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Firemountain Gems' Amber bracelets


#1

Aloha Everyone, Firemountain Gems has been referred to many times in
the Orchid List postings. Yes, they do carry a large inventory but
I discovered something that I believe all potential purchasers may
need to know. They have a sale on a large oval cab AMBER BRACELET
that looks exactly what we purchased and discovered to be resin. I
do not want to denigrate Firemountain Gems because they do have some
great items like their PASCO GLUE.

If any person has purchased the LARGE, OVALS WITH STRAIGHT SIDES,
AND IS A BRACELET, I suggest you give it the AMBER TEST:

1/4 cup salt
1/2 cup water
mix, all will not dissolve
place all amber pieces into this mixture

** if is sinks, it's not amber but resin with amber slivers
***** if it floats then it is real amber

This ties into a previous thread some time ago about “disclosing
gemstone treatments”. If the gemstone was followed like a bag of
evidence is in a crime called the “Chain of Custody” then some
Orchid members said they state, “Treatment Unknown”.

In today’s day and age, businesses need to trust their sources. I
can’t prove that what a person states is factual or not. Only
testing of goods can determine if the goods are what they are
purported to be. Just wanted to let you know this and if
you have one, please test it before selling it as “amber”.
Respectfully, Waynette HQCE Buyer/Designer


#2
    I suggest you give it the AMBER TEST: 1/4 cup salt 1/2 cup
water mix, all will not dissolve place all amber pieces into this
mixture ** if is sinks, it's not amber but resin with amber
slivers ***** if it floats then it is real amber 

Waynette, I agree 100% with you that material being sold as amber
should be amber (same goes for anything actually), however I think
that the results you mention for the above test are not as 'simple’
as you indicate. Perhaps it would be better to say:

  1. All those that sink may be plastic (many kinds but not all),
    glass* or plastic with included amber pieces.

  2. All those that float may be amber, pressed amber (ambroid),
    certain plastics (forms of polystyrene for instance have been known
    [but are very rare]) and copal resin (recent natural gums and resins
    i.e. Kuari gum).

  • There should be no need to perform this test on glass, as the
    heft, feel and appearance together with inclusions should single this
    out way before the saline test!

I am sure that others will correct me if I have got the polystyrene
part wrong, but everything that floats cannot be automatically
referred to as amber, unfortunately!

If you do a serach on the ebay site for amber + insects, alot of
what you see (pieces with included termites from Colombia for
example) are almost certainly copal resin, however they are being
offered as amber :-((

Hope that this helps.
Regards - Nick


#3

Another mystery stone to report. The store I work from recently
purchased, from one of their regular suppliers, a ring with a stone
he called ‘tangerine garnet’. After sizing and polishing the ring
for a buyer (another employee, thank goodness), the ring was put in
the ultrasonic for cleaning. Abracadabra, out came what looks like a
white topaz, similar to those used for the so-called ‘mystic fire
topaz’ that seems so popular now. I wonder how well people will like
these stones when the mystic fire starts to scratch off the surface.
Probably be back in asking me to ‘recolor’ the stone… At any
rate, this tangerine color wasn’t even as good as the mystic fire
(which takes normal cleaning without a problem). Can’t say as I
think too much of a coloring method that comes off in soap and water.
Jim in the mountains of NC, hoping the weather clears sometime soon.


#4

All,

We are rapidly approaching that point in time when the distinction
between real and artificial becomes a moot point. As for Amber, it
has always been a stretch for me to include it amongst the gemstone
family. One of the primary criteria for gemstones has always been
that of durability. Amber is very definitely not durable if you
consider how it might be used in jewelry. It is soft, has a very low
melting point and is very brittle. The facts that it is ancient,
colorful and somewhat rare don’t make it durable.

The ancient concept of gemstones being valuable and rare is under
attack and I doubt very much that it will survive. ALL gemstones are
now synthesized and many substances are threatening to supplant
natural Dichroic glass is every bit as phenomenal as the
finest black opal. Synthesized opal is difficult to
differentiate.How long will it take for synthetic diamonds to enter
the marketplace ? ( I suspect that the only reason that they haven’t
yet threatened the natural is that de Beers has bought off the
synthesizers)

The diamond imitants are omnipresent. Moissanite is being pushed
heavily by those who stand to make big bucks selling it. Oddly
enough, these same people are also selling the natural as if to
cover their bets.( It seems to me that selling the merchandise that
destroys the mystique is self defeating. If you cheapen the product
you kill the goose that laid the golden egg…)I had a customer
in my store yesterday who raved about “pink ice” When I told her
that it was merely colored cubic zirconia she was crestfallen…she
actually believed that it was rare, natural and valuable.

We live in an age of change. The pace of modern life is one of
escalation. The jewelry business is not invulnerable. We are
witnessing the supplanting of the substitution of so
called noble metals with Titanium and the lowering of quality and
value so as to make jewelry disposable.

My comments are not those of an old man ranting…they are simply
statements of apparent fact and they portend the future. How we
perceive our roles in that future may determine our survival. I
don’t advocate any particular survival mechanism, but I certainly
suggest that we all ought to be aware of the changes that are
evident. Ron at Mills Gem, Los Osos, CA.


#5

I do keep a Fire Mountain catalog around, and order several things
from it on a regular basis. I have found them to be very responsible
in letting one know about any treatments they know of.

In fact a few years ago I bought some beads that they originally
sold as a ‘D’ grade sapphire. Turns out that somewhere down the
line, the beads were tested, and came out to be dumortierite
(sometimes called blue aventurine) Not sapphire. Fire Mountain sent
out a letter apologizing for the error, saying they had been sold the
beads as sapphire. However, they offered to buy back the beads/make
good on the deal, and accepted the responsibility. I am sure that
they would want to know if the bracelets are not amber.

AJ
Gemini Dreams
St. Paul, MN


#6

did you notify Firemountain Gems of this? I think they would want to
know. At least that is impression after having done business with
them numerous times.

-Dee Dee


#7

I had a similar experience with another company online “Jorja’s Gem
House”. They were selling “Natural Green Topaz” for some really low
prices. At the time I bought them, I new next to nothing about Gem
ID, but I had begun taking courses with GIA. Anyrate, when I was
playing with my ID equipment, I noticed something funny about the
stone. It did not look right at the edges of the girdle. After
doing some research, I found out that this type of Topaz was
Diffusion Treated.

Well, needless to say, I was concerned. So, I got on the phone and
called the Gem supplier and told them about my discovery. They were
shocked to learn that treated stones had gotten by their Gemologist.
They told me that they would do some research on the stone and get
back to me. In the meantime, they would be happy to refund my money
for the stones I prurchased. (I really did not care about the
money, it was like $15 and I could use them in something someday, I
hope).

I never heard back from them on this issue, but now the description
on their site reads “THERE ARE ONLY ONE OF THESE AVAILABLE!!!
GENUINE GREEN TOPAZ!! THERE IS ONLY ONE AVAILABLE!! This unique
stone has stable and permanent color saturation. Clean using an
ultrasonic or steam cleaner. Chemically heat treated, diffusion
process. This stone is sold as a single stone. BEAUTIFUL 3.12 Carat
10mm x 8.1mm Oval Green Topaz. This gem would look great in any
sterling silver or gold jewelry mounting as birthstone jewelry.
Fabulous gift value for any birthday, Christmas, Hanukkah,
Valentine, Mother’s Day (for a “mom or grandma” type birthstone
necklace or ring…Only $39.95”

Well, while they are still calling it “Genuine”, at least
they do have the “permanent color saturation” in there to let people
know the stone is treated. Of course, how many people do you think
would still believe this stone to be natural, but rare color of
topaz?

Silverfoot-


#8
 We are rapidly approaching that point in time when the distinction
between real and artificial becomes a moot point.We are witnessing
the supplanting of the substitution of so called noble
metals with Titanium and the lowering of quality and value so as to
make jewelry disposable. 

In the Victorian period there was a great vogue for iron jewellery -
along with the decorative Berlin Ironwork - and in the 1940 - 50’s
there was a period when Stainless Steel and Bakelite was used quite
extensively for jewellery (my own father wore a stainless steel
wedding ring all his life). In every age the new and 'mystical’
materials enjoy a period when they are tried in every application
possible including jewellery but, unless their use has obvious
benefits, they soon find their ‘niche’ and the other uses are
dropped. For all of civilised time gold, silver, garnets, diamonds,
rubies, emeralds and, more recently, platinum have stayed the course
and will undoubtedly continue to do so as long as people can afford
them. For those of more limited means, the newer materials just add
to the choice available in the ‘imitations’ market.

Best wishes,
Ian
Ian W. Wright
Sheffield, UK


#9
All, We are rapidly approaching that point in time when the
distinction between real and artificial becomes a moot point. 

There are simulants for many but most people still are
more interested in posessing a rare natural stone than an
artificially created one.

As for Amber, it has always been a stretch for me to include it
amongst the gemstone family. One of the primary criteria for
gemstones has always been that of durability. Amber is very
definitely not durable if you consider how it might be used in
jewelry. It is soft, has a very low melting point and is very
brittle. The facts that it is ancient, colorful and somewhat rare
don’t make it durable.

Durability is a good quality for a gemstone to have, but it isn’t a
definitive one. While it may be soft, there are other soft materials
that are often used in similar ways, and which also are considered to
be Pearls, coral, jet, and the other organic gems are
important arrows in the jeweler’s quiver, and used properly can make
long-lasting jewelry. The melting point of amber (in a vacuum) is 375
Celsius (707 F); most jewelry isn’t subjected to temperatures this
high, and many stones would be damaged if it was (amber is much
easier to burn than to melt). There are quite a few stones that
aren’t particularly hard: eg. turquoise, malachite, opal, and lapis
lazuli, that also would be a shame to toss out because of this
durability dictum. Conversely, there are a number of stones that
while fairly hard, are subject to damage because of their cleavage
planes; even diamonds can be chipped in use.

    The ancient concept of gemstones being valuable and rare is
under attack and I doubt very much that it will survive. ALL
gemstones are now synthesized and many substances are threatening
to supplant natural 

Dichroic glass is every bit as phenomenal as the finest black opal.
Synthesized opal is difficult to differentiate.How long will it take
for synthetic diamonds to enter the marketplace ? ( I suspect that
the only reason that they haven’t yet threatened the natural is that
de Beers has bought off the synthesizers)

Synthetic diamonds are more convincing than the synthetic opals I’ve
seen. Are you setting a lot of this dichroic glass in your jewelry?
Would you like to buy some nice amber-colored plastic?]

    The diamond imitants are omnipresent. Moissanite is being
pushed heavily by those who stand to make big bucks selling it.
Oddly enough, these same people are also selling the natural as if
to cover their bets.( It seems to me that selling the merchandise
that destroys the mystique is self defeating. If you cheapen the
product you kill the goose that laid the golden egg........)I had a
customer in my store yesterday who raved about "pink ice" When I
told her that it was merely colored cubic zirconia she was
crestfallen....she actually believed that it was rare, natural and
valuable. 

You sound like a heckuva salesman…]

    We live in an age of change. The pace of modern life is one of
escalation. The jewelry business is not invulnerable. We are
witnessing the supplanting of the substitution of so
called noble metals with Titanium and the lowering of quality and
value so as to make jewelry disposable. 

Titanium is a good metal for jewelry; it is strong, won’t tarnish,
and it’s hypoallergenic. If the ancients had had it to work with,
there would be a great tradition of titanium jewelry. If quality and
value are on the wane, it may have something to do with the economics
of the jewelry business. If we’re working for QVC instead of Czar
Nicholas, there’s a different dynamic that comes into play, don’t you
think?

    My comments are not those of an old man ranting...they are
simply statements of apparent fact and they portend the future. How
we perceive our roles in that future may determine our survival. I
don't advocate any particular survival mechanism, but I certainly
suggest that we all ought to be aware of the changes that are
evident. Ron at Mills Gem, Los Osos, CA. 

So you’re trading in all your precious gems for dichroic glass and
synthetics? New lamps for old, anyone?

Andrew Werby
www.unitedartworks.com


#10
        We are rapidly approaching that point in time when the
distinction between real and artificial becomes a moot point.  

I would respectfully disagree. Real, natural gems will always be with
us.

As for Amber, it has always been a stretch for me to include it
amongst the gemstone family. 

Agreed, amber is very cool stuff, but is it mineral? Other "organic"
gems are minerals - coral, pearls, etc.

    The ancient concept of gemstones being valuable and rare is
under attack and I doubt very much that it will survive. 

Again, I disagree. If a stone isn’t rare (at least to some extent),
it isn’t a gem. Synthetics and imitations have their uses but are not
gems

 ALL gemstones are now synthesized and many substances are
threatening to supplant natural Dichroic glass is every
bit as phenomenal as the finest black opal. 

Not so! different physics involved. The reflectivity will always give
it away. Even list member Audie Beller ( who takes a back seat to NO
one when it comes to dichroic glass) can’t make “black opal” ( or are
you holding out on me Audie?)

Synthesized opal is difficult to differentiate. 

Not if you know what to look for.

How long will it take for synthetic diamonds to enter the
marketplace ? 

Already there! Just very expensive.

I had a customer in my store yesterday who raved about "pink ice"
When I told her that it was merely colored cubic zirconia she was
crestfallen....she actually believed that it was rare, natural and
valuable. 

It’s amazing how dishonest marketing lives on.

We live in an age of change.  the pace of modern life is one of
escalation. The jewelry business is not invulnerable. 

That’s true, but the more those so-called “jewelers” in the mall keep
importing that “crapola” we all hate, the sooner the intelligent
public will reject it. It is our job to educate those few out there
who are not the mindless sheep that the “marketing” experts would have
us believe they are. Those few will turn to high quality hand crafted
work given half a chance. And the sheep will follow.

  the substitution of so called noble metals with Titanium 

Titanium has it’s place for it’s own properties. It is not trying to
supplant the noble metals

    My comments are not those of an old man ranting...they are
simply statements of apparent fact and they portend the future. How
we perceive our roles in that future may determine our survival. 

I am not exactly young myself, but I look forward to seeing the
re-birth of the Arts & Crafts Movement in the states and (I hope) in
the rest of the world. It is WE who will drive it, not some outside
force. Education is our tool, and our weapon against cheap crap made
100,000 units at a time. There are ornaments for the masses, and
there is fine jewelry. The question is “Which market do you want to
be in?”

Yours for the promotion of Quality, Mark

Mark Thomas Ruby
SunSpirit Designs
Loveland, CO
970 622-9500 studio
970 622-9510 fax


#11

I would like to disagree, respectfully of course, with one part of
this. One of the few things I do remember from my college days in the
geology (specifically mineralogy) department is the definition of
mineral. It is a naturally occurring, INORGANIC material with an
ordered internal atomic structure (ie, a crystal, or crystalline,
material) This lets out things like amber, coral and pearls because
they are all organic, whether or not they have a crystalline
structure. It also lets out things like obsidian. That is inorganic,
but has no ordered internal structure. It is simply ‘frozen’, not
crystalline. I agree, though, that the natural stuff is here to stay,
and possibly becoming more popular amongst those who understand the
distinction. Those who are more interested in fad fashion will
continue to buy the latest in thing, and relegate it to the jewelry
box when the next thing comes along. Jim


#12
           We are rapidly approaching that point in time when the
distinction between real and artificial becomes a moot point.  I
would respectfully disagree. Real, natural gems will always be
with us. The ancient concept of gemstones being valuable and rare
is under attack and I doubt very much that it will survive. 

Again, I disagree. If a stone isn’t rare (at least to some extent),
it isn’t a gem. Synthetics and imitations have their uses but are
not gems

I think that what Mr. Mills was driving at here was not the
encroachment of true synthetics on the natural stone market so much
as the proliferation of gemstone treatments. If a stone isn’t rare,
it isn’t a gem, but what happens to your rare gem’s value, say your
inclusion free, blood red untreated ruby, when gem labs can take a
heavily included, muddy looking sapphire and by heating, nuking
and/or diffusion treatments cause their “natural” stone to become
virtually indistinguishable in appearance from yours? And how,
exactly, do you know you have a rare, natural gem when some
treatments are hard even for gemologists to detect, and you have
only the word of the seller? The time is coming, or is perhaps
already here, when the only way to get a 100% guaranteed untreated,
truly natural gemstone is by personal use of a pick and shovel.

If we wish to preserve the value of truly rare and truly natural
gemstones against the proliferation of cooked, nuked, diffused, flux
treated “natural” the only way I can see to do it is by
consumer education in conjunction with aggressively enforced
regulation on disclosure. Will this happen? Probably not. Many/most
jewelers are already selling treated stones as natural without
disclosing to their customers. Frank and honest disclosure of
treatments would at this point devalue the major part of most
jewelers’ inventory.

Lee Einer


#13

In distinguishing between “natural” and “treated” stones there are
complications.

For thousands of years saphires have been treated by heat processes

  • sometimes in the preesence of iron filings. Zircons are nearly
    always heat treated. Does this make them less valuable or not “gems?”

This type of treatment simply mimics natural occurences. Some
diamond treatments also just artificially create environments that
the material might normally be subject to.

Leave an irradiated diamond for long enough and it will resemble a
naturally irradiated one.

Some natural smoky quartz is simply amthyst that has been subjected
to natural heat.

Tony Konrath
Key West Florida 33040


#14

Lee,

"If a stone isn’t rare (at least to some extent) it isn’t a gem."
Your comments well taken but, I believe, are a bit self-limiting. It
is true there is an ongoing feud between the natural and synthetic
’precious gems’, but there are hundreds, if not thousands, of
semi-precious stones out there that probably never will be
synthesized. True enough, amethyst, citrine, and some of the other
’lesser’ gemstones (albiet non-precious) are synthesized but they are
considered by many to still be gems.

I believe this feud is one reason (just one) why the trendy market
has turned more and more to the better of the semi-precious stone
market. Within the semi-precious and even non-precious, there are
stones that are rare (Laguna agate, Bruneau Jasper, Morrisonite,
Willow Creek jasper, some Ocean Jasper just to name a very few) are
highly sought after. Oh, they may not command thousands of
dollars…yet…but they are in many cases becoming more and more
rare are beautiful, quite durable, natural . Some of the better
agates are going for hundreds of dollars a stone.

Your questions are quite valid but I believe the buying public is
and will continue to turn to the 'lessor in which they can
have more faith (even then it is not totally without contradiction;
e.g. ‘enhanced turquoise’) when it finally becomes impossible to tell
the difference between a real opal and a synthetic or a natural
untreated/unaltered ruby and a natural repaired ruby.

Just my 2c but I believe the ‘upper crust’ jewelry trade continues
to overlook some of the most beautiful parts of nature while fighting
to uphold a glass ceiling that is becoming more fragile with age. I
have faceted many a lovely gemstone and set more than I can count
but, give me a piece of Laguna agate with hundreds of bands in
vibrant yellows, pinks, reds, violet, purple…nothing is more
beautiful.

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where we had
over 6" of rain today and where simple elegance IS fine jewelry!
@coralnut1


#15

Don-

I couldn’t agree with you more. I am sure it is heresy for me to say
this, but I have never found “precious stones” to be all that
interesting. I like agates, and jaspers, and yowah opals; stuff that
has color, plus pattern, and sometimes even variety of texture going
for it. They may not be gems, but they are definitely pretty rocks,
and pretty rocks are what it’s all about. I’m not much of an
artist-- with agates and jaspers, I don’t need to be. Mother nature
does the art, I just frame the pictures :wink:

Lee Einer