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Alexandra/ natural or?

This is a dilemma we are often confronted with in Thailand. (lots of
synthetics here) What do you tell an old lady with a
not-so-good-looking brass ring set with e.g. a 10 carat, perfect
colorchange “Alexandrite” that she has inherited from her grandmother
who had (the lady lowering here voice here as telling you in
confidence) an affair with one of the Czar’s grandsons? If she just
want to show off, why not let her do that? If the person is not asking
for your opinion why do you have to force it upon her. The Asian
mentality is somewhat different to the western. Telling someone down
here that they have a fake stone without even being asked for your
opinion would only render you a truck-load of bad words at the best.
And you would be regarded as highly unprofessional as a business
person and socially disabled due to your total lack of manners. If the
lady is indeed asking for your opinion or if she wants to sell you the
ring, well, then it’s a different matter. My approach is that I never
(nowadays) pass a verdict without consulting gemological instruments.
That is the only way of being 100% sure. (the professional way) Of
course you can always guess. Anyone can guess. If you have long
experience you would probably be right most of the time, maybe 99% of
the time. Not good enough if you want to call yourself professional!
And just because a stone changes color in different light doesn’t
mean it’s Alexandrite (fake or not). There are other natural stones
that comes in colorchange varieties, Garnet, Sapphire etc. They are
not so expensive. The most common fake Alexandrite is actually
synthetic colorchange corundum. There are some really amazing stuff
out there, not only green/red but also blue/red, blue/crimson,
green/blue. This one is of course very easy to tell from Alexandrite
(different R.I., S.G. etc.) so you don’t even have to turn on the
microscope. I have no experience working in a repair shop but to check
a stone you usually have to remove it from the jewelry. Is the
customer willing to wait for you to do that? Oh, and by the way, I have
seen a $300-350K natural pigeons-blood Ruby set in a
not-so-good-looking brass ring. It’s a common way of smuggling out
the legendary Mogok Rubies from Myanmar (Burma) to Thailand. Same with
Jade. And never say anything negative to a Burmese about his
gemstone(s). If he/she is offering you to buy a stone and you don’t
like it, just say it’s not the type you’re looking for (or something
like that). The Burmese believes that any negative words said about a
gemstone will have some kind of bearing on that stone, decreasing it’s
beauty, and thereby it will be more difficult to sell. What do I know?

Rudolf Rubin

R.I.G.A. - Russian Institute of Gemological Art
Gemstones beyond AAA