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Heat treatment RANT **CAUTION**


#1

Howdy Gerry et al, But what about disclosing to a customer the
price of rough before it is ‘treated’ by faceting? Will that
disparity cause them to alter their decision? Iron ingots are
significantly cheaper before they’ve been ‘treated’ into an
automobile engine. Jewelry metals are often refered to as silver,
gold and plat. when they rarely are even tecnically pure. And they
are often ‘treated’ by annealing, hardening, oxidizing, patinating,
reticulating, etc. Some of these processes could add a significant
increase in price to a piece. Do you tell your customers what the
melt value of a wedding band is?

	I'm not advocating fraud here. Just clear, symmetrical thinking.

14K IS different than 14K gf and no customer should be led to
believe differently. But does the customer need to know the melt
values of the brass core, the copper ‘adulterating alloy’ and the
spot price of the small amount of gold? Gold which by the way has
probably been re-refined several times since being stolen from the
Incas (or whatever - but thats another ‘conflict’ issue I guess)
instead of just mined a month ago? If a blue topaz that was
irradiated and heat treated by man in a lab instead of nature in the
ground IS JUST AS DURABLE AND SAFE what’s the big deal? Again, I
like to educate all who receive any stone I cut. And I realize many
customers have EMOTIONAL attachments to certains ideas/beliefs the
’feeding’ of which they are willing to pay more for. For instance,
are my stones ‘handmade’? I don’t use a kick wheel or jambpeg. BUT
,instead of a computer (like some Swarovski cutting?) I make every
adjustment to the machine and ultimately use my own eyes to
determine when to proceed to the next step or finish. Can you call
your jewelry handmade if you use a foredom? A drill press? A milling
machine? A CNC milling machine BUT only if you wrote the code
yourself? The emotions (romance) involved in this business are very
real and that probably is behind some of the laws/practices
enforced. But really, some of them are only supporting arbitrary
systems. Kinda like teaching Esperanto just to increase the number
of Esperanto speakers and teachers. Soon there will be so much
knowledge and equipment required just to try to stay legal that the
’little guy’ will be outta the picture completely. If someone at the
GIA spends 4 hours examining a 1/4ct. ruby looking for that one tiny
clue that HE THINKS will indicate it to be synthetic where are we?
The average Joe on the street can’t tell a 10 ct. aqua from a 14ct
topaz AND DOESN’T care until some guy with half an alphabet after
his name and $2k worth of gadgets explains what a fool he was to try
to make his sweety happy buying some personal adornment item while
cruising the Carribean. It’s a weird business. I like the Art and
Craft and Wonder of Nature part OK. The nuances of the legal system,
the reason humans adorn themselves, the fear of shyster lawyers I
can do without. Carl 1 Lucky Texan


#2

Dear Carl,

Yours was an excellent post attempting to separate fact from
fiction, emotion from reality and personal agendas from honest
inquiry. Unfortunately there is always the the threat of
self-service in some of our dialogues and many of those letters
which attempt to stir the pot are, in reality, ill disguised
attempts to stay in the limelight and draw attention to personal
interests…or should I say; publicity ploys.

I am surprised to note that no one has pointed out that aquamarine
has been heat treated for centuries. It certainly has not been
implicated as an example of fraud and I, for one, doubt that anybody
is going to get huffy about whether it has been treated. The fact is
that any one who has ever cut aquamarine has almost certainly been
"guilty" of commerce in “counterfeit” stones, if you would side with
our ancient guru, Pliny.

You can be certain of one thing…treatment is here to stay and
no government, trade group or self appointed guru is going to make a
damned bit of difference. The human attribute of always seeking ways
to “improve” on nature AND to make more money will always be with
us. Ultimately I sincerely believe that the only treatments that
will be castigated will be those which are impermanent or which
affect the durability of the stone. Otherwise…who cares; as long
as people are romanced by stones let the sleeping dog lie… Ron
at Mills Gem, Los Osos, CA.


#3

Hey Carl,

One question for you - let’s say you go buy yourself a new car.
Let’s say it’s a “program” car, a year old - smart buyer that you
surely are, you don’t want to take the $1500+ hit in devaluation
from driving a brand spanking new set of wheels off the dealer lot.
So you look the car over - looks pretty darn good, low miles and you
pay what you think is a fair price for it.

Well, after cruising around in it for a few weeks, the novelty wears
off and you start becoming more aware of the subtle rattling that
occurs when you’re doing 60mph on the highway. Then you notice water
seeping in while running your new dream machine through the
automatic car wash - even after you hit the power window buttons 15
times to make sure those puppies are up all the way.

So here it is your car isn’t performing as you rightfully expected -
and you decide to investigate why you’re having these unexpected
problems. Lo and behold, you find out that the car you bought had
been involved in a nasty collision - and you’ve basically paid for a
bondo-buggy with a bent frame.

Personally I wish every valuable item I purchased that falls well
beyond my area of expertise was scrutinized one-tenth of what
valuable gems and jewelry are.

We, as an industry, make it tough enough on consumers to make
purchases confidently and without complications. If you doubt that,
I’d be happy to share some of my research into this with you.

Yes, it’s a big responsibility and far from an easy task to keep up
with the latest gemological developments. It takes dedication to
manage that, no doubt.

However, I disagree with you on the point of this leading to the
demise of the little guy! Why? Because in my experience, it IS the
little guy who IS keeping abreast of these things!

In my humble opinion, independent jewelers are the unsung heroes of
this industry. These are the people who know the meaning of the term
"the jewelers arts" and care enough about their customers to WANT to
make sure they don’t unwittingly end up with a gem version of a
bondo-special. Not because they’re worried about a lawsuit, but
because they sincerely care about their clients and hope they’ll
come back again.

Ours is not a trade to get rich quick in. Nor is it one promising an
easy path. People who succeed in this industry do so because they
love their work and take pride in going the extra mile - or ten! I
don’t mean to sound cold here but if someone feels it’s too much
trouble to do all that is required of a jeweler, that person would
probably be happier and more prosperous doing something else
instead. And the industry is probably better off without such
individuals as well.

As for myself, I’m grateful to all our colleagues who make it
possible for us to sell - and for our customers to buy - with
confidence. My hat is off to all the dedicated, hard working people
who spend hours identifying microscopic details which translate into
massive value AND durability differences. Without them, we could ALL
kiss our careers good-bye.

Respectfully, Jeanette Marie Kekahbah


#4

Someone on list apparently forwarded my comments on Gerry’s posting
of an article by Richard Hughes to Mr. Hughes. He very kindly
emailed me a detailed description of ruby treatments, most of which I
had been familiar with already. I then emailed him back to tell him
that most of the discussion had centered around the heating of
sapphire material. He emailed me back with the following email which
he, as you can see, offered to allow me to forward. I am doing so
accordingly. His second to the last paragraph is the most important.

Daniel,

Thank you for your note. No, it was not Gerry who forwarded your
message to me, but someone else.

I did read your other comments on disclosure and understand you are
definitely on the side of full disclosure. Trust me, I was in no way
offended by your comments, and wrote to you only to let you know of
my feelings on the flux-healing matter.

Indeed, it had been years since I looked at my original article, and
upon re-reading it decided to edit it a bit to bring it up to date,
which I did last night. The new version is basically the same as the
old, but I’ve removed the references to glass infilling, because this
treatment is really about healing fractures, rather than filling
them.

When the FTC guidelines were being revised recently, we immediately
saw problems. The idea of change in value is nice in principle, but
impossible to determine at the jeweler level, and so is impractical.
Bottom line: declare all treatments. If treatment cannot be
determined, but the stone is typically treated, it’s guilty until
proven innocent. This is the law for the AGTA and is certainly the
law here at Pala.

Feel free to forward these comments on to Gerry and others on your
list. I’m sorry we won’t be meeting in Tucson, but I wish you all
success with your business.

Warmest regards, Dick Hughes Webmaster Palagems.com

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


#5
    So here it is your car isn't performing as you rightfully
expected - and you decide to investigate why you're having these
unexpected problems. Lo and behold, you find out that the car you
bought had been involved in a nasty collision - and you've
basically paid for a bondo-buggy with a bent frame.    Personally I
wish every valuable item I purchased that falls well beyond my area
of expertise was scrutinized one-tenth of what valuable gems and
jewelry are. 

With respect, I believe your analogy is a false one. At least on
this level. The ‘performance and durability’ of MOST treated
gemstones is no less than that of the much rarer natural stone (all
other factors equal). That is to say, a lady could get exactly the
same ‘wear and tear’ from Swiss Blue topaz as from some pale blue
natural material - no difference in any way. The bumper’s not gonna
fall off the stone. Some say it may not be ethical to at least
mention the possibility that the SB topaz was treated by man, I
would, but there is ONLY ONE MEASURE by which you could say the
’enhanced’ gem had less value. That is YOU PERSONALLY place a high
value on it’s ‘naturalness’. A feature that would be difficult to
prove to you, relying primarily on salemanship. To use the car
example, it’s less like the physical condition/reliability of the
car and more like “I love Elvis and the salesman showed me a picture
of Elvis driving this car - that’s good enough for me!” That’s an
EMOTIONAL attachment to the car that has little to do with its
physicality.

    In my humble opinion, independent jewelers are the unsung
heroes of this industry. These are the people who know the meaning
of the term "the jewelers arts" and care enough about their
customers to WANT to make sure they don't unwittingly end up with a
gem version of a bondo-special. Not because they're worried about a
lawsuit, but because they sincerely care about their clients and
hope they'll come back again. 

I like your positive attitude and mostly agree, unfortunately they
ARE unsung (and unheeded) and lose out to the big mass marketers all
the time.

        Ours is not a trade to get rich quick in. Nor is it one
promising an easy path. People who succeed in this industry do so
because they love their work and take pride in going the extra
mile - or ten! I don't mean to sound cold here but if someone feels
it's too much trouble to do all that is required of a jeweler, that
person would probably be happier and more prosperous doing
something else instead. And the industry is probably better off
without such individuals as well.  As for myself, I'm grateful to
all our colleagues who make it possible for us to sell - and for
our customers to buy - with confidence. My hat is off to all the
dedicated, hard working people who spend hours identifying
microscopic details which translate into massive value AND
durability differences. Without them, we could ALL kiss our careers
good-bye. 

I’d say that without the advertising done by DeBeers to convince
guys to spend 2 months wages on an engagement ring and the recent
phenomena of beaming shopping channels hawking colored stones with
funny names into the coccoons of average folks we’d be in a lot of
trouble. Again, I DO understand the attempt to protect the consumer
from their own ignorance and the predatory practices of a few. I’m
NOT advocating that its OK to fraudulently sell a topaz as an aqua
or say a ‘hot’ irradiated cats eye chrysoberyl is safe (some
recently got on the market out of China). Occasionally uranium glass
comes up as faceting rough, if you want to inhale an alpha emmiter
go ahead and cut it, I don’t want to. I WANT people to be educated.
“If you manage to make the world foolproof, you will soon have a
world full of fools”. But be honest enough with yourselves to just
say it. “I have an emotional attachment to ‘naturalness’”. A lot of
people do. You cannot reason someone OUT of believing something they
weren’t reasoned INTO to begin with. It’s a lot like religious
faith. Faith presupposes doubt, you believe DESPITE evidence to the
contrary. There’s no question that , like an antique, a fine natural
stone is highly valued by the market.There are fewer of them in
relation to demand . (the demand being strictly emotional-you don’t
’need’ to have an old chair when you could sit in a new one and you
don’t ‘need’ to adorn yourself. Maybe greed drives you to 'invest’
in the antique or stone in the hopes that, in the future, someone
with a greater emotional desire for it will pop up with some cash)
The definition of gemstone involves beauty,durability and rarity.
Only one of these three can be tested in a lab. “Oh” you say “rarity
can be quantified”. Maybe, but only as to KNOWN examples. Benitoite
is pretty rare-for now. Tomorrow that benitoite stone you paid 4
digits for could drop to 3 if a new mine opens up somewhere.
Shoot-how much did the first CZs cost? At one time, aluminum cost
more than platinum. And diamonds? Well, if they’re so rare, why does
almost every woman own several?

[end rant mode]

Carl
1 Lucky Texan