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Seller’s Tall Tales



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Examining Parcels of Mogok Rubies

I have been in the jade and gems trade for many years.  I have learnt a number of lessons for which I have paid a high price.  These hard knock lessons may be due to pure stupidity, greed and an innocence born of being too eager, too fast and too hungry.  It is said that good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgment.  This statement always hold true.

Examining Jade Boulders - Young Man with Jacket Is My Son, Cal

But when you are in the thick of it, when you are shown some excellent jade carvings going for a song, when you are shown a rough jade boulder with intense green streaks on the crust and most important as when you are on a buying trip and your pocket has some loose wads of dollars, you just cannot resist the temptation to deal even when your gut instinct tells you to leave it.  One might think along this line (which I often do) – I work out a base price, then I make an offer to the seller and I am prepared to walk away without the purchase.  Isn’t is true that the best bargaining chip a buyer has is his willingness to walk away without a deal. This is excellent in theory but in practice one often falls for some great stories that a seller told you.

GotCha, Sold this one to a Jade Dealer for 15x Profit. If I recut it may be more, but cash-flow is important

I have heard a lot of these tall stories as told by sellers and I am getting wiser by each buying experience abet poorer each time (if merchandise turns out sour) when I thought about it and it struck me that I have been had.  There were also times when I actually believed in their tales and gained a windfall.   So I am going to share them with you so that you can be a learned and savvy buyer as you continue reading my posts.

Sellers lining up to offer rough and cut jade. Sitting far right is my younger son, Wil

But you must be aware of this.  Every buying experience is unique.  There is no one set of rules that applies in all situations or one glove that fits all.  Your buying power becomes better and better with more purchases.  Is all in the game, you just have to be in it to learn and learn. Sometimes you might land a big fish, sometimes you just got yourself a lemon and more often than not you find yourself paying a much higher price because the seller is too persuasive, too slick and you buy his story, hook, line and sinker first and then you shake your money out of your pocket and pay the seller.

But at times I also learn to throw caution to the wind.  When my air fare, accommodation, travelling expenses and time are factored in when I am in a foreign country, I would not hesitate to buy an item if it is affordable and within my budget.  It is better for me to regret buying an item than to regret not buying it and I come home empty handed and thinking of the big fish that slips away.  I too have seen too many travelers where they will not dish out any money for fear of getting cheated by the seller.  These are the buyers who will get nowhere.

Jade looked excellent with a mawed window

This was what I got, you win some you lose a lot

So it is all judgmental and it depends all on yourself and your appetite for risk taking.  Luck – 50%, Skill – 20% and Foolishness – 30%.

Go! Go! Go!




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Category: Seller’s Tall Tales

About the Author: A.Arthur Lau, Gemologist. Spent 20 over years abroad traveling and working in third world Asean countries as well as in Hong Kong, China, London and New York City. Greatest passion for jadeite jade. Being to the famous Hpakan Jade Mines and the Mogok Ruby Mines in Upper Myanmar (Burma). Professional qualifications include Graduate Gemologist (GIA, New York City), MBA (Cranfield University, England) and B.Sc (Hons).

Comments (9)

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  1. A.Arthur Lau says:

    Hi MontyHall

    Yes, it is always better to buy when you are overseas, when you can afford to lose that one. I too have a few regrets for not buying something which I could afford but thought that the seller was not honest. Apart from assessing the seller, it is also important to see that whether the things i bought fit into my temperament or my business.

    thank you for sharing your experience

    arthur

  2. MontyHall says:

    “I too have seen too many travelers where they will not dish out any money for fear of getting cheated by the seller. These are the buyers who will get nowhere.”

    Arthur, you are so right.

    To this day, I regret not having purchased an antique, pebble-shaped, extremely-well-hollowed mutton fat jade snuff bottle in Hong Kong. It was $1,000 in 1978, but was incredible. I had the cash and couldn’t part with it. Have always regretted it.

  3. A.Arthur Lau says:

    Hi Rich, thank you for your comments. Yes, any buyers on ebay should check the refund policy and the seller must be a reputable one. I noticed that you have 100% positive feedback and that speaks volume on you being an honest and reputable seller.

    I am sure your business on the Guatemalan jade will be very successful.

    warm regards
    A Arthur Lau

  4. Rich says:

    I think so many buyers have been burned that many are hesistant to purchase jade online (especially on Ebay!). That’s why I’d always check the return/refund policy and use that as a good test of whether the product is legitimate!

    Rich (Guatemalan Jadeite Seller)

  5. Ivan says:

    Haha, I usually eat salmon with a lot lemons. So,… we need more lemon to get a fish :)

    I somehow understand the feeling when openning a fish :D

  6. A.Arthur Lau says:

    Hi Ivan, thank you for your comments. If you have any enquiries do drop me a note. Cam On

  7. A.Arthur Lau says:

    Hi Ivan, thank you for taking the time to put comments in my website. Ha ha, you mean whether I am still ahead of the game or I am far down the debit hole. Hard to say, I am still ahead. Sometimes when you cut a good stone, you have enough chips to stay for a long time in the rough jade market. I tend also to agree with you that there must always be a foolish element in it – like 10%.

    Thank you for your comments again, Ivan.

  8. Ivan says:

    Thanks for sharing your experiences! Can I ask your a question: “Do you have more fishes or more lemons? :)

  9. Ivan says:

    “When my air fare, accommodation, travelling expenses and time are factored in when I am in a foreign country, I would not hesitate to buy an item if it is affordable and within my budget. It is better for me to regret buying an item than to regret not buying it and I come home empty handed and thinking of the big fish that slips away.”
    –> That’s true, I would do the same, but I think: Luck:60%, Skill: 30%, the last 10% is the dealer.