Stealing is Bad

Why is stealing no good? I wasn’t really sure, besides a vague moral feeling, until I was mugged last week. Now I realize stealing reduces the value of goods.


From an evolutionary point of view it is as easy as that. After the Vikings visited a French village there was not much left except what little the Vikings could carry away. The rest was broken, spilled, burned, dead or traumatized. The village, as a value producing entity, was worth more than the plunder the Vikings dragged away. However the French had little to say to the Vikings until somebody came up with the idea of giving away the whole village and renaming it Normandy.


On my smaller scale some Sri Lankans climbed over the roof and into my unprotected office. They emptied a tray of gems and ran. Nobody got hurt, no window was broken, and yet the loss for Sri Lanka as a whole was much greater than the value of the stolen goods.


Without certificates, without grading reports and with no international sales channel those gems are now worth only a fraction. Sri Lanka as an exporting country has suffered a loss.


I think our bible-writing forefathers knew that for society as a whole stealing is a bad deal.


There may also be a reason why organized international theft is much less frowned upon that stealing somebody’s workshop tools in the village. While the latter damages the same society that also punishes the theft the former causes damage to a remote and powerless entity. The reaction of society varies thus from hacking off hands to praising the homecoming conqueror.


That is why stealing is bad and the UN is such a good idea. 


The West’s Romance with Poverty

Sri Lanka's Stilt Fishermen

Yesterday I watched a report about Sri Lanka on discovery channel: The usual images of beaches, temples and smiling people.

The report closed with a longing sunset scene of those uniquely Sri Lanka fishermen sitting on sticks in the water.  The commentator’s fade-out comment: “Here in Sri Lanka, where work is still a pleasure.”  Beg your pardon? I have tried to sit on those sticks and managed to stay up there no more than ten minutes. The sun burns brutally from the sky and the water. Thus grilled from both sides, one sits there, the shaky stick-structure digging into the flesh while the sea salt eats at your skin. It is terrible.
Even with lots of training it will never be a pleasure. Sure, one gets used to everything but why then abolish torture? 
Those men sit there every day of their lives, from the age of eight or ten when they are old enough for their own “stick” to the day they are too old to climb upon the stick and die. No retirement fund there.   On the other hand I have seen the TV teams in the luxurious resorts along the coast. If they do not enjoy their work, then who will?

It seems somewhat ungrateful to envy the fishermen. Poverty is not romantic, nor honest.
It has bad teeth and dies early.”


Welcome to My Non-Commercial Website

I am running for a couple of years now; and I have always thought that writing about mining countries and the wildly unregulated gem trade is great fun.

However, my commercial site was getting too small for all those topics, and I didn’t want to distract my clients from buying gems in the first place. So, with the aid of Audra, my online editor & angel in the US, we started this site. 

How to judge sapphires or rubies and other practical issues around the gem business will continue to be published on


Here, I will share the stuff a gem trader gets to see in the remote parts of this world, I will foul my own trade and also bash east and west for ignorance and laziness wherever I can.


This said, I do think we live in a wonderful world.