A little advice on valuation

I guess I should not be irritated with all the posts asking for a valuation based on a photo. After all, the people who post these requests are the people who keep this forum in business. However, it might help a little if they were to bear a few things in mind.

Gemstone sellers are in business to make money and they are generally either very well educated about gemology or at least savvy as to current prices for the materials they sell. If you have to ask what the value of a gem or mineral is, you obviously don’t know your gems and minerals. So you are an uneducated buyer buying from a savvy seller. In this situation, the absolute best that you can hope for is that the seller will give you a fair retail price. As soon as you buy the gem or mineral, you have lost money, because you, a customer, cannot resell the material for a retail price. Your selling price will probably be somewhere between wholesale and retail, and toward the wholesale end.

Bearing the above in mind, you need to banish all thoughts of making money buying and selling gems and minerals until you have become educated as to ID and value and market forces. This is going to take you a good while. Gemology is not that hard to learn, but takes time, probably a couple of years or so. As to valuation, that takes experience judging clarity, color, etc. and often that is hard to come by, since you are not buying and selling quantities of gem materials daily and your access to markets overseas may be limited.

Your best route to making money in gems is going to be learning a lot about how gems are fashioned and how jewelry is made, how gems and jewelry are marketed, etc. It isn’t impossible to do, but it does take a lot of time. If you take the time to learn how to buy rough gems wisely and learn to cab and/or facet, you can make some money, because now you are buying rough at wholesale (in bulk) and then fashioning it and mounting it for sale at a retail price.

I hope this is somewhat helpful. We could discuss various gems and how they are cut, what the yield is, how they are mounted and sold, etc., but that would be the subject of other posts… -royjohn


Hear! hear! I hope all members who question what their purchase is worth read your sage advice. I agree that there are very few bargains in the gem world unless the buyer has some experience with gemstones. Also, trust is paramount. Does the seller have a refund policy? Also, buy small and check the merchandise before buying big. Lastly, if it’s too cheap, it’s not natural or not gem quality.

I have been buying rough on line from sellers in Thailand and Pakistan lately. They are folks I really don’t know well, but they are frequent posters to the various FB rough sale pages. Some offerings are very unrealistically priced, esp. lately…and I do hear talk of prices rising. However, I know what I should be paying and wait for the right prices, colors and sizes. I also always bargain with the seller and with some experience, I pretty much know how much discount I can wring out of these dealers. I pay via Paypal and keep my purchases below about $1000. I haven’t had any problems that couldn’t be resolved. These sellers appear to be loathe to refund money but are fine with offering credit towards some other purchase, which is fine with me. Buying rough is a lot different from buying cut stones or finished jewelry, however. I have been faceting about 27 years, so I do have some experience in buying and evaluating rough and cut stones. It’s not a “We found this in old Aunt Minnie’s things after she died and we’re sure it’s worth big money” situation. LOL. -royjohn

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This has been a most interesting discussion. I am in a different position on the food chain in the world of gemstones. I only buy finished beads but have learned a lot over the years about the quality, value and authenticity of those gemstones. I also know that the price of everything in the line of gemstones has gone up due to trade agreements, global warming, routes of transportation not being open and child labor laws.