Watermelon Tourmaline

January 31, 2006

Tourmaline is such an exciting gemstone, they are a must for every cutter or collector. No two stones are exactly the same and a well cut gemstone is always spectacular. As mentioned in a recent post, we have just received a shipment of excellent quality tourmaline. Tourmaline is such an interesting gem, you could write a book about it – we cant manage a book but will try and do a more detailed article on tourmaline soon.

However, while grading this new parcel, we did find an excellent example of watermelon tourmaline that we thought would make a good subject for a blog post.

Watermelon tourmaline, as the name indicates, is a crystal with a greenish outside “rind” and a pinkish-red interior. These types of tourmaline are often cut in thin slices to display the colour layers to best advantage but are also cut into faceted gemstones which are unusual and beautiful. May also be kept in the rough by collectors who appreciate these tricks of nature. Alternatively, these crystals can feature in amazing pieces of jewellery.

In good examples such as this one, there is a third lighter coloured layer between the green and red. This stone is notable for the strength of the colours but without being overdark or closed on the C-axis. If you would like to see more details on this stone, see the online listing #172  NOW SOLD.

Watermelon tourmaline is very popular because of its unique mix of colours, but also because of its metaphysical properties. Some people believe that this type of tourmaline is harmonising and works to balance the immune system and metabolism. The colours present in watermelon tourmaline are thought to represent different but complementary things – the pink symbolises deep spiritual love and passion while the green represents the physical heart, the will to live, and the healing of emotional pain. According to legend, all colors of tourmaline protect the wearer against many dangers and misfortune – tourmaline dispels fear, negativity and grief. Tourmaline is the birthstone for October and the anniversary gemstone for the 8th year of marriage.

We will be listing more great tourmaline soon including some excellent pink tourmaline – this lot is particularly fine due to its great clarity and will cut some great gems so keep a watch out for this. Take a look at our Imported Rough section for these items.

cheers from now from Aussie Sapphire


Exciting new rough in stock

January 31, 2006

Just unpacked our latest shipment of imported rough and there are some really great pieces in this lot. No time now to go into details but took a quick picture of the bulk lot to whet your appetite.

Some fantastic tourmaline in this lot including excellent pinks, greens and other types. Some beautiful aquamarine with nice colour with one particular huge piece of 150 carats of great blue. A great lot of African amethyst with lovely deep rich purple colour and some nice Fanta orange spessartite garnet.

We will be cataloguing this material over the next week or so and will be hoping to put some up online as soon as possible. If you are interested in buying a parcel, just give us a call to discuss details – we can offer attractive pricing on trade size parcels. Remember though, our individual pieces are also great value for the cutter or collector so keep a close eye on our Ebay Store over coming weeks.

Cheers for now from Aussie Sapphire

Valentine’s Day Suggestions

January 28, 2006

Valentine's Day is a wonderful occasion to show your loved one how much they mean to you – and you can't go wrong with a gift of jewellery!

Why not show your love with the extra touch of jewellery with its own story rather than mass-produced look alike pieces. A gift of handmade, limited edition jewellery will show that nothing is too much trouble.

At Aussie Sapphire, every piece we create is like a living thing. We dig the rough gems from beneath the earth to reveal the soul of the stone. We then bring it to life as a gemstone with the best faceting possible to give it heart. Of course one needs more and so a body is lovingly crafted to enhance its beauty. Our designs are carefully planned with soul, heart and body. Remember though that true beauty has character and class – each one of our gems is truly individual complementing each piece with their own style. The last and most important element is love – a gift given with love to complete the process.

There is a huge range of options when choosing a Valentine's Day gift. Heart shaped pieces of jewellery are certainly appropriate and we have a number of simple and affordable designs available now which may be of interest:

Heart shaped sterling silver pendant with matching earrings.
Simple open heart pendant in sterling silver with small centre sapphire.

For something a little more elaborate in gold, this design featuring marquise sapphires may be in order. Remember sapphires symbolise fidelity and sincerity – the perfect message for a Valentine's Day gift.

We have other designs available now on our Ebay Shop or browse our wide selection in the Jewellery Catalogue – contact us if you are interested in any of these pieces.

hat's all for now from Aussie Sapphire and enjoy Valentine's Day.

Sapphire Still Number 1

January 26, 2006

The latest retail survey carried out by Colored Stone confirms the popularity of sapphire among retail buyers of coloured gemstones. Sapphire retains its number 1 spot in the Top 10 list – given the fantastic qualities of this gemstone, we do not expect this to change. However, the survey reveals some interesting trends with emerald losing popularity and some of the more affordable semi-precious gems climbing the Top 10 rankings.

All this is good news for the gemstone buyer as increased interest in the huge variety of coloured gemstones means that a trip to your local jewellery store is much more likely to have spectacular choice in colour and style. Add some colour to your life !

Very interesting reading with comments from prominent retailers and designers along with fascinating charts exploring these recent retail market trends. Check it out:

Semi Precious Revenge – Annual Retail Survey by Colored Stone.

Feel free to contribute your comments and thoughts on this topic. Remember to browse our Ebay Store for rough and cut gems of a variety of colours including the ever-popular sapphire.
Cheers for now from Aussie Sapphire

Going International

January 26, 2006

After good sales into many other countries you may notice that some of our auctions are now being listed on Ebay UK in pounds sterling (GBP). Australian buyers should not be concerned that they cannot bid on these auctions – any of our items are available to buyers from anywhere in the world. Make sure you check our Ebay Store for details on all our listings.

Australian buyers will be charged our normal postage rate of $6 AU for registered mail as always (this charge includes padded secure package). You will be sent a total in Australian dollars based on the exchange rate calculated by Ebay at the end of the auction. When looking at items listed in other currencies, Ebay also displays an estimate of the item in your currency so please note the estimated amounts in Australian dollars as you bid.

International buyers can just bid as normal and payment through your PayPal account will take care of any exchange rate issues. All overseas buyers are charged our standard international postage rate – parcels are sent by registered airmail and includes insurance to the value of $100 AU. The process is quite simple so feel free to bid or buy it now from wherever you are.

That is all for now from Aussie Sapphire

Sapphire in conglomerate rock

January 21, 2006

Mysteries of nature never cease to amaze us – this is a case in point from our local area.

These very heavy basalt rocks have large amounts of semi hard conglomerate rock stuck on them with a mixture of black spinel, ironstone and red ochre along with other small rocks. These are often indicators of good sapphire wash. The red ochre being common along our creek as indicated by the name of Reddestone (or Red Stone) Creek given over a century ago. Click on the photo to see a larger version.

Some history to go with this find:

This type of rock has only been found in this very localised area despite over 50 years of commercial mining in the region. This photo shows a much larger waterhole just downstream of this find – now just used for the occasional bit of fossicking and fishing – it is also a great breeding area for native wildlife.

This particular spot was one of the richest deposits of sapphire both in quality and quantity ever reported on the famous Reddestone Creek – nicknamed the “million dollar hole” indicating the richness of the wash. While working this patch, we often had to stop the plant every two to three hours to rob the jigs as the pulsators were overflowing with concentrate. Would love to see that these days !

Wash from this area was was processed through the mine plant 4-5 times and still produced viable results although the remaining stockpile of this wash contains only a small amount of this conglomerate type basalt. This wash is not viable for commercial mining but can offer great reward to the fossicker. We have spent many damp days when our black soil flats were too wet to mine the open cut holes, sitting in the shed with a hammer to break up these rocks looking for sapphire inside.

The find was in one particular hole in the creek (almost like a whirlpool) which was very deep (about 50 foot) with an almost 20 foot deep layer of wash. These particular conglomerate rocks were mainly toward the bottom and around the edge of the hole where the sapphire deposits were the richest.

We assume that the natural whirlpool location must have had a major effect on the accumulation of gems and other rocks which over time has created these basaltic conglomerate type rocks. Not being a geologist or gemmologist, this is a only guess on our part. Please contribute your thoughts as to what might have caused this phenomenon. They certainly are interesting with the added bonus of perhaps containing a valuable sapphire inside.

That is all for now from Aussie Sapphire

Guide to Cut Sapphire Buying

January 14, 2006

As a follow-up to our recent article on buying rough sapphire, we have written the following article to assist people thinking of buying cut sapphire online.

Buying gems online can be complicated and confusing – there is a huge range of gems ranging in price from 99 cent "specials" to very expensive "investments". How do you choose between the vast array of items available ? Here are some tips to help you buy wisely. The price and value of natural sapphire varies greatly with a number of factors affecting the final price. Some of these are discussed below:

Quality of the rough sapphire
As natural sapphire is cut from rough gems, the price of the finished gem obviously depends on the quality of the rough used. Gems cut from inferior rough will inevitably yield an inferior gems. When buying rough, price depends on colour, inclusions, shape (recovery yield) , origin, etc and will vary quite significantly. A quick look at our catalogue of rough sapphire will give you an indication of this.

Cutting costs usually depend on size of the finished gem and where it has been cut. While cutting may be significantly cheaper in some overseas countries, often the quality of the cutting is inferior. At Aussie Sapphire, we only choose the best of our rough for cutting and we use only the best quality cutters to work on our stone. There are cheaper options around but why buy an unattractive gem. Our prices are competitive and the quality guaranteed.

Colour of the finished gemstone
Sapphire can come in almost every colour of the rainbow. If we discuss blue sapphire, colours may range from the palest of pastel blue, through the medium tones to an almost black colour. While personal preference should be most important, the more valuable sapphires tend to be in the medium range. Over dark stones (often described as midnight blue) should be discounted and extremely pale blue sapphires are usually valued lower.

Clarity of the finished gemstone
Clarity may be described in many different ways but stones with higher value will be completely transparent and without visible inclusions or flaws. We describe clarity using the GIA system where VVS is loupe clean (very slight inclusions which may be visible under 10X magnification) and VS is eye clean (slight inclusions which may be visible to the eye).

Please note that for sapphire (a Type II gemstone under the GIA system), VVS is the best grade available – a clarity grade of SI (slightly included) should be considered low grade and I (imperfect) is very low grade. Gems that are described as translucent or opaque should be heavily discounted and will not be as attractive.

Normally in trade sales, anything with inclusions that are visible to the eye (VS2 or less) are discounted 50% ore more depending on location and nature of the flaw. Once a stone reaches the SI category, expect discounts of 80% or more off the value of the top grade (VVS)

Cut of the finished gemstone
Quality of the cutting is an extremely important factor influencing the overall beauty of the gemstone. Inferior cutting can be indicated by gems with poor symmetry (an unbalanced look), poor finish and lustre. Quality cutting is indicated by good symmetry, balanced proportions, attention to polish and finish (particularly around the girdle), and general attractiveness of the stone (brilliance, lack of windowing, etc).

Size is also important – as rough sapphire becomes more rare as size increases, the price per carat for sapphire rises in a step-wise fashion as the cut gems become larger. Expect to pay more for gems over 1 carat in size and much more per carat for very large gems. Anything over 1.5 carats would be considered large in sapphire.

Sapphire is available in most shapes. Calibrated sizes are available where gems are cut to standard sizes and shapes to fit commercially available jewellery settings. Custom cut gems are specially cut from select pieces of rough and are suited to custom made jewellery pieces.

Treatment Status
This is an extremely important issue and one beyond the scope of this article – we plan to discuss this issue in a future article but will summarise the pertinant points now. Almost all sapphires available commercially have undergone basic heat treatment – this is a permanent treatment which slightly improves clarity/colour and has been done for centuries. These gems should be valued at basic market price according to the other quality factors.

Fully natural (unheated) sapphire is priced at a premium and should be provided with written documentation from the seller – it is extremely rare to find unheated sapphire and these gems should increase their value over time due to their rarity.

Unfortunately, many sapphires on the market currently have been enhanced with chemical treatments (and in rare cases, irradiation). Terms to look out for are bulk diffusion, lattice diffusion, beryllium treatment and diffusion – the colour in these gems is not natural. These gems should be significantly discounted and will not hold their value over time (and in fact may devalue) as the colour is induced artificially by the use of chemical additives. Diffused sapphires (star sapphire or blue sapphire) are particularly susceptible to damage as the treatment is surface only. Be very suspicious of brightly coloured yellow, orange or "pad" coloured sapphire is it is almost certain these colours are beryllium treated sapphire unless otherwise stated (and able to be proved by laboratory testing).

Aussie Sapphire does not support the use of these chemical treatments as we believe it is misleading to the consumer. We provide written documentation on treatment status (basic heat only or fully natural) for all gems from our mine.

Valuations or RRP comparisons
Many sellers offer their gems with a valuation or recommended retail price for comparison. This is really quite pointless as the prices in many cases are irrelevant to different markets and is really just trying to fool you into thinking that the gem is worth much more than you will be paying. Retail prices vary widely depending on supply source, intended market and markup rates. It is quite possible to find a true bargain among the many items offered on Ebay – we recommend however that you look carefully and have a realistic view of the wholesale value of gems you are intending to buy.

At Aussie Sapphire, our store prices for cut sapphire closely match our wholesale prices. Since you are buying from the source (direct from the mine), there are no extra steps in the supply chain to add extra markups to the price. This can make our cut gems quite cheap in comparison to a retailer who has had to buy through a chain of wholesalers. Occasionally, we run 99 cent start auctions as promotion for our gems but you can easily see what we think the value of these gems are by browsing our store items. On the other hand, if you are looking at very cheap gems from sellers who provide little description or information on their items – perhaps the deal is too good to be true.

General Notes
Photography: Please note that gemstone photography is an extremely specialised and difficult task. Some sellers do it very well and can make a poor stone look very good. Some sellers are less skilled and may have very good stones which are not displayed to their best advantage in their photographs. Here at Aussie Sapphire, we do all website and photography work ourselves to keep our costs down and pass savings on to our customers. Our main aim with photography is to display the stones honestly and describe them accurately – in most cases, they will look better in real life than in the photo. Please contact us directly if you have any questions about our photography and lighting methods or specific questions about any of our listed items.

Return Policy: When buying online, it is extremely important to look for a return policy. Most reputable sellers will offer a refund on the purchase price if the buyer is not satisfied with their purchase – we recommend you do not buy from anyone who does not offer this basic buyer protection. Things to look out for are expensive restocking fees – these may make it too expensive to return a disappointing purchase. Aussie Sapphire does not charge restocking fees.

Postage Charges: Some sellers who sell extremely cheap gemstones may attempt to retrieve some of their profit via expensive postage charges. Before buying, carefully check the postage charge to work out the total cost of your purchase – less than generous combined postage discounts may cause your "cheap" gemstones to work out surprisingly expensive.

Aussie Sapphire does not profit from postage – we charge one flat rate and offer combined postage at no extra charge for any gems which fit in one envelope. We do not charge extra for additional items that are posted together. Postage overseas is no problem – registered airmail is cost effective and convenient. Insurance is available and highly recommended for more expensive purchases (just contact us for a quote on additional insurance).

Traps for the Unwary: The reputation of various sapphire producing locations greatly influences the price. For example, a sapphire from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) will usually cost more than a sapphire of equivalent quality from a less desirable location. This leads to the temptation for some less honest sellers to describe the origin of some gems in a misleading way. We recommend buyers should buy sapphire based on beauty and not on some perceived idea that a certain location is automatically superior in quality. Sri Lanka produces gems of the highest quality but we know for a fact that many equally superior gems are being misleadingly described as being from that location. If you are unsure, ask questions of the seller and be wary if they are not able to answer them in detail.

Similarly, be wary of synthetic gems being passed off as natural. Synthetics are becoming very sophisticated these days and it has been reported that synthetics are being introduced into the supply chain at various points in many countries (see our previous article on ethical gemstone purchasing). If you are browsing the Natural Gemstone categories of Ebay, do not assume that synthetic, lab or created gems are not present in the list – sometimes these are listed in the Natural categories so check the listing details carefully.

We hope that these notes have been helpful to you – if you have any further questions just contact us any time. Cheers from Aussie Sapphire