I have decided to make this post as a gesture of good will towards all future and current PBH members. I have found this web site very informative and helpful. So this is my way of saying thanks.

I am a Graduate Gemologist from the GIA. I have been working in the gemstone industry since 1991 in the Caribbean for 4 years, in Miami for 4 years and the rest of my career in the northeast of America. I am a buyer for a wholesale company. We do not specialize in emeralds but instead buy and sell all precious and semi precious gemstones. We manufacture jewelry as well. I am very well connected to all the major labs such as the AGL, AGTA, Gubelin and GRS. I also travel to all the major gem shows including Tucson, Hong Kong and New York. I have been all over the world buying stones too. Needless to say I have a lot of information from my knowledge and experience.

Emeralds come from many countries ( Brazil, Russia, Zambia, Mozambique) but when you compare apples to apples Colombian emeralds are valued much more. Somewhere between 10 and 50% more depending on the quality range.

The mines of Colombia are under control of few men, a cartel. These men have a leader and his name is Victor Caranza. He is one of the most important men in the country and the most important man in the emerald business. Victor is the owner of a few mines and partner in many others. The mines usually have about 2 to 6 partners. When the miners hit a pocket of emeralds the owners fly in and the have an auction between themselves to see who gets the stones. They fly in by helicopter with suitcases of cash and then fly out immediately.

The best stones are called crystals (cristales) and are almost immediately sent to buyers or offices in Japan and New York. These are the stones found at auction in Sotheby's and Christies. And also found in the most expensive jewels of Cartier and Harry Winston. You will not find these stones in Colombia for sale. There is no market there and any wealthy person there would have to fly to New York to buy such a stone.

The rest of the stones are cut and stay in Bogota in an emerald bourse. This building houses many international dealers who travel and see clients in their offices. To come to Colombia to buy emeralds is only done after meeting and knowing a dealer well. To go to Bogota without a contact or invitation would be at least risky to buy at the right price if not to be flat out set up and robbed.

There are many reputable and honest dealers who sell to the manufacturers in Italy, America and China. You will never meet these people as it is not in their interest to sell directly to the public. Unless of course they can make a huge profit.

So now that you basically can't get a stone wholesale you will be tempted to find a way around this. That is when someone you know will tell you they have an uncle who is in the business in Colombia. He buys from the mine (a lie) and sells wholesale (another lie). You will absolutely get ripped off that way. One because you don't know what you are doing and two because he does. He is taking advantage of the situation.

The other way around this is when someone tells you they know a store that sells wholesale. A store by definition can not sell wholesale. The definition of a store is to sell retail. The overhead of running a store prohibits selling wholesale. The store would not make enough profit to run itself. So you will pay retail at best case scenario. Worst case is that you will pay much more than retail because the store will take advantage of your trust.

So how do you buy a stone wholesale? You don't. Even if you somehow get to a reputable wholesaler, he will not ever sell you a stone at the same price he would sell it to a store or another wholesaler. What is his incentive. You don't know what he sells stones to stores for. You don't know the true cost or resale value. He will of course sell you the stone much more above his real wholesale price, but you will save some of the profit the store would have added.

This is all assuming you are buying a legitimate Colombian untreated emerald. Many stores in Colombia sell Brazilian or Zambian stones because of greater profits. And many stores don't disclose treatments done to the stone. All emeralds are oiled with cedar oil, which is organic, but most stones today are impregnated with synthetic polymers that masked the clarity and add more green color. The latest treatment is to add a new high tech polymer that acts like an epoxy so that it holds stones together that would otherwise fall apart.

The only way to make sure that the stone you are considering is not treated is to trust the seller?????? or to have the stone certified. This means to send the stone, after purchase, to an accredited world accepted laboratory such as the GIA, AGTA, AGL, Gubelin or GRS. Not a local lab and not before purchase. The reason why not before purchase is because someone can certify the stones before treatment then afterwards add the treatment and sell the stone with the faulty cert.

The emerald industry is hurting. Prices are high due to low production and markets are week in the USA and Europe. Asia is still strong. Many emerald dealers are great people with great business that contribute to society. But there are many crooked people waiting for you to fly down and buy a stone. I have even known someone to buy a synthetic emerald (made in a lab in California) in Bogota.

So, either suck it up and pay retail from a reputable store such as Sterling or roll the dice with your money and buy from someone you think is helping you out. Otherwise wait to buy from a store in your home country and learn as much as you can online. There are many great web sites that explain all of what I have said and more.

I hope that my experience and knowledge has for warned you about the perils of trying to buy an emerald in Colombia. Please be careful. You have worked hard for your money and deserve to be treated with integrity and honesty where ever you buy.

Good Luck

Posted on January 27, 2008


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Comments:

I've been able to buy emeralds in Colombia for a while. I have not had a problem and do not feel that I'm getting ripped off.

Much of this post does seem a bit... wordy I don't think I needed the whole story about the emerald business.

Posted on January 27, 2008


beisbollover - good advice. i have read about all of this info you speak of.

Posted on January 27, 2008


the guy is not bs-ing. it is easy to get ripped off here if you do not know what you are doing. the whole "fissure correction" process by using oils and polymers is a process that occurs to fool buyers.

* the guy is giving a warning, not trying to sell something. here are two links that back up his claims (which i have read about before).

http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/7105822-description.html

http://www.preciousgemstones.com/gfwinterparttwo.html (older info, but speaks of scams - the point is that scams occur frequently in the business - this is from a trade group publication, ie. probably not talking smack)

- still not buying? that is ok because nobody is selling...........

Posted on January 27, 2008


flushed out another troll! more than likely the same troll!!!!!!

* obviously you are just trying to antagonize because you could not have read all of that info in the two links above by now.

Posted on January 27, 2008


BeisBol: Interesting post. When my parents first married they went into the diamond business - owned a store etc. My father saw so much corruption and over pricing in the US, he still wont buy any precious stones anymore - Only gold. Anyways, I learned much from him - there is a company called "Colombian Emeralds" that I recently involved myself in one of their auctions. But First they had a contest on "which stone is fake"? I was one of the few that picked the actual fake emerald and was part of the auction.
Either way - I personally I don't care for Emeralds, they are typically too soft and prone to chip - so why pay the price for such a precious stone with little clarity? Not me. I did purchase a semi precious with this company called Ammolite - another softer stone but not as pricey. Very beautiful. Reminds be of Laboradorite but more like a rainbow.
Anyways - thanks for the post, interesting history and I am NOT suprised!!!!

Posted on January 27, 2008


Beisbollover, I just read this. Thanks for it.

I have a friend who teaches at GIA. It's fascinating to hear all the different ways people cheat and steal in the precious stone market. It's really the wild west.

Posted on January 27, 2008


What an interesting and informative post! Thank you.

Posted on January 27, 2008


Beisbollover - Thanks for your post. Its kind of nice, although not in the best possible way, to have one's suspicions confirmed.

Posted on January 27, 2008