Joseph Menzie at his desk examining colored gemstonesMaking Sense of Colored Gemstones

It took me some 5 years to start to understand the allure, magic and quality to pricing in Gemstones. That was 1973 to 1978. However, the trade was different back then, I was the new kid on the block and there where a host of old timers that kept telling me to keep looking and ask questions and I would finally “absorb” the information.
Well, fast forward, 2016, and I am still asking questions and absorbing, albeit I know much more than I did in the earl 1970’s.

The allure to me, outside of the beautiful colors they could come in, was the fact that the more you knew, the more capable as a buyer and seller you could be in domestic and international markets. I realized early on, that fine colored Gemstones could be sold anywhere in the world provided you knew at what price to buy. Currencies, languages, religions, cultures could all move, but the selling price of a gemstone could translate into revenue. It was portable, had and held value and was in demand to the next buyer.

kenya-mine-tour-00080I found it very interesting that Gemstones where found and mined in some of the most primitive, desolate, remote places in the world. The purchasing, for the most part, was in the cutting centers where rough would find its way in; stones where fashioned, cut and sold. I visited most every mining and cuttings center in the world, starting with Bangkok, Thailand through to India, Sri Lanka, Columbia, Brazil, Australia and Africa. I listened and absorbed. The people in these areas where as colorful and mixed as the products they sold.

I was mentored by my grandfather Charles F Winson and Uncle Bob McCormack – the family wholesale loose colored gemstone business. We also enjoyed having a lapidary studio, Frank Lani, a master lapidist, managed the Eldot & Co division. Here I learned, or tried to learn the art of gemstone fashioning, cobbing, preforming and cutting, all on a jam peg with different wheels. Lucky for the trade, this was not my forte, but I listened and absorbed, I was learning.

Quality to Pricing

Essentially, we can say to follow the same prerequisites that you would use to judge diamonds, the four C’s – Color, Cut, Clarity and Carat size. However, origin; enhancements and supply and demand plays pivotal role in pricing. Emeralds from Columbia, Rubies from Burma, Sapphires from Kashmir and Burma all in demand and if there is a low or insignificant amount on the market, the prices go up and up for finer, larger goods.