Gemstone Buying in Bogota, Travel Experience

August 03, 2019 1 Comment

I have traveled extensively in my professional experience overseeing the production of jewels for OGI, Ocie, eGemstore and Osnat Gad Inc, my travels take me all over the world looking for the finest gemstones which are mined in various countries. My expertise borne out of my extensive experience and innate ability to locate gemstones of the purest color and flawless cut allowed me to present my clients with the finest jewelry.

Being female in a male-dominated industry, coupled with being a member of a distinguished family in my industry, have enriched me with a lot of anecdotes.

For most of the time during my travels, I was scared out of my wits traveling alone in countries where women usually do not roam freely for a plethora of reasons. Being brave and ambitious, it never occurred to me that I should maybe seek a different career path, considering the fact that I had a young boy waiting for me home alone and I was always anxious.

I would like to share some of my most exciting experiences encountered in my travels:

Colombia is known for its fine resource of emeralds. The Colombian emerald trade has a rich history that dates back to the pre-Colombian era. The Increased demand for the gemstone industry globally has crystallized into more demand for Colombian emeralds. Until 2016, the Colombian emerald trade was at the center of Colombia's civil war conflict, which has plagued the country since the 1950s.

My family has been in the emerald business for as far back as I can remember.  As kids, we used to sit next to my uncle David and he would show us how to sort the emeralds for colors and clarity.  He had many stories to tell us and I always loved sitting with him and listening to his stories.  There were usually many green stones on the table, sporting different hues of green in different shapes and sizes. Uncle David would sit with us for hours showing us which stone is valuable and vice versa. Eventually we learned the characteristics of the emeralds that are forever ingrained in me.

The first time I traveled to Columbia I went with my uncle Amnon.  He was a renowned figure in Bogota and I felt safe being with him. The first day we went to an emerald supplier to look at emeralds that I could purchase. I usually had a list of requests and I already knew from my customers what their next season’s creations would be. Whenever I travel to buy gemstones, I would be normally sit at a large table and various people would come in to show me their collections.  I tried to concentrate on the stones only. I had learned from previous experience that in a packet of stones you may have stones that have imperfections and various colors. One must exclude them. So, I would spend most of my time examining each stone very carefully to make sure it is perfectly formed and flawless or as near to it as possible. Size is another consideration, sometimes, the dealer would sell a desirable size to another buyer and if one is not careful, you return home and one size is missing.  So, my concentration was always the stones in front of me.

On a particular day, my attention was not instantly fixed on the group of men waiting to show me emeralds, but when I focused my attention on them, I noticed about four guns on the table. Of course, it was sort of comical but I felt the pressure to be careful about my opinions. One should never overtly criticize anyone’s personal passions about their own collections, but I guess these men took their love of their gems very seriously. I found out later that it was customary to not allow guns present during negotiations. I was surprised and a little scared.  But I had to go back to my beloved gems. 

A day after, while sitting in another office, we were suddenly called to travel with a group of men to meet one of the eldest fathers of the emerald mines, who knew my father.  I don’t speak Spanish and I felt that I was there for the ride.  It was either I get killed or just meet more men with guns. So, we went.  We exchanged about 3 different cars on our way to his place. It was quick and discreetly done. I didn’t know why but I was told that our drivers were afraid to be followed.  We were in a van and the men next to me were carrying big guns.  At last we arrived in a complex of buildings and we were ushered quietly to one of the complexes. As the doors opened, we were met by about 10-15 men wearing sombreros hats.  We were immediately ushered to a different room.  I was wondering what the subject of the meeting was.  At last we met with the Father.  He was a tall heavy-set man with a charming smile and a flirty personality.  He told me stories about my dad and then started showing me emeralds the quality of which I had never seen in my life.

They were the most sparkling, clearest and greenest stones I have never seen. It had always been my dream to be in the company of such fine gems.  I knew I could not afford them and I knew that I had to be careful not to insult him. I felt small and insignificant compared to these gems but my fears were acknowledged by the Father and he was generous to sell to me from his collection of emeralds at my budget. I was ever so grateful. This trip opened a whole new world for me back in New York City. I sold most of the natural emeralds immediately and I’m still feeling ever so thankful to my family for their connections.

I personally think that a fine, green perfectly clean emerald is one of the best gemstones.  It is difficult to state what the correct color in emeralds is.  It is my opinion that emeralds should be crystal clear.  The color should be bright, shiny and green or a variation of green, be it bluish green-pure green with vivid color saturation. It is difficult to find flawless emeralds, but the inclusion where present should be minimal.  Emeralds are soft stones and one must be careful when wearing them. I don’t believe that emeralds are an everyday stone. I love emeralds in bezel setting as they are encircled with gold or platinum and are safer.  However, many jewelry setters do not like to set emeralds in bezel setting. It is rare that you see emerald bezel set as a jewel.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions.


1 Response

Corey Hechter
Corey Hechter

June 26, 2019

Hi. Don’t know if you can help me but I’m trying to track down a person who’s a gem dealer and jewelry manufacturer in Bogota, Colombia. All I know is the woman’s first name: Fernanda. She runs a family business of about 100 employees. I was hoping you might have come across her in your dealings. Her company has been in business for many years, but I don’t know its name. Before Fernanda, the company was run by her father, Fernando. That’s all I know. If you can help me with this, I would very much appreciate your help. Thank you very much.

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