December 2011 Newsletter: Last of the Mahenge Spinels

In 2007 some very special spinel was discovered in the Mahenge plateau of Tanzania. These gems displayed a highly saturated pink-red color and a unique neon-like glow. Gem dealers were unanimous in calling this the finest spinel they had ever seen.

The main discovery consisted of several huge spinel crystals. The largest of these was a 52 kg pyramid-shaped stone that displayed the vibrant orangey pinkish-red that is considered to be top for spinel. Though the final yield of gemmy material from this rough was only a few percent, the rough produced several thousand carats of valuable gems. The rough was sold in Bangkok and AJS Gems was lucky enough to acquire some of the best of this rare material. 

We had cut some exceptional gems from this rough, including half a dozen pieces over 10 carats each. When it became clear that the Mahenge spinel was a one time find, we put aside some of our rough material, knowing we would not be able to buy it again.

This past month we cut the very last of our rough stone from the original desposit. These are mainly stones in the 1 to 1.5 carat size, but top color and quality despite the smaller size. We were also able to match up two impressive suites from the smaller stones. One suite features 39 marquises with a total carat weight of 32.37 cts, suitable for a necklace and matching earrings. The other suite is comprised of 13 larger marquises, with a total weight of 22.78 carats, for matching necklace, earrings and ring.


Notable Gems from the AJS Collection

This month we feature some outstanding gems that will make perfect gifts for the holiday season --  in red and green and everything in between. Click on the gem photos to see the detail page for each gem.


1.47 ct Burma Ruby  [SOLD]

Burma ruby continues to be the best investment in the gems world -- prices are rising and there is very little new material in the market. This lovely 1.47 ct ruby combines top color with very good clarity. It is beautifully cut in a hard-to-find octagon shape and has the distinctive glow typical of the best Burmese rubies. Certified by GemRearch Swisslab (GRS). See all our Burma Rubies


2.72 ct Tsavorite Garnet from Kenya  [SOLD]

Fine tsavorite over 2 carats is very rare. This 2.72 ct oval displays the rich chrome green that is the hallmark of the finest tsavorite, with a medium to medium-dark tone. This is a very well cut gem that displays full brilliance and fire. Completely natural and untreated. See all our Tsavorite Garnets



11.09 ct Yellow Sapphire from Ceylon  [SOLD]

A superb yellow sapphire from Ceylon in an extraordinary size. A pure lemon yellow, this is a completely unheated sapphire, certified by GemResearch Swisslab (GRS). The elegant portuguese cut maximizes the brilliance and sparkle of this fine gem. This is a true collector's stone which is sure to increase in value over time. See all our Yellow Sapphires.



4.68 ct Blue Saphire from Madagascar  [SOLD]

The best blue sapphire from Madagascar is among the finest in the world. This stunning 4.68 ct gem displays a deep royal blue that is reminiscient of the legendary sapphires from Kashmir. The cut and clarity are first rate and we have graded this gem "almost loupe clean". Certified by GemResearch Swisslab (GRS) as "vivid blue (GRS type "royal blue")", their top color designation for blue sapphire. See all our Blue Sapphires.


3.02 ct Spessartite Garnet from Nigeria

When some unusually fine mandarin garnet was discovered in Nigeria a few years ago, we bought all we could. Now it is impossible to find material of this quality in the market. This 3.02 ct oval is a good example of the pure vivid orange that makes these garnets so special. Completely untreated and graded "loupe clean", this is a dazzling gem with remarkable fire. See all our Spessartite Garnet


9.95 ct Rubellite Tourmaline from Nigeria  [SOLD]

Top quality rubellite has one of the most intense colors in the gem world -- a vivid pinkish purple to purplish red. This 9.95 ct beauty shows classic rubellite intensity in a large size. At 16 x 14 mm, this gem will make a very impressive ring or pendant. Rubellites tend to have significant inclusions, but this fine gem has only very minor inclusions that are difficult to see with the naked eye. Very well cut with excellent proportions. See all our Rubellite Tourmaline.

News from AJS and the Gems World

  • The biggest news affecting the gem world, to our mind, is the potential impact of dramatic reformist moves in Burma (Myanmar). It could soon result in a lifting of sanctions against Burmese ruby and jadeite.

    A nominally civilian government was elected in Burma November 2010. But really no one had high hopes for the new parliament, which was dominated by the military and former junta generals. So it came as a surprise to see a series of encouraging steps, from the retirement of the junta strongman, General Than Schwe, to the release of political prisoners including Aung San Suu Kyi. The latest developments are even more dramatic: Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy, will re-enter the political mainstream; and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit Burma this week, the first visit by such a senior US official in more than 50 years.  The government has also relaxed media censorship, and allowed labor unions and access to the internet. It is too soon to conclude that Burma is finally opening up, but the signs are very positive. 


Ask the Gem Experts

Each month we answer questions from our customers. We welcome your questions and you can submit a question from our contact page.

I saw some gorgeous rings in your last newsletter. Are you going into the jewelry business now?  KW, USA

We specialize in fine colored gemstones and we don't intend to get into the jewelry business. But from time to time we work with some of the best custom jewelers in Bangkok to set some of our finest gems, and we offer these exceptional pieces to our customers or put them up for sale at one of the leading auction houses. We also occasionally work with clients on custom designs for our gemstones. If you are considering buying a fine gem for an important piece of jewelry, we would be glad to discuss your needs. You can see some of our custom designs in our Gemstone Jewelry Gallery, as well as designs created by our customers.

Looking through your gemstones, how do I tell which are the best ones?  You have so many blue sapphires it is difficult for me tell. I'm not a gems expert, so thanks for your help. WCB, Canada

We carefully grade each of our gems for color, clarity and cut and our grading is reflected in the price we ask for a gem. If you are comparing several blue sapphires in the 2 to 2.5 carat size, for example, always check the price per carat by dividing the gem price by the number of carats. This is the best benchmark to compare stones, since the higher quality gem will always have a higher price per carat. Just be careful about comparing gems of very different sizes, since the price per carat of a 4 carat sapphire is a lot higher than that for a 1 carat stone, even when the quality is the same.


All the best in gems,

Arnold, Rung & Ron