Top Ten Mistakes Buying Gems Overseas
And How to Avoid Them
I am often asked for advice by adventurous travelers on how to buy gemstones in overseas markets. The answer to this question is simple: Buying gemstones in foreign lands is not for the inexperienced.
I've been a professional gemstone buyer for over three decades, buying at the source. For me, it took a degree in gemology and from ten to fifteen years of buying experience to begin to avoid the hundreds of dirty tricks of the trade that are played upon the novice buyer. Even then, I've continued to learn and refine my knowledge of what to buy and what not to buy with every passing year.
Here is my list of the top ten mistakes made buying gems overseas.
1. No matter how good a researcher or an actor you are, you can not fool a gemstone expert who will read your true level of gemstone experience in the first few minutes. Then they will find a way to take advantage of your lack of knowledge.
2. Buying in government-approved stores only gives an illusion of safety. Some of the worst purchases I have seen over the years by novice buyers came from operations that promoted themselves as such; and getting a refund is often simply not possible.
3. Beware of buying lead, glass-filled, heated rubies. A new type of heat treatment with lead glass changes low quality, unstable rubies, and makes them appear to be 20-100 times what they are actually worth! These are everywhere, especially India. Alas, many of the jewelers and gem merchants of India buy these from suppliers that do not disclose this fraudulent treatment. They are fooled and then, in turn, pass on the treachery.
4. Pukraj is the Sanskrit name of the gemstone for Guru or Jupiter. It is translated as yellow sapphire or yellow topaz. In India, many sell citrine and call it pukraj. Yet citrine is the weakest uparatna, or substitute, for Jupiter. It is very inexpensive compared to yellow topaz which is 30-40 times more expensive than citrine. Yellow sapphire is multiple times the cost of yellow topaz.
5. Blue sapphire is the gemstone for Shani, or Saturn. Experts estimate that 98% of all blue sapphire mined and sold is heat treated in one of five different ways. The Garuda Purana, an ancient Vedic text, specifically states to never wear a heated blue sapphire. Many of the sellers either do not know if a sapphire has been heated or will tell you it is unheated just because that is what you want to hear.
6. Emerald is the most flawed of all the Jyotish gemstones. They are also routinely heavily treated to hide their flaws. This is the trickiest of all the Jyotish gems to buy. I was a professional buyer for ten years before I trusted my experience enough to buy my first emerald.
7. Don't buy poor quality gems for Jyotish purposes. This is the most often made mistake. Gemstone values are a function of their rarity, purity and the demand the world market puts on the supply. Poor quality gems are cheap and the desired predicted results will range from very weak to possibly negative.
8. Ultimately, you get what you pay for. Low quality gemstones are abundant and can be dirt cheap. One thing I know from over thirty years of experience is this: The quality of the gemstone is directly related to the quality of your experience when you wear it.
9. Beware of manmade gems. If the gem is very clear and of good color it may be a synthetic or man-made gemstone which sells for a tiny fraction of a natural gem of the same quality. All primary overseas markets have some sellers that try to sell these near-worthless, man made gems for high prices. Every Jyotish gemstone can be either synthesized or simulated.
10. The best advice is to buy from someone that you trust - someone whose reputation can be established well in advance. Buying gemstones can, and should, be a delight. And it will be more fun if you are able to avoid these top ten mistakes.
Enjoy Your Gems!