Rough Gemstone Diary



7. 18ct blue star Sapphire.
This piece had a bit too much of tiO2 or rutile to be cut in to a faceted Sapphire, so the best choice would be for a blue star Sapphire which would yield about 6cts, a clean piece with a well defined 6 ray star transparent body, nice colour. We offered a good sum. Which was a pretty good price for a rough. But unfortunately the miners price was too steep. Un realistic price. So we had to pass. Well the hunt continues for fine Sapphires…..



7. Blue Sapphire rough 38cts
Now miners are getting a bit savy, this was offered to us after they had taken it to a professional cutter to saw off the inclusions. Now it’s ready to be heated. But luckily for us we are seeing this piece in this form, if heated it will be too dark. It was also over priced $300,000!!.

Our decision was made easy since it was already sawn, we could see the material more clearly. It was a good call to give this a miss.
The hunt continues…… 🙂

6. Blue Sapphire un heated rough


This Ceylon rough Blue Sapphire weight was 17cts, material was clean no heat required. Ceylon Sapphires are very rare, so as always we try to optimize the colour, clarity, cut and carats to the best of our ability. As you can see it has a triangular shape. A trilliant would maximize the weight but won’t be the best option in terms of value. An oval or cushion cut would yield a gem of about 4cts hence not an option.

So we decided to go for beautiful heart shape to keep the value at its highest. The following pictures shows it’s journey…
Pre formed with inclusions removed



You can see how beautifully the gem cutter has transformed the rough gem to a beautiful heart. It was faceted only yesterday. So I will add the picture today. That’s if time permits. 🙂 it’s a. Beauty at 8cts

Stunning isn’t it.

5. Selecting the best Sapphires to be cut


A handful of Sapphires ready to be cut, these gems will turn out to be Royal Blue

4. Cutting of a Sri Lankan Blue Sapphire 40cts

Picture shows the rough gem

Rough gem stone cutting is a very tricky business, there are so many variables at play. Determining what shape, angles, side to cut should be taken to consideration.
Locating the colour bands, removing maximum inclusions from the rough.
If not you will end up with a colour less gemstone. Or a small gem. Or a gem that is heavily included.

Rough gem buying and cutting is not for the faint hearted. I have seen many pros loosing millions in the rough business.

After being sawn by the specialist cutter

This is the sawn rough ready to be preformed

Face up of the preformed gem

The finished Blue Sapphire 13cts plus
Ceylon un heated, superb lustre


3. Blue Sapphire rough 100ct plus

This piece was acquired whilst staying in Tissamaharama, near katharagama during the Gem rush that took place last year. The hotels in Tissamaharama, katharagama and nearby areas were 100% occupied by gem dealers from all over Sri Lanka, it was the period that Sapphires were just un earthed and it was a real crazy rush. My father had a suite in an A grade hotel in Tissamaharama that’s equivalent to a 4 star in Colombo. He had already built a very good reputation among the locals, so pretty much all rough gems were brought to him first hand. So I joined him a week after in Tissamaharama which was about a 4 hour drive from Colombo. I like to keep a low profile specially when I’m out of Colombo, but my father on the other hand has his presence quite pronounced which has its advantages in this case…

Everyone in the hotel from the General Manager to house keeping knew who my father was and were all looking for the right contacts to get that commission and sell a gem. In some instances local gem dealers in the area who can’t control or can’t invest the capital to buy the rough gem come to my father to partner or to brocker a deal.

This above gem was brought by a well known gem dealer from a nearby town with the owners of the rough. Gem mining works like this; you have the main mine owner who has a big share, then the miners who don’t get paid but prefer a share in the findings, etc etc so this group had about Ten. So they were parked in a Van in the hotel car park. The dealer brought the gem to my dads suite quoted 20,000,0000 that’s $180,000 appx. The owners would have quoted about $90,000 but that’s how the rough business works, they quote extremely high and if you are a sucker you get caught…. Well the examination started with the rough gem with a powerful light and my father showing me the different angles the gem has to be sawn, shaped etc. We were studying the gem, we were looking to cut it into a light blue star Sapphire Sapphire hoping that it might yield as a bonus a good blue Sapphire after heating.

Negotiations started, 15 min into negotiations the Gem dealer knew that partnering with us he was running a risk, so he wanted only a brokers fee, which works in our advantage in this instance. We offered 1/3 of what we really want to pay, the main owner flinches to conclude the deal, but the co owners: the miners think other wise they want a higher price. So finally it was decided that the main owner should have my father meet them all together and make the offer.
But they were in no attire to enter into the hotel as they had just come from the mine and were still drenched in water, sweat and mud. Nevertheless my father wanted to meet them so they all marched over to our suite. The second offer of1/2 of our price in mind was made, 50% were in unison to sell, but the others were hoping to get a better offer and then decide. My fathers’s condition was the price stands until they are in the hotel, once they leave the gate he is no longer interested. A big gamble. Now more are interested to sell with the gem dealer promoting saying its a good deal. My father gets inpatient, he offers his almost full price that’s shy of about $3,000 just in case the dealer asks for more commission.
The deal doesn’t work.three guys don’t agree, and want to leave, my father he is very cool now, it’s lunch time, he offers them all lunch at the hotel buffet! So they all march through the lobby to the buffet wetting the lobby floor, and scaring the daylight out of the few European guests who were already having lunch. Now at this point the deal is out. They are just having lunch on my fathers invitation. A storm is brewing in the hotel of the audacity of what is happening. My father is cooly sipping Tea while I fret wandering if they will be back for the deal.

They all returned after a well deserved meal at the hotel. They all came to the suite to thank my father for the extravagant meal they had. The deal was not spoken of they left. I know my father well, from childhood and working closely for the past 15 years in the business he will not go back on his word, so if they left the hotel, the deal would be out. This brought concern.

But… They didn’t leave the hotel they were deliberating inside the van. They all came to the suite and SOLD & no increase in price. We didn’t even have to pay the extra commission of $3,000 to the dealer. It goes to show that a bit of kindness goes along way. Even if the deal didn’t go through, my father would have been more than happy to provide meals for the lot of them. Deal done all paid in CASH.

Next was the hotel storm, they wanted us out of the hotel 🙂 which was fair. But after much talking and not paying anything more than the buffet we continued to stay at the hotel, end of the day from the General Manager to the cleaners, they were after all from the same town and we had shown kindness toward their fellow villagers…..

The sweet thing is the above Gem was indeed good Blue Sapphire material and has been pre-formed to be cut in to an oval shape blue Sapphire waiting to be heated!!!
It was a win win situation for us. 🙂

These are a few of my Anecdotes I experienced while Gem hunting
They are not in any purticular order of interest;



2.Alexandrite rough
This was purchased by a dealer who quoted initially 2,000,000 ie $ 18,000
With a lot of persuasion it was bought for 600,000/- it turned out to be a fabulous gem of about
2 plus carats with a very good colour change, got sold immediately to a local dealer after it was cut.
I took a picture of it after it was preformed but couldn’t take one after the faceting & polishing was done. A very good buy indeed.


1. I am with my father in our SUV in the out backs of Katharagama with a confidant who is from the nearby locality, a guy appears out of the Paddy fields bare body, wearing a sarong which is common in Sri Lanka whilst mining, still all wet and muddy. So he holds the gem upto my face, since I was driving. So I tell him to show it to my Father in the front passenger seat. So there we are with our SUV stopped in the middle of the make shift road all doors open and my father is looking at this piece of rough Sapphire, at first shot it looked genuine but not of high value, so while my dad is still examining the rough with a torch, he asks how much he wants for it. The guy says Rs10,000,000 that’s about US$90,000 hearing it my dad drops the gem.

Next thing we are all searching for the $90,000 rough Sapphire in the grass near the SUV, on the carpets. Now we were seriously worried whether it was some scam where others would come and then claim the money or even try to mug us. We did have two security guys with us, but that won’t help us much if it were proper set up.

We were all fretting, when finally my dad finds the stone in the fold of his trouser. Until such time the price was $90,000/-!

Once we had the gem and no body else had joined the party we new in was the real deal. So the negotiations started.

The confidant asked the Guy (seller) again how much he wanted, so he said again 10,000,000/- our guy then promptly said Malli or Younger brother do you even know how many zeros make up 10,000,000/- I almost burst out laughing, but withheld. Then the guy said he wanted half of the price. Finally we bought it for $250/- and left the spot as fast as we could and called it a Day.
I still have the piece and it’s cut into an oval slightly included light blue Sapphire. But it was good Gem hunting all ended well.


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