Price Guide Is Way Above Market Prices

After reading through the price guide here, I invested about $5000.00 in emeralds from Afghanistan. The quality of the gems I bought is mediocre to good. I tried to sell the gemstones in States and to my surprise, NO ONE is willing to buy the gems even at purchase prices. I get offers for them as if they are scrap metal. Based on the your price guide, I should have made at least 25%-50% profit. Why list the unrealistic prices and misguide your members?


I wish I had a dollar for every query I’ve received about buying gems overseas for resale. I bought overseas for most of mv 35 years as a dealer.

What newbys fail to understand is that selling is a difficult business. Most dealers have been in the business for years, have large inventories and a list of clients and do the major gem shows to sell and constantly solicit new ones. If you buy right and sell right you will do well, but it requires a full time investment of time and money.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There are no shortcuts.

I’m not sure how IGS arrives at there prices. I will tell you that, that too requires a full time professional commitment. For years I subscribed to THE GUIDE which I found useful as an indicator, but only that. First, it is necessary to understand their grading system…I see no consistent grading system here. Next you must constantly research the market. When I first began going to the source, exceptional markups were possible. Now, thanks to the internet, the dealer in the mud hut in the tiny Tanzanian village may be on your website checking your prices while you are considering his goods.

It’s a brave new world but it functions pretty much like the old one. The wolves survive, the lambs get slaughtered.



I think you have already heard from one of the world’s greatest experts and authors on gem valuation, but I’ll add a couple of things. I think the guide here (and note the word “guide”) gives retail prices. Unless you are setting stones and have a recognized website or bricks and mortar store, you are unlikely to get retail prices for loose gemstones. So right away there is the chance that you bought at retail and are selling at wholesale, a sure way to lose. Then there is the question of the quality of what you bought. The guide gives a range of prices and these depend on clarity and color and cut for any given weight. Unless you are an expert, fine distinctions of color and clarity and cut may be beyond you, yet they may mean a lot of dollars when it comes to valuation.

When someone who has spent his life in the gem trade (and written the book_Secrets of the Gem Trade_,
which I have at my desk right now) tells you this is a full time job requiring lots of experience, you should listen well. Does it not make sense that if it were as easy as looking up in a guide here and then forking over money, then everyone would be doing it? I do little buying and selling, mostly to cut myself, but I have been a lapidary since 1983 and a faceter since 1995 and taken the GIA training as a gemologist. Even at that, there are lots of things I would pass on because I just don’t know the particular market. Sorry you have not succeeded, but you can enjoy purchasing for the joy of ownership or buckle down and do the hard work of learning how to profit in the gem world. You also might consider going on a trip with recognized experts to a gem exporting country where these experts could guide your purchases and teach you what you need to know. My friend Dan Lynch is going to give a presentation on buying gems in East Africa at this year’s Faceter’s Frolic in Franklin, NC and I know that Roger Dery sometimes takes others with him on buying trips to Arusha and elsewhere in Africa. If you come to the Franklin Frolic, stop by my table and I can sell you some rough at decent prices and then you can make contact with cutters to cut it for you. You would end up with nice stones and might even be able to make a little money. You could, for example, buy some pink tourmaline at $80/gm, get 30% yield on a 2.5 gm stone and sell your 3.75 ct stone for $100-$150/ct. If you bought at $200 and sold at $375, you’d split $175 with the cutter, and that would be a slim profit. If you chose wisely and could get $150/ct, you’d have $362.50 in profit and could pay the cutter $125 and still take home some decent money. I’m giving a talk at the Frolic on maximizing yield, only one of the things you need to know if you’re buying rough. Help, I’m talking about gems and can’t shut up! Hope this helps.



The Guide prices are wholesale, but as you rightly point out, you must know how to differentiate the various grades and how they fit into the structure of any given grading system----and there are more than a few out there. This is particularly true of very low and very high end stones. Price lists are great with the great unwashed middle, but very fine, forgetaboutit!

Secrets Of The Gem Trade, the Connoisseur’s Guide To Precious Gemstones is all about differentiating quality

Your Faceter’s Frolic sounds like fun. We live in Massachusetts, but are moving to Virginia, maybe someday I’ll make it by.

Best of luck.



Hi Dorani,

I find that the top three, emeralds, rubies, and sapphires are the most difficult to buy and sell. There is no regulation of prices like diamonds. High quality ones are really difficult to find because they are in high demand and of course very rare. I also bought emeralds from Afghanistan and realized they are selling them in between retail and wholesale. The really nice ones are often sold to buyers outside of Afghanistan right after they are mined and won’t even hit the local market. This is something Afghanistan’s government will need to regulate better in the future. The society as a whole is losing a lot of revenue from unregulated exporting of their emeralds. I also found out later that a lot of the emeralds they claim are from Afghanistan being sold in the markets are really from Africa. They are importing pre-cut African emeralds and rough because of the high demand for the Afghan emeralds. You really have to know who are buying from and verify their sources, which is not easy to do, and in some circumstances can be dangerous. This is a very high stakes game when comes to gem trading, so there are a lot of dishonest dealers and there are good honest dealers trying to make a living. To differentiate who is who can be more difficult than buying the gem itself.

Thanks RoyJohn and RWW(GemWise) for your valuable input. I have your first edition Richard and have the 2nd on order. I love your books!


As. Member, full paying member, I am so glad that I am locked out of the pricing guid. I am a jeweler that works in silver and I am buying some awesome stones here and there. I am now making a darn good profit. I know what my market will bear and I purchase in small lots only. I know what my customers can afford and I do my best to get them the best regardless of the pricing guide. So far I am KILLING it! I got experience and got to know reputable dealers and cutters. It helps to be cute and in a wheelchair according to one of my dealers. She is also using a few of my designs in Gold so that helps me with the cost on my stones. I also know what my customers want and can afford. For myself this is fun! Yes, it was fun when I bought glass filled rubies as real un treated natural. Well it was an education. I have now recouped my money back and still have the glass. I have all of my substandard stones for educational purposes and would never unload them on a custome unless they just had to have them. Then I would make sure they have a full report on the stones. It’s called KARMA
Have you tried to find a small jeweler to partner with that can make beautiful pieces at a profit or do it your self?
Best of luck to you in making money on your stones. [quote=“GemWise, post:2, topic:3148”]


Thank you all for your responses. Does anyone know a good cutter/ring maker. Some of the stones I have may need to be re-polished a little bit. I am thinking to make a few rings out of the good stones that I have. Perhaps that way I may be able to market it better (eBay or Amazon). Again your input is appreciated.


I live in Virginia and am looking for someone in the norther part of the state.

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Were the stones cut or rough? As a cutter I find it difficult selling my stones, it could be that the buyer can not put in their hands and touch, feel the quality of the stones. I can see that would present the same problem buying material overseas. Pictures really don’t tell the whole story. Out of curiosity do you have any pictures of some of the stone you bought?


Hey RoyJohn when is the event in Franklin NC I would love to know the dates…I live in Asheville NC and its not but a rocks throw…Would love to attend and learn more.

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I have been selling stones and making jewelry for 30 years… and I stopped buying gems from overseas many years ago. I have found that people like stones that were obtained in the United States, and if you can tell the story of where and how they were mined or collected, all the better. HOWEVER: It’s still all about presentation and venue - NO MATTER WHAT YOU’RE TRYING TO SELL. There are some places where you can sell things seasonally for way above market price. It’s all about knowing where to go and how to sell. Try hitting the Tucson show next spring on the last day. You might just unload all of them out in the parking lot for double your money. There are other places and times where you can do better… but most of those places are a lot harder to get into.


Hey everyone!

My company, Navneet Gems and Minerals, has been in the Gem cutting business for over 30 years now. So its a topic of great interest. Like the experts above pointed out, everything is open these days. Wholesale manufacturers of gems like us, can check out prices of our buyers, but this is to our advantage and disadvantage.

Anyways the gem guide is a great platform to use to buy gemstones. But not necessarily sell. In the trade, after I graduated from GIA, I learnt that “ready goods” have lower value if you dont have a buyer right away. This helped us in keeping minimum stock of cut gemstones. Instead we stocked rough. And one aspect to understand is that our trade 10-20% difference of price can be between seller to seller due to their buying patterns or selling patterns. Some of much more cheaper then others because they may not have direct customers.

All these reasons, it accumulates together and gives me the impression that it will be years before there is more systematic approach in our industry between sellers and buyers and consumers generally.

Hope this helps giving a point of view from Bangkok, Thailand!
Navneet Agarwal.


Hello Mr/Mss!
I’m also a pro member member. And I have got some gemstones, that you may be interested one. Please let me know if you do.
Best regards

It may be a better thing for you to learn to polish your stones better. It requires a complete dop-up and usually a recut to repolish a stone.

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Havea brilliant master cutter and jewellery maker in Sri Lanka, Give me a shout on if you want his details.

Just to comment on the “guy you are buying from is probably looking at your site” a very shrewd comment in one reply. That is so true, I lived in africa for several years and still have many contacts there. Sadly the internet has in this respect created problems. The guys I deal with look at a price on the net (always the highest!) don’t realise you have to cut the stone and do not understand recovery rates and then price their rough at retail cut money! I am fairly lucky as most of my guys will after long drawn out negotiation see sense. but you do end up with a percentage of “junk” in the parcels. The gem job os no different (maybe more difficult) than any other business some you win some you lose!

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Oh I bought this book last year great read!

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The wonderful gems (pardon the pun) you find through random reading. New to the IGS community, I’m poking around and becoming familiar with the site.

I entered this topic to learn about the IGS price guide, and left it with a new book (on its way) to add to my small, but growing gemology library. So thank you all for the recommendation.


Hi Royjohn
Does your book have info on semiprecious stones as well? If so, is it worth getting just for that info?