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Gemstone Treatments

All, Gemstone treatments, gemstone dealer competition, and conflict
of origion issues have all left a degree of uncertainty in the minds
of buyers. I am a US gemstone cutter and dealer of the stone that I
produce. I produce these stones from rough and from recuts. In order
to stay in business in the USA I have been forced into decisions that
10 years ago I would have argued against.

First I have given up on the difference between wholesale and
retail. It has been my experience that there is very little loyalty
between a custom stone cutter and wholesale buyers. Mass producers
and wholesale buyers have stolen designs and methods of producing
these designs from the custom cutters and the minute these inferior
quality stones hit the market my business dies. All my former
clients buy the inferior quality, but much cheaper stones as long as
they have the look, but not the quality. What this has caused me to
do is to closely protect my designs and production methods. I offer
my designs to wholesale customers first at Tucson. If they do not
buy them I take them directly to the public at only slightly higher
prices. That is because the public only buys one and two of an
item. Wholesale is supposed to be quantity. Quantity means to me 3
or more of each design. Otherwise I might as well sell to the public.
When I price my items for sale they are priced at the one item
price. When a customer buys in quanity I lower the price.

I disclose all gemstone treatments that I am sure of, treatments
that I suspect, and on some stones the fact that I do not know what
has been done to the stone. I only sell stones as natural that I am
100% sure in my mind are natural. If I make a mistake I eat it.

I try my best not to buy cut stones directly from dealers that I
know buy from sweat shops or use child labor. Sometime I am forced
to buy from these dealers to have a certain stone in stock. Then I
buy only the minimum quantity that I need. I buy most of my cut
stones from US dealers that are US citizens. They must disclose
treatments. Dealers from countries outside the US that I buy from
are very few. My experience is that I have been lied to on most of
the rough and cut stone transactions that I have made with non-US
dealers. In the current atmosphere of disclosure I can no longer
afford to tie up large amounts of money when the deals are not
trustworthy. I also do not buy from non-US dealers that travel the
USA selling to anyone who can afford the stone, dealer or nondealer.

Last summer I called a few large rough dealers in the USA. I asked
them for 20 gram plus rough in several varieties of beryl,
tourmaline, and quartz. I told them I would only buy the rough if
they would sign a form that the rough was natural and untreated. My
goal was to send the finished stones along with a sample of the rough
which cut the stone to GIA for a gemstone identification. I was
going to offer natural stones with a GIA Gemstone ID in large gem
quality sizes. Every rough dealer I talked to refused to sell me the
rough with the gaurantee. Go figure.

If you want to see well cut stones in many designs of faceted,
cabochon, and carvings come see me at the Gem Mall Booth 111, Jan 31

  • 13 Feb. We will tell you everything we know about each and every
    stone. Just do not expect us to tell you how we achieved the cut or
    polish. You know, the difference between a stone cut by a skilled
    craftsperson with artistic creativity and one turned out only for
    weight and color. Skill and creativity are the only thing that I
    have left to sell.

Gerry Galarneau, almost ready for Tucson - Yeah!!

Dear Jim,

As I bask in the 75 F weather of San Miguel de Allende, mex and
struggle with this woblly mexican keyboard, i just want to say - had
no intent to misquote you or represent what you said erroneously in
any manner. sorry if that happened. my only mission was to say to the
many orchid readers that natural untreated gemstones do exist, and
they are not rare at all. just gotta know what you are looking at.

btw my post about ultrasonic drills on Mars was slightly wrong. the
plan is to put an usd on a future martian rover.

cya in tucson
regards, steve

Dear Doc:

I missed the first part of this thread but seems as if you are
saying that comparing apples to apples (similar quality) that
untreated stones cost more if and only if they are expensive, I.e.
$2,000 per carat or more.

If you will forgive the plug, I make the point in my book; Secrets
Of The Gem Trade; The Connoisseur’s Guide To Precious Gemstones
www.secretsofthegemtrade.com, that “beauty drives demand and rarity
drives price.” in most varieties of colored gemstones other than
fancy color diamonds and colorless diamonds for that matter.
However, that point requires a bit of explication. Rarity drives
price if and only if there is significant demand. There are lots of
rare things that nobody wants.

Some treatments are not disclosed simply because they cannot be
scientifically detected. Can you determine if a topaz has been
"pinked" or a green tourmaline heated a low temperature to drive off
the yellow component? We know that it is being done but so far as
I know there is no scientific method for proving it. If it could be
proven, I contend, it would make a difference in the price!
Treatment in ruby, sapphire and emerald can be detected (for the
most part) and it makes a big difference, the more expensive the
stone, the bigger the differential, e.g. a natural 5 carat top gem
Mogok ruby may cost 5 times what a heat enhanced gem of similar
quality will cost. Same with a natural blue sapphire starting a
$500 per carat.

Richard

Gerry, Gotta love your commitment even if I disagree somewhat with
your methodology. Buying from U. S. citizens does not guarantee
anything other than the fact that they (your sources) bought from
someone else. Who they are and how they do business is impossible
to determine.

In my experience traveling to the various producing countries, the
gem business in far from monolithic. Much of it is a mom and pop
sort of operation with lots of small miner, cutters and dealers.
Most are, like the rest of us, trying to make a living. I am more
than happy to do business with small miners, dealers and cutters.
Seems like it gives them a leg up.

As to disclosure of treatments: Even if your dealer friends had
signed your agreement, the methodology would be problematic at best.
As you say, you have often been lied to and so have they. When GIA
decided to attempt the thorny problem of developing a methodology to
separate natural from irradiated green diamonds they tested the
Dresden Green. Why?, because natural green diamonds are also
irradiated “naturally” within the earth and the could not be certain
that any given stone they selected to test was, in fact, natural.
Since it had been in the Green Vaults for 300 years, they figured
they were safe with the Dresden Green. Unless you can source the
stone, its difficult today to be sure it is natural.

As gemologists we are involved in a constant game of “catch up”.
New treatment technologies are developed, we have to figure out
first that something is being done then what is being done. Witness
the recent lattice diffusion scare.

It’s a brave new world, see you in Tucson.

Richard

Check out my new book: Secrets Of The Gem Trade; The Connoisseur’s
Guide To Precious Gemstones: http://www.secretsofthegemtrade.com

James,

Yes there is often a problem with communicating this way but it does
work. Actually it gives one time to ponder the appropriate answer as
opposed to blurting out stuff we don’t mean (a common problem for me
sometimes). However this is the way the forum works so we have to
stick with it. But one of the problems with a forum like this is
also that anyone can respond to anything whether they have knowledge
(read here correct knowledge) about something or not. It appears
from your own statement that you are not involved in buying and
selling stones on a regular basis. This should limit your response
to some of the statements made, simply because you aren’t dealing
with the goods enough to know. So when I tell you that your
statement:

 What I meant was that I believe a natural, untreated sapphire (or
tanzanite, or ruby, etc.) that is blue (or the optimum hue of
whichever gemstone you wish to price), with medium tone and strong
to vivid saturation would probably sell for more than one that has
been enhanced to meet those same criteria 

isn’t true for the majority of stones sold in the marketplace today
it is because I am dealing with these stones all the time. Dealers
are simply not making any distinction in the pricing of these goods
until, as I previously posted, you get into a higher price range.
Most of the people on Orchid aren’t dealing with goods in that price
range so it doesn’t effect them that much.

That being said, the reason more gemstone treatments aren’t
disclosed is not because there is no price difference, but because of
unethical actions by jewelers and gem dealers around the world who
haven’t been properly educated. The way to help in this problem is
to support and join organizations like the American Gem Trade
Association, the Jewelers of America, the Jewelers Vigilance
Committee, etc. who are actively working to promote gemstone
treatment disclosure. We belong to all of these organizations and
more and we have (for far longer than this has ever been a topic)
actively disclosed, going way beyond what is required of us by
belonging to these groups, and well beyond what the FTC regards as
appropriate disclosure. Every single customer who purchases a
colored stone from us, whether treated or natural, is clearly
informed of the current marketplace conditions.

As for the rarity statement, I have to repeat that rarity is rarely
a factor anymore in setting value of gem materials. You skipped over
my mention of the diamond market. That is a prime example of how
marketing has replaced rarity as a value setter in today’s
marketplace. Does rarity sometimes enter into the equation? Yes.
Does it most of the time? Not any more.

I’m sorry if you think I have flamed you, but I don’t think my
response was inappropriate. Telling someone they are wrong, based on
a practical field experience, is not flaming. It is simply clearing
up a confusion.

Daniel R. Spirer, GG
Spirer Somes Jewelers
1794 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140
617-491-6000
@spirersomes
www.spirersomes.com

as of a few weeks ago in ratnapura, sri lanka, unburned blue and
yellow sapphires in all price ranges, not just the high end goods,
were considerably more expensive than treated goods of similar color
and clarity.

Daniel,

rarity is rarely a factor anymore in setting value of gem
materials.

Do you really want to stand by that statement? I hope not as it is
just plain wrong. Perhaps you are just being overly cynical?
While it is true that marketing not rarity drives the colorless
diamond market, gemstones in general and fine quality stones in
particular are rare! The point is well illustrated, ironically
enough, by the fancy color diamond market. Here we see a market
where rarity becomes so important that truly ugly stones will
command extraordinary prices simply due to their rarity.

You really find no difference in prices for natural unenhanced blue,
pink and padparadascha sapphire? Granted no one much cares about the
sort of aquarium gravel that passes for gemstones in most mall
stores but I see premiums being charged in source markets for ruby
and sapphire from one carat up. Sapphire differentials begin at
about 30%, ruby from 50%-500%,as size increases, etc. heated
padparadascha sapphires sell at about 70% off the prices charged for
naturals. Purple sapphires, which I believe you specialize in, seem
to have escaped, thus far, any real differential. Though I am in
the process of buying several specifically because they are natural
unenhanced. There is a real market out there for unenhanced yellow
sapphire.

And, these differentials are increasing. I predict that you will
see more and more gem varieties with price differentials based on
natural vs. enhanced as time goes on.

The issue of disclosure has been hotly debated within AGTA since its
inception. And, in the end it faced up to its responsibilities and
required disclosure as a condition of membership. Still, I have
bought Japanese pearls at the AGTA gemfair in Tucson without any
indication on the invoice that these gems have been bleached white
then dyed pink.

You are certainly right that full disclosure should be the norm.

Richard
Review my new book: http://www.secretsofthegemtrade.com

Daniel, thank you for your valuable observations about gemstone
treatments as related to us “little people” who so obviously do not
buy and sell gemstones all day. This morning, I awoke to some thirty
responses, all off-list, about people’s opinions on this same
matter. Some are in agreement with you (three, in fact). The rest
feel differently. Of course, I have no way of knowing how many of
them deal with them all day, every day as you do. But this isn’t the
main reason I’m responding to this thread one last time (and I do
mean LAST time!).

Simply reading the digest each day has been a wonderful thing for
me. I’ve learned a lot about all of my interests from a LOT of
people. Those interests include at least something from nearly every
thread that has been posted, since I buy, sell, cut, fabricate,
cast, patinate, etc., and I’m always interested in adding anything
and everything to my repertoire of creative release. However,
responding off-list to all these people, many of whom jump in
halfway through the thread and assuming I’ve said something that I’m
actually responding to, has bogged me down so much that I don’t have
much time to be creative. It’s been fun, but I’ll back off the
contributions and thank you more experienced folks for handling it.

Thanks for showing us all how the industry really works,

James-