(Gemological Institute of America – February 12, 2016)


When it comes to selling colored stones, a retailer’s supply-chain knowledge has tangible benefits at the counter – or wherever the point of sale happens to be.

That’s what Andy Lucas, GIA’s education manager of field gemology, and Dr. Tao Hsu, technical editor and research specialist for Gems & Gemology, told local GIA alumni and Women’s Jewelry Association members at GIA’s Carlsbad campus on Jan. 13. Lucas and Hsu have traveled the world together to discover and document what happens as a gemstone travels from the mine to the market.

The allure of colored stones has not changed much over the centuries, Lucas said, so retailers need to share the romance and adventure. “The people who are more knowledgeable about the story are better at making customers feel comfortable, at gaining their trust and at piquing their interest,” he said. Lucas acknowledged that the details of that story have evolved over the years.

“People today have more access to information … they’re more interested in mining, about the art of cutting,” he said. “There are also a lot of ethical issues that come into play, and people are interested in hearing about them.”

One of the first things that they noticed on their expeditions is that the technology at a colored gem’s source ranges from the large-scale mines operated by capital-rich companies, to the smaller artisanal mines. Both types of operations can both “complement and conflict with each other.”

Hsu cited the Kagem Mine, a primary emerald mine in Zambia, as one of the best examples of modern mechanized, large-scale mining she’s seen.

For the rest of this article, click here: http://www.gia.edu/gia-news-research/mine-market-adventure-story-colored-stones