Gemstones for jewelry are the stars of the show when it comes to our custom rings and cufflinks, and making exquisite gemstone jewelry for our customers is what motivates us to get up each and every day. What makes the gemstones at AZEERA even more special is the way they are sourced and handled from the mines right up until they are delivered to our workshop in New York City.
In this part of our series on creating beautiful rings, we are going to focus on where our gemstones come from and how we operate differently to most jewelry retailers and gemstone supply stores in the United States.
Understanding the Traditional Gemstone and Jewelry Supply Chain
In most sectors of the commercial jewelry industry, gemstones for jewelry pass through several hands on their journey from the mines to the hands of customers—making it difficult to track exactly where a gemstone has come from and creating blind spots in which slavery and corruption can flourish. Here are just a few of the many stages through which a gemstone can pass on its way to the display window of a jewelry retail store:
Modern-day gemstone mines are located around the world—from Asia to Africa, Canada to South America, and Europe and Russia to the southern continent of Australia. In each region, those who mine gemstones for jewelry are subjected to varying work conditions that depend on the laws and the enforcement of those laws in the places where they work.
For example, gemstones mined in Canada, Australia, or the United States are the most likely to have been sourced under safe and decent working conditions, whereas diamonds and gemstones mined in war-torn countries like the D.R. Congo and Sierra Leone may be the product of forced labor and may have been used to fund civil conflicts. You can learn more about conflict diamonds and the blood-diamond trade here.
Rough Gemstone Dealers
Whether they are mined legally or illegally, the gemstones for jewelry are then sold to rough gemstone dealers who may represent a group of local mines or a third party that is located half-way across the globe (making it even easier to hide the origin of the gems). These middlemen purchase the rough stones from several sources and resell them at a higher price to companies that specialize in cutting and treating the stones.
While gemstones for jewelry (except for synthetic gemstones) have developed naturally over millions of years, many stones require treatments to make them clearer (displaying less inclusions) or to change or intensify their color and make them more attractive to consumers.
Some of the most common treatments include:
- Heating (with or without pressure)
- Surface diffusion
- Fracture filling
Some gemstone treatments like heating have a permanent effect, while the effects of some other treatments like coating, oiling, and impregnation can wear off over time. It is essential that dealers of treated stones disclose the treatments used, as this affects the stone’s value and how it must be handled from that point onwards.
Once treated, the rough gemstones for jewelry are sold to companies that cut the stones into all of the most popular shapes for gemstone jewelry (round, oval, cushion, princess, pear, heart, marquise, and trillion).
Cut Gemstone Dealers
The cut gemstones for jewelry are resold to dealers that stock cut gemstones from multiple sources and resell them at a higher price to jewelry manufacturers.
Small and large companies purchase the cut stones and create a range of jewelry pieces in trending styles using a mixture of manual and machine-based techniques.
Retailers buy the finished rings, necklaces, bracelets, and brooches from the jewelry manufacturers at a wholesale price and add their own percentage to reach the final price that customers will pay.
The customer goes to the retailer and browses the finished pieces of gemstone jewelry for sale without having the possibility of knowing exactly where the gems have come from in the first place.
How the AZEERA Supply Chain is Different
At AZEERA, we have made our supply chain as short as possible so that we can have absolute control over where our gemstones come from and reduce costs for our customers. This is the process that we use to source our gemstones for jewelry at AZEERA:
All of the gemstones used in our custom jewelry are mined by legitimate companies that treat their workers well and are environmentally responsible.
Once mined, our semi-precious gemstones for jewelry are treated using the most minimal and natural techniques such as heat and oiling and are sold to us for the price of the rough stone.
These stones include:
Our precious stones (diamond, blue sapphire, and ruby) come to us pre-cut from trusted companies that our ancestors have worked with for decades. All of our diamonds are GIA certified and we do not deal in Burmese rubies.
Once purchased, the rough material for our semi-precious gemstones for jewelry is separated according to quality and the highest-quality material is sent for cutting in our family-owned facility in Jaipur, India. You can learn more about our cutting process by watching the videos on our AZEERA cutting process page.
Once they have been cut, our gemstones for jewelry pass through a meticulous series of inspections for grading and only the top 1% (compared to the rough material) is shipped to us in New York. We then sort the gems into matching sets for use in your custom rings and cufflinks.
What about the pre-cut precious stones mentioned earlier? Our diamonds, blue sapphires, and rubies are delivered to us directly in New York for matching and setting in our handcrafted jewelry—eliminating multiple middlemen along the way!
As we are aiming to replicate the “local jeweler” experience of days gone by, we keep no inventory here at AZEERA but instead create each custom piece from scratch when it is ordered online by one of our customers. By handling as many steps of the process ourselves and selling all of our jewelry online, our costs are reduced to the price of the rough gemstones for jewelry and you end up paying much less for top-quality engagement, wedding, and everyday rings.
Invest in Conflict-Free, American-Made Jewelry at AZEERA
With the great care taken in our approach to sourcing gemstones for jewelry and our extremely high standards for worker treatment, we believe that jewelry from AZEERA really is a cut above the rest. Support our mission to transform the jewelry industry by purchasing a gemstone ring online today!