Jungle-Gems.com Newsletter, March 2005

Hello from Teofilo Otoni, Minas Gerais Brasil. Once again I’m sending you our periodic gem-trade related news, rumor and gossip from the center of the Brasilian gemstone industry. I hope you enjoy the report...

It was fun seeing some of you newsletter readers again at the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show. After missing the show in 2004, it was especially memorable for me this year. As always, it is not possible to describe a gemshow with words, and if you’ve also been to Tucson you know what I mean. There are just so many gorgeous gemstones, mineral specimens, meteorites, jewelry and fossils that it is overwhelming at times. I always leave Tucson a little disappointed that I can’t afford to take home all the treasures that I find, but I suppose most of us suffer this same trauma.

We will be hosting our own gemshows here at “The Source” in Teofilo Otoni again this year. The shows are usually during July and August. Remember we have TWO shows every year. I’ll send you the exact dates in a following newsletter, along with Hotel info and general information on how to arrive here. You’re welcome to send me individual emails with any questions you might have about visiting Brasil during the shows.

Topaz mining report: The Rondonian topaz supply has dwindled in recent months, as prices continue to rise for sawn clean rough. Larger stones are increasingly difficult to obtain. Few mining operations have heavy equipment available, and the producing layers for sizable stones are now as far as 10 meters deep after decades of surface mining in the area. The new sources of Topaz coming out of Para State, in the Amazon basin, are going to have more problems with IBAMA (the environmental protection agency here) as new forest reserves are created in response to illegal timber operations and deforestation in general. The limited ongoing Topaz mining is NOT an environmental issue, but the fuss created over other issues will surely limit ANY type of operation that disturbs the natural environment. I forecast more rising prices (up to US$1,000/kg for larger goods) as demand remains strong, especially with the addition of new treatments now available for topaz. Few miners are happy in Rondonia, as my son Tomas confirms above.

Tourmaline mining report: I admit that I haven’t visited the minesites recently, but based on what I see coming into town I can safely assume that new production is sparse. I just don’t see tourmaline available like it used to be, and I don’t see any indicators that this will change anytime soon. As more and more financially capable former mine owners continue to buy more cattle and land in lieu of running a mine, production continues to fall. There hasn’t been a major new find in years, and most of the recent producing sites are either dribbling production or closed all together. I expect tourmaline prices to continue to climb, especially high end goods.

Aquamarine mining report: I think that Aquamarine will probably be the “new backbone” of our Brasilian mining industry in the coming decade. The tourmalines were always exploited ahead of the aquamarines, it seems. New finds of large fine aquamarine crystals continue to develop, contrary to the situation with Tourmaline. I recently viewed an 11kg crystal of clean, fine dark blue color. Dealers here have inventories of aquamarine, but they too are looking for tourmaline. Other sites around Minas Gerais, as well as the States of Bahia and Espirito Santos, continue to produce aquamarine on a somewhat regular basis.

Quartz report: At least this is an area for better news, as quartz production remains strong. Diamontina lasers (like the piece shown above), beautiful quartz clusters, and huge Jacares continue to be produced. There is also available a strong supply of polished goods and spheres, although prices are slightly higher than a couple of years ago. The highly sought after citrine yellow remains more difficult to find, especially clean material. The smoky laser mine (production seen on our site) have not produced now in over a year due to difficult conditions at the mine. Rutilated quartz continues to come out of the ground, but is sold immediately (onsite) to the line of mostly Asian buyers eagerly waiting to get the best material. The goods are exported from Brasil before we even see it here in Teofilo Otoni. A trend equaled with the Piaui Opal production, exported to Australia direct from the mines.

The good news is in Emerald. All existing mines continue to produce, as new deposits are continuing to be discovered and developed slowly. The quality of Brasilian emeralds continues to surprise and amaze old established dealers as clarity and color, as well as size, continue to improve with the depths of the mines. I don’t think we have scratched the surface yet in Brasilian emerald production.

If you allow me to drift away from gemtrade news for a moment, the overall best news of all is that beachfront property in Bahia is still available. I haven’t had time to put together any offers, or even get many new pictures for you, but I’ll be posting offers here during the course of this year. I grew up in Southern California, if you know anything about the values of beachfront property where I grew up then you know why I think they are “giving away” the beaches here. I recently bought a 53 acre spread on the beach and couldn’t be happier with it. Throughout this year I’ll show you other small lots available (15m/50ft sandy frontage) as well as ranches available with kilometers of beachfront... some include waterfalls onto the beach.

I’d like to remind you readers that all of the goods posted on the website are on liquidation sale, with negotiable prices. If any of you dealers are interested in negotiating multi-piece lots or even entire pages of the website, please let me know. Drop in at www.jungle-gems.com when you feel like negotiating some new goods.

Well, that’s it from the jungles of Brasil. I hope to get back to you soon.

Regards ~ Kirk Bond, aka “Tomas” in Brasil, from www.jungle-gems.com