Sapphires for breakfast and rubies for dinner
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  Sapphires for breakfast and rubies for dinner

by Menahem Sevdermish, FGA D.Litt
March 12, 2012


Would you believe me if I told you that the time of day that you close a deal may well affect your success in the gemstone business? It's true, and it is something I learned relatively late in life. In fact it took me more than 30 years before realizing why dealers in Bangkok insisted on showing me the sapphire lots before lunch and the ruby lots only in the afternoon.

The signs were always out there, but I never noticed. The dealers would always find reasons not to show me the rubies in the morning hours, saying that the stones were out with a broker or being viewed by another dealer. So they would show me all the sapphire lots, which for some reason were always available in the mornings and tied up in the afternoons.

When it became apparent to that something was up, I decided to check up on my suppliers. But to do so required some chicanery. I packed all the rubies and sapphires in a box ready to be inspected the following day, but not in the sequence that they had intended. Consequently, to their total dismay, I inspected the lots of rubies during the morning hours, and the lots of sapphires during the afternoon hours.

I was shocked! All the ruby estimates that I gave in the morning were at least 10 percent lower than what I had given the previous evening, and all the sapphire estimates in the afternoon were at least 10 percent lower than what I had estimated in the morning.

That night I woke up in a cold sweat, brought on by a revelation. If I had examined the rubies in the morning and the sapphires in the afternoon I would have saved myself a great many dollars. But, if as a business strategy I buy the rubies in the morning sell them in the afternoon, and buy sapphires in the afternoon and sell them in the morning, I'd be rich!

So inspired was I that considered creating a small, closed community of dealers to whom I would disclose this amazing secret. I would be the leader and get a piece of the action. I even thought of a name for this society: MBAR - Morning Blues and After Red.

So I decided to approach my best friend and my gemology student (with distinction, 1977), Rafi Zadikof, one of the gem industry's leading experts, and disclose to him my new-found understanding.

The moment I began explaining my premise, the man looked at me with a surprised expression which was soon transformed into a patronizing smile. "GOOOOOOD morning Menahem!!" he laughed. For the record, it was 5 PM.

"That's a secret? Dealers around the world have been aware of this for ages. And what about emerald dealers in Israel who always buy in the northern-facing room and sell in the southern-facing room, where the color is excited by the sun light? And what about buying lighter gems in Bangkok knowing that they will look much better in New York City, and what about a dark gem in New York which will sell as a very attractive open color in Bangkok?"

"I knew that, but never made the connection. Why does nobody ever talk about it?" I asked Rafi. "How can it be that it is not mentioned anywhere?"

He answered as he accompanied me to the door "I do not know why nobody talks about it, but I am sure that even the cave men sold their rubies in the cave around the fire where they looked better, and traded for them them during the daytime hours when they looked less attractive. But don't talk about it! It's one of the last secrets we have in the gem trade."

And so I divided my gems into morning and afternoon items. And since it is the trade's last secret, I decided to keep it as such. Until now that is.