Home » 2008 » September

Archive for September, 2008

A Short Break

Posted September 27, 2008 By AussieSapphire

Time again for a short break from the office so please be aware of the shipping arrangements while we are away.

We will be away from the office from 4th October to the 12th October so shipping of any orders placed during this time will be delayed until we return.  Orders placed up until close of business Friday 3rd October will be despatched immediately.  Normal shipping arrangements will resume on Monday 13th October.

We will be checking our email and phone messages while we are away so feel free to contact us any time.  We can also be contacted on our mobile number 0427 336742.  We will endeavour to answer your query as soon as possible.

cheers for now from Andrew and Leah (Aussie Sapphire)

Trade Talk – Industry News & Views

Posted September 16, 2008 By AussieSapphire

Rough Gem Supply
What a difference 6 months makes!  There has been a significant shortage of rough gemstones in most catagories – this has been a gradual trend developing for a considerable time but has really started to bite since December 2008.

REASONS:  A combination of factors, most completely out of the control of the trade but some the direct fault of some in the industry.

  • Huge increases in the cost of production (fuel, electricity, parts and supplies, etc) at the same time as only modest increases in rough prices.
  • The closure by the Madagascan Goverment of exports of Rough Gems (mainly Sapphire but many others gems as well).  This is probably the biggest news in the industry for many years.  It appears all Gems are to be Cut and Heat Treated in Africa before they can leave (similar to current rules in Sri Lanka prohibiting export of gem rough).  

One must remember that this small island is probably the richest gemstone resource ever discovered and most importantly this is where the largest majority of that “CEYLON” branded Sapphire has come from for some time. 

I would like to hope this works for the financially struggling Africans on the ground but I fear that not much will change.  Already, signs are that the more powerful USA and Indian companies are trying, although with difficulty, to move their cutting operations to this country and carry on as before.

  • Enviromental and Farmers rights.  The global weather concerns and the desperate need for food production has really had major effects on production especially in China.  A good friend and major Sapphire miner Alex reports that the local farmers are not allowing them to mine on the productive river flats any longer (most of the easier river beds are already exhausted) so they are forced to mine deeper harder ground.  Mine production in China is still large but much less than even last calendar year.

More interesting Gem News:
Ruby Rumblings – The Ruby game has been in a mess for some time since the “Lead Filled” treatment became almost commonplace.  There has been mountains of Ruby in the market, mainly lower grade Indian product (often large and almost opaque) and lead filled African material.  Unfortunately for the retail customer, the altered Ruby looks very good to the eye but in my strong opinion it just “aint Ruby”!  (Oh I forgot the Berillium treated Ruby as well).

Burma Ruby Dead ?  President  Bush in his “wisdom” has banned the import of Ruby  and Jade from Burma (now known as Myanmar) into the USA starting in September 2008.  This in my opinion is a silly decision based on politics not common sense.  Although there has been a Ban in place since 2003, this latest move is supposed to tie up the loophole of Gems being processed in another country (mainly Thailand).  This is aimed at the Military Goverment but in my opinion will just hurt the individual and long suffering Burmese poor while the rich Generals will see little change.

Just how will it work?  In short it wont!  Any Ruby or Jade already in the USA prior to the cut off date can still be legally sold as Burmese.  Reports from the ground in Thailand show large US based companies pouring as much cash as they can spare into getting stockpiles into their country before the deadline.  I suppose the USA customs will now be able to tell the origin of a Gem just by looking at it.  A difficult job even for the most experienced Gem Labs.  Of course there will now be a lot of Burmese type Ruby coming from other countries or “New Finds”.

Richard Hughes changes jobs:
Richard Hughes, gemologist and author, has resigned as senior staff gemologist for the AGTA, (American Gem Trade Association) to join a jewellery TV company based in Singapore and Bangkok.  Richard has vast knowledge and experience in the Gem world – he seems to be willing to give these alternative methods of selling some support – hopefully he will bring some much needed credibility to the system.  The thought that springs to my mind though is that perhaps the old fashioned bricks and mortar Jewellery stores need to do some catching up or they might die?  Good luck Richard.

Lapidary Gear:
We have had several questions asking if Lapidary supplies will decrease in price because of our high dollar. The answer is simple Yes but No. Confused ?  I dont blame you but the simple fact is freight cost increases have wiped out in most cases more than the gain in currency exchange.  On top of this, all manufacturers face large increases on all the material they use with many increasing our buying prices.  Having said this the choice of where or what to purchase has never been better so shop around and enjoy the savings that come from competition.  We’re pretty confident you wont find a better deal than at Aussie Sapphire.  Just remember, when comparing prices, check if stock is ready to deliver immediately and if any additional costs apply – such as for 220 Volt (a common trap when buying from the US), credit card fees, foreign currency fees and charges, etc.

Tips and Tricks:

  • Need storage for your 6″ Faceting Laps, diamond saw blades, etc ? Inexpensive Size 1 padded envelopes are a cheap solution or try CD cases – ideal for your 4″ or 5″ diamond blades.  You can mark each type clearly and avoid contamination.  
  • Dull Diamond Blades – if your diamond blade becomes dull try redressing it before you throw it out. There are specific dressing sticks available but a old silicon carbide grinding wheel does the same job cheaper.  Just cut into the wheel a couple of times this removes tiny particles of metal that melt into the Diamond while cutting.  If this doesnt work then there is no Diamond left so your blade is only a drink coaster now.

Website Reviews:
http://www.gemologyonline.com – A great free forum for everything to do with Gems and Lapidary.  Cannot recommend this site highly enough – filled with genuine experts who are genuinely happy to help out with advice and share knowledge.

Public Company Sapphire Mining

Posted September 7, 2008 By AussieSapphire

Those of you familiar with sapphire mining in Australia will know that most is done by small individual operators.  Involvement of public companies has not always been successful with Cluff Resources and Great Northern Resources exiting the sapphire industry to pursue other more lucrative minerals.

While the above mentioned companies have repositioned their business in a purposeful and sensible way, Great Northern in particular having some years of successful mining under their belt, others have had more trouble coping with the particular challenges of the sapphire industry.  A case in point is Australis – this company is currently suspended from the ASX, has been under administration for an extended period and is a good example of what can go wrong.

A new company that plans to list on the stockmarket very soon has released a prospectus with plans to operate in our own region – Glen Innes and Inverell.  The company is Australian Gemstone House – managing director is Pnina Feldman.  EDITED TO ADD:  Please note that we have been requested by Dr Pecover to remove inaccurate material from this post.  The link to the upcoming float on the ASX is no longer valid and so has been edited to point to the AGH website.  The article on the Business Spectator has been removed by that organisation – the comments below are based on reading the hard copy in the Australian Financial Review – any issues with the accuracy of that article should be taken up with the journalist concerned.

There have been some questions raised with an article in the Financial Review this week – we read the article from the paper itself but you need to be a subscriber to read it online – see this link from the Business Spectator to read more about the issues.  We should point out that the miners mentioned in this article are not us, we have had no contact with the writers of the article and are making no statement on the upcoming float – it is for others to assess the prospectus.  Obviously we are following these developments with great interest.

Finally, we should mention Van Dieman Mines which have been operating in Tasmania at a development stage for some time.  It is our understanding that this company is yet to commence commercial operation as a sapphire/tin miner with the most recent update in late August.  One interesting development is the joint venture with Columbia Gem House to brand sapphire from this operation as “Tasmin Blue” – hopefully this will succeed although we suggest that Columbia could develop this market a lot quicker by talking to those actually producing sapphire now – proven miners who can get gems to the market consistently and cost-effectively.

While the public companies may have the profile, it is often the private operators who can do the job more efficiently since we can just get in there and concentrate on production rather than stock market announcements.  Perhaps Australian Gemstone House and Van Dieman Mines will succeed where others have failed – we will all just have to wait and see.