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All, Natural gemstones are stones that the only alteration of the
stone is the cutting. This is what I strive to market. It is
very difficult as the manipulation of the stone starts as soon
as it is mined. Miners know that if they can enhance the stone
it will sell for more money. It is estimated that enhancement
of rough material is almost universal. Finding honest
individuals to buy natural rough or cut stones from requires a
lot of research and trust. As aptly put, most people in the
industry will go to great extremes to creat value where minimum
value exists. The real test is when someone challenges your
claim that a stone is natural. Can you prove it? Can your
claim stand up to anothers appraisal? Can your claim stand up
in court? Natural gemstones are still the most valueable and
sought after. A true gem that is identified and gauranteed to
be natural is worth many times the price of an enhanced one.

Gerry Galarneau


Gerry, In sapphires valued at under $5000, the difference in
price between natural and enhanced (heated) is actually quite
minimal. I own quite a few enhanced sapphires that are much
more expensive than bigger natural stones as the color in the
enhanced ones is often much closer to what people imagine
sapphires should be. It is only when you start looking at very
high end stones that the difference in price will become
significant. While I applaud your efforts to provide the world
with only natural (IE unenhanced) gemstones it simply is not
possible. The issue always come back to this anyway: Is the
ultimate consumer (ie the retail customer) being properly
educated and informed as to enhancements that may or may not
have been done to the stone they are about to buy? It can then
be left up to them as to whether they want to spend the extra
money and time to get a stone appraised in a gem lab before they
purchase it.

Daniel R. Spirer, GG
Spirer Somes Jewelers
1794 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140

   The real test is when someone challenges your claim that a
stone is natural.  Can you prove it?  Can your claim stand up
to anothers appraisal?  Can your claim stand up in court 

It’s a real good question. Someone has said that it is
impossible to prove a negative. In this case you are trying to
prove that a stone has not only been produced “naturally”, but
has not been altered by any physical or chemical process that was
controlled by a human. Even proving positively that an object was
produced by “nature” can be formidable. If a cache of sapphires
deep, deep in the forest lying near a borax deposit is subject to
a lightning induced forest fire and have their color and clarity
enhanced are we to call these unnatural? The GIA does
considerable research into newer and better methods of detecting
treatments. Does this automatically mean that they can detect all
treatments? Or is it only true that they can only detect
treatments that they are familiar with? If GE hadn’t revealed
that they can enhancethe color of diamonds would anyone know? Or
in the case of syntheticdiamonds, without a few sample diamonds
to work with would it have been assumed that occasional magnetic
diamonds might be found in nature? Nah, I don’t think that there
is possible positive proof that any stone is completely


What makes a stone valueable then? We can make an absolutely
beautiful synthetic sapphire. The stone will be perfect in every
manner. What is the difference in value between that and a stone
that is heated, radiated, diffused, and everything else
in between? Gerry Galarneau


The difference in value is the perceived value of obtaining a
product that comes from the earth that has a somewhat limited
supply. Manmade stones can be made ad infinitum.

Daniel R. Spirer, GG
Spirer Somes Jewelers
1794 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140

 What makes a stone valuable then ?

The subject of value in any object is nebulous. I perceive it to
be a product of supply and demand, market hype and manipulation.
De Beers operates at all of these levels, even so far as to
extend its’ control through political coercion ( manipulation).
With respect to enhanced it is obvious that they
should command less value; furthermore, it is also logical to
assume that synthetics might deserve less value than enhanced
stones. The market has demonstrated this generalization many
times over. One of the more curious phenomena I have observed is
that since the proliferation of synthetics and enhanced
there has been a growing tendency of the public to
prefer stones that are uniform in color. It would seem that the
public consciousness prefers to gloss over the fact that nature
doesn’t squirt gems out of a tube and that infinite variation is
one of the biggest charms of natural Thus the
distinction between real and altered has become foggy. In
Southern California, ( Santa Monica in particular ) you will
observe lovers watching the sun go down over the ocean horizon
in a scarlet blaze whereas in reality they are watching the sun
choke in smog! What is real anymore? If history has taught us
anything, the general prevalence of enhancement is going to
bring an ever increasing supply of gems (sic!) to the market
place and prices will continue to fall. Fine natural gems are ,
indeed, extremely rare. In mining,the top grades rarely exceed a
fraction of a per cent of the output. On the other hand,
treatable gemstones can often be produced by the ton rather than
the gram. Nephrite jade, Turquoise, Sapphire and Topaz are prime
examples of plummeting value as supply overtook demand. Caveat
emptor ! Ron at Mills Gem, Los Osos, CA.


“Value” ? Too ambiguous of a term. The classic definition for
gems rely on three factors, Beauty, Durability, and Rarity.
However, I have seen natural stones set in sterling sell for
considerably LESS than certain plastic costume jewelry! We can
add name brand (marketing), and demand (fashion) to the classic
factors for the value of gems. Just because a stone is natural
does not automatically imply a higher value than a synthetic.
Just compare the price of a synthetic Moissanite or emerald to a
natural amethyst or topaz, or tourmaline. This really is not a
matter of right or wrong, but more as Daniel S. put it, perception. Will Estavillo


Value is where I take exception to the jewelry trade,
gemologists trade, and the appraisers trade. Value is
established on raruty, beauty, and availability ( the C’s). Not
on percieved qualities. A three carat natural Ceylon flawless,
8/10 on the color scale will be a lot more valueable than the
same size and grade stone that has been enhanced. Some of my
knowledgeable buyers demand that the stones be exactly
described. I give them all the knowledge I have about the
stones, including the pricing. If you want to see the
difference in value go to a gem dealer and ask for a certified
natural stone with either a “Beasley or EGL” certification.
Make sure the cert says totally natural, untreated, and gives
the location of origion of the stone. By gem dealer I mean
someone dealing in valueable stones “majors” not run of the mill
jewelry stones. My goal is to educate the people I run into while
dealing at shows as to the value of Our buying
public is very low on knowledge about the stones. When I tell
them the difference they do not believe that what they have
purchsed is actually not very valueable. I prove it to them by
taking them around the show and showing them what they could buy
the commercial stones for at retail at the show. Many times
their $300 ring has less than $25 worth of stones in it. I
explain to them what they paid for was the skill and artistry in
the making of the ring. The stones and gold are actually the
lower value. They are surprized to learn that their $300 ring
is only worth $50 in materials. Comparing this to items that we
need to do our daily lives is not a valid comparison. A car
represents maybe $2000 in raw materials, but is an absolute
necessity in out lives. A piece of jewelry is a luxury item and
should be desribed as such. I am a cutter of stones. Value
starts with the cutting of the gemstone. Value is the main
question at each step in the process of making jewelry. When
cutting the stones I strive for the best stone I can get out off
the piece of rough. Not the biggest stone. Many times the
stone I cut is more valueable, but less saleable because of the
size. My main thrust is to educate the public . Once educated
they can make up their own mind. This should make for a better
business for all that strive for full disclosure.

Gerry Galarneau


Gerry, What you say relies on the ethics of others. I believe
you, and want to trust others. I have not enjoyed the lessons
(costly ones) I have learned along the way.

Try selling (out of necessity) treasured fine jewelry. That is a
very bitter lesson.

There are a couple of lessons that are very hard to teach to the
majority of the public, 1. Less is better, 2. Bigger is not

I enjoy reading your input.


Will, The consideration of value and gemstones seems to be
provoking some interesting responses…I am especially
titillated by your reference to the old warhorse of Beauty,
Durability and Rarity. Beauty is not a valid constant inasmuch
as different cultures have different preferences. Durability is
completely bogus because the range of hardness and toughness in
gemstones is outrageous.( Mohs’ scale of hardness is a totally
outmoded device because it is highly inaccurate and gives false
impressions to the uninitiated.) Rarity is probably the least
abused concept, but diamonds are a hell of a lot more available
than our controlled market would have us believe! Your reference
to Moissanite having great value is a good example of how
marketing can be the prop which artificially sustains
value…after all, it is merely a form of carborundum. You
compared it to Amethyst as an example of how an artficial stone
can have greater value, but it must be born in mind that
ultimately the marketplace will determine its’ real value. Other
people will find ways to produce it that do not infringe upon
patent rights. This is all the more likely inasmuch as its’
composition is not novel, as far as I know.