RIP The Quest for Quality Gem Rough for Custom Cutters

I have been out on the internet again reading about the gemstone news of the world.  It is not new to read about places like Pakistan/Afghanistan not producing up to their potential because of societal problems.  And it is not new to read about a place like Tanzania forbidding the export of some gemstone rough without local processing.  But when I read claims that all rough is purchases by foreign manufacturers for pennies on the dollar and the simple act of cutting the material could produce a return of 300 to 400 times the value of the rough, I think that something is out of hand.  Some promoters of self improvement for impoverished countries producing gemstone rough have forgotten about the effort and cost to sell cut gemstones and associated jewelery.  The level of trust and expertise that has been built up over generations of effort.  Still they influence governments in ways that can have many consequences.

Attempts to control the production and sale of gemstone rough by governments is certainly not new, but the forces grow stronger.   Will this be the time when the flow of gemstone rough is restricted to domestic processing or at least its sale threw only carefully selected/connected companies.  As the prospects for the purchase of quality tourmaline rough suitable for building a collection like I have built over the years, grows dimmer, I am afraid that the past market is really passing this time.  Even if notable finds of tourmaline appear and it will happen, I don’t think that the amateur cutter will have a chance at purchasing the rough, even at premium prices.

This is particularly sad to me, because I think that I am more of a creator than a collector, when it comes to beauty in the world.  And I would have missed such a wonderful trip working with quality tourmaline and having a collection of beauty to share with you, under what appears to be the future of the market for gemstone rough.





About Bruce Fry

I was born in Summit, NJ in 1947 and graduated from Summit High School in 1966. I graduated from the Colorado School of Mines in 1970 and after spending another year in graduate school, I left to see the world of Brazil. After spending some more time discovering myself, I ended up working for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for 32 years as an Air Quality Engineer in the Department of Environmental Protection. I retired in 2007 and took up faceting gemstones again after a long hiatus that reached back to my twenties. I had started cutting cabochons when I was 13 and bought my first faceting machine when I was 15, but ran out of money and time until I retired. My great love in gemology is tourmaline and the collection presented here represents my effort to get as much beauty and variety in the colors of tourmaline as I can. I was particularly lucky in being able to get unheated cuprian tourmaline before copper was discovered in gem grade tourmaline from Mozambique.
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