» For a company that imports emeralds, why are you called Moneybub Publishing?

Practically every other company has the words "gem", "emerald", or "gemstones" in their name. And, as it turns out, our company actually has published a book, but that's another story.

» Why don't you have a store?

We are an importer and as such our requirements are different. A physical street presence is expensive to maintain, and our website allows us to reach a broader audience if for nothing else, to help educate about emeralds. It also gives the photographer slash web developer something to do.

Simply because we don't have a brick-and-mortar presence doesn't mean we don't have rules to follow. Moneybub adheres to all disclosure requirements established by the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) with regard to the marketing and selling of precious gemstones, and our business model observes the ethical guidelines established by the American Gem Society (AGS) Code of Ethics. Documentation provided by us uses common, industry vernacular for colored gemstones as defined by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).

The FTC, AGS, or GIA organizations have not reviewed this website or our claims and we make no representation that we have any endorsement from these entities in any regard. On that same note, we are so assuredly confidant that if those organizations wish to examine us, our procedures, and our product, they are most certainly welcome.

Each staff member at Moneybub has a minimum of ten years experience in working exclusively with emeralds and our Colombian associates are highly qualified gemologists, certified by the GIA, and fluent in both English and Spanish. TOP

» Why don't you photograph the stones you have for sale?

Well, we do now. When we started, we fully believed in photographing the stones, but the Colombians talked us out of it. Their belief is that you shouldn't buy a gemstone based on a picture. Hard to argue that, but the market demands, especially over the Internet, a picture.

The true color of a stone in a photograph present challenges. Lighting conditions during the photography, the quality of the film or digital sensor, and the computer or smartphone's ability to render color all affect the final outcome, which can be different every time. An additional difficulty is in accurately photographing the inclusion field within the stone. The inclusion field is a 3-dimensional object and photographs present only two of those dimensions. Because of the magnification, inclusions not visible to the naked eye become very apparent when enlarged in such a manner. That affects the buyer's first impression and unnecessarily so. TOP

» Why don't you offer on-line purchasing?

We're considering it. When you deal with a commodity such as precious gems and that such a small item can hold such great value, perception is everything. From the supplier, to the customer, to the law. On-line purchasing has a level of anonymity that our suppliers and owner are not yet quite comfortable with. It's only been the past year there's even been a website.

» What does one have to do to be 'referred'?

With regard to a showing appointment, there are several ways an individual not in the jewelry industry can schedule one —

  • In-home appointments are through the referral by another individual with whom we already have a business relationship. This cannot be a casual acquaintance.
  • If you are a resident on an active military base or installation.
  • If you are clergy, rabbinical, or imam or, as a representative holding a viewing at a recognized church, synagogue, or temple.
  • During regular business hours if you are a business owner at the same storefront address for the past three (3) years.
  • Through your local jeweler with whom you have a relationship. They may reach out to us so that we can arrange for a viewing at their place of business.
  • You may contact a jeweler with whom we have a business relationship. We will provide a list of these businesses on request. You can make this request via email here. There are no charges, fees, or obligations with this service.
  • Need another option? Send us an email here with any questions you may have*. TOP

» There are some very nice emeralds for sale in stores and on the web. What's a customer's motivation to purchase from you?

We travel to Colombia and select all of our inventory. We only stock emeralds we ourselves would own. We do not buy stones without provenance. Our criteria for grading finished stones and gem sets exceeds industry common practice. Our emeralds are examined against master color sheets under controlled conditions. Our proprietary stone report is one of the most comprehensive in the business and is provided free of charge when a stone or gem set is purchased. By following strict procedures, dealing only with reputable counterparts, and keeping our own staff small, flexible, and educated is how we are able to offer you access to quality at a price you won't find anywhere else. TOP

» Can a customer order an emerald to their own requirements or budget? What about raw emeralds?

We do not process custom orders. We do not import raw emerald. TOP

» Are the emeralds that you sell "oiled"?

Yes, and no. To paraphrase an old political line, "It depends on what oiled means."

No discussion of emeralds is more contentious nor would it be complete without a discussion of oiling; the process correctly referred to as enhancement. Please know that emeralds have been enhanced for literally hundreds if not thousands of years and that it is accepted within the industry that emeralds will be enhanced. So, we begin with some basics.

Why are emeralds enhanced? Why not leave them alone?

The short answer is money. If someone can sell a piece of chaf as a gem quality stone because of enhancement, well, there you have it. But that description is one sided. The emerald market is more complex. Unlike diamonds, emeralds are mined by hand (although Brazil has developed a machine technique) and, because of this, the supply of emeralds cannot rise and fall quickly. This creates huge pricing gaps when demand far exceeds supply and distorts the value of the gems. Enhanced stones allow for more raw material to enter the market and thus cushion the highs and lows caused by the natural effects of supply and demand. When ethically done, enhanced stones can command upwards of $25,000 a carat.

An emerald is an example of the mineral beryl and the green color originates from various amounts of the elements beryllium, chromium, and vanadium being part of the beryl molecule. Due to the way the mineral forms, impurities such as iron or carbon make all mined emeralds included. A talented stone cutter looks first to minimize inclusions, then to minimize the number of inclusions breaking through to the surface. This gives the stone a greater strength and better appearance than what it would have if the inclusions were closer to or at the surface. When those same inclusions do reach the surface, they make the stone susceptible to fracture and they interfere with the way light passes through the stone. Sometimes the "flow" or "run" of the inclusion is worked into the design of the stone, such as is done with trapiche emeralds.

Our grading process examines the stone's surface at three times the level used for diamonds. We believe this is a necessary practice to understand the stability and quality of the polished stone. A stone with no flaws breaking through to the surface cannot be enhanced since there is no pathway for the fill to reach the interior of the stone.

Common practice within the industry is to grade an emerald solely by the naked eye, as opposed to using magnification. During this process, if inclusions cannot be seen, the emerald is graded as "eye clean", a catchy term that infers a stone of greater value, but it does not mean the emerald isn't enhanced.

Emerald enhancement does not actually change the stone. Enhancement allows a stone cutter to improve the appearance of a stone by filling in the gaps caused by the inclusions, although some fillers act as a glue binding together hunks of crappy emerald cut and polished into what looks like a gem. Technically, the use of oil as a lubricant when polishing the stone is an enhancement, but many in the trade, including many Colombian dealers, find this standard is a double-edged sword. The process improves the look of the stone, something customers want, but to the customer an enhanced stone has "lost" some of its value because it is no longer "100% natural." The term oiling originally refered to the use of cedar oil in which a gem stone would be soaked. Cedar oil has been used for hundreds of years because its refractive index is nearly identical to that of emerald and the emerald mineral does not react with it. In current day there are literally hundreds of formulations used in replacement of cedar oil. The fractures in the stone soak the mixture up like a sponge filling in any space that can be reached. Some stone cutters heat the stones before soaking, making the fractures expand to absorb more of the medium. This practice is dangerous as when the stone cools, intense internal pressure is placed on the natural flaws as the stone shrinks back to its original size around the filling. There is no enhancement that we know of that actually passes through the emerald mineral itself (other gemstones may be susceptible to irradiation or heat.)

The most common fear about a stone being enhanced is that at some later date, the stone isn't going to be worth what was paid for it. This can partially be attributed to the customer, who wasn't educated in what to look for. Another concern is that as the enhancement fades, the beauty of the emerald when it was purchased will diminish. Not all enhancements are permanent and some can shatter the stone if cleaned or set incorrectly.

The ethical purpose of enhancement is to fill an inclusion with a colorless material of a similar refractive index as emerald to allow for the passage of light, and then to disclose that this process has been done. Unethical uses include using a colored filler, or mis-representing the level or purpose of enhancement.

Now, when it comes time for your children to sell off your estate and put you in a home, they're going to bring the emerald you bought from us to someone who will examine the stone under magnification, special lighting, and possibly even chemical analysis to determine the level of enhancement. It will be then they'll be thrilled you bought from us. Although no selection process is perfect, under our brand we at Moneybub Publishing work diligently to bring only those stones to market that will continue to exhibit their natural beauty for years to come. TOP

» You say you do testing. What kinds of test do you perform?

EXAMINATION: The stone is weighed and dimensioned in Colombia. The GIA gemologist notes initial comments and the certificate of origin is issued. We begin with a complete surface map under daylight (6500K) lighting conditions using 30X magnification. The observer notes any flaws requiring discussion. If necessary, we contact our supplier to discuss the origin of the stone and its handling to determine if in the supply chain, enhancement was performed and to what degree. Sometimes this information is forthcoming, sometimes not.

COLOR, HUE, SATURATION, CLARITY, BRILLIANCE: Using daylight lighting (6500K) with an Ra of 94, the stone is compared to master color sheets printed at 2400 dpi using a neutral white reference (5000K) within the sRGB color space. Clarity and brilliance are evaluated using spot LEDs. Windowing and extinction are measured using black-on-white and green-on-white test patterns.

LAB EXAMINATION: A Chelsea filter is employed to verify the existence of the correct beryl mineral. Chelsea patterns can also be indicative of the point of origin. In a darkroom, the stone is observed under ultraviolet (UV) lighting using both short and long wave. Fluorescence may be indicative of enhancement. Areas of probable enhancement are mapped and a total % of stone volume is calculated to determine extent. In some instances, the stone may be immersed in a 20º Baume solution of hydrochloric acid to determine stone stability and to remove any matter dissolvable in acid. Some of you reading this may be horrified that we do this. Better the stone disintegrates on us than you. If the stone is tested in this manner and doesn't fail, it is regraded for color and clarity.

FINAL GRADING AND PRICING: The stone is photographed and magnified using high-resolution digital equipment. Digital glossies are prepared and a final review of the data and images determines its grading. The results are shared with Colombia and the stone report is created. Values on the report are compared to other stones having similar attributes. Pricing is set based on market conditions for that quality level.

» Why is your standard so much higher than everyone else's?

Let's go with an example that everyone can relate to. The groom to-be goes out and spends an absolute fortune on a diamond engagement ring. He has it appraised and the valuation is typically at or above what he paid for it. Not that the bride has any intention of selling it, but should the worst happen, the insurance company will reimburse her the appraised value if it's lost or stolen. This is because she must replace it. And that typically means going back to the place where he bought it and getting another. On the other side of that coin, is when she returns to the jeweler to either "trade-up" to a more exquisite piece, say on their tenth anniversary, or when she divorces him and now wants to sell the ring. If things stay true to form, she will only realize at best, 60-65% of the paid value of the ring, probably less if she tries to hawk it on eBay. So, you ask yourself, why is that?

The most common answer is that it is the difference between the selling price and the jeweler's mark-up, their "profit" so to speak. If we put aside the actual setting value and concern ourselves only about the center stone, the "mark-up" that we speak of only tells part of the story. Since every diamond is graded, the marketplace has an idea of how many of a certain level of stones are available at any given moment in time. This "availability" determines what the wholesale price of the stone will be. Stones that are up high on the quality scale tend to lose value at a much slower rate than stones of lesser quality, and that's if they lose value at all. Internally flawless (IF) diamonds never lose value. Three to four years after their purchase, a seller can expect to fully recover the purchase price paid. Maybe even make a few dollars depending on the stone's size. This is because IF diamonds are not easy to come by and therefore their market saturation remains at a very low level. When our former bride attempts to sell her stone, she is introducing new supply back into the market and, if her stone is unremarkable, it becomes one of the other thousand or so stones at that grading level also available. She is paid the prevailing rate. It's the price at which it would cost the jeweler to buy it from a dealer. An interesting fact is that while identically graded stones may be varyingly priced from different jewelers, the buy-back price is nearly constant no matter who you sell it to. This is because at that point, the seller is selling the grade quality of the stone, not an "engagement ring."

When it comes to colored gem stones, there really is no accepted grading standard except for the available quantity of stones at a particular grading level. With natural emeralds, this is a measure of flaws as there is no such thing as a flawless, natural emerald. They don't exist in nature. Any emerald that is truly flawless is man-made in a lab. What this means to you is that we sell you an emerald under the same examination conditions as what we would use to buy that emerald back from you. Yes, we have a mark-up in order to stay in business, but it is nowhere near the mark-up experienced for diamonds, or from emerald sellers that don't specialize in high-end product. This doesn't mean emeralds are cheap, they're not by anyone's definition. What it does say is that more of your dollar is going to the actual grade level of the emerald bought than into our pocket. It might seem like we're giving something away or that there must be a catch, but there isn't. We do the importing. We do the selection and the grading. You're not paying anyone else and our efforts are priced at what is common for the market. We simply can't charge whatever we want for our travels, grading, and lab services. Plane tickets and lab chemicals only cost so much. Eventually we would price ourselves out the market and lose all of our customers.

There is nothing wrong with going to a commercial jeweler and buying a pre-set emerald in a beautiful cocktail ring, but understand that each step required to produce that item carries with it a profit margin. You cannot recover this "spread" if you decide to sell it because it has nothing to do with the grade quality of the stone for which all of that effort was expended. A beautiful bracelet doesn't change the quality of the emeralds in it.

» How do your prices compare to other sellers?

Many times it is difficult to understand how a competitor prices a stone. Some prices we see as impossibly low, some we see as ridiculously stupid expensive. We understand the motivation for the latter, but with the former and using the seller's provided description and their photo, we've seen web prices that we can't ourselves match and we travel to Colombia to acquire our product. We'll show you the plane tickets. But we're professionals and tend to see things from that point of view and the average buyer either likes the price or they don't. As Seymour Merinsky (aka Sy Syms) said, "An educated consumer is our best customer."

If a seller tells you that his or her "very good" or "small included" stone is $1500 a carat, yet because of their "connections" they can sell it to you for $500, then it is not "very good" or "small included." It just can't be because we're confidant there isn't a Colombian emerald dealer who'll sell a true $1500 stone for $500. At least not one from Colombia.

We never add any fees or charges for documentation or lab services. A customer shouldn't have to spend more money proving a gem is what it was advertised to be.

Many other sellers differentiate between commercial-grade and investment-grade gems, we do as well. However, these are two terms where four different web-sites will give you five different definitions. For our purposes, a commercial-grade gem is one that can be replaced. Investment-grade stones are very rare, hard to acquire (sometimes it may take years to find a suitable stone,) and can be fabulously expensive (pricing starts at $50,000 per carat).

Then, as a customer you have the option to purchase Zambian, Afghanie, Brazilian, or even Russian emeralds. Some of these stones can be quite beautiful, but they aren't Colombian, and that's why you pay less for them.

Last but not least, here you are not buying jewelry, but an unset stone or gemset. It is analogous to real estate. The property is worth much more when a structure sits on it. The same thing applies to unset gems. Value is realized when you become part of the process rather than simply buying a finished product.

We absolutely want you to understand what it is you are buying.

» What are the terms of your guarantee?

  1. Any item offered by Moneybub Publishing may be returned to Moneybub Publishing by the original purchaser at any time after its purchase up to thirty (30) days after the sale date, if, said item is returned unaltered, undamaged, and unset. The original Transfer of Ownership and Provenance Certificate signed by a Moneybub agent must be returned to validate the purchase.

  2. Purchaser’s sole remedy is a refund of the sales price paid plus all government taxes and shipping fees assessed by us.

  3. Costs incurred by the purchaser to return the purchase to us; or to establish or make of use of credit; or to make use of a third party service; or, paid as compensation for changes in the currency exchange rate between US dollars and Colombian Pesos, will not be refunded.

  4. Purchaser will surrender a fifty dollar (US$ 50) deductible from the refunded purchase price for a loss of the original delivery box.

MONEYBUB PUBLISHING STRONGLY RECOMMENDS THE PURCHASING OF INSURANCE AND THE USE OF 22 OR 24K GOLD FOR PRONG SETTINGS.

ONLY USE QUALIFIED METALSMITHS OR JEWELERS KNOWLEDGABLE IN THE HANDLING OF EMERALDS. IF YOU DO NOT HAVE ONE, PLEASE CONTACT US. MONEYBUB PUBLISHING WILL NOT BE LIABLE FOR DAMAGE TO OR LOSS OF STONES DUE TO FAULTY SETTING, IMPROPER HANDLING, OR CLEANING.

Prices shown are for a cash purchase in United States Dollars.