QUESTION : On surfing the web and going to a number of different sites I have noticed that it can be a bit confusing as all use different terminology to describe their stones and the prices differ hugely. Also there are a lot of typical marketing gimmicks like 50% discounts. Are these real or too good to be true? Is the Tanzanite on lapigems.com the very top grade available?
ANSWER : That is a good question and one asked by many people. Firstly, yes, the Tanzanite you find on lapigems.com is painstakingly selected from thousands of carats we see monthly here at the source. We are in the enviable position of being first in line in the channel of distribution and our GIA qualified gemologists hand pick out the very best for sale in our private collection which is world renowned for the quality of the Tanzanite we sell. We don't try to be all things to all people in that we don't try to pack our site with all grades of Tanzanite and then try to sell off lower grade pieces as AAA or dilute our selection with A or B color stones in an attempt to sell volume. We specialize in the very top grade of Tanzanite and the Tanzanites on our site are all the top 1% coming out of the mines. We don't use gimmicks such as 50% discounts to make mediocre Tanzanite sound cheap. We price at exceptionally competitive levels as the grade of Tanzanite we sell usually retails well above $1200 per carat in the US and Europe and occasionally we will do a price promotion to make our stones even more of a bargain. The old adage "too good to be true" is one you should keep in mind when buying Tanzanites - if the price seems unrealistic or the discount seems incredible it usually is. Many sites sell medium grade stones as AAA Tanzanite at seemingly blowout prices. The truth of the matter is that the top 1% of Tanzanite - the AAA grade is very rare and not easy to get. It is not sold anywhere, including at the mouth of the mine, for ridiculously low prices - the miners are not unintelligent and they know what the top 1% of their production is worth. So the basic premise here is beware of cheap tanzanite deals on the internet that seem too good to be true - they usually are!
WHO GRADES YOUR TANZANITE CERTIFICATES?
QUESTION : I see that each of the Tanzanites on your site is accompanied by a gem certificate. Who grades these and are they good for insurance?
ANSWER : These certificates are graded by Gemologists on our staff. Each of these holds a full Graduate Gemologist (GG) Qualification - the highest available in the industry, from the Gemological Institute of America.
All certificates are graded using the GIA color and clarity grading system which is the only world standard for colored gems. Beware of sites which don't offer this system and only use subjective descriptions for their Tanzanite.
These certificates are not suitable for insurance purposes purely because they do not contain a value. We do not put a value on the certificate because the value we sell at is very much lower than the insurance replacement value in the US/Europe. We recommend an appraisal be done in your country when you receive the Tanzanite for insurance purposes. This is the value you should insure at, as AAA Tanzanite is very expensive and rare, prices are escalating annually. However, our certificates are very accurately graded and are respected guarantees of quality and grades of the Tanzanite you buy from us. We also provide a seperate appraisal which is at Retail Replacement value in the US market. These are suitable for insurance purposes.
HOW LONG HAS YOUR COMPANY BEEN IN BUSINESS?
QUESTION : I have found some Tanzanite on your site that I would like to purchase but am wary of purchasing over the internet. Can you tell me how long your company has been in business and why I should feel safe purchasing from you?
ANSWER : This is a question that is asked frequently and is one we would recommend you ask of any company you are considering buying from. Lapigems Gem Company was incorporated in 1974. We have owned and operated a number of colored stone mines including one of the world's best producing Aquamarine mines. We were one of the first online sellers of Tanzanite with our award winning site in 2002. You might like to watch our multimedia timeline HERE to get a graphic history of our company. You might also like to read our FAQ section on why purchasing from us is safe HERE. In summary, if you are looking for a world beating Tanzanite at an excellent price, we are the specialists, You will be buying direct from the source from our world renowned private collection and you will be getting your Tanzanite one step from the mouth of the mine. Any stone you buy from us is registered on our site and you will always be able to look up the history of the Tanzanite direct from your account. A wonderful way to pass an heirloom down your family.
IS TANZANITE GOING TO RUN OUT?
QUESTION : I watch a lot of shopping channels on TV and when Tanzanite is being sold there is a lot of hype about it running out. Is this true?
ANSWER : To begin with, it is important to note that these channels have developed selling into an art - hype is the engine which drives this. Their job is to get you to pull out your credit card there and then and buy buy buy! Hence they use hype in order to get you to do so. One of the favorite mediums used by the shopping channels in this regard is to get you to believe that Tanzanite will have been mined out by the end of the year and that the very next show they do will have substantially higher prices as a result. Whereas it is documented that Tanzanite will run out within 10 years or so at the present rate of mining and the present estimated remaining supply, it is certainly not going to run out tomorrow. Do not be fooled into making a snap purchase because of such hype. Buying a Tanzanite should be done with sober thought and research and the purchase decision made only after this has been done to ensure you make an informed purchase. We try to offer as much information as we can about each Tanzanite we sell and we have GIA gemologists waiting to answer any questions you may have. So please make use of these resources.
WHY DO SOME SITES SELL SOME TANZANITE CHEAP AND SOME EXPENSIVE?
QUESTION : I am looking for an investment class stone have been trying to purchase a Tanzanite online. I like your site very much. Can you tell me why you price as you do and why I have found such varying prices online? Also, I have found that there is alot of Tanzanite for sale and it is confusing where to buy, alot of places are offering sales? Why are they offering sales if Tanzanite is so scarce and in high demand?
ANSWER : Purchasing Tanzanite over the internet can be a very confusing prospect. One of the big problems is the lack of standardized grading to enable you to "compare apples with apples". However, you will notice that many sites claim to be selling AAA top grade Tanzanite but some will be substantially lower in price than others. Usually the more expensively priced Tanzanite pieces are the better pieces and the cheaper ones are "packing" used to put more volume onto the site and provide the "blowout sale effect" which, like the shopping channels, convince you to buy buy buy. There is nothing wrong with this if you are looking for a Tanzanite at a bargain and are not too fussy about quality. However, if you are looking for a specific piece or are discerning about purchasing only the best grade, investment class pieces, then these sites are not a good place to be. We price extremely reasonably for the highly selected pieces we offer and all our Tanzanite is the very top grade - the top 1%. We are able to price as we do because we are based at the source and there are no middlemen between us and you.
Online Sales - yes, this is very confusing and the absence of a universally used grading scaling for Tanzanite compounds the problem. There are over 6 million websites selling Tanzanite online and each tries to make out that they are selling the best money can buy. As a consumer this is very misleading - The truth is that as an investment you need to go for the very highest quality stones. These are the rarest and most likely to yield a strong return on investment when the time comes to sell. These stones constitute less than 1% of all Tanzanite production. The question is - can all these sellers really be selling the top 1%? Of course the answer is 'no.' Most deal in medium to low grade goods. Pictures are enhanced to improve the colour and they add all sorts of tags like "super AAAAA Tanzanite" and equally subjective and meaningless terms to entice the buyer. My advice is to look for a seller who commits to more scientific grading schemes - we try to provide our buyers with a great deal of information on each stone we sell online including videos (which can't be enhanced), several still photos, quality graph, full GIA grading (you can use the "learn about the certificate" link to learn more about how this works) and a full gem history showing the gem in its rough state and full mining report. We are based at the source and are truly able to select out the very finest stones before they go to the top jewelry houses of the world. Similarly our position at the source allows us to sell at an extremely low price for this very rare material - remember, the price difference between a medium or medium-high quality Tanzanite to a top quality Tanzanite is enormous as the rarity of the finest pieces is hugely magnified.
WHAT IS AAAA TANZANITE AND IS IT THE SAME AS AAA TANZANITE?
QUESTION : I was watching a local TV Shopping channel and they were talking about AAAA Tanzanite being the best. Is this the same as AAA Tanzanite?
ANSWER : This is recent marketing hype developed by that particular shopping channel to try to "jazz up" their stock. The top grade (the best 1%) of Tanzanite has traditionally been called AAA Tanzanite in the trade. AAAA is purely an attempt to differentiate Tanzanite sold on TV and hype it up. The truth of it is that any channel dealing in volume (as most do) cannot claim to be selling the very top grade of Tanzanite. Only 1% of Tanzanite is the top grade - it is very rare. It is certainly not available in the sort of quantities these channels like to portray as they sell 1000 items in 1 hour! Very top grade pieces are rare and difficult to get - we know, we are based at the source and speak to the miners on a daily basis.
The best way to think about it is - are these channels selling Kashmir Sapphire or Burmese Ruby at 1000 items an hour? These are also rare gems in the top grades and not easy to find. Be careful about buying into sales hype. Always make your Tanzanite purchase in an informed and sober manner to avoid being disappointed.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE GRADING OF bV 6/6 and vB 6/6 FOR TANZANITE?
QUESTION : Some Tanzanites on your site are graded vB 6/6 and others bV 6/6 using the GIA system. What is the difference?
ANSWER : It is simply the axis on which the Tanzanite is cut. Tanzanite has 3 different colors in it - this is called trichroism and Tanzanite is one of the very few gemstones on earth that has this. You can learn more about this in our article Tanzanite Colors - The Amazing Variety in our Article Center. When a piece of Tanzanite rough is cut with the blue axis facing upwards through the table, the stone will be predominantly blue with a violet modifier (the violet axis will be parallel to the blue) and the stone is graded vB (violetish Blue). When the reverse is true, and the violet axis is located upwards through the table then it is graded bV (bluish Violet) and is predominantly violet with a blue modifier. Whether a Tanzanite is more blue or more violet has no bearing on quality. What matters is the depth of color - how deep and vivid the color is. Here you look at the 2 numbers following - in the case of the Tanzanites on our site this is usually 6/6. The first 6 relates to the tone - the lightness to darkness of the stone and the second 6 is the most important figure as it denotes the Saturation - the vividness and depth of color. 6/6 is the top grade in the GIA system for Tanzanite and denotes the optimum combination of tone and saturation - the top AAA color. Only 1% of all Tanzanite is this color and it is very rare.
I HAVE HEARD ABOUT A NEW COATING TREATMENT WHICH ENHANCES TANZANITE COLOR - ARE YOUR TANZANITES NATURALLY THAT AMAZING COLOR OR HAVE THEY BEEN COATED?
QUESTION : Recently I purchased a fine color Tanzanite from a supposedly reputable online/TV sales company. Certainly their brand is well known. I was very happy with the stone until I had it appraised at far less than I had paid for it. The appraisor identified that the stone had been coated to improve its color and was in fact a lower grade color. It only looked so good because of the coating. The company did not disclose this information to me and the stone was priced as a much higher grade stone would be. I am now confused and nervous about buying more Tanzanite. How do I know that the Tanzanite I am considering buying from your company is not similarly treated? Can you give me more information?
ANSWER : Recently, the AGTA identified a new treatment on Tanzanite at its lab which had not been in existence before. The following is a link to a statement by the AGTA-GTC and AGL regarding this treatment:
The treatment involves applying a coating consisting of cobalt, to pale Tanzanites in order to give them the appearance of fine stones. The treatment is identifiable using an immersion cell and microscope which reveals areas where the coating hasn't taken completely or erosion has ocurred near facet junctions. The treatment was discovered by a New York dealer who sent the stone on for analysis. According to a joint AGTA-AGL press release announcing the discovery of cobalt-blued zoisite, the dealer was tipped off to possible coating when he had to repolish a stone and noticed an area of color reduction. When this stone was studied under a microscope and in immersion tell-tale signs of coating such as abrasion along facet junctions and culets were revealed. This was further substantiated by X-ray fluorescence. This treatment has been used to improve Topaz for many years but has only recently been identified with Tanzanite.
In response to your question - any treatment or enhancement performed on a gemstone must be disclosed to the buyer at all times. For the company to have sold you a Tanzanite with an undisclosed treatment is a serious issue. It may be that the company purchased the stones already treated from another source and not being aware of the treatment had not detected it. Large companies selling high volumes often do not have the time or resources to have every stone they sell checked or certified, especially when it comes to smaller stones. Similarly, companies that do not cut their own stones incur greater risk, because coating cannot be applied to rough and would be removed anyway in the cutting process. Hence, buying from a company that cuts their own stones in-house can mean less risk for the buyer. Certainly, in our case, we buy rough direct from the mines and cut in-house. There is no chance that a coating could be applied without our knowledge. Additionally, every single stone we sell is fully checked, graded and certified after cutting by a GIA Graduate Gemologist which eradicates any possibility whatsoever of there being an undisclosed treatment present. We can fully guarantee, having sourced the rough directly from the mines, having cut the stones ourselves and having examined and certified every stone, that our Tanzanites are natural and do not carry any type of coating whatsoever.