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Dyed rubies discovered!


#1

Hi all,

Several years ago at a wholesale gem & lapidary show I purchased my
very first strand of what were for me higher end beads… a lovely
set of faceted graduated flat oval rubies. I purchased enough small
18k gold granulated beads and an 18k gold clasp to restring and
complete the piece. With my usual mark-up, this piece is through the
roof when compared to most of my other inventory; but I always
thought it seemed to elevate my things to another level. Most people
can’t believe they are looking at and touching rubies when they
encounter it. It always excites comment. However, a few months ago I
had an occasion to wear them for the first time and discovered that
they’re dyed. I was angry and disappointed. I’d purchased other
strands of rubies since first purchasing this dyed strand and have
discovered no similar treatment on them. I now feel I need to lower
the price of the piece as a result. More than my feeling the need to
do this, I’m disappointed that I wasn’t alerted to this treatment
when I purchased the strand. Perhaps it was my neglect for not
asking. But I guess what I’m looking for is what to do now. Is there
some safe way to remove excess dye from the strand? What concerns me
is actually selling it and having someone come back to me with the
reality that the strand left a red streak on someone’s expensive
cashmere sweater. Not having any experience with rubies prior to this
purchase, I had no idea they would be treated. I’ve had gorgeous blue
chaceldony fade away to clear and have learned to ask when purchasing
those strands, one of my favorite stones. But they’re usually heat
treated. The only other dyed items I’ve encountered are pearls
(which have never bled onto clothing… at least not that I’ve
encountered) and coral. Any suggestions or techniques for cleaning
them up a bit??

As usual, your advice and assistance are greatly appreciated!

Karan


#2

I hadn’t heard of dyed rubies before. I wonder if they are something
else?

At any rate, I don’t believe its a good idea to sell them at all.
Reduced price or not, your trepidation about ruining a cashmere
sweater should prevail. But what you would really ruin is your
reputation. Cheaper in the long run to eat it, sorry to say.

Which gives me an idea for a new thread.


#3

And this is why I only buy from American Gem Trade Association
members. They are obligated to disclose treatments. Personally I
would go back to the dealer and tell them you want your money back
(even if it was a few years ago). If you don’t do that then you
absolutely have to reveal that they are dyed to any purchasers. You
could leave the price the same but they probably aren’t really worth
that much if the color is due to a dye being used. I can’t help you
with the issue of removing the dye, but then it may be that they have
no color at all if you can actually do it. If you can’t bring
yourself to go back to the dealer with the problem, I’d chalk it up
to experience, remove the gold and put it on something else and give
them to kids as presents.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140
www.spirerjewelers.com


#4

Hi Karan,

I believe that you can test beads for dye by using a q-tip with some
acetone (main ingredient in many nail polish removers) on it and
rubbing it around the bead hole to see if any dye comes off. You may
try to remove the excess dye from your ruby strand but they might not
end up looking like much if you removed every bit of it. There is a
reason they were dyed. Maybe you can get enough off to where they
will no longer transfer dye to the wearer. You might try some alcohol
as well but I think the acetone is more of a solvent. And of course
give them a good rinse after applying these chemicals.

But I think this is a wake-up call for you. A wake-up call I have
experienced myself. You are responsible for accurately representing
the goods you sell to your customers. And this means being aware of
treatments, synthetics and imitations. And relying on what a dealer
tells you a product is, even if you think to ask and even if they are
honest and think they are giving you correct may not be
accurate. You may not be called to defend your representations except
in a rare instance. But I can tell that you are concerned that your
customers get what they pay for and what they believe they are
purchasing. So I recommend that you start arming yourself with
knowledge. You may not be ready or interested in pursuing a full
gemological education. But at least get yourself a few basic books
on gemstone identification that will also discuss treatments and
read a couple chapters as you get the chance. Books by Antoinette
Matlins are classic. But there are many others. Many available
through Rio Grande, Amazon or at your local library. If you are
interested in further study, distance courses from GIA (www.gia.edu)
are really helpful. Another good resource is a forum of gemologists,
gem collectors and appraisers called www.gemologyonline.com Nice
folks,who sometimes post here as well, who are happy to answer all
sorts of gem related questions.

There is nothing really wrong with gem treatments. They provide us
with many affordable goods that would otherwise be unavailable. But
it is all about disclosure. And the more you know about what
treatments are being used out there and what to look for, you will
be a better shopper and seller. And you won’t have to solely rely on
what a dealer is telling you.

Hope this is of some help. Keep making beautiful things! -Carrie
Nunes, G.G. (GIA)


#5

Hi Karen,

No advice on the dyed ruby beads, but I am adding another higher end
stone bead that I’ve found to be dyed - lapis lazuli.

Judy in Kansas


#6

Hi Karen,

I suspect that what you have are some oiled rubies. Using a red oil
on ruby rough is a common practice in Thailand. The oiling simply
accentuates the red. They aren’t really dyed since the oil doesn’t
penetrate the material itself. Just put them in an ultrasonic or
wash them in warm water and detergent and you will get rid of the
oil. They won’t look so pretty but they will also not stain m’lady’s
neck or blouse as the case may be.

Jerry in Kodiak


#7

And another thing to think about – if the seller deceived you by
dying them, do you really know for sure that they are even rubies?

Margaret


#8

Hi Judy

I have many times seen where lapis has been dyed also where someone
setting a lapis scratched the stone a little and used blue felt to
colour up the scratch an make it almost invisible.

Karen Bahr
Karen’s Artworx
Calgary, Alberta, Canada


#9

Hi Karan,

Many beads are dyed or enhanced w/heat treatments. Not all vendors
know or are aware of the bead’s status…so, I just assume they have
been manipulated in some way and soak 'em… all of them overnight,
in water w/dishwashing detergent. Yes, including the coral and the
freshwater pearls, I know they are fragile and soap is not
recommended, BUT, this cleans them up. Plus, beads are usually
filthy, dusty and gritty, dyed or not. (exception: wooden beads.)

I have been in stores in Asia to witness angry customers returning
"coral" which is often dyed MOP, because the dye came off on the
neck. This also happens here in NYC. So your cashmere sweater comment
prompted me to send in my 2 cents!

I recently purchased some very INEXPENSIVE 3mm garnet beads in
China. The water turned red upon immersion. Then I rinsed them and
soaked again till they came away clean. Some of the color can also
come from the thread beads are strung with.

I hope this helps you.
Regards,

Erin
www.clarkdesign.net


#10

Let me say first of all that I have never delt with “dyed rubies” But
I have delt with other dyed glass and agate products. I usually try
to check the color fastness (is that a word?) the following way. In a
small bowl mix warm water and Dawn, dish detergent, and a couple
tablespoons of bleach. I submerge the beads/ items and let them set
for 5-10 minutes. I then pick some of them u- and rubb them around in
my hads, like washing my hands, then rinse them in warm water and set
them aside to dry. The ones stil in the solution I rinse and set them
aside in a seperate container to dry. When both groups are dry I them
compare them to each other and to the originals that I have not
treated.This tells me how much fading too expect from wear and how
much to expect to just run, transfer to a garment.Don’t know if it
will help or not but it sure helped in the bead store that my wife
ran for 40 years.

John (Jack) Sexton


#11
I believe that you can test beads for dye by using a q-tip with
some acetone (main ingredient in many nail polish removers) on it
and rubbing it around the bead hole to see if any dye comes off.
You may try to remove the excess dye from your ruby strand but they
might not end up looking like much if you removed every bit of it. 

I use the acetone swab often if I suspect dye…And the dying folks
have gotten sophisticated, too…

The other thing one can do is good old isopropyl (aka rubbing)
alcohol…fill a small glass bowl with it and plop the beads
in…If they’re on a temporary strand, pull them off the
strand…sometimes the strand is dyed to add to the effect… Cover
the bowl, or the alky will evaporate… Use glass, because if they
do have dye, the dye will dye most other bowls…

Wait a day or two and look for color in the alcohol…I’ve had
stuff I’ve swabbed and not got a response give color to the
isopropyl…I figure maybe because it gets to soak…

I’ve had some garnet beads (from India) color the alky, but the
overall color didn’t change much at all…the color in the soak was
from residue from the strand in the holes…

If they come out looking kinda bad, or maybe kinda really bad…
Try a short soak in mineral oil, wipe and dry out for a week or so
on paper towel… Buff with soft cloth… You can sell them as
"mineral oiled" maybe…

I have this Lapis cab that I’m doing right now…was bought as part
of a lot of 4 on the Bay, and seller stated was dyed…so, I knew
what I was getting into…

It’s on it’s third bath of alky…when the bath gets opaque
almost I dump and add fresh…

Now that I’ve started this, I wanta see what it looks like “au
natural”…[G]… No matter how long it takes…

Gary W. Bourbonais
A.J.P. (GIA)


#12
I hadn't heard of dyed rubies before. I wonder if they are
something else? 

I see dyed ruby beads all over the place. They are usually the
brighter pink as opposed to the ruby red we all know and love. But,
sometimes they aren’t that obvious. You can also tell by the price
point.

I have some that I’ve worn for years. I sometimes wear them for
weeks

straight, in the shower, to sleep, etc… they still look great and
have not bled on anything.

When I get them, I pop them in the hot ultrasonic for a few minutes
and dry them off and they’re good to go. I figured if they’re gonna
bleed, they’re gonna do it in my hot ultrasonic. So, I get the
bleeding out of their system and it’s good to go. I’ve never had a
complaint, and trust me I would have heard about it as I get returns
on chain that has been pulled so far that it’s stretched 4" longer
than it should be and finally breaks. If they will return that and
want it fixed they would return rubies that are dyed.

As far as the dealer disclosing the dyed nature of the stones… I
got a chuckle out of that. Especially when it comes to beads, I would
be willing to bet that more than half of the table has been
"treated"

in some way. It would be coming out of their mouth every other
sentence. Now, heat treated is more permanent and not apt to "run"
like a dyed piece. And I think that heat treating is very common
among a lot of the stones. I try to stay away from the dyed stones
and am not that scared of the heat treated. I’ve been told that most
of the carnelian you see that’s all one uniform color is heat
treated… I’m sure there’s a dozen other examples.

I usually ask and I find that not all dealers tell the truth, or
they just don’t know… I’ve learned by trial and error and I’m
still learning. I guess aside from getting my GIA creds, that’s all I
can do for now.

Amery Carriere Designs
www.amerycarriere.com


#13
I suspect that what you have are some oiled rubies. Using a red oil
on ruby rough is a common practice in Thailand. The oiling simply
accentuates the red. They aren't really dyed since the oil doesn't
penetrate the material itself. Just put them in an ultrasonic or
wash them in warm water and detergent and you will get rid of the
oil. 

Hmmmm… it’s funny you mention this. I purchased the strand because
a friend of mine, whose opinion on these matters I trusted, purchased
the “same” strand for herself. When she hauled me over to the
vendor’s site… and I’d have to go through my annual bookkeeping
binders to find their name… she was very excited about the stones
and thought they were a great value for the price. She experienced no
similar staining with her strand… and the strands we purchased were
two out of five in a glass case - all the same and with the exact
same country of origin tags. So, I’d love to believe you’re right.
I’ll try the ultrasonic first and then give them another run with a
light colored top and see what happens. Though I think I’d still be
inclined to lower the price on them, I’d feel a lot better selling
them to someone knowing I wasn’t going to spoil someone’s day (and I
would, of course, still mention to the customer my experience and
"fix").

If it doesn’t work, then I might take Daniel’s advice and just take
it apart … although I’m not sure I’m quite ready to "give them"
away; I can see incorporating them, one or two at a time, into other
pieces. Bracelets, perhaps… where it’s unlikely the stones would be
in contact with clothing… or better yet, earrings! I’m kinda liking
this idea the more I think of it! OK… the cogs are turnin’ now…

Thanks folks,
Karan


#14
And this is why I only buy from American Gem Trade Association
members 

I once asked for any good quality sources of truly wholesale priced
bead strands, but got only one or two replies (which I did check out
and from a couple of them I subsequently made purchases). Are there
any American Gem Trade Association members who sell strands in
addition to individual stones?


#15
But I can tell that you are concerned that your customers get what
they pay for and what they believe they are purchasing. You may not
be ready or interested in pursuing a full gemological education.
But at least get yourself a few basic books on gemstone
identification that will also discuss treatments and read a couple
chapters as you get the chance.

Thanks, Carrie… I do indeed care that my customers get good value
for their money (especially since I’m often up against cheap base
metal and plated pieces at many of these rural shows (supposed
"juried" shows)… and building a base of customers who understand the
difference between this stuff and mine matters greatly). I actually
have a wonderful library I’ve been collecting slowly over the last
several years - though, as I’ve just set up in my new location, in a
new studio space, I’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of
their extensive Without the wonderful Arts Center I had
in my old location, I knew I’d be on my own for the kind of skills I
used to be able to get from a class. I have a few gem books… but
they are mostly for identification than for discussions on
treatments. And many of the places I’ve discovered to purchase stones
online I like because they actually tell you if the stones are
treated and how. But I appreciate the name of an author and another
forum! And I’ve long lusted after a GIA course or two (had received
mailings from them for several years), but, alas, the cost is really
beyond me at this point. Still in the back of my mind… perhaps in
the future.

Karan… in northern NY, where stretchy bracelets and magnetic
hematite seem to be the norm. May my hours of education to the point
of becoming hoarse pay off in the long run!


#16
And another thing to think about -- if the seller deceived you by
dying them, do you really know for sure that they are even rubies? 

This is true on a couple of levels. Yes, they may or may not be
corundum. But beyond that, a ruby is a red corundum. If they were
not red to begin with (and why would you dye a red stone red, really)
then, assuming that they are corundum, they are sapphires, not
rubies. Even pink doth not a ruby make.

Lee


#17

Gary,

I don’t know much about lapis, but won’t the alcohol dry it out?
I’ve heard it’s a porous stone and prone to brittleness. Is the same
true for turquoise?

Amery
www.amerycarriere.com


#18

How does one dye a crystalline material? Are we talking about a true
dye that penetrates the lattice or an oil or similar that fills
fissures?

I can picture chalcedony taking a dye because its crypto-crystalline
and there is space between the tiny crystals.

Perhaps one of the cutters or GG’s could weigh in on this?


#19

Hi Amery…

I don't know much about lapis, but won't the alcohol dry it out?
I've heard it's a porous stone and prone to brittleness. Is the
same true for turquoise? 

I dunno much about turqouise…but it seems it can be porous or
not…? The porous chalk stuff gets filled with resin or whatever to
make it usable…

I think lapis is technically a rock…a mixture of stuff, unlike
many gemstones which are more or less a particular mineral…

And heck, folks used to use the stuff on walls…or make paint out
of it…

Doctor…where are you when we need you…?

When the alky finally stops turning blue, I will probably soak it in
mineral oil…

Mind you, bought as dyed, and in a lot of 4…because of the
opacity, will probably adhesive (Two Ton Devcon Epoxy, sold as
Jeweler’s Epoxy at higher prices in some catalogs) mount it…and
its siblings… Avoid pressure issues that way…

Now, I have this other piece…smaller…an absolutely stunning
blue… Nothing coming off into the alky as of yet…This stuff is
so pretty, I figured it had to be dyed somehow…or maybe even a
syn…? Minimal pyrite, was supposed to be Afgan…

Again…not expensively acquired…right place, right time kind
of thing…

I have this quart of Trichlor I grabbed before the ODC ban made it
uncommon… I do want to see if it’s dyed in any way…

Gary W. Bourbonais
A.J.P. (GIA)


#20
She experienced no similar staining with her strand.. and the
strands we purchased were two out of five in a glass case - all
the same and with the exact same country of origin tags. 

No one has mentioned, sometimes the string they are strung on is
dyed, not the beads. If you test the beads on the string, you may see
color if you immerse the beads in water or acetone. The dye on the
string enhances the color of the beads, so they appear to be a darker
color. The beads will be the same color as they were when you bought
them, they were pale, they just looked better on the dyed thread. I
think anyone who works with beads has seen this with rose quartz
beads strung on red thread.

Richard Hart