We eye each other warily across the table. He doesn't speak English and I don't speak Portuguese. But my team came to the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, for amethyst, because this is where the most perfectly deep purple stones are found, and this guy is known for having the best stuff in town. So here we are, armed only with Ana Luiza, our friendly young translator.
The broker slides a single gem across the table, and I know instantly that this is the vivid violet beauty we came for. I hold my breath and wait while our gemologist confirms the carat weight, holds it up to the light, checks for inclusions. All clear. We nod and then, the broker quotes me a price so outrageous that I laugh. But turns out he's not joking and he's not coming down on the price. So we bid him farewell.
Outside, Ana Luiza explains that the broker mistook us for clueless foreigners, looking to pay big money for just one stone. Maybe it was my shirt. But if we want to buy in bigger quantity, she can show us to the exact mine where that beautiful stone came from.
The next morning, we're among the rocks, getting our hands on gorgeous geodes — the large, raw formations — of pure purple amethyst. Ana Luiza was right, this is the same quality. She talks to the mine owner for us and 10 minutes later he's giving us a seriously great price, which means we can offer them to you at a seriously great price. I offer Ana Luiza a finder's fee, but the only thing she asks is that we name the jewelry after her. And so I'm proud to present the Ana Luiza Collection: beautiful Brazilian amethyst, set in gold-finished sterling silver. If that seems a bit sentimental, traveling south of the Equator makes me that way. I just blame it on Rio.