Christian Wright from the Condé Nast Traveler contacted us a few months ago as she was writing an article pertaining to gems being purchased during a trip abroad.
Many tourists who visit Tanzania plan to leave the country with a tanzanite or two. Unfortunately there are many frauds; from people buying badly cut stones, highly included gems to synthetic forsterite, glass or even plastic.
Based on our experience, Eric, from Swala Gem Traders, was quoted saying the following:
“Unlike the diamond industry, which is tightly regulated and sets uniform prices for grades of stones (see “From the Mine to Your Finger”), the colored gemstone business can seem like a free-for-all. There is no standard grading system for color, cut, and clarity, so pricing can be arbitrary and fraud is common when you’re not purchasing from established dealers. “It’s very easy for someone on the street to sell a piece of glass for $500 to a tourist who thinks it’s a fantastic deal,” says Eric Saul, of Swala Gem Traders in Tanzania, whose father introduced tanzanite to Tiffany & Co. in the 1960s. “Nobody’s going to buy a $200,000 Chevrolet, but they’ll pay a lot of money for a piece of glass if they don’t know any better.”