Jungle Gems Newsletter April 2003

Hello once again from the gemstone capital of the world, beautiful Brasil. I couldn’t resist using the above photo as the intro this month. Of course it is I, and my almost 2 yr. old son, preparing this month’s newsletter. Now you can see one of the reasons why you didn’t receive the “updated March newsletter w/photos” that I promised you last month. We managed to sneak away for a visit to Cumuruxatiba, in Bahia, and had a fine time. Our new mine supervisor for Rondonia/Amazonas, Shay Mangiapane, took the photo. I figured he needed some R&R before hitting the jungles of the interior. Notice the lack of footprints in the sandy background? Life is good in Brasil…

First of all, we have had so many inquiries that I would like to clear up the confusion regarding the dates for the Teofilo Otoni Gemshow this year. The reason for the confusion is that we are having TWO gemshows this year. The locals call it the poor (pobre) vs. rich (rico) shows. The photos below show how things are set up in the praca, with a huge indoor show in the tent (os ricos) with high end specimens and faceted gemstones, which is usually surrounded by the small outdoor stands (os pobres) selling more affordable goods, including specimens, faceted gemstones and rough. This year, most likely for some unfathomable political reason, they are running two independent shows. Maybe it is better, who knows? At least you can decide if your requirements are high-end or commercial, and plan your travel calendar accordingly.

Here are the facts:

The pobres go first with the 15th Annual Feira Livre de Pedras Precioso running from July 9th to July 13th. This is the outdoor show in the praca (town square). This show is well worth attending, probably the best one, for ALL your needs. This is because all the high-end dealers will still be in town, just in their offices. You can still get high-end goods during this time. It also never hurts to see what is available before it gets to the 2nd show a month later.

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- The ricos are all in the 13th Annual Feira International de Pedras Presioso (FIPP) running from Aug 19th through Aug 22nd. This is where you will see all the best of the best, with over 340 dealers under one tent. Further info on this show is available at www.geabrasil.com

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The archived photos above may give you a better feel for what to expect. We hope some of our readers will make it to the show. Please feel free to contact us for assistance in hotel reservations, info on the travel options available to get to Teofilo Otoni, and whatever else you might need to know. If you make it, please come up to the top floor of the tallest building on the praca, the Banco do Brasil, and visit us here at jungle-gems.com & Mineracao de Alta-Tecnologia ltda.

The other big change for us this month has been the development of our Dealer Area of the website. Since our original development of the site, we have never separated dealers from the buying public. This has reflected in slightly higher prices on all of our merchandise on the website, probably discouraging some of you dealers, while the general public seems quite happy with our prices. Our goal is to offer the best possible price to those of you who can deal in volume. We are about half-way through our construction of the dealer area, and already have a lot of info posted. We are covering availability/price in volume for: faceted gemstones, gemstone rough, mineral specimens, mining opportunities, and special offers on goods that we have recently obtained at very low prices and would like to move quickly. We have a personal password available for all legitimate dealers giving restricted access to this section. Please contact us for your private password and check how goods can really be obtained at the best possible dealer/volume price.

Here in Teofilo Otoni this month we have been looking only at customer requested goods, and turning away all the other numerous parcels available. We have been pleasantly surprised at the availability of fancy cutting, at very reasonable prices. Weaker colors of amethyst/citrine and good color green gold and smoky qtz., with excellent fancy cutting are available in volume for under US$1/ct. Aquamarine in all cutting styles remains one of the best buys in town. Check out some of the cutting below. Please inquire for parcel specific prices…

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Marambaia Topaz: To our surprise a guy walked into the office, who had been in touch with me by email, and introduced himself as Rogerio from Marambaia. After telling me he has been in the gem business for 6 months, he continues to explain how he is representing the topaz saw shops in his area. I was only politely listening until he showed me his price structure. This new source has the best prices I have seen for Marambaia topaz, only slightly higher than Rondonian Topaz and significantly lower than typical Marambaia Topaz prices we see in the praca. As you know, Marambaia is the best source for Topaz used in gamma-bombardment and the production of sky blue topaz. Current availability is less than 100kg per month, but our new contact hopes to increase that quantity through other contacts of his. If you need high quality, 100% sawn clean clear topaz for sky blue treatment, please contact us for further info regarding price/availability.

We spent almost a week looking at “Salada de Tourmalina”, or in English: Tourmaline Salad. This is the local name for a mixed bag of tourmaline in all colors, qualities, shapes, and sizes, usually lower end goods priced to sell. By the time word reached the praca, we were swamped with salad. Literally thousands of cts of goods are immediately available at very low prices. For a slight increase above the closed lot price, we can pick out the better or bigger goods. If eye-clean quality serves your needs, you might want to consider some “picked salad” available for US$3-$5/ct. If slightly included quality works for you, closed lots are available for US$1-$2/ct in volume.

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Mining news: Our old friend from the 1980’s, Marco from Austria, has formed a new group of investors to open a very promising alexandrite deposit located nearby the famous Hematita Mine. They already have their infrastructure installed, including electricity to the site.

This eliminates the huge financial burden of getting diesel fuel through difficult terrain. Initial work is starting now and they are strongly optimistic that production will be strong. Marco tells me that the deposit is rich in cats-eye alexandrite, as well as small stones for calibrated rounds. This operation may well turn out to be a good source for this material. Please contact us if you need a new direct source for alexandrite.

Mining update: We still have no new production of our own Amazon Amber/Copal. Our rough inventory is now down to less than 20kg, and we no longer expect to obtain any new material. We will be working all of our remaining rough into finished stones, which you can see on the site as they are returned from our cutters. It now appears that Amazon Amber may remain a rare oddity and will soon be unavailable. This is bad news for jewelry manufacturers and good news for collectors. We feel that our material is some of the prettiest Amber/copal available, and hope you obtain a piece or two while it lasts…

Mining update: Our other mining project, Amazon Opal, continues to produce goods in lite yellows and whites in limited amounts. Our high-end oranges and our gorgeous Amazon Red Opal continues to elude our workers. We will continue to work throughout the year in hopes that the reds will come out at some point. We hope that those of you who have asked for our reds can remain patient until our objective is reached. You know that you will here about it here first in the jungle-gems monthly newsletter…

There continues to be new production of all types of quartz, however we are NOT buying new production for ourselves at this time. Since we only do 1 US Show per year (Quartzsite AZ in January) it is early in the year for us to obtain and stock new quartz products. Local production of Diamontina lasers, Jacare quartz, Polished quartz, Quartz clusters, elestials, etc. is all available. If you would like any of this material, we can procure it in your behalf for our nominal 10% procurement fee for volume orders. Please contact us if you require fine quartz products.

Other news: We are in the process of returning to a sole proprietorship, as my great partner Jeffrey Gale has decided to “semi-retire” and liquidate his assets in our firm. Jeffrey is now happily married with a beautiful new son, enjoying the great life here in Teofilo Otoni. We wish him all the best as jungle-gems.com continues to operate direct from Brasil.

Coming up: We will be on the road to Rondonia (A Brasilian State beyond the Amazon, on the Bolivian border) very soon. We will be visiting numerous mining areas along the way, and next months newsletter will have a full report of what we discover on the trip. It is a 3500km drive, taking many days to complete, but is a unique experience. We will be passing through the Governador Valadares area, the Nova Era emerald/alexandrite area, Quartz country in central Minas, Diamond country in Matto Grosso, arriving in Rondonia sometime in early May.

In closing we wish to thank all of our new visitors to jungle-gems.com from around the world, and will be looking forward to serving your gemstone related needs. See you next month.

Regards from Brasil, Kirk “Tomas” Bond… from the beaches of Bahia