First of all, thank you all for your continued support and, of course, for being here again today reading our Gem Dealer’s journal!
Today, we interview our pal “Pu Tzu”, who, besides looking surprisingly like the Foo Fighters’ lead singer: Dave Grohl, is among the most iconic natural treasure hunters this business has!
So, without any further delay, let’s get going with our interview!
Discover our pal Pu Tzu from the Uncarved Block
AsiaLounges: First of all, thanks Pu Tzu for being with us today and for accepting to answer our questions. Tell us more about you, who are you?
Pu Tzu: It’s a pleasure, Simon. I’m just zis guy, ya know. A treasure hunter for the 21st century. I’ve been collecting minerals for over 45 years. I love minerals and feel that I will always be on a journey searching for minerals.
AsiaLounges: You are particularly famous, as far as I know, for your role in the trade as a gem specimen collector, can you tell us what it entails?
Pu Tzu: I travel around the globe at a moment’s notice to find the newest and most exciting treasures I can in the gem and mineral world. I may dig them from the earth, myself, my favorite part of the game, or buy them at the mine or in a local gem market, or from some famous or obscure collection. Any way I can find to find gems and minerals, I embrace.
AsiaLounges: In few words, because I understand it’s real hard work, how can you help our readers understand the difference between a good and bad specimen?
Pu Tzu: In short, I’d like to say a good specimen is one that moves you, and a bad specimens leaves you feeling less than fulfilled.
To determine the quality or desirability of a particular stone, I tend to stick with the tried and true 4 C’s plus a little extra on the side.
So, of course Clarity, I think clarity is number one for any gem.
Clarity is followed by Carat, the sheer size of a stone of great clarity would seem the 2nd most important characteristic of a stone.
Next Color, and maybe Carat and Color are virtually tied in importance of desirability...Finally, and really you can’t say it’s last, but perhaps, just not quite as important overall: the Cut, and in the case of a mineral specimen, that would refer to the natural faces on the stone and how perfectly they have been preserved.
As you can imagine the stone’s journey to get to its final home can be quite a rough trek and there are many opportunities for a perfect stone to have something happen to it to make it less perfect.
So, the more perfect the stone is, the more desirable it would be.
Now having covered the 4C’s, my bit on the side along with Confidence, sometimes known as the 5th C, is the history of the stone, this is provenance, whether it was once owned by somebody “known” in the world, or perhaps it was the first one ever found, or even just from one locality that is more obscure than another locality. That its shape reminds you of some other meaningful shape, or that is has a particularly pleasing shade of color. There are so many factors that play into its desirability.
All in all, I’ll stick with the good ones move me.
AsiaLounges: So you travel a lot in order to find these lovely specimens you are so famous for? Any particular places you like to visit more so than others?
Pu Tzu: Asia in general has always attracted me, and still is my most frequented area. As of late, I have found the Philippines to be particularly interesting. And as far as I can tell, the Philippines are still relatively less exploited than many other mineral localities. That and I have made some good contact there. All the people I’ve met there are very friendly and helpful. Ya know, to be honest, I feel pretty fortunate that I’ve followed the path that brings me to friendly and helpful people everywhere I go. So, I do enjoy all the adventures. That’s why I travel so much, because I enjoy it all, and want to carpe diem...ya know?
AsiaLounges: Besides The Uncarved Block, which I believe is your main business, I understand you have a few other lines on the way including a planetary line of jewellery. Can you tell us more about the concept and how you came up with it?
Pu Tzu: Oh yeah, I’m so excited about my Cosmic Collection. I feel like it started with the Galaxy. I wanted to design a piece of jewelry that would be “galactatomically” correct. I looked and saw a few things out there that were representative of a spiral galaxy, and I wanted to create something that you could point to and say, “that right there, that’s where we are.”
The first version, set in sterling silver, was simple with the only stone being an Ethiopian Opal in the center.
However, I think I’ve done it with my latest iteration of the Galaxy, again, in silver, with 175 stones including 42 diamonds (ya know, the answer to the ultimate question of life the universe and everything), and there’s that one sparkle on that one arm off the side of the other arm, and that’s us.
Soon after the galaxy started to form, I came up with the Moon in sterling silver, which has enamel infused with lunar meteorite dust.
My latest is Mars in 18k rose gold, with a piece of Mars you can just about cut yourself on, if you wanted to make a blood brother alien pact...and what’s on the horizon...ahhhh...that excites me too.
AsiaLounges: Further to the previous question, the last time we met you mentioned the creation of a new auction style website called Sol Astro, can you tell us more about it?
Pu Tzu: I’m really so glad you asked...I hope, perhaps the first auction will have already happened by publication. We’ve hit a few speed humps, and growing pains, however, I believe we’re honestly light years ahead of where I thought it would honestly be at this point.
I’d originally hoped to have launched back on Cyber Monday, however that would have been a soft launch, and the platform may have taken a year to fully develop. Now it looks like 3-6 months from start to what may be full launch.
So, that’s good.
Anyway, it’s a new sales platform that will be community driven and have all kinds of collectibles and no crap.
The only purpose of this site is for people with cool stuff for sale to sell hungry collectors the cool stuff they want. And sometimes have a hard time finding each other in the maze of STUFF that’s on in the tangle of the web. The idea came from the culture of vendors at music festivals and in the parking lots of concerts known as Shakedown Street. This was like a bazaar you might find of treasure sellers in the Moroccan desert or along the original Silk Road.
So, the idea is to have a place where this could happen for anybody to use, to sell handmade craft or their old concert tickets or posters or pins, or movie props and of course stones and jewelry. Anything under the sun and stars (Solastro) that is collectible.
In the beginning, to build Solastro into a household name, all the account features are free to users.
The only cost is 12% of the selling price, which includes all Paypal or card processing fees.
The system is built to track and deduct that fee immediately upon customer paying, so there’s no monthly bills to add up.
There will likely be some charges in the future for different features, however, to encourage a wider adoption of the platform, all of those fees are waived in the beginning.
We have affiliate programs and will be building in the ability for individual vendors to pay commissions to their own sales associates at whatever rate they want. We want to encourage everyone to help everyone helps find and sell whatever it is they’re looking for.
Everyone should have their own collection of treasures to enjoy.
And it’s not only a selling platform. It’s designed to track inventory from the moment of acquisition, even in the Javanese Jungles all the way to being sold on the web in Germany.
There is a built in inventory management and customer management system that is secure and ONLY available to the vendors themselves.
I built this for me to be able to do just that...and I can offer that functionality to users of Solastro.
So, much more to come. I want to offer micro-loans to Solastro vendors. And I want to track every sale so there can be a measure of the “market value” of any given item.
AsiaLounges: I believe you will be in Tucson Gem show in February, how can our readers contact you there should they be interested in seeing more of your lovely goods?
Example of UV Reactive Californian Grossular Garnet
Pu Tzu: Be sure to come by the Pueblo show to see the amazing new opals from Indonesia and the exciting new 99.99% pure grossularite garnet from California. They're stark white with a UV-reactive fluorescence. Nobody has seen anything like either of them until now. Most of the show time you'll find me there... formerly River Park, and before that a few other names. I believe it is now a Ramada Inn, however, still in room 171 there and with the tents in front of the room.
Also, I've really made myself at home at 1801 North Oracle, at my warehouse there with lots of fantastic specimens from mu journeys and old collections at half the price or better.
AsiaLounges: Thanks for your time Pu Tzu, I’m sure that our readers have enjoyed reading you as much as we did enjoy interviewing you! As for us, we will be happy to meet any of you Loungers either in our Silom office in Bangkok or during one of our trips around the globe! Our next stop will likely be the Hong Kong Gem Show in March followed closely by another one of our EuroTours!
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See you in the Lounges,