Applying Lessons From My Past Travels to My First Trip Overseas in 2017

It’s always nice to go away for a while, even if it’s only a few days. I’ll be travelling to the Land of Smiles from 14 – 18 Jan. It’ll be a short holiday, a sourcing trip for household items and I’ll also be fulfilling some gem requests by some local customers, as well as visiting some of Thai locals that I’ve befriended.
One thing that I’ve learned about travelling is to always inoculate your system with some of the local bacteria when you go to a foreign land.
1) The best way to do this is to drink some local yoghurt or have some local fermented products. Since I started doing this, I’ve stopped getting gastrointestinal problems while overseas – something that I used to suffer from rather frequently (and rather severely) in the past.
2) Another thing I’ve learned is to move with purpose even in an unfamiliar area. Stopping and/or looking around with a ‘lost look’ on your face makes you a target for unsavoury characters.
3) Finally, I’ve learned to build rapport with the locals. I do this by spending time observing their customs (especially trading customs) and behaviours. I’ve also found that trying to use a few phrases in the local language helps, as does asking questions and being willing to try the local cuisine (and complimenting appropriately).
Building rapport with the locals makes future travels to their country more fun, because they will be more than willing to shower you in their hospitality, not to mention the friendlier prices that they’ll give you when you buy from them.
Here’s to a great trip and many more in the future!

Gem and Gemstone Jewellery Biz Launch - Loupin Jewels

The day is finally here! After months of preparation (and some delays), the website of Loupin Jewels is now live! There are still a couple of tweaks and updates needed there, but the site is up and running!

It's not been easy juggling the book - The Introvert Teacher - and the gemstone business, but it all now comes to fruition. And not a moment too soon. It's still 2016! I'm in time!

The aim of Loupin Jewels is to bring awareness and attention to the vibrant world of gems and gemstone jewellery.

There will be gemstones, gem-related products, gem hunting services and beautiful jewellery available through us.

There will also be classes and blog posts on how to buy gems, how to assess them and how to avoid getting ripped off.

How to avoid getting ripped off has been asked of me by so many people so many times that I have written a book about it. There is some information on the website - here - and I envision that the book will be ready soon, but it's still in the works. Right now, I'm looking for an illustrator to enhance the readability of the text that I've written.

Please have a look at the website: and let me know if there are any bugs on the site. I might have missed something. Give me your comments too!

Hoping to hear from you!

My Weekend Gem Hunt

On Thursday, a Sri Lankan gem dealer friend that I knew from last year was in town. Naturally, I went to meet him. This time, he came with another friend who I understand to be the cutter of some of the gems that my dealer friend gets from his mine (yes, he is a co-owner of a mine). 

He was only in Singapore for 3 days so I didn't have much time to get hold of many other interested buyers. Nevertheless, I did introduce people to him. 

Though there is the obvious path of being a middleman or broker for this friend, I figured that I prefer to simply help other people get reasonable prices for gems and help this friend make more sales by introducing potential buyers to him. The more sales he makes, the more likely he will be to come to Singapore, and the better my prices will be when I buy from him. 

I may miss out on the profits by being a broker, but, as a gem buyer, I don't quite trust brokers myself, and would much prefer not to play a role that I am myself suspicious of.

As a gem hunter, my job will be made much easier if they bring in regular supplies of stones while I build my own clientele. I will then be able to give my clients better value for their money.

All in all, I will have happy clients and friends who get good value, a happy seller who gets good business, and a happily colourful vault of gems for myself at good prices.

This round, I bought an exceptionally beautiful royal blue sapphire (I'll take proper pictures soon), a pair of pear-shaped blue sapphires for a client, a really small ruby, and 3 garnets.

While you wait for the picture of my lovely blue sapphire, here's a picture of a lot of small blue sapphires that I contemplated buying:


Projects, projects, projects!

As December draws to a close, it feels more and more urgent to get my major projects of 2015 done speedily so I can work on new ones when 2016 kicks off.

The Introvert Teacher has gone through its first round of editing. Now it's up to me to decide on whether to keep the changes and/or make further ones. I'm also working on its marketing materials, book launch ideas - yes, you are invited ;) - and so on.

Realistically, it might only be out around February or March. Chinese New Year would be great but I'm not entirely sure if it's possible. Let's find out!

My major project for The Gem Hunter is coming to fruition. Without giving too much away, some supplies have come in, while others are yet to be ordered (too much choice makes things tough, doesn't it?).

The original plan was to launch on Christmas week. This is starting to seem difficult but I will try.

Yet another project, the production of my long-dreamt-about gemology curriculum, is going well. Three chapters done, two more to go (unless I switch some things around)! It should be done by January! Just in time for the school year!

Time to get off my rear and make things happen! 2016 approaches!