Precious gemstones are appreciated by everyone not only for its jewelry but also for the decoration and spirituality. If you have a passion and want to know gemstones better, come to Vietnam to learn more about the gemstone market here. In this article, we will give you useful information as well as some tips for buying them on your trip to Vietnam.

A Vietnamese woman examing a blue necklace of gemstones

A Vietnamese woman examing a blue necklace of gemstones

Definition of Gemstones

The gemstone is the common name of all rare minerals that are mined from nature. Humans discovered these special minerals thousands of years ago and began to transform them to create jewelry that represents their own caste. In natural conditions, precious stones are formed at high temperature and tension. The movements of plate tectonics cause crystal movement and crystallization under appropriate conditions during volcanic eruptions.

Different types of magma create different gems and minerals. Minerals have high aesthetics, hardness, durability and high rarity that are considered precious or semi-precious stones.

To deserve the name of gem, this material (mineral, rock or an organic substance such as pearl, amber or coral) must be attractive, especially by its color. It must be stable and strong enough to survive constant use or handling without scratching or damaging itself.

Classification of Gemstones

Now, precious stones are classified by their colors and characteristics:

Feature

Now, there are more than 3,000 types of minerals in the world, but only about 100 types of fossil minerals are suitable for gemstone processing. There are 4 main groups of precious stones:

  • The Diamond: Ultimate proof of love, it is said that the diamond is the best friend of the woman. Anyone who offers a diamond promises an eternal love in the shelter of time.
  • The Emerald: When we offer a jewel set with an emerald, we promise fidelity.
  • The Ruby: To offer a jewel adorned with a ruby ​​is synonymous with passionate love.
  • The Sapphire: This beautiful blue stone represents the exclusive love, the reliability of feelings.

However, some countries also have Cats Eye, Pearl, Marble and Alexandrite colors.

4 main groups of gemstones

4 main groups of gemstones

Color

Some gems have a similar mineral composition, so people will trust the color to distinguish them. More precisely, sapphire and ruby ​​are corundum minerals. But the red minerals are called rubies, while the other colors are called sapphires.

Red Sapphire ring and necklace collection

Red Sapphire ring and necklace collection

The Criteria for Perceiving the Value of Gemstones

1. Scarcity

We gather here all rare facts for the gem. If the stone contains a rare aspect, it takes value in terms of both price and charm. Certain impurities that devalue clarity can express themselves and gain value. Here are some rare examples for adding value to a gem:

  • Quartz with rutile needles forming a star.
  • Inclusion of one gem in another.
  • A star sapphire with 12 branches.
  • An unusual or infrequent gemstone color.
  • The specific form of a gem during its growth like trapiche emeralds.
  • Have a big gem while raw crystals are very small and give only small sizes like tsavorite.
  • The shimmer effect (cat-eye) in some stones like Alexandrite.
  • A honeycomb structure in opals.
  • The color change according to the type of light sources such as Alexandrite, Sapphire and Garnet
  • An asterism effect (star) on a spinel.
  • There are also stones with their mine closed or low production: stones of the Kashmir valley, bixbite and benitoite of Utah in the USA, Hauynite of Germany, the sapphire of the Alps.
  • The insect in amber.
  • The rough stone of new or perfect form.
The Opal

The Opal

2. Endurance

Gemstones or any high-end product are valued by sustainability. Good stamina helps them avoid outside influences like hitting, falling to the ground, coming in contact with chemicals, etc. Gemstones are not only beautiful but must also be chemically stable, hardness, etc.

3. Aesthetics

We cannot discuss the tastes and colors, but it must be good! Everyone can appreciate or not a color and that is also what will make a stone charming or not. Therefore, for the criterion of the color, we will speak more about the intensity of the color.

For the color, it will be necessary to know a minimum scale of the color of stone before being able to judge intensity. For example, a sapphire can range from almost colorless blue to intense royal blue or blue-black. Having already observed, you can better assess where the intensity of your stone is.

Of a general nature, a stone with a more intense color will be better evaluated than almost colorless one. But this is still a matter of taste and trend: each producer puts forward its best produced color and it can become a seal to set the price.

Green Emerald Gachala Gemstone

Green Emerald Gachala Gemstone

4. Size

Regarding the size, the more complex it is to make by the lapidary, the more hours the stone will ask for work. As a result, the higher the cost will be. It will also be necessary to judge the quality of the size: more edges or less parallel or perpendicular. The brilliance of a stone can also be judged here because it is strongly related to the quality of the size and its type.

5. The mass

The weight of a stone is given in carats. The higher the carat is, the higher the value and rarity are. The weight is not proportional to the value but it is exponential. It is much easier to find 1-carat stones than 10-carat ones. For a 1-carat stone at 1€ and for the same 10-carat stone, the price will not be 10€ but 20 or even 50€. Everything has a strong connection to the current market for each type of stone and its worldwide production.

In addition, we must study the price of each type of stone to assess the price in relation to its weight. There are stones that can not be found at more than 20 carats. In the latter case, we can have a small stone at a very high price.

General Introduction of Gemstones in Vietnam

The History of Gemstones in Vietnam

In the Middle Ages, there were legends of precious stones in the Khmer kingdom, including Southern Vietnam. The validity of these hypotheses is largely confirmed by modern geological studies.

Of course, the source of gemstones is not naturally available underground in Vietnam. In fact, this country has reserves of sapphires and rubies that are fertile worldwide.

Until the 1980s, there was virtually no information on mining in Vietnam because of frequent and prolonged warfare. The big mines are discovered later but its quality is not superior.

In 1983, the first discovery of natural corundum was recorded in this country and from 1987, Vietnam’s mines began to be actively exploited.

Since 1989, a large number of rubies and pink sapphires have been mined in Vietnam.

It is remarkable that the quality of Vietnamese rubies can be compared with the legendary rubies and sapphires of Myanmar (Burma). Today, Vietnam has a very rich source of gems. There are sapphire and rubies, zircons, yellow and green tourmalines, yellow-green chrysoberyl cat eyes, spinel, tourmaline, peridot, aquamarine, topaz, garnet, and quartz, as well as a variety of rare cultured pearls.

Why Gemstones are Very Popular around the World?

Precious stones have a bright red color, which is otherwise known by the name “Ruby”. This stone has become a symbol of unalterable and vivid feeling. Couples believe that their love will be strong and happy if they own a pair of ruby ​​stones.

Today, precious stones are considered a very special gift for couples celebrating a silver wedding (25 years), a golden wedding (50 years) and a diamond wedding (60 years).

A pair of Ruby and Sapphire wedding rings

A pair of Ruby and Sapphire wedding rings

Since ancient times, precious stones helped drive out diseases and became a prophylactic. According to “feng shui” – Chinese geomancy, if you have a stone that suits your destiny, you will always be safe and your work will be favorable.

In oriental and modern medicine, precious stones are also considered a valuable medicine that helps to accumulate energy and prevent diseases of the body. They can do the treatment of heart disease, arthritis, insomnia, and diseases such as epilepsy, memory problems, etc.

Types of Gemstones in Vietnam

1. Ruby and Sapphire

Ruby and sapphire are found in Yen Bai province in Northern Vietnam and in Nghe An and Quang Nam provinces in Central Vietnam. Sapphire also presents in Lam Dong, Dak Nong, Dak Lak, Binh Thuan and Dong Nai provinces in the Central Highlands and Southern provinces. While corundum was discovered in the North almost three decades ago, Vietnamese geologists found gems in the Central and Southern provinces only in the early 2000s.

Among these localities, Yen Bai remains the most important source of fancy rubies and sapphires, while Central Vietnam is the main supplier of blue to dark blue sapphire.

Three sapphires

Three Sapphires

Hauzenberger et al. (2003) identified four types of primary corundum gem deposits in Vietnam:

  • Ruby and sapphire associated with metasomatic and metamorphic processes in high-grade rocks: Co Man outcrop in Truc Lau valley, Khe Nhan and Kinh La occurrences in Tan Huong area and Phuoc Hiep mining area in Quang Nam province.
  • Marble Fancy Rubies and Sapphires: Yen Bai Province (Khoan Thong, An Phu, Nuoc Ngap, Hom, Khau Nghien, Sao Vang, May Thuong, May Ha, Phai Hap, Tan Lap, Lam Dong, Slope 700 to Outcrop of Bao Ai, Tan Huong Core and Mine Truc Lau (from DOJI) and Nghe An Province (Quy Chau – Quy Hop).
  • Sapphire linked to basaltic rocks: Dak Lak and Lam Dong in the Central Highlands provinces and Dong Nai and Binh Thuan in the Southern provinces.
  • Rock rubble of feldspar-type pegmatite rocks: occurrences near kilometer markers 12, 15 and 23 along National Highway 70 in Luc Yen, Yen Bai Province.

Today, however, ruby ​​and sapphire are mainly mined from secondary deposits.

2. Spinel

The Red Spinel

The Red Spinel

Vietnamese spinel was first discovered at Luc Yen (Yen Bai Province) and Quy Chau (Nghe An), along with the ruby ​​and sapphire. Yen Bai is today the only active source. The main mines are located at An Phu, Khoan Thong, Minh Tien and Truc Lau at Luc Yen; and Tan Huong at Yen Binh. Luc Yen has two different geological origins. The more intense red spinel is generally derived from calcitic to dolomitic marble, sometimes associated with clinochlore or phlogopite. On the other hand, purple, violet, brown and blue spinels are found in marble with a more complex mineral assemblage containing clinohumite, pargasite, clinochlore, and forsterite. The red spinels of the purest marbles have a similar formation environment to that of the marble rubies (ie metamorphic), whereas the spinels of the complex marbles are metasomatic.

3. Tourmaline

The Pink Tourmaline

The Pink Tourmaline

Today, Luc Yen is known for the tourmaline mine in Vietnam. With spinel, tourmaline was discovered for the first time in alluvial terrain at Khoan Thong, An Phu, and Minh Tien. The region of Luc Yen produces about 200 kg of tourmaline per year, which is lower than its production of rubies, sapphire, and spinel.

Nevertheless, the quality and variety of colors make tourmaline one of the most important gems in the region.

4. Peridot

The Peridot

The Peridot

Peridot was discovered in Vietnam in the early 1990s. Gem-quality peridot was obtained from three provinces in the Central highlands: Gia Lai, Dak Lak, and Lam Dong. Among them, Gia Lai plays a role of the most important source. Two deposits – Ham Rong and Bien Ho, produce about 100 kg per month.

5. Garnet

Rhodolite Garnet

Rhodolite Garnet

Garnet (almandine and pyrope) presents in the region of Luc Yen and in smaller quantities elsewhere in Northern Vietnam, including Thach Khoan (Phu Tho province), Thuong Xuan (Thanh Hoa) and Ky Son (Nghe An). The almandine pyrope also presents with olivine, phlogopite, and perovskite in some kimberlite dikes in Kon Tum Province in the Central Highlands. At Luc Yen, where garnet production could reach 50 to 60 kg per year, amandine-pyrope is found as an accessory gemstone with other stones such as ruby, sapphire, and spinel in alluvial deposits.

The Exploitation of Gemstones in Vietnam

Once upon a time, precious stones could be discovered lying on the beach or on the side of a mountain.

However, nowadays we find them almost exclusively underground. We must resort to mining, sometimes with very rudimentary methods in developing countries.

There, the miners work in open pits with makeshift tunnels dug along the fields where they use hand tools to extract stones. Only some of them have access to more advanced tools such as compressed air drilling devices or explosives.

Raw Black Tourmaline and fluorite

Raw Black Tourmaline and fluorite

Larger companies mine with industrial machinery such as excavators, hydraulic drills, bulldozers, underground vehicles or “shake” machines that separates rocks of different sizes.

There are also many stones in the riverbeds where extraction methods are quite traditional (although more popular) as the case for gold mining.

Places to Purchase Gemstones in Vietnam

1. Luc Yen Natural Stone Market

Luc Yen is one of the largest stone reserves in Vietnam. The largest stones will be cut to represent flowers, leaves or roofs of houses. The smaller ones will be sifted to obtain powder which will then be sprinkled on the boards. 502 glue is used to fix the stones.

Gemstones on purchase at Luc Yen Natural Stone Market

Gemstones on purchase at Luc Yen Natural Stone Market

The market is open every morning from 7 am to 10 am. The stones present on small wooden tables and twenty traders offer their goods. Here, we find all kinds of stones. There are precious stones such as ruby, sapphire, emerald or semi-precious stones such as quartz or amethyst. Gemstones are the most expensive. The prices range from hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese dong to hundreds of millions of Vietnamese dong. They can be rough or cut.

Customers are mostly professionals. Tourists, for their part, are especially interested in paintings in natural or semi-precious stones sold in the surrounding shops.

2. Gemstone Fair 456

Located behind a small bend of dead-end 456 Hoang Hoa Tham Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi, this small fair of gems and jewels takes place every Sunday from 08:00 to 14:00.

A seller explaining to a customer about gemstones at Gemstone Fair 456

A seller explaining to a customer about gemstones at Gemstone Fair 456

Here, all kinds of stones and jewels are on sale: precious stones such as rubies, sapphires or emeralds with semi-precious stones such as quartz or amethyst, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, etc. Most of them come from the quarries of Luc Yen District, a Northern mountainous province of Yen Bai and Quy Hop District (Nghe An Province, Central Vietnam).

The prices are offered depending on their beauty, permanence and rarity. Red rubies are the most expensive. The harder the stone is, the more expensive it will be.

Tips for Your Purchase of Gemstones

  • According to the small traders, the easiest way to quickly recognize most of the stones is to check the optical phenomena by passing a light pencil on the surface of the stone. Natural gems produce more reflections than artificial ones, with a brighter appearance.
  • Learn about the gems available. If you are going to a foreign country and you want to buy gems, the first thing you need to do is to find out about the different varieties of precious stones that you might find in that country.
  • Next, it is important to have a notion of the price of these stones in the West so as not to risk buying them more expensive! Indeed, it is tempting for some merchants to sell stones at a high price level if they think that they are welcoming simple tourists, etc.
  • You must check the security conditions of the place of purchase. If it is a usual place for stone trading, it is likely to be under close surveillance.
  • You had better negotiate. With regard to bargaining, the uses differ from one country to another. When sellers offer you a price, do not hesitate to make a very low offer to start. Then, revise your price gradually by taking your time.

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Bich Ngoc

As a true Vietnamese enthusiast of music, books and coffee, Bich Ngoc loves researching into those typical cultural characteristics of Vietnam as well as exploring further destinations in the country of thousand years of civilization.

Comments(4)

  1. I want your suggestion, I have heard about Burmese Ruby as the most exotic and precious, in comparison to Burmese Ruby how do you consider Vietnamese ruby’s quality and worth? I intend to buy for my wife, and I need to make sure I am gifting her the quality stuff.

    1. Thank you for your comment.

      According to the Mohs hardness scale – the scale of hardness in science, Ruby has a hardness of 9.0, behind Diamond (10) and Moissanite (9.5). An important thing to keep in mind when choosing Ruby ​​is the impurities in the stone. I would like to confirm, 100% Ruby in nature has a stain color error and Rutile-needle crystals.

      Ruby appears everywhere on Earth, except for Antarctica. However, Ruby ​​in Asia is the most popular, thanks to the topographic characteristics and the geology in this region that affects the formation of rocks. Therefore, Ruby in Asia has a higher energy source.

      And sure, the Ruby’s ​​red color is distinctive, symbolizing warmth and mystery. Ruby is also a symbol of love, effort and romance. For that reason, you should be completely assured to buy Ruby in Vietnam as a gift for your wife.

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