Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Tucson 2009; Day 2

by Richard W. Wise


Back To The Pueblo:

Yesterday we visited three shows. The first stop, of course, found us back at the Pueblo. This show is a crossroads, sooner or later all the die-hard gem people show up at the Pueblo. ( Image left: Got gems? Some people have developed more creative responses to the current economic downturn.)

Just prior to leaving for the show, I bought a 10 megapixil Nikon Coolpix and was anxious to try my luck at candid gem photography.

A Rare Demantoid Garnet:

One of the first stones that impressed me was a 4+ carat round demantoid garnet. One of the largest and finest I have ever seen, this gem has everything--perfect color and cut and a classic horsetail inclusion. I am not sure why people still demand horsetails, must be a carry over from the days when these gems were so scarce that they were rarely seen other than as mineral specimens. This gem hails from Russia's Ural Mountains. The only other commercially viable source being Namibia. Demantoid of this quality is fairly available in sizes up to 3/4 carat. Above 1 carat they begin to be rare and fine examples such as this one are almost never seen above 2 carats.

With a Moh's hardness of 6.5, demantoid is one of the soft garnets. Following diamond and zircon, it is arguably the third most brilliant gemstone. This example is tonally (80%), a bit too dark to exhibit the gem's fabled rainbow dispersion. This stone shows a rich, vibrant, slightly bluish-green hue. Collectors who particularly value dispersion and are willing to sacrifice a bit of color, prefer gems between 70-75% tone.

The Pearl Meister:

A visit to Pacific Pearls (Pueblo Tent) is rarely a disappointment. Proprietor Fuji Voll literally grew up in the gem trade. His German father, who just turned 97, moved the family to Japan just prior to World War II and as his name suggests, Fuji is himself a delightful blend of the two cultures. He is also an inexhaustable font of pearl wisdom.

Fuji pulls no punches and I had hoped to make a video of him with my handy dandy coolpix. Well, we tried, but suffice it to say, Cecil B. DeMille has little to worry about even though he has been dead for fifty years.

Fuji specializes in the unusual. He showed me several champagne colored strands of Japanese akoya pearls. "Are these natural color?" I asked. "Depends on what you mean by natural" Fuji responded. From there he launched into a very interesting monologue on pearl bleaching from its beginnings prior to World War II. Seems like there are two stages. "First they get rid of the spots, then they bleach the color." Then I lost most of the audio. Stay tuned. (image above left, pearl meister Fuji Voll keeps busy stringing while he waits for clients)

Visit Burma's Valley of the Serpents and learn how sapphire is mined and graded. Follow me on gem buying adventures in Burma, Thailand and Sri lanka. 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 $39.95 in paperback. Read a couple of chapters online an order: We recently discovered about a dozen copies of the out of print hardcover: $79.95 signed by the author www.secretsofthegemtrade.com.

Buy it on Amazon: www.amazon.com

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