When Indian gem carver and dealer P.C. Lunia found inspiration in the words of Abraham Lincoln, he wanted to honor the former president by carving a ruby in his likeness.

Lunia set to the task three years ago when he acquired a 3,300-ct. ruby. After many months of work, he unveiled the completed piece May 23 and donated it to the Gemological Institute of America.

The finished piece weighs 1,000 carats, says gem dealer Martin Harman, who heads GIA’s Treasured Gifts Council. Lunia worked on the ruby in his studio in Jaipur, India, and brought it to New York in the spring in hopes of selling it, says Harman. “I prevailed upon him to donate this rare jewel to GIA to help set an example to the Indian gem community here that GIA helps educate the world industry.”

The ruby is valued at $250,000 and is on permanent display at GIA headquarters, he says.


Some 21 lots of commercial-grade black pearls, South Seas pearls, akoyas and mabes were sold at the International Pearl Association Auction and Expo, held in early June in the Riviera Hotel, Las Vegas, Nev.

Robin Crest, IPA executive secretary, said about 50 people placed bids on lots that ranged from $5,000 to $19,000 each.

The pearls were from all major producing nations, including Japan, Australia, Tahiti, Indonesia, China and the Cook Islands, said Crest. The auction included a last-minute influx of goods from dealers who wanted access to the U.S. market, added Alex Edwards, IPA secretary. “A number of akoyas came in from processors in Kobe, Japan,” he noted.

One negative note: Crest said U.S. Customs Service officials in Los Angeles refused entry to some $500,000 worth of akoyas destined for the auction. She didn’t know the reason.

Several pearl dealers also exhibited at the expo, which attracted pearl buyers from the U.S. and other parts of the world. One exhibitor, Jean Franáois Arnould of Tahitian Midnight Pearls in Tahiti, said several serious buyers made this show more successful than a previous exposition in Hong Kong.

The IPA event was originally scheduled for last May in Hawaii. But when too few exhibitors committed to booth space there, Crest moved the events to Las Vegas to coincide with the JCK International Jewelry Show. Crest said all exhibitors who paid for space in Maui had been reimbursed or would be soon.

The IPA board of directors met during the event with most of its top spots still vacant. New leadership is being sought. “The main goal of the IPA is to promote pearl education,” said Crest, “and that’s what our meeting focused on.”


The European Gemological Laboratory of Los Angeles took in more than 500 diamonds for grading during a special promotion it sponsored during the JCK International Jewelry Show in June in Las Vegas.

EGL offered “mini-grading reports” at a special price at the show. Six graders were on hand to examine diamonds and issue reports a few hours later. EGL president Tom Tashey said demand was so overwhelming that he had to send most of the diamonds back to his staff in Los Angeles to grade.

“We had dealers bring us 30 or 40 stones,” he said. “We could take only 10 or so and sent the remainder back to L.A. for grading.” The diamonds ranged from .29 ct. to 7.13 cts., he said.


Rapnet, the diamond information and trading network, soon will join the Internet and expand to include the American Gem Society and the Continental Buying Group, a Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., organization that serves as a consultant to 42 retail jewelry companies, with 500 stores in the U.S. and Japan.

Trading and price data eventually could be made available to the general public via Internet. But for now, the new link is strictly for information and feedback. “It will provide an opportunity for the trade to hear what consumers are saying and how they feel about diamonds,” says Martin Rapaport, founder of Rapnet and publisher of the Rapaport Report.

In addition, all AGS members will be hooked into a special conference section accessible only to them. “Other trade organizations – including the Jewelers Vigilance Committee and Jewelers’ Security Alliance – also are putting their bulletins on Rapnet,” he says.

This is all part of a three-stage expansion program:

  • Stage One will integrate AGS and CBG into Rapnet. Rapnet has four components: conferences, price information, trading and a members’ directory.

  • Stage Two will integrate the conference portion of Rapnet into the Internet, called the World Wide Web. This will allow members to send messages via computer to any part of the world. The messages and price and trading sections can be accessed on-line, then reviewed off-line, allowing members to save on telephone charges, Rapaport says.

  • Stage Three, which may be accomplished next year, will integrate all Rapnet services into the Internet. Rapaport admits this link – which would send trading and price information to the public – is controversial. But he says this is the direction of the industry. “Distribution channels have been shortening,” he says. “A lot of dealers are selling direct to retailers and even consumers. There’s only going to be more of that in the future.”

Rapaport envisions full-scale jewelry catalogs on CD-ROM (computer disk with read-only memory) and says some dealers already sell via Internet.

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