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Spinel... excessive pricing or finally earning its due respect?

Dr_Diesel

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Dec 23, 2019
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515
My stone was $5k. I think I did pretty well on the price...

thumbnail_20240411_233653 (1).jpg

You practically STOLE your jedi spinel!!!!

I was recently sitting with a friend in Bangkok (who is a well-known Spinel dealer) and, while we were chatting, one of his suppliers from Myanmar was offering him a 5ct red for $80,000 (!!!) - DEALER PRICING!!!! ...and honestly, it didn't knock my socks off and definitely wasn't a "Jedi."
 
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You practically STOLE your jedi spinel!!!!

I was recently sitting with a friend in Bangkok (who is a well-known Spinel dealer) and, while we were chatting, one of his suppliers from Myanmar was offering him a 5ct red for $80,000 (!!!) - DEALER PRICING!!!! ...and honestly, it didn't knock my socks off and definitely wasn't a "Jedi."

Wow, that's particularly staggering for wholesale pricing!! My friend just went to the International Gem Fair in Dallas, and a vendor had a 4.5ct. red spinel listed at $107k (presumably retail). The guy said he'd take $95k. My friend sent me photos... it was quite spectacular, but still. That's almost a ransom. :oops2:

I'm not necessarily proud of it, but I bought mine from a private collector who I think needed cash quickly. He had it listed for $10k, but after some lengthy negotiating, he eventually agreed to the $5k. It came with a Lotus cert. I've certainly overpaid plenty in the past, so I'll admit it's nice to catch a break on occasion!
 

ItsMainelyYou

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jun 27, 2014
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Now it's excessive.
I find this current price gouging disgusting. It's depressing honestly, because it shuts out most people. I guess my aspirational spinel buying days are essentially over. No more hope of ever reaching that goal.
 

Dr_Diesel

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Dec 23, 2019
Messages
515
Now it's excessive.
I find this current price gouging disgusting. It's depressing honestly, because it shuts out most people. I guess my aspirational spinel buying days are essentially over. No more hope of ever reaching that goal.

I’m with you on that. I’ve given up on neon “Jedi” spinel at this point. At those prices, it’s not even attractive anymore - and like you, I find it quite repulsive.
 

Nick_G

Shiny_Rock
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Sep 7, 2018
Messages
333
I recently got hold of Helen Molesworth's new book on gems, 'Precious', and the chapter on spinel is very interesting. Apparently to the medieval Arab lapidaries, spinel was already recognised as a separate gem/mineral species to ruby & sapphire, (long before this was rediscovered by Western gemmologists) and was ranked higher even than ruby and diamond.

I'd say spinel has a way to go to reach those heights again, but, considering it was ignorance and confusion that lead to its fall in fortune, maybe it will rise to the top again one day...
 

lilmosun

Ideal_Rock
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Wow, that's particularly staggering for wholesale pricing!! My friend just went to the International Gem Fair in Dallas, and a vendor had a 4.5ct. red spinel listed at $107k (presumably retail). The guy said he'd take $95k. My friend sent me photos... it was quite spectacular, but still. That's almost a ransom. :oops2:

I'm not necessarily proud of it, but I bought mine from a private collector who I think needed cash quickly. He had it listed for $10k, but after some lengthy negotiating, he eventually agreed to the $5k. It came with a Lotus cert. I've certainly overpaid plenty in the past, so I'll admit it's nice to catch a break on occasion!

I recently had a similar experience - being told a 4+ ct red Mahenge spinel was over $100K. I was floored as this particular vendor's gem prices were typically reasonable for retail although higher than what I pay (we met in the offices of a dealer we both know). The vendor wasn't trying to sell it to me but wanted to show me his recent price acquisition and guess the price).

I think colored stones, in general, are finally getting their due respect but the demand has led to excessive pricing. Rarer ones even more so. Seeing the the curated collections of @Autumn in New England and others, part of me wishes I had purchased larger stones (instead of lots of small ones) during my CS streak, hindsight is 20/20. But staying small, allowed me to quickly purchase everything I wanted which satisfies the "need to have" mentality that I could not afford to fulfill at today's prices.
 
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I recently had a similar experience - being told a 4+ ct red Mahenge spinel was over $100K. I was floored as this particular vendor's gem prices were typically reasonable for retail although higher than what I pay (we met in the offices of a dealer we both know). The vendor wasn't trying to sell it to me but wanted to show me his recent price acquisition and guess the price).

I think colored stones, in general, are finally getting their due respect but the demand has led to excessive pricing. Rarer ones even more so. Seeing the the curated collections of @Autumn in New England and others, part of me wishes I had purchased larger stones (instead of lots of small ones) during my CS streak, hindsight is 20/20. But staying small, allowed me to quickly purchase everything I wanted which satisfies the "need to have" mentality that I could not afford to fulfill at today's prices.

Wow... so it seems this has been the experience for several of us. It's an interesting turn of events to be sure.

Sizing is all relative though, as some consider anything over 1ct. to be considerable when we're talking fine gems. Let's be honest, this stuff is rare, no matter how we slice it. We're sort of spoiled here. lol My friend doesn't buy anything under 5ct. He thinks my collection is puny. But I tell him, we should all be buying the best quality in the largest sizes we can afford. Naturally, there are some exceptions; for instance, I wouldn't necessary have use for a .25ct. top neon cobalt, and so I bought a high-quality (not neon) 2.52ct. instead. But I digress... you have a lovely collection!!
 

Dr_Diesel

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Dec 23, 2019
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Wow... so it seems this has been the experience for several of us. It's an interesting turn of events to be sure.

Sizing is all relative though, as some consider anything over 1ct. to be considerable when we're talking fine gems. Let's be honest, this stuff is rare, no matter how we slice it. We're sort of spoiled here. lol My friend doesn't buy anything under 5ct. He thinks my collection is puny. But I tell him, we should all be buying the best quality in the largest sizes we can afford. Naturally, there are some exceptions; for instance, I wouldn't necessary have use for a .25ct. top neon cobalt, and so I bought a high-quality (not neon) 2.52ct. instead. But I digress... you have a lovely collection!!

And to follow your point, I visit Bangkok frequently and have a lot of friends who are gem dealers there. Some of them have had extremely fine goods pass through their hands …and I have had ample opportunity to play with a LOT of gems and still do…but rarely buy anything.

20+ years ago, I had a lapidary friend who had kilos of material in his garage…and I was buying red spinel CHEAP from GemCal in the same time period.

David, one of the 2 partners (who passed some years ago), used to come to my apartment with a backpack filled with top reds and pinks when he visited Hawaii. I’d buy stuff from him…and wind up selling most of it at or near cost because nobody wanted it back then. At the time, I had neither the foresight nor patience to hang on to any of it for very long (much to my dismay sometimes).

I would regularly pass on 2 or 3-ct top reds because $1000/ct was “too expensive.” David & Hemi would literally sometime give me stones under 1ct because they were considered worthless - and I’d make earrings for gifts, etc with them.

While they are beautiful gems, part of the allure nowadays is the perception of rarity, exclusivity and receding opportunities. It was simply less appealing when it was abundant and cheap (this goes for tsavorite as well when it was $100/ct).

(That is worth reading again and pondering)

Back then, I wanted Mokok ruby and Muzo emerald but could never afford it - so I passed on gorgeous Vietnamese ruby, Lake Baringo Ruby, tsavorite, red spinel, etc. in hopes of finding the rare “prize” that was always beyond my reach.

…but regardless, now that I find myself flooded with available, fine material so frequently - particularly via hanging out with my gem dealer buddies and getting to play with these big, beautiful stones (even though I can’t afford most of them) - I’ve come to a place where I think they’re beautiful, but I get enough joy from viewing them that I’m feeling less and less compulsion to actually own them.

At the end of the day, I’m realizing they are pretty rocks and nothing more.

…and I can certainly think of more appealing things to do with $100k (like putting it in my retirement account )!
 
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And to follow your point, I visit Bangkok frequently and have a lot of friends who are gem dealers there. Some of them have had extremely fine goods pass through their hands …and I have had ample opportunity to play with a LOT of gems and still do…but rarely buy anything.

20+ years ago, I had a lapidary friend who had kilos of material in his garage…and I was buying red spinel CHEAP from GemCal in the same time period.

David, one of the 2 partners (who passed some years ago), used to come to my apartment with a backpack filled with top reds and pinks when he visited Hawaii. I’d buy stuff from him…and wind up selling most of it at or near cost because nobody wanted it back then. At the time, I had neither the foresight nor patience to hang on to any of it for very long (much to my dismay sometimes).

I would regularly pass on 2 or 3-ct top reds because $1000/ct was “too expensive.” David & Hemi would literally sometime give me stones under 1ct because they were considered worthless - and I’d make earrings for gifts, etc with them.

While they are beautiful gems, part of the allure nowadays is the perception of rarity, exclusivity and receding opportunities. It was simply less appealing when it was abundant and cheap (this goes for tsavorite as well when it was $100/ct).

(That is worth reading again and pondering)

Back then, I wanted Mokok ruby and emerald but could never afford it - so I passed on gorgeous Vietnamese ruby, Lake Baringo Ruby, tsavorite, red spinel, etc. in hopes of finding the rare “prize” that was always beyond my reach.

…but regardless, now that I find myself flooded with available, fine material so frequently - particularly via hanging out with my gem dealer buddies and getting to play with these big, beautiful stones (even though I can’t afford most of them) - I’ve come to a place where I think they’re beautiful, but I get enough joy from viewing them that I’m feeling less and less compulsion to actually own them.

At the end of the day, I’m realizing they are pretty rocks and nothing more.

…and I can certainly think of more appealing things to do with $100k (like putting it in my retirement account )!

So very true! I always say to my partner... I wish I could simply admire and appreciate mother nature's handiwork without feeling compelled to "own" it.

Are you Thai, Pacific Islander, or a transplant from the mainland (if you don't mind my asking)? Are you still in Hawaii? Oh how I envy you!!
1896249wrr738gi7w.gif
 

Dr_Diesel

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Dec 23, 2019
Messages
515
So very true! I always say to my partner... I wish I could simply admire and appreciate mother nature's handiwork without feeling compelled to "own" it.

Are you Thai, Pacific Islander, or a transplant from the mainland (if you don't mind my asking)? Are you still in Hawaii? Oh how I envy you!!
1896249wrr738gi7w.gif

My parents are from Europe, I grew up in Chicago, lived in Hawaii for 22 years, and now split time between Hawaii and Thailand.

…on a side note, a couple of years ago, Hemi told me about an experience in Yangon in the 90’s: He was offered a perfect, flawless 16ct top red pear for $3000. He turned it down and said (at the time) “Nah. I don’t like pears.”

He now says “had I only known… If I had held onto it, I could have retired by now!”

He said they never held onto anything either because “we were of the mindset that there would always be more.” …and that was largely true up until the Chinese gained direct access to the mines in Myanmar.

Now, he doesn’t buy red spinel anymore because things have gotten too crazy. “There is simply no money in it anymore.”
 
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My parents are from Europe, I grew up in Chicago, lived in Hawaii for 22 years, and now split time between Hawaii and Thailand.

…on a side note, a couple of years ago, Hemi told me about an experience in Yangon in the 90’: He was offered a perfect, flawless 16ct top red pear for $3000. He turned it down and said (at the time) “Nah. I don’t like pears.”

He now says “had I only known… If I had held onto it, I could have retired by now!”

He said they never held onto anything either because “we were of the mindset that there would always be more.” …and that was largely true up until the Chinese gained direct access to the mines in Myanmar.

Now, he doesn’t buy red spinel anymore because things have gotten too crazy. “There is simply no money in it anymore.”

I've never even heard of a 16ct. top red... in any shape. :oops2: And I have not seen with my own eyeballs anything over 5ct. in the extra fine material. Good lawd!!
 
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Here is a “Top Red” that I sold in 2015 for less than $6k
IMG_2051.jpeg IMG_7332.jpeg Screen Shot 2021-09-02 at 12.40.53 PM.png
…but I’ve gotten over kicking myself…mostly…sometimes…I think…or at least I tell myself that.

Sorry... I meant to say I've never heard of a top red in the 16ct. range!

She's fantabulous and a good size!! I don't think I could have parted with her. :kiss2:
 

Dr_Diesel

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Dec 23, 2019
Messages
515
Sorry... I meant to say I've never heard of a top red in the 16ct. range!

She's fantabulous and a good size!! I don't think I could have parted with her. :kiss2:

I was renovating a house and it went waaay over budget. I was scrounging for cash to finish the job.

…but on the bright side, a few years later, I found a 2.28ct heated but loupe clean vivid red Mozambique ruby for a very good price…and I actually preferred even though it doesn’t fluoresce. In the end, I see it as a positive trade-off.



 
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Dr_Diesel

Brilliant_Rock
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Messages
515
As far as what to do with the crazy pricing, I thing @Autumn in New England has the right idea: Find a private collector who bought stones years ago and buy from them wherever possible.

The problem with the well-known dealers is, well, the fact that they are well-known.

They have access to a global market and wealthy buyers from around the globe.

Private collectors on the other hand, do not…and thus can’t demand the same astronomical prices.

Because of this “old stock” factor, I often see better prices from people in the US than I do here in Bangkok! It used to be cheap, but it’s just not anymore, largely due to the internet.

Moreover, Asia is the global hub and they are the go-to source for everyone around the globe….and people pay for it!

A lot of jewelers (including CvB), often go bargain hunting and amass quite a collection over the years. I’ve seen Caysie offer gems on LoupeTroop from time-to-time at serious bargain-basement prices.

…speaking of which, I certainly hope LoupeTroop comes back online someday! It’s been down for a long time now.
 

Avondale

Brilliant_Rock
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Oct 31, 2021
Messages
1,141
While they are beautiful gems, part of the allure nowadays is the perception of rarity, exclusivity and receding opportunities. It was simply less appealing when it was abundant and cheap (this goes for tsavorite as well when it was $100/ct).

The lesson being, buy the colours you love and enjoy them for what they are. Tomorrow they won’t be that readily available anymore and owning them will be locked behind a high paywall.

I’ve been thinking about expanding my garnet collection. There are some gorgeous colours out there for basically pennies because “it’s just a garnet”. But just like Namibian and Tanzanian spessartites used to be all over the place some years ago and now good luck finding whatever’s left of that stock, the same might be in the future for many other gems that are, as of now, readily available and thus dirt cheap for the beauty they offer.
 
Joined
Jan 20, 2012
Messages
4,740
As far as what to do with the crazy pricing, I thing @Autumn in New England has the right idea: Find a private collector who bought stones years ago and buy from them wherever possible.

The problem with the well-known dealers is, well, the fact that they are well-known.

They have access to a global market and wealthy buyers from around the globe.

Private collectors on the other hand, do not…and thus can’t demand the same astronomical prices.

Because of this “old stock” factor, I often see better prices from people in the US than I do here in Bangkok! It used to be cheap, but it’s just not anymore, largely due to the internet.

Moreover, Asia is the global hub and they are the go-to source for everyone around the globe….and people pay for it!

A lot of jewelers (including CvB), often go bargain hunting and amass quite a collection over the years. I’ve seen Caysie offer gems on LoupeTroop from time-to-time at serious bargain-basement prices.

…speaking of which, I certainly hope LoupeTroop comes back online someday! It’s been down for a long time now.

Asians have enormous buying power, so I'm not surprised pricing there has finally caught up with/surpassed that of the west. I think I received decent values on my lavender and cobalt spinels, but that may be the exception and not the rule. Plus, Luc Yen is a far cry from Bangkok in terms of gem trading.

Your ruby is glorious! So clean, crystalline, and well cut!! I love what you did with it too. Such a handsome ring. :kiss2:
 
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The lesson being, buy the colours you love and enjoy them for what they are. Tomorrow they won’t be that readily available anymore and owning them will be locked behind a high paywall.

I’ve been thinking about expanding my garnet collection. There are some gorgeous colours out there for basically pennies because “it’s just a garnet”. But just like Namibian and Tanzanian spessartites used to be all over the place some years ago and now good luck finding whatever’s left of that stock, the same might be in the future for many other gems that are, as of now, readily available and thus dirt cheap for the beauty they offer.

So true. I think I've mentioned before that my amethyst (especially the Uruguayan material) is some of my favorite that I own. My round was only $114. It has a cool purple base and throws flashes of pink and blue. I plan to give it the full treatment as far as mounting it. I've had folks ask me why I'd spend $$$ to set such a cheap stone. Like you, I'm an equal opportunity gem lover!

Capturef3t (1).jpg
 

dk168

Super_Ideal_Rock
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The Mahenge Spinel I sold recently cut by Jeff White was slightly over 1k USD per carat when I bought it in 2020, and I would like to believe the new owner would like it as much as I did, as it was a small yet mighty stone!

DK :))
 
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The Mahenge Spinel I sold recently cut by Jeff White was slightly over 1k USD per carat when I bought it in 2020, and I would like to believe the new owner would like it as much as I did, as it was a small yet mighty stone!

DK :))

I'd love to see her if you still have photos!!
 

dk168

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Only the ones in the "For Sale" thread, and I shall let the new owner decide whether to post updates.

SOLD - 1.63ct Mahenge Spinel cut by Jeff White

I was planning to set this small yet mighty stone in a puffed paved heart pendant surrounded by lab grown diamonds, hey ho!

DK :))

Oh she's lovely... I'm glad she went to a PSer! I hope they decide to post their journey if setting it. :)
 

dk168

Super_Ideal_Rock
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Oh she's lovely... I'm glad she went to a PSer! I hope they decide to post their journey if setting it. :)

That stone is a lot more vivid and saturated compared to the Mahenge Spinel I bought from Yvonne.

Bummer, just realised I had never taken a photo of the two side by side, DOH!!!

DK :confused2:
 

Dr_Diesel

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
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So true. I think I've mentioned before that my amethyst (especially the Uruguayan material) is some of my favorite that I own. My round was only $114. It has a cool purple base and throws flashes of pink and blue. I plan to give it the full treatment as far as mounting it. I've had folks ask me why I'd spend $$$ to set such a cheap stone. Like you, I'm an equal opportunity gem lover!

Capturef3t (1).jpg

That is an amazing stone! …the Color is almost indescribable
 

Dr_Diesel

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Dec 23, 2019
Messages
515
So true. I think I've mentioned before that my amethyst (especially the Uruguayan material) is some of my favorite that I own. My round was only $114. It has a cool purple base and throws flashes of pink and blue. I plan to give it the full treatment as far as mounting it. I've had folks ask me why I'd spend $$$ to set such a cheap stone. Like you, I'm an equal opportunity gem lover!

Capturef3t (1).jpg

Is this from Jeff Davies by chance?
 
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I'd love to see a video! I've always wanted to get one of his Uruguay or top Brazil amethyst but have been nervous

Oh don't be... they're fabulous! And I don't really see many around these days, especially precision cut. Here's the listing vid, it doesn't capture the pink and blue flashes of color, unfortunately. But this thing is like a disco ball in person. Nice folks too!

 
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