Gemstone countries of origin: how do we know?

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When visiting gemstone countries the gemstone is the best souvenir to bring home. Tumbled semi-precious stones make perfect souvenirs: they are small, lightweight, not too expensive and almost always allowed for export and import.

A personal memory from gemstone countries is often a personal story behind it. It’s just your story that you want to believe. Normally your friends would say ‘Oh, how lovely’ without asking too many critical questions.

But if you are a jewelry maker and want to use the stone in jewelry for sale, it becomes a different story. You would want to offer your customers as honest and complete information on the origin as possible. Even when you realize afterwards that the nice shopkeeper in Chandni Chowk bazaar in Delhi probably told you a 1000+1 Night fairy tale. No, the moonstone does not come from the private mines of the last Khan. It is probably not from India at all. But how do you know the country of origin for sure? The fact that you bought the stone in India, Turkey or Thailand does not always mean that the stone actually comes from these gemstone countries of origin.

India is certainly among the top gemstone countries of origin, but many stones are just being processed there: polished, cut, faceted. The same goes for (South) Africa, Thailand and Russia. Many stones sold on the stone markets in these countries are just resells. The same applies to the stone suppliers on ebay. However the latter are more reliable than real life storekeepers. Because there is a pretty high chance that you will visit (or not) their online store again and leave a review.

Australia necklace silver black opal
Black opal is found almost exclusively in Australia

The idea behind my continent series: Australia, followed by Africa and South America was using the symbolic stone for the continent. The stone had to be iconic for the continent and preferably found (almost) nowhere else. This is why I took the Australian black opal, the South African Pietersite and the Colombia Emerald.

south america colombia emerald
South America – with a Colombia emerald (at least what the supplier told me)

The emerald was the most difficult to get. The main gemstone countries of origin for Emerald are Colombia, Zambia and Brazil. There is a slight difference between these varieties which only specialists can tell, though there are many articles on the differences. For my purpose a Brazilian emerald would do too, being from South America as well. Having searched on ebay I noticed that Zambian stones are slightly more bluish in color. But at the end I had just to rely on the honesty of supplier.

As I plan to continue the geographic series with new countries such as  China, Russia, maybe India, Mexico and the USA, the question arises. Which stone shall be selected for these gemstone countries of origin? For instance gemstones mined in China include  Peridot, Agate, Blood Stone, Amber, Cinnabar, Corundum, Sapphire, Zircon, Diamond, Garnet, Nephrite, Jade, Turquoise, with Jade and Nephrite being iconic for the Chinese art and culture. Thinking of India one thinks of moonstone. In fact Moonstone is found in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Madagascar, Brazil, Australia and India. But various colors only come from India and the other sources yield white moonstone.

Most probably this gorgeous malachite comes from Congo
The genuine malachite from Urals

Russian gemstones have been traditionally mined in the Urals mountains: Alexandrite, Demantoid, Topaz, Amethyst, Emerald and the famous Malachite. However if you buy a cheap Malachite on the market today the chance is close to 100% that it would be the Congolese variety. The mines in the Urals have been pretty much exhausted.

So the stones for Russia have to be more or less exclusive for this country. Which makes me think of Charoite, Belomorite, Beryl/Emerald, Demantoid, Chrom diopside. I have already some of them in stock, bought in their country of origin, even with a certificate. So we shall see what comes (to be continued).

More interesting links on the gemstone countries of origin

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