Interview with Kerin Jacobs of The Raw Stone: Colored Gemstone Sourcing
What colored gemstones do you supply to Bario Neal?
Aquamarines, rubies, tanzanite, sapphires, zircon, amethysts, opals, emeralds.
What is the source for each of those gemstones?
Mostly TAWOMA, but on occasion, I will buy rough gemstones from someone who has purchased from a mine or a source I trust and then I have the stones checked by a gemologist.
Can you give a bit of background on each source?
TAWOMA – there’s a bunch of info on them on my site that you can use. Right now they’re trying to put together a library for member mines, so all proceeds of the sales of their stones go to that.
Other sources – like I said, I will purchase only rough from other sources then have them looked at by a gemologist. Often the gemologist can make an educated guess and confirm their origin.
What is your relationship like with each source, and how did you first start working with them?
Great! I love TAWOMA. I met Shamsa Diwani the secretary general of Tawoma back in 2008 and we discussed what she was up to and how I could help. From our conversations, I actually came up with the plan for the raw stone, and here we are today!
Where can I find more information about these sources?
My website has some information on TAWOMA. Their site is less comprehensive. You can find an old version of their bylaws online.
The other sources are not online, they’re really more personal connections.
In previous interviews you have explained that you became involved with ethical gemstones, including diamonds, because you saw a need for them in the international economy. Could you expand on that a bit, specifically on how that relates to colored gemstones?
I think that consumers should be given the option to purchase something of great quality with a positive-impact source for any purchase that they make. In jewelry, especially, where people put a lot of thought into what they’re purchasing (and a lot of money) I think this should especially be the case. Colored gemstones are no different than diamonds in my philosophy. But unlike diamonds, when people purchase ethical colored gemstones, they are actually making a positive impact – giving money to organizations that do real good for miners, fair trade, women empowerment, etc. with diamonds, this is not the case yet. Purchasing an ethical diamond really means just avoiding a diamond that came from a questionable source, rather than actually making a positive impact. This will hopefully change soon. Both are important, of course, and we are doing the best we can to make a positive change on all fronts.
How does the quality of ethical colored gemstones compare to that of non-ethical stones? Is there a difference?
No difference unless you consider ethical to include accurate descriptions of the stones – heat treatment, correct identification of the stone type and characteristics, etc. Many times, stones are advertised as something they really are not. Obviously, it’s our policy to be completely honest and descriptive about the stones we sell. Consumers should really be careful about this when purchasing both on and offline, many sellers do not accurately portray their stones – often because of lack of knowledge, not dishonesty.
Where does the cutting happen for each type of colored gem you supply to Bario-Neal? What are the conditions? Pay?
Most are cut in TAWOMA’s lapidary. I have stones reshaped sometimes by a great cutter in SF. Once I went to India to have some stones reshaped. The rest of the stones are rough.