'Quartz' may sound mundane, but beware!
Amethyst, citrine, rutilated quartz, lemon quartz, rock crystal, rose quartz, tiger’s eye, chalcedony, aventurine and many more are proud members of this giant gem clan. I dare say that many a collector’s young passion was started by a rough amethyst crystal found on holiday or bought for a few pocket dollars in a souvenir shop. It must be held responsible for a lifetime of ruinous overspending and obsessive gem-website checking with clearly addictive tendencies.
I found a roundish fist-sized rock in the Greek mountains of Rhodes when I was only six or seven years old. It had caught my attention for its faulty weight and strange sound. It seemed hollow. When my father cracked it open, revealing a set of purple amethyst crystals inside, ah!, my life was changed forever.
Beware! The mundane quartz: it swallows the children whole!
Perhaps the most abundant mineral of all, quartz is in the sand we walk on barefoot holidays and it is mixed into the walls that lock us into endless office meetings. Only in some extremely rare cases do we encounter quartz as fascinating natural beauties, in the shape of lucid white crystals, or grape colored purple gems.
This miracle, the abundance on the one side versus the exceptional rare beauty on the other side, is not at all limited to quartz. In fact, it is true for almost every gem-variety: the overwhelming majority of the natural occurring 'gem-material' is simply of too poor a quality to be called a gem.
Many newcomers don’t understand this easily, hence allow me an excursion:
A kilo of rough ruby can be bought on ebay for a hundred bucks. It is reddish, it is aluminum oxide with a hardness of 9 of the mohs' scale, and checks all other attributes, yet there is not a single gem-quality ruby in the kilo. There might be some cabochon quality amongst the rocks but finding and cutting it out barely justifies the cost.
Every aspiring gem professional should at one time dig through kilos of rough gems without finding a single piece worth cutting. This experience, especially when the rough was mined in days of back-breaking labor under a merciless scorching sun and nightly the attack of chicken-sized mosquitos, this experience teaches respect for the one rare piece of rough that is big enough and clean enough and colored enough to be facetted into a gem.
Here hidden, you also have the answer as to why so many terribly ugly gems, in poop-shapes, with gaping windows, full of nasty inclusions etc, are flooding the market every day: Because good gems are just so rare that every rough with even the remotest chance to be turned into a gemstone, is facetted or at least polished. Once it is processed, it has an owner, and may it be as tasty as a can of worms, this owner will still sell it. Dirt cheap perhaps, but sell it he will, increasing the competition around the one rare quality gem.
Earth practically consists of gem-material, you may say ‘earth is a gem’ in one form or another, but only very rarely does it present itself as a tiny piece of transparent orange-pink aluminum oxide that can be called a padparadscha sapphire.
After you've gone through this experience of extreme rarity (as I did, you may have guessed) one comes to value a top quality natural gem for what it really is: A miracle of nature that deserves our respect and awe, a tangible sign that God is with us, that somehow this earth, this life makes sense.
Now, in the case of corundum aka sapphire, if you seal the kilos of rough under a vacuum and heat them to melting point for days, you may find that a few, but only a few, (they are still rare) of the former useless pebbles have cleared and show some color, again increasing the competition around the one natural quality gem. Now we have perhaps quadrupled the number of gems on offer.
Thus, if you stroll down Bangkok's Sukumhvit road (the heart of the world’s colored gem trade) you may come to the conclusion that gems are in abundant supply, but you err. A third of what you see, is man-made stuff, another third does not deserve to be called a gem in its appalling quality, and the final third consists of 95% treated gems, which to a varying degree may be still be called still ‘real gems’, like those with low heat or certain protective treatments.
Only then, after two thirds of rubbish, and 95% of the last third under question, one comes to the remaining divine one percent (1%) of all gems that are natural and untreated. These are the only ones you find on our website. They represent the sweat and blood of thousands and thousands of families working days on end without finding a single rough worth cutting.
The whole thing is a miracle.