The gems are of moderate to excellent quality, and they disclose
any treatments, heatings, etc.
For the most part, well, sometimes. The samples I’ve seen have
generally been of decent quality in terms of the original gem
material, treatments properly disclosed for anyone who knows what
those descriptions mean. But the cutting quality I’ve seen has been
unexceptional, to be kind. As a jeweler, I’ve yet to see one of their
gems I’d be interested in buying and using myself. It’s not junk,
it’s just ho-hum compared to what I can find at actual gem dealers.
Perhaps my biggest argument against these and other TV sellers is
the marketing. They’ll find some unknown material that the gem world
pretty much discards because there’s no demand, or it just isn’t all
that pretty, and by the time they’re done hyping it up, they make it
sound like the rarest and most desireable gem on the planet. And
since there wasn’t much market, they now can sell it cheap. And they
will seem pretty exclusive too, since your local jewelry store won’t
The quality issue depends on what you’re looking for. I recall some
tanzanites purchased by one of my customers that had been described
in all sorts of wonderful terms. They were reasonally good for
clarity, the cutting was passable but not great, but the color was so
pale as to hardly qualify look like tanzanite. While that can still
be fine and attractive, presenting these as wonderful examples of the
gem, in a beautiful light pastel color, might not be fraud, but it
misrepresented the actual market opinion and desireability of that
quality of stone.
Weren’t these the guys who took white sapphire, an otherwise pretty
dull and unlively looking material (no color, so it’s not nice for
the color, and the refractive index and dispersion are low enough
that it just doesn’t do much. Add that many are slightly cloudy, and
you see why prior to the TV sellers, most of this junk was never even
cut. Now, of course, people pay noticable prices for it. Most of
them, people lured by the hype, rather than people who actually have
some knowledge and understanding of gems…
Of course, this is hardly the first time a gem’s market has been
built by advertising. Just look at what N.W. Ayers and DeBeers have
managed to do with diamonds over the last hundred years or so… but
They are the largest retail seller of loose gemstones in the
The key here is to notice both those terms. “retail”, and “loose”.
For readers of this list, who’d want to buy gems on the retail
market. Most of us have access to the wholesale market, where better
prices and better quality and more accurate marketing prevails. And
the retail buyers are not otherwise usually shopping for loose
stones, but rather for finished jewelry. So while JTV or the other TV
channels may sell more loose stones at retail, one might suggest
that this is a market they themselves created, so it’s not surprising
they’re filling it well.
With all that said, I’d also say that even if there are debatable
issues regarding what they do, it’s also true that they have had a
distinct role in increasing the public awareness of gemstones in
general. It used to be the public knew diamonds sapphires, rubies,
emeralds, pearls, and maybe a few other standards. Now, in part due
to the TV sellers, there’s much more awareness of the wide range of
gems that one can find out there. That is a good thing. I just wish
the salesmanship used were more knowlegeable, less high pressure,
less likely to get people to think the gems are something more
valuable than they actually are. They’re pretty enough to sell with
complete honesty. The hype only makes the whole TV market seem
suspect… If they toned it down just a little, and explained just
where in the real quality and rarity spectrum their wares fit, so
customers could accurately evaluate what they were getting, I
suspect that in the long run, they might do even better than they do.
As is now, I know more than a few people who’ve bought from them only
once, and then found they hadn’t got quite what they thought they’d
bought. The stones could have been pleasing, and the customers might
have returned, had they felt more honestly informed…
Just my two cents, and much of that comes from observations that are
quite a few years old now. Perhaps the channels have gotten better.
But from the few times I’ve accidentally happened on those late night
sales, I doubt it.
Peter Rowe G.G.