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GemNotes

Gem Notes
By Stacey King, Associate Editor with Robert Weldon, GG, Senior Editor
This story appears in the August 1996 issue of JCK magazine
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GEM RIVER BRANCHES OUT

Gem River Corp., Grand Rapids, Mich., and Emkay International Inc., New York, N.Y., have agreed to jointly develop a consumer awareness program focusing on multicolored sapphires from the U.S.

The agreement also calls for Emkay to market on a national level the sapphires that Gem River mines in southwestern Montana. (Gem River will continue to sell to exclusive overseas accounts.)

The agreement establishes a two-tiered brand system:

  • Gem River Sapphire(tm), for the highest value, premium grade sapphires.

  • Montana Sapphire(tm), for fine and very good quality sapphires.

Tom Lee, president and chief executive officer of Gem River, has developed the project over several years. Several hundred thousand carats of fine material have been cut already or will be cut soon, he says. "We have a very rigid culling view because we want to release a product that is good or superior," he says. "We will take our time to develop a qualitative production of a branded product."

Gem River is a fully integrated producer. It mines the gem material, controls color enhancement (heat treatment) and cuts the gems (most cutting is done at a Gem River facility in Sri Lanka).

Meanwhile, the company has acquired mining rights to the Dunton tourmaline mine in Maine. Dunton is one of the largest tourmaline sites in the world, according to geologic estimates, and produces pink, black, green and watermelon varieties. Lee expects to be producing tourmalines by late August.

PROMOTION SPOTLIGHTS TAHITIAN PEARLS

The beauty and uniqueness of the Tahitian black pearl is the subject of a $2.7 million international promotional effort this year.

The campaign is organized by the G.I.E. Perles de Tahiti, a promotional agency funded through the French Polynesian government, and is directed at four major

regions: Japan, Australia/Asia, Europe and the U.S.

The U.S. portion of the campaign -- the biggest and longest ever in this country for Tahitian pearls -- is financed through a $667,000 allocation to the Tahitian Pearl Association in New York, N.Y., a G.I.E. satellite organization. The Tahitian Pearl Association was founded last year to promote black pearls in the U.S., Canada and South America. The money will pay for a massive public relations and education program, including information kits and cooperative advertising for fine jewelers. One co-op effort produced a full-page color ad in The New York Times Magazine.

The association's efforts add to a whirlwind of excitement about the black pearl in the U.S. this year. Earlier in the year, Tiffany & Co. launched a $1 million worldwide campaign to promote the Tahitian black pearl. Actress Elizabeth Taylor added her own star-studded boost with her new line of perfume, "Black Pearl," by Elizabeth Arden. The promotion has led to stories and photographs of cultured black pearls to accompany news about Taylor and ads for jewelry and perfume.

Elsewhere, G.I.E. awarded:

  • $1.1 million to the Japan Black Pearl Promotion Association in Tokyo. TV ads about the pearls began to reach the public in April.

  • $588,890 to the Pearl Promotion Foundation in San Marino, Italy, and Jean Bergeron Conseil in Paris, France, for a joint effort to elicit new designs from leading jewelry designers.

  • $222,200 for special events in Bangkok,Thailand, featuring jewelry created with Tahitian cultured pearls. The promotion will spread also to Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and Australia.

UNUSUAL CAT'S-EYE TOURMALINE

A tourmaline that is both cat's eye and bicolored? Unusual but true.

Evan Caplan of Evan Caplan & Co., Los Angeles, Cal., owns the 9.5-ct. collector's gem, which came from Brazil. The cabochon gem contains very distinct indicolite coloration (the blue-green area) as well as rubellite tourmaline (the reddish area.)

Most unusual, however, is the cat's-eye phenomena. Only the indicolite portion of the gem contains the hollow tube-like inclusions that cause the cat's eye effect. Orienting the cat's-eye effect to appear exactly in the middle of the gemstone, therefore, required great skill and creativity during the cutting process.

This rare 9.5-ct. bicolored indicolite and rubellite tourmaline also shows a cat's-eye effect. Gem is courtesy of Evan Caplan & Co., Los Angeles, Cal. Photo by Robert Weldon.

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