By Jennifer Heebner, Editor in Chief
Every year, some articles pique the interest of readers more than others, and 2023 content was no exception. A year’s worth of articles covers many topics, from tragic ones like deaths to profiles of members, milestone gems, sourcing issues, and more. Below are the 10 most widely read articles by AGTA ePrism subscribers and key quotes from the pieces.
Oct. 25, 2023
Well-known and respected jeweler Michael Kazanjian, chairman of Kazanjian in Beverly Hills, died of a cardiac arrest at age 86 on Sept. 6, 2023. He was influential in having Alfonso de Vivanco cut the 8,500-carat Liberty Bell Ruby, to honor the United States Bicentennial, and his family owned the Yogo Gulch mine in Montana for a period. He also purchased the “Kazanjian Red Diamond,” a gem stolen by the Nazis during World War II and rediscovered by the American military as well as other important gems like the “Star of Jolie.”
Key Quote: “He was a mentor to many, symbolizing an era where integrity and dedication were paramount, exemplifying excellence and inspiring countless others in the jewelry industry. Michael supported numerous titans in the jewelry industry, whether helping them launch their careers, get back on their feet, or simply providing a safe and wonderful place they could call their work home. His company’s employees and partners can share countless stories of how their lives were enriched by this remarkable man.” Joseph Barrios, salesman and Executive Director of the Kazanjian Foundation, the family’s charity
Aug. 16, 2023
Good friends Mikola Kukharuk, Maxsym Stepanov, and Sviatoslav Grygorenko formed Gems by Nomads in Ukraine in the 1990s just as the Iron Curtain fell and the pals’ interest in gem cutting was heating up. Eventually, they left Eastern Europe and set up offices in the U.S., Asia, and Europe, picking up new staffers along the way. Their devotion to provenance and traceability is now widely known.
Key Quote: “All of us at Nomads have a passion not just for gemstones but also the world from which they came, both from an environmental and humanitarian level. We know that most of our customers feel the same way and wanted to share with them the knowledge we have about our gemstones. I think they really appreciate the transparency of the reports. In today’s sales world, it is a bonus to have as much information as possible about the gems which will one day turn into heirlooms.” Tracy Lindwall, Sales and Office Manager in New York City
April 26, 2023
In 2017, a massive 283-plus ct. piece of Tsavorite rough that was a remarkably clean crystal with astounding green hues came out of the ground in East Africa, and Bridges Tsavorite Owner Bruce Bridges was naturally intrigued. His father, Campbell, discovered the gem in 1967 and was murdered by assassins in 2009. Once the gem was uncovered and Bridges acquired the rough, he and industry peers worked to bring the “Lion of Merelani” to life as a 116.76 ct. square cushion cut before it landed in the National Gem Collection within the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C.
Key Quote: “So many have dedicated so much to Tsavorite and this gem that the unveiling was a pinnacle moment for us. We wanted to honor the Bridges family and legacy, for everything Campbell did—and his family still does—in the name of gemology. We also wanted to recognize Jeff Post’s 40 years of service to the museum (Jeff retires in May). The Lion is a gift to the entire gem industry, and the unveiling ceremony was a moment of magic.” Shelly Sergent, Somewhere in the Rainbow collection
Sept. 27, 2023
Studio jeweler Link Wachler has a classic skill that is uber rare to see nowadays: he is a wax carver. And while he carves lots of different types of jewels—“About half of my work is remodeling family pieces,” he says—pet pendants, particularly dogs, are a passion project for which both retail clients and trade peers seek him out. Wachler is the force behind Link Jewelry Designs in Troy, Mich.
Key Quote: “Some dogs have open mouths with teeth showing, and it can be tedious to carve those. The eyes are always tricky, too, because they are so expressive. And the noses can’t be full dimension because they would stick out too far. Sometimes, I’ll go back to a piece multiple times before finishing it. It takes a keen eye to see the differences in dogs, and that’s what means so much more to an individual. I try to capture your dog’s nuances versus others.” Link Wachler, designer, Link Jewelry Designs
May 10, 2023
Yvonne Jiew knows a little bit about many subjects, but gem dealing is likely her strongest suit. The onetime IT professional, chef, sommelier, professional poker player, and jack-of-all-trades has spent the last 20 years immersed in the gemstone industry, though she’s also working towards her pilot’s license and snapping high-quality photographs for galleries nationwide. Her primary role now is sourcing vintage goods abroad and reselling them in the U.S.
Key Quote: “[U.S. Internet forum participants] drove me to documentation. But I’m happy they did because I’m really interested in the ethics behind trading. I’m anti-greenwashing, and I’ve spent the last seven years proving that I’m getting gems straight from source countries.” Yvonne Jiew, owner of Rockstoc.
March 8, 2023
Prices for unheated Rubies and Sapphires continue to escalate and there’s no end in sight. AGTA dealers who attended the Thai Gem and Jewelry Traders Association Thailand Gems & Jewelry Fair, held Feb. 22–26, 2023, didn’t find bargains but had to buy what they could anyway just to keep stateside sales happening.
Key Quote: “If you see something fabulous, buy it even if it’s pricey. It will be more expensive next year, and even more the year after that.” Erica Courtney, Erica Courtney
Feb. 15, 2023
At the 2023 Centurion jewelry show in Phoenix, Caroline Stanley had quite the accessory around her neck: the Esperanza Diamond, a rare D-color, internally flawless rock unearthed at the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, Ark. Stanley, the owner of marketing firm Red Jewel, which helps manage the Centurion show, doesn’t own the Diamond, but she was a walking billboard for the person looking to sell it.
Key Quote: “It has 147 facets in total with two culets, three keels, and no table. A unique design for a unique Diamond that shows off the color and transparency from every direction while preserving as much weight as possible.” Mike Botha of Embee Diamond Technologies
June 21, 2023
The sale of the 55.22 ct. Estrela de Fura Ruby from Mozambique, an unheated stone that sold at a Sotheby’s auction on June 8 for $34.8 million, could influence future Ruby prices, especially on gems from the African nation. While collectors have long desired Rubies from Burma, Rubies like the Estrela de Fura from Mozambique could make the African gems more desirable.
Key Quote: “I think the price achieved by the de Fura will be great for retailers and manufacturers. One of the biggest struggles for Ruby sales was the customers’ demand for the Burma Ruby, which is not as available and far more expensive.” Tyler Hartman, Owner, Hartman Brothers
Oct. 18, 2023
When Israel was attacked by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7, many in the U.S. felt that pain because of ties to the only Jewish nation in the world. To date, 1,300 Israelis have lost their lives while hundreds more, including some Americans, have been kidnapped. Many in the stateside jewelry industry have family and friends there and mourn the tragedy.
Key Quote: “We have family in Israel. Our middle son Dustin volunteered in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). We try to go once a year—we were just there in August—because it’s our connection to our Jewish homeland. It’s so hard to wrap our minds around this war.” Rachel Chalchinsky, principal, Color Source Gems
July 26, 2023
Dr. Jeffrey Post may be as full of wonder and reverence for the gemstone and mineral industry today as he was 32 years ago when he embarked on the professional adventure of Curator and Research Mineralogist at the National Gem and Mineral Collection at the Smithsonian Institute. Post retired in May but still hasn’t left (yet).
Key Quote: “I’m continuing on as a research associate and Curator Emeritus. There are still papers to finish and projects that need to be wound down, so they don’t burden someone else. When you join the Smithsonian family, you never really leave.” Dr. Jeffrey Post, research associate and Curator Emeritus
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