November 2011 Newsletter: Gift Ideas for the Holiday Season

This month we offer our advice on the best values in fine gemstones for the holiday season. Give that special someone in your life a meaningful gift of lasting value.

Also in this month's newsletter ... we are offering a 15% discount on all our gems for the month of November! Also: the latest news on the Thailand flood. 

Gift Ideas for the Holiday Season

Even though it is still about 7 weeks until Hanukkah, Christmas, Festivus and New Year's, if you're thinking about giving a meaningful gift to someone special in your life, it is not too early to start giving it some serious thought. So this month we share our ideas on the best values in fine gemstones.

Undoubtedly many of the gifts bought this year will be the latest smartphones and tablet computers. We're as fond of our electronic gadgets as anyone, but we also have a drawer full of obsolete technology, some only a year old. Fine gemstones are a very different kind of gift -- formed by lucky accidents of nature millions of years ago, they are usually treasured by families for generations.

In the colored gemstone world, there are certain gems which have a good record of increasing in value over time. At the top of the list is Burma ruby. These rubies have always been rare, but now production from the Burmese mines has dwindled and new rubies over 1 carat are non-existent. Ruby prices continue to rise, not only for Burmese stones but for the better African rubies as well. 

Sapphires are not nearly as scarce as rubies, but sapphires with top color in larger sizes are actually very rare. Fine blue sapphire tends to hold its value best, though rare pink, yellow and padparadscha specimens can be equally valuable. Blue sapphires over 5 carats are especially sought after by collectors, as are blue star sapphires over 10 carats.

Top quality jadeite is another Burmese gem that has seen rapidly rising prices, due to strong demand from China. In fact during the last fiscal year, jadeite exports from Burma were $1.75 billion, an amazing 20% of the country's total exports. 

Spinel has long been a favorite of gem dealers, who regard it as highly as sapphire and ruby. When some very unusual neon pink-red spinel was discovered in Mahenge, Tanzania in 2007, spinel became one of the hottest gems in the market. Mahenge spinel has already become a rare collector's stone.

There are several other gems that can be classed as investment grade stones:  alexandrite, the rare garnets (demantoid, tsavorite and spessartite) and paraiba and rubellite tourmaline.

Fine gems display their qualities best when set in beautiful jewelry. From time to time we work with some of the best custom jewelers in Bangkok to set some of our finest gems. We offer these exceptional one-of-a-kind pieces to our customers and occasionally put them up for auction at Sotheby's or Christie's. Here are some examples of some rings we've recently created. Please contact us if you would like more information on one of these pieces.


November Promotion -- 15% Discount on All Gems in our Collection! This Month Only!

Thanks to all our friends who expressed their concern for the Thai people suffering from devastating floods. We are showing our appreciation by offering a 15% discount on all gems purchased from our website for the month of November. To receive your discount, enter the coupon code AJSNOV at checkout.


Notable Gems from the AJS Collection

This month we feature some exceptional gems that would a make a uniqe gift for that special person in your life. Click on the gem photos to see the detail page for each gem.


2.30 Ruby Matched Pair from Burma

Burmese rubies are so rare that it is difficult to find a well-matched pair in a good size. This fine pair of 7 x 5 mm rubies is the exception. With top color and very good clarity (graded "eye clean"), these rubies will make an outstanding pair of earrings when set in yellow gold.


3.62 ct Padparadscha Sapphire from Madagascar

A very rare padparadscha in an unusual large size. A perfect blend of orange and pink, this is the true padparadscha color. Completely untreated, this superb gem has been precision cut and perfectly polished to maximize brilliance. Certified by Tokyo Gem Lab.  SOLD



2.01 ct Demantoid Garnet from Russia  [SOLD]

Russian demantoid garnet is one of the rarest of all colored gemstones. This superb specimen combines a brilliant green with the outstanding fire that is characteristic of the finest demantoid. This gem displays the distinctive horsetail inclusion that is the fingerprint of Russian demantoid. This is one of the finest examples of we've seen, and the round shape and diamond-cut make make this rare gem all the more special.


3.10 ct Mahenge Spinel from Tanzania

Gem dealers believe that the neon pink-red spinels discovered near Mahenge, Tanzania are the finest spinels ever found. But it was essentially a one-time find, and very few dealers were able to buy these gems. They've proven very popular with our customers, and when our remaining stock is gone, that will be it. This 3.10 ct cushion is an excellent example. Certificate from GRS included.


5.92 ct Jadeite Jade from Burma  [SOLD]

Top grade Jadeite in the classic emerald green with superb saturation and color consistency. Perfectly polished with excellent luster. This gem has been certified by GRS as type-A Jade, meaning completely natural and untreated. The color, as noted by GRS, is "vivid green."

News from AJS and the Gems World

  • After living with a sense of impending disaster for two weeks, we're glad to report that the flood risk in the central business district of Bangkok has diminished. No one is taking down the sandbags quite yet, but the level of the Chao Phraya river has peaked with the seasonal high tide. The next high tide is not expected until mid-November, and much of the runoff from the north is expected to drain to the sea before then. Our business is fully operational and all the shipping services and the international airport are functioning normally.

    Though our business has returned to normal, the flood is still affecting millions of people in Bangkok and throughout northern Thailand. Rung's house in Ban Bua Thong north of Bangkok is still flooded and she and her family are staying with Arnold in Silom Rd near our office. She has no idea when she will be able to return to her home, but it will probably be weeks. Large parts of northern, eastern and western Bangkok have been evacuated and the water is still rising in many areas.


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.

How has the flooding affected the gems business in Bangkok? 

We were very fortunate that the gems district in Silom Rd. did not experience any serious flooding, though many shops at street level built sandbag barriers and a few even built concrete walls, effectively blocking entry to their shop during the period of the crisis. The main problems were the ability of staff to get to work and the empty shelves in the supermarkets. The GRS gem lab was also closed for a week. Our problems were minor compared to the millions of people who had to leave their homes.

I read in your flood news about the danger from crocodiles. I didn't know Thailand had crocodiles, are there a lot of them?

Freshwater crocodiles are native to Thailand, and crocodile farming has become a lucrative business. It is estimated that tens of thousands of crocodiles are reared in more than 800 crocodile farms in Thailand, meeting the world demand for crocodile-skin shoes and handbags. So we probably have more crocodiles than anywhere in the world. Unfortunately when the floodwaters arrived, many crocodiles escaped and added to the flood danger of snakes, electrocution and toxic chemicals. The government offered 1,000 baht (about $32) for the capture of each crocodile. The brave crocodile hunters mainly use long, electrified cattle prods to stun the reptiles before snaring them and securing their jaws with rope.


All the best in gems,

Arnold, Rung & Ron