Gemstones Around the World

Gemstones Around the World
by Barbara van Look, Marketing Content Development Group, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

From amethyst to zoisite, gemstones come to you from around the world. Some locations are famous: the Sleeping Beauty turquoise mine in Arizona, USA, or the only known source of tanzanite in the Mererani Hills of northern Tanzania. Other gemstone materials come from obscure corners of the world, passing through multiple hands before they end up as finished beads in your creations.

First, the gemstone material--called "rough"--is excavated from under the earth and brought to the surface. The surrounding rock is cleaned away from the gemstone rough, and it is often given a preliminary grade (especially among fine gems such as diamond, ruby, emerald, etc.). Then the rough is sent to various locations around the world for cutting. (You can check the Gem Notes entry for individual gemstones to see where some mines are located.)
Diamonds and other high-quality fine gems are frequently cut in Europe (especially Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands). Semi-precious stones such as garnet, aquamarine and topaz are cut all over the world, usually in areas close to the mines they originate from. Gemcutters (lapidaries or lapidarians) work in India, Thailand, China, the Czech Republic, Pakistan and a variety of nations in South America.

Once the beads are cut, drilled and polished, finished strands receive a "Made in" tag indicating where the stones were cut--not where the mines are located. This is when Stuart and his expert team of bead-buyers come in: people like Dev, Doreen, Num and other members of our Merchandising group.

Dev draws from his rich knowledge of India, Doreen from her expertise in Europe and Num from his native understanding of Thailand to guide their steps through crowded bazaars and down narrow side streets. They use their know-how to find the small local shops and family businesses who facet, carve and polish gemstone rough into beads, cabochons and other jewelry components.

Then each item is bundled into a crate and shipped to the United States, where it is placed in our warehouse. When you order, it is picked from the bin, packed with love and shipped to you. When you flip over the bag, you’ll see the "Made in..." sticker that tells you where the family who cut your beads lives.

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