I think one of the greatest injustices currently plaguing the gem market is idea that all Topaz is born equal. Whilst it’s true that Topaz is an abundant gemstone by many people’s standards being found in Burma, Mexico, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Sri Lanka, USA and the Ukraine, there is one mine that needs distinction.
The Marambaia Topaz mine that lies in the heart of the Jequitinhonha Valley in Minas Gerais produces a Topaz that has served as the flagbearer for Museum grade Topaz since the early 1900’s.
Ken Gurney, New York based Gem Dealer says “If you are under the assumption that all gem quality Topaz is of equal standing, you’ve clearly never seen Marambaia London Blue, we tried to diversify when London blue declined after the recession, our clientele wouldn’t take it…African stones take on a grey secondary hue and the Burmese stones are dull”….”We only bring Marambaia, the stone offers unparalleled brilliance, it’s like someone has switched a light on inside the Hope Diamond”
Gone are the days of stockpiling this material like dealers were doing in the 90’s…the recession has meant that there is a waiting list for Marambaia parcels, it takes years to collate parcels of fine stones now, the operation is much smaller and production is down by up to 75%.
“Many jewelers are diversifying, with the lighter sky blue colours you don’t necessarily need the finest Marambaia stones, you can use the good quality and more accessibly priced Nigerian Topaz if you don’t crave the intense saturation of colour” says John Rylander of Azotic Labs in Minnesota.
It seems Marambaia is now rightfully positioned itself at the top of the tree, a chasm has opened up in the world of Topaz, Marambaia has become a high jewellery feature stone and every other Topaz has become the choice for mass produced jewellery.
John Rylander who heads up a division of colour artists at Azotic who have spent decades refining their enhancements is now the go- to guy for fine colored stones from Marambaia. The industry recognizes that John won’t work with anything but Marambaia.
“We’re working on something really special right now, a colour of Maramabai that is familiar to our high end clientele but that hasn’t been seen for years” John Rylander mentioned this at Tuscon this year. He went on to say that he’s partnered with a British jewelry house that has produced jewelry for the British Royal Family to recreate the colors of the legendary Cruizero Tourmaline deposit. He showed me their master stone, a 10+ carat Rubelite, he said that its taken two years so far, but he feels his close to a break through.
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