Heat treatment of Songea Sapphires

I do not find the issues of selling synthetics and selling >
treated material without disclosure as being different issues. Both
> issues involve fraudulent presentations of goods. I fully agree
with Gerry’s point of view on this issue as a fraud of $100 is no
less than a fraud of $1000. It is the breach of trust (or contract )
which assumes significance, in this case, in the non disclosure of
the process.(or Origin ) I think every one should know that it is
the same situation in Emeralds also. There have been instances of
salting synthetics in emerald melee parcels also. To an extent I
believe disclosure (by avendor )is directly proportional to the
a customer has. If the customer is well informed and asks
specific queries he stands a better chance of getting a good deal (
not that, not asking should amount to non disclosure of processes and
origin )


Gerry, while I would agree with you that anytime a treatment or the
sale of a synthetic isn’t properly disclosed it is fraud, what it
sounds like you are saying here is that the sale of any treated
material is fraudulent, regardless of disclosure. You seem to be
implying that the degree of treatment is relevant. If that were the
case than it would have been fraudulent to sell all that Sri Lankan
gueda that was heated to fine blues as sapphire. Since ruby and
sapphire are the same gem material, it seems to me to be irrelevant
if the heat treatment results in blue or red material in the end. As
long as it is disclosed that the material has been treated it is
legitimate to sell the material. However in the case of the new
orange sapphire that has been making waves in the marketplace, since
it appears to be a diffusion like treatment, the sale of that
material as anything but diffusion treated should be considered

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

All, In the case of Geuda it is fraudulent to not disclose the value
change in the stone directly caused by the treatment. That is what
the value statement by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is all
about. Most sellers only compare the selling price of the treated
stone to the selling price of a certified untreated stone. They
should be telling the customer the selling price of the untreated
Geuda as compared to the selling price of the treated stone. That
is where misrepresentation of the stone occurs. Most buyers would
not buy if they were told up front that untreated Geuda sells for
$20-$50 per carat, but when treated the same stone becomes worth
$600+ per carat. Buyers then would see the stone as being too high
priced (value) for their dollar and would probably buy the natural
or not buy at all. They would not be willing to pay the seller that
much profit on a stone that had been enhanced by man. They might as
well buy a synthetic. To me the practice of selling treated
sapphires without disclosing treatment and the effects treatment had
on the price of the individual stone is fraud.

Gerry Galarneau

Here’s another interesting point. How do we tell the difference
between heat treated material and naturally heat altered material?
Some natural quartz is white (colorless) because of natural thermal
experience. Many sapphires and rubies will have been subjected to
heat naturally from the environment and so will all diamonds. The
same can be argued for topaz, zircon, tourmaline and countless other
stones. I’m not sure that I’m all that concerned about treatment
with heat simply because I don’t think it’s possible to make a firm
distinguishing test! I do make statements such as “Most natural
gemstones have been enhanced by treatments that duplicate natural
environmental conditions and it is almost impossible to distinguish
between these enhanced stones.”

I’m aware that it is possible to see the resulting internal stress
marks from included material that fractures the crystal lattice - but
once again I can’t say whether this has resulted from natural or
manually applied heat.

Aware of the fact that I don;t think any topaz or blue zircon has
not been heted I always tell a buyer that the likelyhood is that the
treatment has been done.

Tony Konrath

So what are the real rules here. The TV shopping stations seem to
have no compunction about selling opal triplets as “opal” and heat
treated materials as “natural zircon”, “topaz” etc. They even have
the cheek to call some material “genuine” several times and then
mention that it’s lab created.

Can you sell Moissanite as “moissanite” (no capitalization) and not
mention that it’s lab created?

I like using large created stones, it makes my pieces affordable,
and often mix them with diamonds or natural white topaz - but even
that has been heat treated - or so I suspect. But I do cheat a litle
by refering to the stone as “laboratory grown.”

Tony Konrath

Well as far as the Genuine issue goes, sickeningly chain stores also
do this. Basically they are lab created stones that are really that
type of stone (like the lab created Alexandrite used in tunable YaG
lasers that has the properties of Alexandrite, not spinel or
corundum). What is bad is frequently retail sales clerks do not know
the difference between “Genuine” and “Natural” and the stuff they
feed the customer unofficially is criminal. I don’t touch the stuff.

I do have untreated sapphires and lots of untreated stones. I also
have a few treated stones. The treating does make a difference to the
customer if they have the option. For some its “I don’t care what you
did to the stone I am just buying for looks as long as that won’t
change” others its "If it did not come out of the ground that color I
don’t want it.

Personally I would never use TV jewelry sales as any sort of
personal guideline for what is OK. I do occasionally watch the shows
for shear entertainment value (but then I have a twisted sense of
humor). Just consider the shows selling Goshenite as “white aqua”, I
personally wondered why they didn’t just go all the way and start
selling “yellow emerald” or “pastel emeralds” I mean really, no body
has heard of those terms so they must be really rare .

Really I think the best guide for a person selling jewelry is to
tell everything and where everything is not known assume the worst. I
always would rather tell the customer MORE than they want to know
than cut my own throat with lack of disclosure. A relationship with a
customer is built on trust. I don’t only want 1 sale but the one 5
years and 20 years down the road. I particularly dislike the idea of
being sued or having my name dragged through the mud via word of

I also (this is strange) make jeweled leads for show dogs (yes there
is a market for that and pearl collars ect - somehow if you are
putting 25K into showing a dog per year, a 75 to a few hundred
dollars for a collar is reasonable and then a few thousand on
themselves is even more reasonable…). I disclose the nature and
origin of the semi precious BEADS I use. I even tell them if it is
real or synthetic hematite. You can bet if I do that over something I
buy for pennies a strand that I will do that for something quite a
bit more expensive. Tell them everything, it is the only correct
thing to do.

Back on what started it all. I have 250 carats of loose, cut Songea
Sapphires .5 - 2.5cts each. Some are beautiful colors I don’t want
to play with and already have pieces I am designing for them (for
people). Others I would not mind having turn a nice orange red/red.
My questions are

 - does it have the same problem as the diffusion process?
 - do only certain colors heat well?
 - who does it and for how much?

Alicia Miller

Tony, You raise a good point here (Re: how do we tell the difference
between naturally heated and man induced). We once sold a beautiful
blue diamond that came out of the ground near a uranium mine. It got
the color because of its location in the ground, which was natural.

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

Gerry, You have misunderstood the FTC guidelines. They do not say
that you have to disclose the actual change in dollar value they
merely say that when the value has been changed it needs to be
disclosed that there has been a treatment that has changed the value.
Since it is impossible for virtually any retailer, and many gem
dealers, to know the degree of change (I mean, come on, none of us
have seen the individual stones we are selling before treatment) in
sapphires it is absurd to assume that we should then have to disclose
a dollar value that has been added. It is also my understanding that
in some cases the color in heated stones is not improved but
actually can be negatively effected; your line of thinking would
then dictate that we would have to disclose how much value was lost
in some sapphires.

I have always disclosed treatment to my customers and I have often
told customers about gueda material that was heated. Not a single
sale was lost because of this, which to me means that the marketplace
readily accepts the pricing of these stones. (Actually many
customers are fascinated by the fact that you can make some of the
changes that occur.) You may think most people would walk away from a
treated stone but since we sell them all the time, and since we
almost always show natural color stones at the same time, I can
assure you that most people couldn’t care less. They want a stone
that is the color they desire, at a reasonable price based on other
goods in the marketplace, that is supported by the retailer they are
working with (i.e. treatment is disclosed, appropriate guarantees are

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

Alicia, Color enhanced by heat treatment in corundum is a permanent
treatment that can only be altered by radiation or further heat
treatment. All corundum will not yield acceptable results. There
is no one that I know who will guarantee a stone will change to a
specific color or clarity. Even stones from the same mine do not
react the exact same to treatment. Treaters heat corundum many
times until they reach an acceptable color or decide the stone is
not worth bothering with any longer.

I do not know of anyone that is doing heat treatment of corundum on
a small scale. You should check with some of the advertisers that
have bulk lots of stones cut in Thailand. They may accept your
parcel to mix in with their stones to become treated. Be advised
that most experts in corundum agree that almost all corundum is
being treated before it is cut. Some corundum is being heated after
cutting in a flux mixture to improve the clarity and diffuse the
skin of the stone. Most of the corundum that are being sold as
natural are actually stones that have been heat treated, but show no
evidence of the treatment. This is a very contentious point, but it
is one that most experts agree upon. Gerry Galarneau

I fully agree with Gerry’s contention that non disclosure of
treatment is a fraud on the customer. ( as also the FTC guidelines
states that ) But there is a vast difference on the issues we are
clubbing here with this, one that of “apparent value change” after a
treatment.I would feel that for a professional jeweler the value of a
stone is what he/she beholds in the stone rather than what price has
been paid at its origin. Gentlemen, we should understand here that no
one in this world has paid mother Nature a penny for the stones they
have found/mined. Going by your ideology it should be preposterous
for anyone to get paid in thousands of dollars for just picking up a
stone from somewhere. So I strongly feel it really doesn’t matter
whether a stone has started from a few dollars or for free. Itall
depends on the buyer to assign the worth ( which may depend on the
assesment of a further selling price ). Is it all not dealing in
jewelry is all about?. Also of we were to apply this ideology to so
called precious metals, do we know how huge is the difference
betweenthe actual cost of mining these metals,themarket price and the
price a ring (weighing a few grams ) is sold by a goldsmith. Nilesh

All, I disagree totally. Yes, Mr. Spiersomes has told his customers
that the stones have been heat treated. He has not told them that
somewhere along the processing line someone has increased the dollar
value of the heat treated stone to near the value dollar of the
natural. The analogy about stones getting worse after treating is
not a factor in pricing. Anyone who is heat treating will be
treating a large amount of poor color cut stones or rough all bought
very cheaply trying make them into more expensive goods. Some stones
are treated many times to get an acceptable color and clarity. Some
stones will never become gems.

These treatments are most notorious in corundum’s because of the
great increase in price of a stone that becomes gem quality by
treatment. Quartz, tourmaline, and topaz are next three that are
most readily treated to improve color (or change the color) and
clarity, and increase the value of the stone to near what a similar
natural stone would bring.

At issue here is the question: Is it ethical to sell a customer a
treated gemstone that cost the dealer $60.00 for $600.00 versus a
natural of the same grade which would sell for $800.00, but cost the
dealer $400.00? Does the customer have the right to know the
difference in markup of the stones? Would you want to know the
difference in markup if you were the customer? Is this manner of
marketing misleading the customer about the stones value? What
should be the price of the treated corundum? To give you an idea I
will be selling treated sapphires that I have bought cut in Sri
Lanka and added value to by improving the cut and concaving, in 1-2
carat sizes for between $200 - $600 per carat. I lose about 30% in
recutting. (Most dealers do nothing to their stones to add value.
You get the exact stone they purchased from the cutting house.) It
does not take a math wizard to figure out that my buying price must
be much lower than my selling cost to be able to add my labor to the
stone and still sell at these prices. Notice the $60 price above.
That figure is about right for .75-1.5 ct corundum in the Asian

Gerry Galarneau

Gerry, In rereading your latest post it slowly dawned on me that you
are doing exactly the thing that you are complaining so much about.
You are taking inexpensive heated material, adding value and
reselling at prevailing market conditions. If you object so much to
the fact that this is being done than why are you doing it? Why
aren’t you marking your stones up less so that everyone will come and
buy everything you have since it will be so much cheaper than
everyone else’s? I mean if you take that $60 per carat material and
resell it for $120 per carat and everyone else is selling it for $600
than you should be able to move enough to retire early at just one
show. The reality is that because you HAVE added value to the
product and because you CAN sell the material at $600/ct. you WILL
sell it at those prices. And why shouldn’t you? That is the
established market place pricing for that kind of material. It is
the price retailers are willing to pay for the material because it is
a price they know they can turn the material on to their customers
and make a reasonable markup. As with any product in this great
capitalist country we live in the price is determined by what the
customer is willing to pay.

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

Gerry, It is the marketplace that determines value of all products
sold and it doesn’t matter a hoot what they start at. Look at the
prices of antiques. When someone bought one of those old chairs they
paid a few bucks for them. One hundred years later they are worth
tens of thousands of dollars. Why? Because there are buyers willing
to pay that price for them. In the gem world it is the same thing.
Since almost all gem dealers are willing to buy treated sapphires at
the prices they do and since the retailers are willing to buy the
goods from them at that price and since the retail customers are
willing to buy the goods at the prices set by the retailer than that
is the true value. It doesn’t matter what you think about it. It is
the reality.

Just, as another poster suggested, it would be foolish to assume
that the customer should be told the scrap value of the gold of the
ring he is purchasing. It all has to do with value added. You add
value when you take the stone out of the ground. You add value when
you spend weeks heating and reheating the stone to achieve a desired
effect. You add value when you ship the stones to another country to
be sold. You add value when you put the thing into a ring. You add
value when you sell it with your name on it.

Just imagine if Ford said, fine, you don’t like our prices. We can
sell you our cars for a lot less money but you have to assemble them
yourself. We will give you all the pieces that go into making the
car, all the bits of metal and plastic, rubber for the tires, etc.
The cost to you for this will be $500. You just have to assemble it.
Or you can pay $20,000 and it will come to you ready to drive.
Which car would you take?

One more thing, the reality is that almost all sapphire material is
routinely heated (as you have repeatedly stated). If this is the
case than even fine material is being heated in an attempt to produce
even finer material. If that is so then my statement about loss of
value is still valid as some of the material will actually degrade in
quality. Since no gem treater is going to throw out stones that they
are still able to resell, you have to assume that some material is
going to have come down in value. By your standards you are going to
have to disclose this fact and the dollar change incurred.

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

  As with any product in this great capitalist country we live in
the price is determined by what the customer is willing to pay. 

Well, let me give you an example from another capitalist country,
the UK. A highly successful and profitable chain of high street
jewellers was destroyed by hostile consumer reaction to (mostly
truthful) comments made by the CE of the company that the products
sold were crap. Consumers wouldn’t go there anymore, notwithstanding
the fact that prices were cut and cut and cut in order to try and
tempt them back.

All it takes is one newspaper article or one television programme
along the lines of “Jewellers: Are they still selling extortionately
priced Garbage?” and the wholesale destruction of businesses will
follow if, indeed, jewellers are still selling extortionately priced
garbage. And it’s the consumer that does the judging, not members of

best wishes Stevie Gamble