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Global Gem Shopping with Purpose

I hope this finds you all healthy and happy. If you’re a long-time reader of this newsletter, you know I’m a big-time gem geek. I love finding you the best colors, the high-quality gems and treasures that you seek when you call. I also love meeting gem dealers, miners, and cutters from all over the world. It always reminds me that there are more things that unite us than divide us.

Lately, there has been much discussion about source transparency, environmentally respectful mining practices and fair trade, which allows the local community to benefit from its own product whether gems, coffee, textiles, decorative arts, or natural and rare earth minerals. Lately, I’ve been selling a lot of colored sapphire pieces, so of course, I’m shopping for more.

Since rubies and sapphires are the same species (corundum) I added in ruby shopping on a trip to New York. I love my job! As I’m searching for stones, though, I’m limiting my purchases to dealers representing the above-mentioned small mining communities.

Australian teal sapphire
Australian teal sapphire

Fortunately, there are at least three people operating in local territories and I’m purchasing some gorgeous, well-priced materials. I will introduce them to you in a subsequent newsletter but for now, just know that my sources are Greenlandic, Australian, and Swedish. The latter dealer has trained miners and cutters primarily in Sri Lanka and his stones are all cut by his trainees, who do beautiful work.

From the Swedish-Sri Lankan dealer, I buy the small, gorgeous, odd-shaped sapphires and spinel that make up most of the earrings and rings I’m producing. From Australia, I’m buying lots of the teal and green sapphires you love in smaller, more classic cuts like cushions and pear shapes. From the Greenlanders, I’m buying red rubies and pink sapphires. Theirs is a story you won’t want to miss.


I’ll be getting gems all this week so if you want dibs, give me a call. 312-346-2363

Best regards from the studio!


Inner World: Crystal with Skid Marks

This photograph (by a fellow gemologist, Laurianne Lognay) made me laugh. Snugged into a sapphire, this crystal made marks like an ice skater doing practice turns. It’s another example of how heat, pressure, and time create random, spontaneous patterns, colors, and moods that we have above ground. This crystal probably does not impact the brilliance of the stone and we can’t even see it without a microscope, but just knowing it’s there gives a gem identity and character.

This little capsule crystal and its attending lacy skid marks show us that at some point over thousands of years, this tiny crystal moved into position amidst the blue material, perhaps during a volcanic eruption. This itty bitty thing traveled a bit, looking for just the right spot to land. This little crystal is a good illustration of why we call these “inclusions” and not flaws. These inclusions are formed during Earth’s constant state of renewal and creation and they imply activity and energy in a now-still gem.

I hope you are all well. More sapphires are in! Bring me your jewelry and we can look for inclusions. It’s free and fun!

Sparkles from the studio.

Multi-Color Sapphire Pendant

This two-carat multi-color sapphire has all the colors of the forest in the afternoon... rich green golden highlights and a touch of blue. Surround by a crown of champagne and canary yellow diamonds and set in 18KT yellow gold on a 16"-18" adjustable chain. One of a kind. Wear it as a talisman every day and on special occasions. Meant to be worn all the time. Elegance for Every Day.

Buy Now

Sapphire and Diamond Pendant SOLD

This "forest" in a pendant has a two-carat, multi-colored sapphire of deep green, blue, and the golden yellow of a late summer afternoon. Crowned by a circle of canary yellow and champagne diamonds and set in 18KT yellow gold, this piece reveals your daring, beauty-loving self. Only one, just like you.

Shield Cut Color Shift Sapphire Ring

Amazing one of a kind sapphire ring that shifts from royal blue to plummy purple and is flanked by purple and blue sapphires and white diamonds set in 14Kt white gold.  Size 7 but can be resized . 

Traceable Sapphires Are Here

You all know I love sapphires.  Any color, any shape, as long as they are well cut and refractive. 


For quite a while now, I’ve been buying from a Swedish gem group which carefully sources its sapphire material from a small mining village in Sri Lanka. The Swedes have recruited and trained local miners and cutters so they can work together and benefit more directly from selling local material. Each stone is traceable to a particular mine.  This amount of transparency may seem a bit quirky, but I love knowing that the stones in my work translate to gain for the hardworking and under-recognized locals. At the wholesale level, I pay a bit more, but I don’t mind. We are getting unheated sapphires in beautiful colors and unusual geometric cuts.

Following are some excerpts from an interview done by the Swedes when asked about their fair trade operation. 

The backstory…

“For 14 years, I’ve searched for the most skilled cutters in Sri Lanka and India. Early on, I vetoed India since they are more industrialized, whereas Sri Lankan cutters are usually smaller-scale artisans with family-run operations.

I noticed there was incredible skill hiding among Sri Lankan cutters. My breakthrough came where I offered to pay double the price to a promising Sri Lankan lapidary, but only if they always used ”ideal angles” when cutting. Previously, cutters were making the bottom of the stones bigger to retain more weight. They did this to maximize income, because the cutters were paid per carat. Our new agreement solved this issue and guaranteed us only premium cuts.

When I found an independent stone cutter in the town of Nivithigala name Sampath, I was astonished (as was my extremely picky Cutting Manager here in Sweden). He was using a home-built machine which probably cost about $200 to make (compared to our $5,000+ machine here in Sweden) and his cutting was magnificent.”


How do you Ensure Traceability?

When we started this project, we didn’t know that our cutter in Nivitihigala was such an impressing cutting artist. We originally collaborated with him because he knew numerous miners in the area and could ensure traceability. He would source the rough sapphires from mines in the area, and later transfer the rough sapphires to our regular lapidary closer to the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo.

Upon discovering this man’s unparalleled cutting skill, our project turned out even better than we dreamt. Now, both the mining and cutting happen locally in Nivithigala. Even the heat treatments (in the cases where they’re applied) are done by traditional “burners” locally in Nivitihigala. They use old blow-pipe and fire techniques, rather than the electrical furnaces used in the larger processing centers in nearby Rathnapura and Thailand.


How Do Miners Protect the Environment? 

Sri Lanka is the world’s oldest and most fabled source of sapphires. In 2000 years of mining, they have developed a system to work with the environment and not against it:

  • They have learned exactly which plants and wood can be used for building fully water-resistant support for the mine pits. They've perfected this niche of engineering.
  • Sri Lankan mining has never ruined large areas of rainforest or other valuable biotopes. Instead they dig small pits, oftentimes in rice paddy fields. The idea of massive open-pit mines that scar the land is madness to most Sri Lankans, including the miners themselves.
  • The land owners are usually deeply involved in the mining operations occurring on their paddy field (traditionally, they’re entitled to a share of the profits). Many of the miners have two jobs. They're farmers during the rainy season and join a mining team during the dry season. Some land owners are even miners themselves. This means they are invested in keeping the land in good condition for their farming operations.
  • Several of the miners in our project are farmers that dig for sapphires using shallow pits on their own property.

There is so much more to this story, but I’ve already gone too long. I’ve made and sold some recent stone acquisitions but there are more for you.  Just give me a call or come visit.

Sapphire sparkles from me to you.

True North Rubies and Sapphires

In the icy white North of Greenland lays a cache of red ruby and pink sapphire rough.  Formerly covered with ice and now revealed by global warming, this rich red ruby and sapphire deposit is “believed by geologists to be the oldest rock formation on earth,” according to Company exploration reports. The mine in Aaplauttoq, Greenland opened five years ago.

The mining rights are owned by a Norwegian company which is the only group allowed to mine in this delicate area. The local Greenlanders do the mining (35% are women) and reap the benefits of this small and very high-tech operation. Mining standards in Aapaluttoq adhere to the highest health, safety, and environmental requirements and each stone is traceable from mine to market. I can see this because all of the rubies I’ve purchased have code numbers, color grades, and sourcing information. I am thrilled to support this venture because of its environmental standards, traceability, and support of those who work in the field. Plus it’s just fun to have something so relatively rare to put into my work.

Each stone has inclusions characteristic of corundum (ruby and sapphire) and also particular to Greenland. They are heat treated using standard methods.

The prices of these rubies and sapphires are relatively reasonable now and I can offer them to you with that in mind.  I’m enthusiastically planning designs now. I have small and larger stones here in various shades of deep red, bright red, magenta, and pink.

Greenland Rubies

Call 312-346-2363 or email me if you want dibs or are just curious. There are quite a few ruby and pink sapphire lovers amongst you.

Regards from the reds and pinks,