Gemmology & responsible sourcing

Interview with Frédérique, gemologist and precious stone trader in Marseille. This dual role allows her to have expertise in the precious stones she sells, some of which are sourced directly from the mines.

How did you get into gemology?

After four years of study in England for my studies in cultural business management, I wanted to move to a place where it was nice and warm. I went to Mexico where I met my future husband who sold stones and created jewelry. I fell in love with him… and the stones! We left together by bus to Honduras to source fire opals in particular. We brought back 60 kilos by bus, that’s all! At the time, I was working in a gallery. It was only to accompany him, but I loved it. We finally returned to Europe and the stone market being more complicated than in Mexico, we stopped everything for 15 years. And this until several professional questions which pushed me to return to the path of precious stones, which have always fascinated me. So I trained in gemology in 2021 in Marseille.

What is your approach as a trader and gemologist?

My approach is particular. I decided to offer stones from Latin America (mainly emeralds and sapphires from Colombia) and preferably from responsible sourcing. Latin America is simply because I know the places well, my husband is of Mexican origin, we speak the language and know the culture well, it's easier to communicate. It is a known land.

Colombian sapphires

I will collect the stones directly from certain miners to ensure their traceability. I made the choice to go for raw material. This choice means that it will be complicated to find two identical stones, in terms of color and calibration. They will almost all be unique.

What do you mean by “responsible sourcing”?

You should know that when you buy stones already cut, you do not know where they come from, where they were cut, in what conditions and what treatment they have had. There is often no transparency.

My choice is to work directly and at the source with very small mines and small operators who often struggle to make a living. When we source the stones, we do not negotiate the prices, which for us is the “fair” price. We call ourselves “responsible” because we know where the money goes and what the miners do with it, that is, to live and feed their families. We even helped certain miners create businesses so that they could structure and continue their activity.

Manon, creator of Manora and Frédérique, gemologist