Oh, the word alone, the daunting spelling and pronunciation, is a good indication for what lies ahead.
In relation to its relatively small market share, padparadscha is probably the most discussed and fought over variety of all gems, past and present. It is so regularly innocently misinterpreted and undervalued, or maliciously misrepresented and overvalued, that most professionals have stories to tell of how they lost or gained small fortunes with a padparadscha.
BTW: IMO, those who have to type the word 'padparadscha' several times a day, and know at least one correct spelling by heart, may be allowed to abbreviate to ‘pad’.
What then is so difficult about pads? Mainly, that their grading reference color is defined by natural phenomena that vary wildly in their appearances: Sunset, lotus-flower, salmon, papaya, to name a few.
Literary essays, poetry, and statistic science have been called upon to define what is a pad and what is not.
The widely accepted smallest denominator is the one we use on this website: A pad is a natural orange-pink or pink-orange sapphire in a tone between ‘Light Medium 25’ and ‘Medium Dark 65’ with an independent gem lab report stating ‘natural corundum’ and ‘variety Padparadscha’ or some equal wording.
‘Natural’ does NOT mean ‘untreated’ though. For that, you need an extra remark with something like ‘no indication of treatment’ or ‘free of enhancements’ in the report.
On this our site, you will find only unheated padparadschas, meaning 100% pure all-natural, orange-pink or pink-orange sapphires free from any and all human treatments except faceting.
However, untreated pads are as rare as it gets. So very rare, that many traders, even those who pride themselves in selling only ‘natural sapphires’, offer also heated specimens and that may be OK if disclosed openly. There just are not enough untreated pads in the market to go around within affordable budgets, hence we must be generous.
BUT: Beryllium treatment (BE or other surface coloring), however, is not OK, never, ever. Such artificial mutation can not be called a natural gemstone anymore. Period. Everybody agrees, even people with the tightest budgets.
In fact, you can buy beryllium treated padparadscha sapphires that look great, at first sight, for a few dollars per carat. Taking such and selling them as natural padparadscha for $3,000/ct is of course a fantastic temptation for humans with a loose moral compass. Criminals run far riskier business deals for snotty 300% margin, accepting jail time as scenarios if caught. Not for selling a BE treated sapphire though. Such gems are clean, legal, easy to hide and easy to lose. Thus, gem-scams are amongst the most attractive crimes imaginable, and they will be committed again and again. In the 90ies, Japan was flooded with beryllium treated padparadschas for years until somebody like us blew the whistle. Millions of dollars disappeared over night. Nobody was blamed, let alone locked up in jail.
The availability of new, ever harder to detect, treatments is opening up world's of opportunities for fraud artists every year.
It would be naive to talk of honor or karma here. That may count for me, but it is no protection for you (the buyer). The only way to protect yourself is, firstly, never to buy without a verifiable report from a known gem lab, not a self-made appraisal or in-house printed 'document' but an original report from an independent brand-name in the gem lab world. Such documents come with professional copy protection like bank notes. Secondly, since even lab reports can be faked or tested gems exchanged, you might buy only from somebody you personally trust or who has a reputation to lose that is more valuable than even a 100,000% margin. A trader with several million dollars’ worth of inventory will not risk getting caught in a beryllium scandal that costs him the ability to sell the rest of his gemstones. The web is a small world. Nothing stays hidden.
Considering all this, it is no surprise that many first-time customers are critical and paranoid, often so far as to become insulting to an honest seller. It is a good exercise in kindness and patience, building trust with such newcomers, sometimes even with people who have been scammed already, perhaps on ebay, or on the streets on Bangkok. There is only one advantage in dealing with an already burned buyer: He does not believe in clever deals and easily saved money anymore. Too good to be true is just that. He values quality over price and hopefully understands that keeping a large inventory of real natural gemstones with expensive lab reports is a venture that can live only with sustainable margins.
What then is a sustainable margin? What is the value of an irreplaceable product with finite supply, a product so unique that no similar one can be called upon to compare?
Margins in fine perfumes, mass produced with little cost, are estimated at 20,000%. If a Rolex, quality sure, but still mass-produced, with potentially infinite supply and competitive offers in the market can make 500% between factory and retail, what is a fair price for, say, a round two carat unheated padparadscha, so rare a gem that one may not be able to get another for years, if ever?
There is no ‘fair’ price. There is only the price a seller and a buyer agree upon, both determined by their individual cash situation and determination to keep or buy the gem.
If the seller is in a tight spot and his landlord is pressing for the rent, he might settle for zero margin (God beware).
But, if the lucky buyer has just inherited a giant investment fund and plans to propose to a woman who dreams of a round two carat unheated padparadscha and there is not a single other gem in the market: what price is too high? None.
Remember: Prices for rare gems are set by individual agreements between a unique seller and a unique buyer.
Our stock in pads under one carat used to be much bigger. I had several dozens but sold them too cheap, like this one, with the re-supply getting more difficult and expensive every month. I had to raise prices to find balance but this page is already empty. My bad.
Enough here. I will write more about padparadscha between one and two carat.