Sunday, August 03, 2008

Focus On Antique Jewelry

by Richard W. Wise, G.G.

© 2008

From Our Antique Jewelry Gallery:


by Rebekah V. Wise

Okay, she may actually be a newt, but this winsome girl is mostly prized for the bright green racing stripe of Russian demantoid garnets down her back.

Originally from a pre-revolutionary source in the Ural Mountains of Russia, demantoid is the green gemstone variety of the mineral andradite, the most expensive and rarest of the garnets. So-named because of their diamond-like refractivity and unusually high dispersion (higher than diamond and often visible as rainbow-colored flashes of light).

Demantoid garnets were a favorite gemstone of jeweler Peter Carl Fabergé. Many of his jewelry designs for the Russian Imperial Family featured these lively bright green stones. Total demantoid weight is 4.00 carats. Surrounded by 53 Old European-Cut diamonds for a total

diamond weight of 1.20 carats. Crafted in 18k yellow and white gold. Don't let her slip away!

Call or email me for more information: 800.773.0249.

New Face On The Gem Forums:, the world’s busiest gem forum has been sold. I was recently introduced to the new president and CEO is Andrey Pilipchak. Andrey took over in July of 2007. During a casual conversation with Pricescope founder Leonid Charny.

“He mentioned he is a little bit tired of running Pricescope and before you knew it I became the new owner.”

Pricescope is the six hundred pound gorilla on the internet. The site boasts 31,000 registered users. Pricescope’s reach contrasts with forums such as Gemologyonline with 1600 registered users and yourgemologist with 6,100 members. “We average about 1,500-2,000 posts a day.” Andrey said in a recent interview, “with over 350,000 unique visitors per month.”

Ranking the Forums:

According to the major gem forums rank as follows: It shows Pricescope far in the lead:

1. 42,927

2. 126,540

3. 240,066

4. 240,334

Different Strokes:

Rating the gem forums is sort of like comparing apples to pomegranates. Each of the four sites mentioned have a different focus and attract different sorts of users. Pricescope members are predominantly consumers looking for information or collectors who want to show off their most recent gem and jewelry acquisitions. (formerly is a commercial site masquerading as a forum and is mainly about selling diamonds. Yourgemologist and Gemologyonline are oriented toward student and professional gemologists, lapidaries and gem dealers.

Don't look for big changes at Pricescope. Pilipchak’s plan: “Keep focus on diamonds and wedding discussions.” Pricescope started as a diamond site. The new owner intends to stay on track with that model. With diamond market share at 95% of the total gemstone market, it seems like a good plan.

Pilipchak graduated from Bradley University with a BS in Electrical Engineering. He has worked in the software engineering field for over 20 years as a developer and manager, skills that should be very useful to him in his new role.

The Brotherhood of the Banned:

As Pricescope became more powerful it developed a reputation for banning members, particularly professionals, over relatively minor infractions of its rules. I, myself, was banned by the former owner for mentioning and posting a link to another forum. See GemWise: Rating The Gem Forums.

Pilipchak has taken what he calls a “liberal approach” to past transgressions. “I look at them on a case by case basis.” He must truly be a liberal; he invited your’s truly back on the site. Several other formerly banned individuals have also been reinstated.

“I am basically one person and I have a lot to do.” Pilipchak has a very small staff and his wife helps him out. How is he doing? “I am enjoying it so far. It is a wonderful venture and I feel it has a lot of room to grow.” We wish him luck. Stay Tuned!

Price Watch: Gemstones:

Gem prices, particularly those for larger finer gems, have risen dramatically in the past three years. Over the past thirty years I have seen a number of ups and downs in the market though you will never get a dealer to admit that. For dealers, prices are always up and finer stones are always more difficult to find.

Another theory, gem prices have always about the same. Apparent price differences are simply the result of fluctuating values in paper currency. This somewhat cynical view certainly seems to reflect the current market. Take the D flawless diamond. Stones over five carats, particularly the rare type IIa diamonds are up about40% at the wholesale level in the past year. Two years ago ruby prices made a great leap forward. This correlated with the decline of the dollar against the Thai bhat.

Colored diamond prices including prices for the relatively available fancy yellow and brown stones have gone along for the ride. I recently priced a 2+ carat blue with the coveted "fancy vivid" grade from GIA; at over $500,000 per carat wholesale. With 5+ carats bringing between 1.3 and 2 million per carat that should not be surprising. Colored diamond expert Stephen Hofer put it succinctly: "Prices are crazy" he told me.

In other markets, heat-treated blue sapphire is currently in good supply. Prices have declined a bit a fine stones are available at perhaps 10% less than a year or two ago. Prices for fine natural (unheated) stones have increased and stones are becoming more difficult to find.

Rarity coupled with demand is another important factor driving price increases. Emerging gems, such as the new finds in peridot, cuprian tourmaline, spessartite garnet and demantoid garnet have been rising slowly but steadily in price over the past five years. Spessartite garnet, finer pure orange stones above 5 carats have increased by about $100-200 per carat annually. Peridot over 5 carats is up in price. Lighter, brighter pastel green-blue tourmaline, whether cuprian or not, have also increased substantially in price.

The new greenish-blue to blue Mozambique cuprian (copper bearing) tourmaline have not increased in price because a consortium of dealers managed to establish a high price for the stone right out of the gate. As of this writing, prices for Mozambique tourmaline are stable with perhaps a bit of softness in the market due to the economic downturn in the US.

Featured Gemstone:

As I mentioned earlier, prices for fancy color diamonds have skyrocketed. Colored diamonds are the only diamonds that are truly rare. Diamond is so hard, the atomic lattice so tight, that few impurities, the sources of color, can penetrate the crystal lattice. One of the three atoms in Nitrogen. This is the source of yellow in diamond.

Queen of the colored diamond is the Fancy Vivid gem. #7448 this 0.70 carat pear shape has been graded Fancy Vivid Yellow-Orange by the Gemological Institute of America's laboratory (GIA-GTL). Yellow diamonds incline towards either orange or green the two colors adjacent on the color-wheel. Of the two possible secondary hues, orange is preferred. Technically this is an orange diamond but to my eye this gem has just the right mix of yellow and orange to give it a truly sun-kissed glow.

The stone was purchased before recent price increases in is therefore available at a reasonable price. The stone is particularly well cut and completely eye-clean. For more wonderful pieces visit our online gallery: (click on gallery). For more information about this 3/4 carat vivid yellow-orange beauty call me at 800.773-0249 (413-637-1589) or email me richard@rwwisecom.

Take a boat ride across an exotic lagoon. Visit Burma's Valley of the Serpents and learn how rubies are mined and graded.

Follow me on gem buying adventures in the pearl farms of Tahiti. Visit the gem fields of Australia and Brazil. 120 carefully selected photographs showing examples of the highest quality gems to educate the eye, including the Rockefeller Sapphire and many more of the world's most famous gems. Consider my book: Secrets Of The Gem Trade, The Connoisseur's Guide To Precious Gemstones.

“Wise is a renowned author... He’s
done a marvelous job of this first book, monumental work, a tour de force...My recommendation: Buy this book”.

Charles Lewton-Brain, Orchid

whether you like to know what the best colour is in Tanzanite, or how to grade a Diamond, you will find it in this book. No other book I read before dealt with this topic is such detail as Richard Wise's masterpiece."

A. Van Acker, FGA
Amazon June 2005

"Secrets Of The Gem Trade: The Connoisseurs Guide To Precious Gemstones by Richard W. Wise is an impressive new reference for dedicated dealers and collectors of gems, gemstones, and ... pearls. Introducing and descriptively exploring each and every gem covered in the easy-to-use reference, Secrets Of The Gem Trade contains an illustrated summary of each stone inclusive of its history and general information, hue and tone, saturation, which may be noticed as the finest, an understanding of the particular gems rarity, and the caution for synthetics and how to depict them, however depending upon the stone there may be description of clarity, color fading, multi-color effect, etc. Secrets Of The Gem Trade is very highly recommended to anyone interested in gemology as a superbly organized, authoritative, comprehensive, and easy-to-follow reference."

Midwest Book Review
April 2006

Only $35.95. Read a couple of chapters online:

Buy it on Amazon:


Anonymous said...

Brotherhood of the Banned

Hmmm, we are in different camps of that Brotherhood regarding the validity of forums.

A brief Winter dalliance with the GemologyOnline forum proved to be folly at its best and at worst gained me the gentle chiding of colleagues who regard these venues as the purview of silly "armchair gemologists" to be ignored and certainly not to be involved with. One quipped: "Banned from GemologyOnline! Congratulations!"

It is my conviction that those who choose to be involved with that forum, or any other forum online, should be made well aware of their underlying nature - do read Richard's Rating the Gem and Jewelry Forums to which I commented regarding my own experience in more detail.

To quote a friend: "Remember, the price of wisdom is beyond rubies!" I would add, time is a precious commodity... choose to spend it wisely.

Richard W. Wise said...


Well, I guess I don't agree. I think it is important to foster communications in an industry that for too long has fostered ignorance and misinformation.

There are a number of members on Gemologyonline who's expertise goes beyond the armchair.

I have learned a good deal.

Alain van Acker said...

Hi Richard,

I hope you will not take this personal, but the words "professional" and "yourgemologist" just can't be used in one sentence.


Daniel F katz said...

It's always a pleasure recieving your blogs.
In regard to Pricescope what a bunch of precious sycophants and bored housewives rolled into one.
There was never any point in commenting because I was always censored and sent emails by some unknown gem cop who actually thought I gave a damn.
Maybe Pricescope might improve now that the wowsers are gone.
After a while it bored the hell out of me. Everyone being so polite made me ill how false people can really be.
Call me mad but I rather go to a forum that has some bite and people are allowed to speak their minds.
I stopped going to Pricescope because I was sickened by all the @rse kissing and back patting.
So if you have the time or interest I keep a geopolitical history of diamonds in my blogspot
The Diamond Guru... it's my online scrap book.
Sometimes I ruffle a few feathers but hey what the goes on!
Different types of gem setting would be useful maybe with pictures.
Be well matey and look forward to your next story.
Daniel F Katz GG
Sydney Australia

Anonymous said...

Banned of Sisters

There is some good information on gemologyonline, but there is also the petty, spiteful and childish side of it that Mr. Van Acker represents in his comment so well. Apparently the AIGS does not share his feeling regarding yourgemologist, since they published Mr. James' final report on andesine on their site in full.

Virgilio Elcullada Luib Jr. said...

Only colored diamonds are truly rare? How about Golconda diamonds? They said less than 1% of all diamonds are TypeIIa, how much more a Golconda diamond that also happens to be D-Flawless?