be available in their boutique, according to Pierre Rainero, the firm's image and heritage director. Colored gemstones and diamonds in regal sizes will be front-and-center, in settings that allow for versatility: a 30.21-carat pear-shaped diamond can grace a necklace or ring, or can attach to a 17.40-grain pearl. An 8.3-gram pearl—the Royal Pearl, once owned by Queen Mary, wife of George V—can attach to a necklace that doubles as a tiara. A cushion-shaped 26.6-carat Colombian emerald can be the centerpiece of an elegant necklace or a simple pendant. The 15.29-carat Mozambique ruby can be removed from the ornate necklace pictured above—and its red choker can be removed, too.

Fabergé will debut its Rococo collection, with some of the designs only hinting at the Baroque-on-steroids excesses of its namesake. The homage is in full flower, however, with a Zambian emerald ring set with scores of stones in pink, yellow, blue green, purple, and orange, with the ornate curves punctuated by larger round stones. An egg pendant is a-swirl with multicolored curlicues.

Other sneak peeks:

  • Piaget celebrates 140 years in the business with "Extremely Piaget"
  • Van Cleef & Arpels retells the 17th-century "Donkeyskin" fairytale with a collection called "Peau d’Âne raconté par Van Cleef & Arpels"
  • Wallace Chan unveiled four drawings for pieces titled "Fleur de la Dynastie Tang," "Now & Always" (which employs Chan's signature 3-D carving technique), "Redcliff Romance" and "Vermilion Veil"
  • Boucheron goes nouvelle vague with "Rêves d’Ailleurs" (Dreams of Elsewhere)—i.e., Japan, China, India, Russia, and Persia—including the Rivage Necklace in the form of a giant wave, complete with seafoam
  • Chaumet also takes a dip in the water with its "Lumières d’eau" (Water lights), thus many shades of blue and violet sapphire and, appropriately, white opal from Ethiopia
  • Dior pays homage to itself with jewels inspired by its classic couture: the Bar Suit, the Francis Poulenc dress, the Songe dress, the Junon dress; in all, 11 dresses inspiring 44 jewelry designs in the "Archi Dior" collection, which will be displayed with versions of the clothing, naturally

Copious Cartier

Exhibition at Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, in DC

Can't get to Paris for the Biennale to catch Cartier? Well, jewels from a stateside collection actually traveled to the Grand Palais last winter for "Cartier—Style and History" and are now being shown in "Cartier: Marjorie Merriweather Post's Dazzling Gems." This takes place until December 31 at the Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens. The present show expands on the jewels shown in Paris, "offer[ing] new perspective on the taste and refinement that characterized Post's style, her criteria for collecting, and her way of life," according to a press release.

This diamond and sapphire necklace is the reworking of two such bracelets. As with some of the jewels in the Cartier collection to be featured in the Biennale, the center cushion-cut sapphire is removable and may be worn as a brooch. (Photo: Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens press release)

This diamond and sapphire necklace is the reworking of two such bracelets. As with some of the jewels in the Cartier collection to be featured in the Biennale, the center cushion-cut sapphire is removable and may be worn as a brooch. (Photo: Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens press release)

Marjorie Merriweather Post was the heir of C. W. Post, owner of the Postum Cereal Company. At 27 years of age, she took the company's reins following her father's suicide in 1914. (He had been plagued by an inoperable stomach ailment that foiled even the Mayo brothers.) Following her marriage to E. F. Hutton in 1920, the couple began ten years of acquisitions, of forgotten names like Jell-O, Minute Tapioca, Maxwell House, and Birdseye. (They also had one child, Nedenia, who would be known as actress Dina Merrill, with a career spanning nearly 50 years, from 1955 to 2003.) Also in the 1920s Post became a patron of Cartier, and one of the maison's most loyal and important, up until her death in 1973. In 1964, she donated several significant pieces to the Smithsonian—pieces that are being reunited in the Hillwood exhibition.

For this 1942 portrait of Post (or, rather, Marjorie Merriweather Post Hutton Davies), her photographer, C. M. Stieglitz, finds her all-business, accessorized with pearls, brooch, and ring and Koh-i-Noor No. 2 pencil. (Photo: Library of Congress)

For this 1942 portrait of Post (or, rather, Marjorie Merriweather Post Hutton Davies), her photographer, C. M. Stieglitz, finds her all-business, accessorized with pearls, brooch, and ring and Koh-i-Noor No. 2 pencil. (Photo: Library of Congress)

Post commissioned picture frames to complement her small photographs and artwork. (Photo: Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens press release)

Post commissioned picture frames to complement her small photographs and artwork. (Photo: Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens press release)

"Though the astounding jewels were statement makers for Marjorie Post, these and her whole collection of Cartier luxury objects really speak to her impeccable way of life," explains Hillwood executive director Kate Markert in the press release. "Marjorie didn't just purchase jewelry off the shelf. She was a connoisseur who knew gems and chose only those of the highest quality. She recognized great design and knew how to wear her jewelry to show it to its best advantage," Markert continued. Indeed the photographs and paintings of Post on the museum's website portray a very elegant woman who knew her way around both showroom and boardroom.

This brooch includes seven 17th-century Mogul cut emeralds with a total weight of 250 carats. In the display it is paired with a necklace on loan from the National Museum of Natural History that "features 24 baroque-cut emerald drops, each topped with a smaller emerald bead," according to the press release. "It was originally a sautoir—a longer necklace that could be worn with the brooch as a pendant—that she had shortened to adapt to new fashion dictates in 1941." (Photo: Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens press release)

This brooch includes seven 17th-century Mogul cut emeralds with a total weight of 250 carats. In the display it is paired with a necklace on loan from the National Museum of Natural History that "features 24 baroque-cut emerald drops, each topped with a smaller emerald bead," according to the press release. "It was originally a sautoir—a longer necklace that could be worn with the brooch as a pendant—that she had shortened to adapt to new fashion dictates in 1941." (Photo: Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens press release)


Cafesjian Carvings and More – September 16 Sale

Preview at Denver Show

Attendees of the Denver Gem & Mineral Show, September 12–14, 2014 will have a chance to preview impressive gemstone carvings and mineral specimens from the collection of the late Gerard L. Cafesjian, prior to their sale on September 16. Cafesjian, who passed away in September 2013, gathered hundreds of of objects in a collection that included fine art, jewelry, gems and mineral specimens. According to a July 6 story in the Denver Post, a portion of the fine art now resides in the Cafesjian Center for the Arts in Yerevan, west central Armenia. More than 900 items of jewelry from the collection were auctioned in April at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers in Chicago. The September 16 sale will consist of more than 700 pieces of carvings and mineral specimens. (We'll feature a sampling of the latter in our sibling mineral newsletter, which will be delivered on or about August 1.) Interested parties are welcome to contact Leslie Hindman Auctioneers for preview appointments from August 11–September 15, and the public preview will be open September 1–16.

A sitting chameleon chrysocolla carving, Gerd Dreher for Asprey, Idar-Oberstein, Germany, 5.5 x 3.75 x 3.25 in. 

A sitting chameleon chrysocolla carving, Gerd Dreher for Asprey, Idar-Oberstein, Germany, 5.5 x 3.75 x 3.25 in. 

A set of carved jasper toad and matching rough jasper specimen, Gerd Dreher, Idar-Oberstein, Germany, 10.2 cm. and 7 cm. (Photos courtesy Leslie Hindman Auctioneers)

A set of carved jasper toad and matching rough jasper specimen, Gerd Dreher, Idar-Oberstein, Germany, 10.2 cm. and 7 cm. (Photos courtesy Leslie Hindman Auctioneers)

Providing background on the collection, Alexander Eblen, Director of Natural History at the auction house, told us, "Mr. Cafesjian's passion for color and whimsy was first embodied in a world-class assemblage of art glass including many works by his good friend Dale Chihuly." Coincidentally, Chihuly's work currently is on display—al fresco—at the Denver Botanic Gardens through November 30. "Over time," Eblen continued, "this fascination with contrasting colors and unusual forms led to an interest in the Natural History world."

A gold and multi stone carving of "The Kingfisher," Manfred Wild, Idar-Oberstein, Germany, height: 19.7 cm. (Photo courtesy of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers)

A gold and multi stone carving of "The Kingfisher," Manfred Wild, Idar-Oberstein, Germany, height: 19.7 cm. (Photo courtesy of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers)

Offered in the sale will be dozens of fine lapidary art carvings by Idar-Oberstein masters such as Gerd Dreher, Manfred Wild, Gerhard Becker and others. But the sale won't be limited to carvings and specimens, Eblen told us. "The auction fully encompasses the decorative arts, including intricate stone inlaid boxes and tables, various polished stone objects and sculptures by leading contemporary artists."

A rubellite, rock quartz crystal, 18 karat yellow gold and citrine scent bottle, Emil Becker, Madagascar, height: 10.2 cm. (Photo courtesy of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers)

A rubellite, rock quartz crystal, 18 karat yellow gold and citrine scent bottle, Emil Becker, Madagascar, height: 10.2 cm. (Photo courtesy of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers)

The provenance of almost every object is documented, Eblen said, "and the property will be offered at very conservative prices to entice bidding." The lots will be available for view at the Leslie Hindman Auctioneers website closer to the time of the September 16 sale, which is the firm's inaugural Natural History auction.

A citrine carving of a lion, Gerhard Becker, Idar-Oberstein, Germany, 7 x 4.5 x 4.5 in. (Photo courtesy of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers)

A citrine carving of a lion, Gerhard Becker, Idar-Oberstein, Germany, 7 x 4.5 x 4.5 in. (Photo courtesy of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers)

Pala International has a personal connection with this collection, having once owned the citrine lion carving pictured above. Says Pala's Bill Larson, "We bought the citrine rough in Brazil and commissioned Gerhard Becker to carve it."

Pala International, of course, also will be offering mineral specimens at the Denver Fine Mineral Show, September 6–9. We hope to see you there.


Pierre Pix from Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines

As is her modus operandi, Eloïse Gaillou, Associate Curator of Mineral Sciences at Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, always returns from gem and mineral shows with a camera-full of images. There was no exception after visiting last month's show in Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Alsace, France. She has posted dozens of photos on the Museum's Minblog, and we've lifted a couple to whet l'appétit.

Au naturel. Some unheated colorful tanzanite faceted gemstones. They come in all colors, the pink and purple ones being the rarest. Seen at Valerio Zancanella's booth. (Photo: Eloïse Gaillou)

Au naturel. Some unheated colorful tanzanite faceted gemstones. They come in all colors, the pink and purple ones being the rarest. Seen at Valerio Zancanella's booth. (Photo: Eloïse Gaillou)

Tasty troika. Crystal Classics, as usual, had some sexy specimens, such as this triple crystal of tanzanite. (Photo: Eloïse Gaillou)

Tasty troika. Crystal Classics, as usual, had some sexy specimens, such as this triple crystal of tanzanite. (Photo: Eloïse Gaillou)

Crystal and model. Cuprite pseudomorphed into malachite from Onganja, Namibia, with its crystallographic wood model. Natur Musée collection. (Photo: Eloïse Gaillou)

Crystal and model. Cuprite pseudomorphed into malachite from Onganja, Namibia, with its crystallographic wood model. Natur Musée collection. (Photo: Eloïse Gaillou)

À votre santé. Will Larson raises a beaker of gluten-free ale surrounded by family and friends: Bill Larson, Carl Larson (Toastmaster), Malte Sickinger, Marcus Walter, Mark Kaufman, and George Hickox. No doggy bag needed for the foie gras. (Photo: Eloïse Gaillou)

À votre santé. Will Larson raises a beaker of gluten-free ale surrounded by family and friends: Bill Larson, Carl Larson (Toastmaster), Malte Sickinger, Marcus Walter, Mark Kaufman, and George Hickox. No doggy bag needed for the foie gras. (Photo: Eloïse Gaillou)


Pala Pix Redux: Las Vegas

Another round (or two) from the AGTA GemFair held in Las Vegas May 29 through June 2.

On the floor. From left, Jeanne Cole Kelly, Pala International's Gabrièl Mattice and Betsy Quinn Darenius. (Photo: Bill Larson)

On the floor. From left, Jeanne Cole Kelly, Pala International's Gabrièl Mattice and Betsy Quinn Darenius. (Photo: Bill Larson)

In the pub. The more refined patrons imbibe their porter in the snug of the public house, rather than at the bar, as does Miles Kvalheim in the Rí Rá in Mandalay Place. Miles is a friend of Pala international's Larson boys. Yes all three of them; and currently taking more GIA classes after receiving his Graduate Gemologist diploma May 17, 2013 with Carl Larson. (Photo: Gabrièl Mattice)

In the pub. The more refined patrons imbibe their porter in the snug of the public house, rather than at the bar, as does Miles Kvalheim in the Rí Rá in Mandalay Place. Miles is a friend of Pala international's Larson boys. Yes all three of them; and currently taking more GIA classes after receiving his Graduate Gemologist diploma May 17, 2013 with Carl Larson. (Photo: Gabrièl Mattice)

At the table. On the other side of the table are Collector Fine Jewelry's Alison Collins and Pala's Carl Larson. Since they don't appear to be drinking, they must be taking in the furnishings of the Rí Rá, which were salvaged from various Irish locales: the former Foley's in Timoleague, West Cork (1880s); the Jockeys Room at Kildare's Curragh Racecourse; Mick Collins pub in Redcross, County Wicklow (ca. 1900); Dublin's original Olympia Theatre. (Photo: Gabrièl Mattice)

At the table. On the other side of the table are Collector Fine Jewelry's Alison Collins and Pala's Carl Larson. Since they don't appear to be drinking, they must be taking in the furnishings of the Rí Rá, which were salvaged from various Irish locales: the former Foley's in Timoleague, West Cork (1880s); the Jockeys Room at Kildare's Curragh Racecourse; Mick Collins pub in Redcross, County Wicklow (ca. 1900); Dublin's original Olympia Theatre. (Photo: Gabrièl Mattice)

Pala International News

In the early 2000s, fine rubellites with unique color were mined simultaneously with the various other colors from the Shalawa deposit in Mozambique. While these colors are not the classic paraiba blue, their pink-red is also very bright, vibrant and electric. These fine elbaite tourmalines are now very desirable, since the deposit seems depleted. They also can be certified as copper-bearing to pinpoint their Mozambique origin and untreated colors.

Prêt à porter. There's still a lot of summer sun to be caught in this 17.24-carat natural copper-bearing tourmaline from Mozambique. Inventory #14283. (Photo: Wimon Manorotkul)

Prêt à porter. There's still a lot of summer sun to be caught in this 17.24-carat natural copper-bearing tourmaline from Mozambique. Inventory #14283. (Photo: Wimon Manorotkul)

See the following articles on copper-bearing tourmaline from Mozambique on Palagems.com:

Interested? Contact us! 


That's Gneiss: Mineral Monikers for Swedish Streets

Pala's Mia Dixon has been spending her summer vacation with her family in her native Sweden. Her father just moved to a newly constructed complex in Kungsbacka, on the central western coast, just south of Gothenburg. The street names happen to be of minerals. Talk about taking your work home with you…

Tourmaline Way in a new section of Kungsbacka, Sweden. (Photo: Mia Dixon)

Tourmaline Way in a new section of Kungsbacka, Sweden. (Photo: Mia Dixon)

We looked at a map and found roads named Ruby (Rubinvägen), Quartz (Bergkristallvägen), Amber (Bärnstenvägen), Opal (Opalvägen), Brilliant (Briljantvägen), Emerald (Smaragdvägen), Topaz (Topasvägen), Tourquoise (Turkosvägen), Aquamarine (Akvamarinvägen), Amethyst (Ametistvägen), Diamond (Diamantvägen), Onyx (Onyxvägen), Gemstone (Ädelstensvägen), Rose-cut—usually applied to diamond (Rosenstensvägen), Beryl (Beryllvägen)—and others Google Translate couldn't handle.

At the corner of Gneiss Way and Sapphire Way in Kungsbacka, Sweden. (Photo: Mia Dixon)

At the corner of Gneiss Way and Sapphire Way in Kungsbacka, Sweden. (Photo: Mia Dixon)


Dragonfly Pin Lost in Vegas

Reward offered

On Thursday, May 29, Jeanne Larson was at the JCK Show at Mandalay Bay, wearing the dragonfly pin as shown in the photo below. She was on the Luxury Show floor until 12:30 pm. She was aware it was on her jacket at that point. She proceeded out of the show, down the escalators to the first floor and out the front red-carpeted area to depart the show. She got into the taxi line, headed for the Cosmopolitan Hotel. Upon arrival at the Greek restaurant in the hotel, she noticed the pin missing.

We are offering a reward. Please contact Bill Larson.

Gems and Gemology News

For Fabergé Fans

Website, newsletter, symposium

Aficionados of the artistry of Carl Fabergé, crafter of the famous Easter eggs and more, have a clearinghouse for their pursuit: the Fabergé Research Site. The site is curated by Christel Ludewig McCanless, author or co-author of a number of books on the subject, includingFabergé Revealed: At the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (2011), Fabergé: The Hodges Family Collection (2009), and Fabergé Eggs: A Retrospective Encyclopedia (2001).

The mountain of information, is divided into the following areas: auctions and dealers, audio-visuals, pointers on authenticity, a bibliography (McCanless is the author of Fabergé and His Works: An Annotated Bibliography of the First Century of His Art, 1994), a listing of collectors, information about the eggs, exhibitions, and workmasters and their marks. Visitors to the site also can subscribe to a quarterly newsletter, co-edited by Annemiek Wintraecken, curator of another Fabergé enthusiast website, Mieks Fabergé Eggs.

Prominently featured in the Summer 2014 edition is news regarding the Third International Fabergé Symposium to be held this coming October 2–4 on the theme of "The World of Fabergé in St. Petersburg 100 Years Ago." It will be held in the Fabergé Museum of "The Link of Times" Collection, restored Shuvalov Palace in St. Petersburg (and we're not talking Florida).


Lapidario en Lima

Earlier this month we received the July edition of Some Times, the lapidary newsletter from Ultra Tec, manufacturers of faceting equipment. The newsletter features new company representatives as they are added. One such rep looked pretty familiar, but his location did not: Ed Bancroft, of Lima, Peru. Ed and his wife Libi are living in Callao, the country's main seaport.

Ed is the son of Peter Bancroft, author of the classic Gem and Crystal Treasures. The Bancrofts gifted their collection of minerals and gem crystals to UC Santa Barbara. A website devoted to the collection allows users to experience it as well.

Industry News

Getting Your Hands Dirty in the Pala District

Barely a week goes by that the Pala International staff are not asked if travelers can come by the mine and purchase a bucketful of gravels to poke through in the hope of taking home a tourmaline crystal or three. Were they to peruse the page attached to Pala's Mining link, they'd read the following:

  • Pala International does not offer mine tours or buckets of mine gravels
  • See below for other mine tour options

That link points to the Oceanview Mine and Gems of Pala. The Oceanview experience for dilettante dirt divers was profiled on July 5 by the San Diego Union-Tribune with a story and brief video. (The Oceanview Mine is in San Diego County, just east of Pala, California.)

In the story, mine owner Jeff Swanger describes the "onerous" bureaucracy mine operators face, saying he has to report how much coal he produces each year, and that the boots he wears on his living property are regulated due to the mine's proximity. This is the reason, he says, why the mines stay dark.

In the video, however, he describes the delight he takes in telling a girl she has $10,000 in her hand.


Burma Bits

Emporium Sets Record

Grab it. A natural Burma spinel, 2.20 carats. Inventory #18980. (Photo: Mia Dixon)

Grab it. A natural Burma spinel, 2.20 carats. Inventory #18980. (Photo: Mia Dixon)

The annual Myanma Gems Emporium, held earlier this month, brought in $3.4 billion, $1 billion more than the same sale last year according to stories by The Irrawaddy and Xinhua. Some of the stats:

  • Jade lots sold: 74 (Xinhua) or 6,000 out of 7,160 (The Irrawaddy)
  • Gemstone lots offered: 400
  • Pearl lots offered: 200
  • Commercial tax gained: $1,020 million
  • Total merchants attending: 4,000
  • Foreign merchants attending: 2,000
  • Highest-valued lot (unsold): 233-kg rough jade valued at about €46 million ($62.5 million)

On June 25, Eleven Media Group (EMG) reported on some of the notable items for sale:

  • An uncut blue emerald valued at €1 million ($1.4 million), by Aung Htay
  • A €90,000 ($122,000) ruby ring and a €40,000 ($54,000) ruby necklace, by Arrow Brothers Company

Illuminating. Merchants examine jade during this month's Myanma Gems Emporium. See four more images here. (Photo: Xinhua)

But EMG reported the same day that only 1,500 items of jewelry were displayed this year, compared with 18,000 pieces last year. The same story led off with this:

Mogok, where most priceless gems are mined, is famous both in Myanmar and all over the world. But news reports about Mogok are alarming. Gem mining has diminished and the market is quiet. Is this the aftermath of years of uncontrolled exploitation?

According to The Irrawaddy on June 26, the less frequent sales, with less being offered, is the government's strategy to hold back jade for value-added, in-country processing.

Other Stats

Some new production stats also were included in the above stories for Fiscal Year 2013–14: 15,061 tons (13,663,109 kg, down about 30 million kg from FY 2011–12, the last year we have figures for).

A July 7 Eleven Media Group story stated that Burma had exported $1.1 billion in jade for the 2013–14 fiscal year. This compares with only $297.9 for the previous fiscal year.

Gemstone statistics for Burma, spotty as they have been for the last couple of years due to removal of the government statistics website, are posted on Palagems.com.

Mining News

Burma's Ministry of Mines announced it will open jade mining in four townships in Kachin State, after a two-year suspension, as reported by The IrrawaddyThe Myanmar Times and Eleven Media Group. Miners in Lonekhin, Phar Kant, Mawluu-Maw Han and Khanni townships will be allowed to return following the monsoon season, on September 1.

The monsoon season is in full swing, as reported by DVB on June 30. Three neighborhoods in Kachin's Hpakant were flooded on the 29th.

Prior to the mining hiatus, about 700 mining companies worked in Kachin's Hpakant and Lone Khin areas, according to a Myanma Gems Enterprise official, who also said he hoped increased production would lead to two emporiums next year. (Of course, this contradicts the government strategy mentioned above.) The resumption of mining is possible, according to the EMG story, because of peace negotiations in the area between government and insurgents. But a Kachin News story on Monday stated, ominously, that troops are building up in Hpakant.

Bite-Sized Bits

  • The Myanmar Times: Take a walk through Mandalay's jade market
  • The Irrawaddy and EMG: Yet another story about the black hole that is the black market, with the statistic that 3.9 billion kyat ($3.9 million) of jade and gems have been intercepted since FY 2011–2012
  • The Irrawaddy: Banned tycoon sneaks into ASEAN delegation, as director of Yadanar Taung Tann Gems Co., Ltd.
  • Mizzima: A profile of The Hope Centre, which serves people with TB and HIV/AIDS in Kachin State's Myitkyina

Books

The Handbook of Gemmology, 2nd Edition

By Geoffrey M. Dominy with photos by Tino Hammid

The second edition of The Handbook of Gemmology has been released by its author Geoffrey Dominy, with photography by Tino Hammid. As I, your editor, noted in our review of the 2013 edition, "One of the most exciting aspects of digital technology is its revisability, and Dominy is taking full advantage of this by offering the reader a new edition at a preferred price every year beginning in May 2014." I will refer our readers back to that review, concentrating here on the enhancements of the new edition.

Following the 2013 review, Dominy told me, "The software company wants to showcase our book on their website because they are amazed we have been able to do this type of book with their software. It's actually quite interesting that we have shown them what their product can do." That edition consisted of 650 pages; the current edition adds 210 more pages. New sections include:

  • Magnetism – Five pages of text and two pages of Hammid's lovely images
  • A page on Electrical Properties
  • Specific Gravity – Four pages on new techniques: sodium polytungstate & lithium metatungstate, amber test, heft, and weight estimation formulas
  • How to turn your smart phone into a portable microscope
  • Diamond Grading – Fifty-five pages, fully illustrated, including the dolphin, ballerina and baseball batter inclusions; some of this material previously had been embedded with colored gemstones
  • Colored Gemstone Grading – Now a stand-alone chapter of 100+ pages, including many images
  • The pages on synthetic diamonds have been increased, with added images
  • Fancy Colored Diamonds – Two new pages
  • Revised information on gemstone treatments
  • Index – This is now hyperlinked; Dominy told me previously that index links had to be manually entered, that's why they weren't done in the first edition. It's a dirty job, and somebody had to do it…

Tino Hammid, whose photographs beautifully complement the science, told me that the 2014 edition adds more than two hundred photos and illustrations to last year's 700. Three hundred of the photos are Hammid's—a 100% increase over last year. Also added are more inclusion photomicrographs, diamond clarity photographs, and images of gem mining and cutting in Sri Lanka and Thailand.

A screenshot from the Laboratory Created Gemstones section. Tom Chatham, of Chatham Created Gemstones, commented that he'd never seen such depth on the subject. Almost too much; it could breed new competitors.

A screenshot from the Laboratory Created Gemstones section. Tom Chatham, of Chatham Created Gemstones, commented that he'd never seen such depth on the subject. Almost too much; it could breed new competitors.

The only glitch I noticed was pages failing to load when I clicked their links in the Index. When I turned the page and went back to it, they loaded with no problem. I was a little skeptical about loading the book onto my iPhone (I don't have an iPad), but the text actually renders better than on my 20-inch desktop display (connected to an old laptop). Yes, you need to do a little side-to-side scrolling, but all that information in your pocket! You can't beat it.

A screenshot from the Gemstone Treatments & Enhancements section provides a sample of the lovely photography of Tino Hammid. Pictured are two Mozambique tourmalines, before (left) and after (right) heat treatment.

A screenshot from the Gemstone Treatments & Enhancements section provides a sample of the lovely photography of Tino Hammid. Pictured are two Mozambique tourmalines, before (left) and after (right) heat treatment.

Registered owners of last year's model receive a 60% discount—generous savings on the modestly priced single- or multiple-file options. The book is offered for PC, Mac, iOS (iPad, iPhone), Android and most e-readers. Details are available at The Handbook of Gemmology website.

From page 553 of The Handbook of Gemmology. This wonderful 39-carat fancy-cut gem sphalerite was sold to Pala International's Bill Larson at this year's AGTA GemFair in Tucson by Tino Hammid, whose hundreds of photographs are featured in the book.

From page 553 of The Handbook of Gemmology. This wonderful 39-carat fancy-cut gem sphalerite was sold to Pala International's Bill Larson at this year's AGTA GemFair in Tucson by Tino Hammid, whose hundreds of photographs are featured in the book.

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.


To lull the carking thorns of jealousy, just apply Ruby: Birthstone Collecting Cards

July's birthstone is ruby. Both of our collecting cards that contain verse speak of doubt, anxiety, thorns of jealousy, and doubt, all of which are lulled and freed by the stone.

But perhaps not just any ruby will do. In the excerpt of Tagore's Mani Málá appended to Richard W. Hughes's Ruby & Sapphire (1997, 487–489), the Bengali polymath writes, "The authorities mention sixteen kinds of shade, four good and eight bad properties of ruby." Stay away from thesaugandhika, whose "milky luster blights wealth." Seek instead the padmarága "which, upon being cast into a quantity of milk a hundred times its bulk, makes the white mass one entire sheet of red, or sends out a red flame." It is "nonpareil."

Two other collecting cards for July are available here.

Two other collecting cards for July are available here.

For more information on birthstones, see Palagems.com.

— End July Newsletter • Published 7/16/14 —


Note: Palagems.com 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 Palagems.com. We welcome your feedback.