Marketing treated gems as legitimate product

to all - i have this huge dilema how do others present or get the
public to accept treated gemstones as a legitimate product. the bead
people on the list must understand how i feel, they are legitimate
designers, but seem to have to fight to be recognized as such. here
in columbus ohio you cant even put a treated or synthetic in your
show case without being “LABLED” pssst!.. he’s you know, can’t
trust him ! OH!!! ITS A FAKE !!! Despite the fact there is
somthing done to almost every stone on the market in these days of
people rushing to have themselves enhanced with hair transplants,
botox lips, tits and eyes. people dont have the money for a perfect
8 ct yellow sapphire but they wont wear the affordable one either the
hypocrisy is maddening- lost in frustration


The old saw, “You can’t legislate morality…” You mention two
things, actually. Your subject says treated gems, and then you
mention synthetic gems. Those are two entirely different worlds. As
to my opening line, I don’t think very many people would dispute
that treated/synthetic gems are a legitimate product. They just don’t
want to buy them, that’s all. You see, since most all the world, I
believe, does think they are “legimitate”, I interpret your question
to be, "How do I get them to buy them? The answer to that is simple:
Market them to the people who want to buy them. You are not ever
going to get someone who wants a fine, natural ruby to buy a
synthetic. And disclosure is proper and fine, but what disclosure?
If you are saying that emeralds are oiled and many sapphires are heat
treated, that’s not a big deal. If you are saying that diffusion
topaz is essentially a man-made stone, which is true, then you are
in the topaz business. Anyway - the bottom line is, nobody, in the
long run, is going to make people buy what they don’t want to buy.
You’re just pounding your head against a brick wall. You need to find
your market, or upgrade your stones, instead…


how do others present or get the public to accept treated
gemstones as a legitimate product." 

“treated or synthetic”

Treated, as in Mystic Topaz, or diffused Padparadscha Sapphire? Or
synthetic, as in lab created Pad, or Moissanite? Or both? Either
way, the FTC requires you to disclose treatments, and local/state/fed
laws bar misrepresenting anything as something it’s not, ie: fraud.
This is something your customer ought to be happy to know about, that
you are not trying to rip them off! I always disclose “common”
treatments, like heated corundum, even though it may not be required
by law (so that after an appraisal says “treatments:heated”, the
customer doesn’t lose it), and have not lost a sale yet by being

In a situation where a customer cannot afford the 8 carat yellow
sapphire, I offer them a (natural) yellow alternative. You may also
point out that other local stores offer treated/synthetic stones (if
they do), and that at least you are following the law and being up
front about it. Beyond that, offer natural stones and materials that
are not in the cases of your competitors, and get rid of the fake
sh*t, especially if no one wants to buy it : )

Matthew Crawford

I have no problem selling treated natural I do it all the
time. Almost all colored stones on the market today are treated so
everyone has to disclose this fact. If you present it in a matter of
fact way, keep it simple and to the point there should be no problem.
The American Gem Trade Association has a lot of about
treatments and how to help sell them. I have found that the more open
and honest you are about your product the easier it is to sell it. It
helps to have alternatives on hand (untreated stones as well) so that
you can give people a choice, but I have NEVER lost a sale by telling
someone a stone is treated. I have gained quite a few customers by
letting them know that we don’t lie about gem treatments as it lets
them know we don’t lie about anything else either and that we are far
more knowledgeable about things than the mall jewelers or the hacks
somewhere else. Get out on top of it, in front of it and prove your
knowledge to the customer. You can only win.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140

That’s actually the law in the US. Treated and synthetic gems must
be disclosed, according to Federal regulations.

I work with beads all the time. I just put the distinctions on my
labels and leave it. I’ve never had a problem, and I’ve sold up and
down the East Coast. (From New York to VA. Soon to head to Florida.)

Elizabeth Schechter
RFX Studios

Selling Naked
By Marlene A. Frost

Can you sell gems based on the fact that they’re not enhanced? Some
companies are doing just that…

Complete Story

i have this huge dilema how do others present or get the public to
accept treated gemstones as a legitimate product. 

When the subject comes up, I explain to customers how nearly all
gemstones have been treated or enhanced in some way. Simply
polishing a gem from the rough is an enhancement, isn’t it? Much of
the pale amethyst mined is irradiated, most citrine is heated
amethyst. Topaz is routinely heated and irradiated to make it blue,
etc. All Japanese cultured pearls are washed and bleached before
sorting. Familiarize yourself with common, permanent gem treatments
so that, when the subject comes up, you can illustrate to your
customers the point that there are in reality very few gemstones that
have not been enhanced in some way.

Fake. I dislike that word almost as much as “real.” People often
come to me with jewelry and ask “Is this real?” I usually pretend to
smack it against my head, feign dizziness from the blows, then say
“Yep, it’s real…it just happens to be synthetic.”

James S. Duncan, G.G.
James in SoFL

Hi goo:

I don’t have many years of retail experience, but I have a little
story. We are in the process of selling our house. It is listed as a
3 bedroom and it is right by the water. The third bedroom, however,
is right over the second bedroom and they are connected by stairs.
This never bothered us as the second bedroom made a great nursery for
my sons.

Our real estate agent, however, has advertised our house as “a great
condo alternative”. I said “why can’t she say something like ‘a
completely remodeled home, right by the water, for less than the
price of a condo’?”

The two say about the same thing, but one sounds great…the other
just o.k.

Is there some way you can spin the marketing of the lab created, and
treated, stones to make them sound better? I’m not saying anything
about fibbing, but there are people who can sell anything. It’s all
in the spin.

It’s just an idea, though, and I may get a lot of flack back.

The other thought I had was to really become extremely knowledgeable
about what you’re selling (although you probably already are). It is
easier to assuage (sp?) fears and misconceptions about the various

Good Luck and I always like the creative ways you word your posts.

Kim Starbard

Hi G,

EDUCATION… it’s required to get acceptance. Almost all jewelry
stores, and ‘chain’ stores carry man-made/created/ lab
grown/synthetics these days… I’m going to give you a suggestion but
it’s not because I’m a gemcutter it’s because it works… buy a few
custom cut stones in very flashy designs that are not ‘run of the
mill’ junk that you can buy anywhere on the internet for 50 cents.
I’m talking about nice barion style squares, ovals, pears, etc,
checkboard crowns with unusual shapes, etc… I have cut alot of
synthetics (corundum & spinel mostly) and while you get the
occasional ‘look’ when you say man-made, they don’t put the stone
down or quit drooling over it (especially clear ones that look like
huge diamonds).


Never been to Columbus but have been selling heat treated gems for
years. Can’t recall ever loosing a sale because of that. You simply
have to be upfront with people. Yes, stones have been fiddled since
the beginning of time and no, there would not be much of a
sapphire-ruby market without them.

Usually heat treatment is the last thing mentioned in the sales
presentation. Unless, of course, people ask me or ask specifically
for unenhanced gems. These folks obviously know something and in
keeping with the old adage: “a little knowledge is dangerous” I try
to clarify the issue by giving them a good overview of what it is,
how it is done, durability and so forth.

Honesty is the best sales tool.

Is there some way you can spin the marketing of the lab created,
and treated, stones to make them sound better? I'm not saying
anything about fibbing, but there are people who can sell anything.
It's all in the spin.

Because I’ve shown the “ruby jade” at shows, I always disclosed that
it is jade, but the color is “enhanced”. It sounds better than dyed.
However, since I had one returned from a store I am pulling it from
my line. It’s just not worth the risk of losing an account.


I have a story… a little off topic, but it kinda relates.

I have a catalog company interested in a bracelet. (I’ve worked with
them numerous times before and have a good relationship with them)
The bracelet has one of my casings as well as my signature clasp,
they’ve carried it before with pearls. Now, they would like one with
"ruby jade" on it, you know, that dyed stuff. I sent them a sample
of the ruby jade bracelet as well as a sample of garnet. I explained
that the ruby jade is dyed and could possibly fade. (had a store
return one that sat in the window for 3 weeks and faded from a red
to a pink) This is why I sent the garnet, because this is a "real"
stone and it’s better. I even offered them a discount on the garnet,
and none on the “ruby jade”, really pushing the garnet.

Well, got both samples back. They appreciated my honesty with the
stones. But, they liked the color of the ruby jade much better than
the garnet and wanted me to keep them in mind if I found another
stone (a real stone) the color of the ruby jade.

So, by being honest with them I lost a very large sale. But, I feel
that I’m keeping my relationship with them. When I originally bought
this “ruby jade” a while back the supplier said “oh yes, it’s real.
oh no, it won’t fade”. I did not entirely believe him, but loved the
color (and the price) so I went for it. Now I know it will fade, and
the supplier mislead me. I will not buy again from him. I will tell
others that he is misleading and to be careful.

Hell, maybe I’ll find some red crystal and use that with my castings
for them! They seem to like the color better…


Because I've shown the "ruby jade" at shows, I always disclosed
that it is jade, but the color is "enhanced". It sounds better than

The problem here is that “enhanced” is generally used to mean
treated with heat or radiation to improve what is already there, and
“dyed” is is changed drastically by the addition of a “foreign”
substance-- not the same at all, at least in my mind. I would not
mind wearing, or setting, a heat-treated stone, but steer clear of
dyed except in pearls, and I think there’s no way around the word
“dyed” when that’s what it is. Any other word is misleading.

On the other hand, I’m fond of “chemically bonded” instead of
“glued”… ;>)


Because I've shown the "ruby jade" at shows, I always disclosed
that it is jade, but the color is "enhanced". It sounds better than

Hmmm…Although I seldom use dyed or irradiated stones, I always
say “dyed”, and always explain “irradiated”. In fact I make sure to
point out any stone that is not a natural color, or a natural stone.
No confusion there, no gentility about it. I have found that if I am
bluntly straightforward about my stones and pearls, the customers
appreciate it, and become engaged with the piece when I explain the
process. Although… my mother and her really nice husband weren’t
as thrilled when I pointed out that the biggish rubies flanking her
ever-so-large 6+ ct diamond were man made. Apparently their jeweler
had neglected to point out that small unimportant detail when they
bought the ring.

Lisa, (Car in the shop, tow truck driver practically cried coming up
my driveway. Thought he might have a coronary as I directed him and
his truck back down and then coasted my car down backwards with no
power brakes or steering…My drive = 30 degree angle. 10 feet wide,
on the side of a sheer cliff…lol) Topanga, CA USA

Hi Amery,

I have never dealt with a catalogue but, with both direct retail and
glass galleries, I found that people responded very well to my use of
Swarovski, rather than what, in my price range, would have been
inferior They have great name recognition and many people
view them as “high end,” even though they are affordable. By using
them, I never had to worry about not disclosing something I didn’t
know about anyway, and I always knew that, if I promised someone a
specific color, that was the color they would get. (I also liked that
they were made in an EU country, not in a sweatshop.)

The only problem I had was that sometimes Swarovski had certain
colors back-ordered for a long time (one of my vendors said that it’s
done on purpose), or suddenly discontinued. So, if you decide to go
with crystal in a specific red, check to be sure you can get a
sufficient quantity of that red for your purpose. A couple of years
ago, I had orders for pieces that used Swarovski “ruby” and suddenly
all of my vendors were out.

Good luck!

Lisa Orlando

PS: I was actually inspired to work with Swarovski by a bunch of
lovely garnet that “bled” quite badly.

I read the posts about this subject about natural, treated and
synthetic stones with interest. But I have to take exception with
one thing that several people said because it frankly diminishes
what some lapidary people do. That is the idea that virtually all
gemstone materials are treated somehow. That’s just wrong.

What makes it especially wrong is that there are some people who
sell stones, like me and several others I know, who concentrate on
selling the natural and even the rare. We dumb purists can be hurt
by the assertion that virually all stones are treated. It makes us
look like liars if we say ours are natural.

It can get even more complicated and difficult than that. Take green
amber for example. You can find a dark green amber all over the
place and some people even advertise it as natural. There is
virually zero green Baltic amber. However there is all kinds of dyed
green from that area, especially Poland. On the other hand natural
green amber does exist. It comes from the Dominican Republic and
Mexico and perhaps Indonesia, though even in those places it’s
extremely rare (I read in a relable source that only 2 tenths of 1
percent of all amber is a real green). But try to find this natural
green amber and your faced with the dyed stuff everywhere and try to
sell natural green amber at a price commensarate with it’s rarity
and forget it. The market is too flooded with cheap dyed material
for people to even find it.

On this subject of treatments and natural, the more we can learn and
the more we can educate, the better.

Without being too longwinded I hope, I would also like to suggest
that there are different classes of treatment and we could perhaps
point that out to customers. Yes. Many stones are heat treated. But
surely that’s quite different than dyed material or Mystic Topaz, or
diffused Padparadscha Sapphire or irradiation or numerous other
treatments that radically change the structure of the stone or
basically fake an effect. To me while all treatments should be
disclosed, some treatments like heat and even minimal radiation
happen in nature and we’re often just replacing the natural process.
Whereas others would never happen naturally and are highly
sophisticated attempts to fool people.

One other thing I notice here. No one mentioned tanzanite. I
understand that there are only a very, very few tanz’s that are
naturally blue, but like citrine just about all is heated to change
the color. I wonder how many people always disclose the treatement
in stones that are always treated.

As to the original post. I guess I’d suggest to the fellow who was
having trouble with his identity because of treatments, that you
keep your natural untreated in it’s own location and prominently
display that all the stones there are natural and and offer the
alternatives whether synthetic or radically treated as less
expensive alternatives.

I just hope people give some credit to those who are trying to offer
natural stones and not sell us short.

Derek Levin


but steer clear of dyed except in pearls,

What’s the distinction/rationalization you use to be in acceptance of
dyed pearls, and not other dyed stones? Just playing Devil’s
Advocate here…

Matthew Crawford

What's the distinction/rationalization you use to be in acceptance
of dyed pearls, and not other dyed stones? Just playing Devil's
Advocate here..... 

Well, I guess it is a couple of things… Pearls have always been
dyed, and most people are comfortable with it. Dyed pearls don’t
generally fade. It’s like cementing pearls to pegs-- I wouldn’t glue
most other things. Pearls are a different ballgame than stones.


That is the idea that virtually all gemstone materials are treated

In fact, when you look at percentages of stones sold today in the
entire jewelry business, most are treated somehow. This is because
there is so much material being sold by the chain stores and places
like Wal Mart. Consequently, when we talk about gemstone treatment I
will routinely tell customers that they should assume that almost all
colored stones are treated in some form today. It is simply a fact of
life in the business. This doesn’t negate what you, or any other
person dealing with natural stones does. It also doesn’t diminish the
value of what you are doing. It actually enhances it so I’m unclear
on why you’re so upset by this.

I would also like to suggest that there are different classes of
treatment and we could perhaps point that out to customers. 

Of course there are different treatments and any retailer worth his
salt today is clearly explaining that to their customers. It HELPS
them to sell their stones, both the treated and the natural ones.

I wonder how many people always disclose the treatment in stones
that are always treated. 

Emeralds are always treated and anyone not disclosing that fact is
going to end up in a lot of trouble. I don’t know about anyone else
but we routinely disclose tanzanite treatment (actually we use it as
a reason for people to buy my purple sapphires instead). The
disclosure issue is meant to be for all stones, not just those you
choose to disclose. Of course there are a few bad apples in every

Disclosing is not really an option anymore, it’s the law. But this
doesn’t make it a negative selling point. I said it before and I’ll
say it again. I have never lost a sale because I disclosed a
treatment (and I’ve been doing it far longer than most of you on the

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140


Thanks for the tip. I was actually thinking of finding some crystal
in the color they liked. Do you have a good source for the Swarovski?
And what’s the difference between Swarovski and the others? I don’t
know much about crystal, but is there a benefit to using the name
brand? I’ve only always used precious and semi- precious, but am
discovering what a nightmare it is to deal with catalog companies who
what 50-100 pieces of the same exact thing. Stones just don’t always
do that! You can’t always find enough.

Thanks for your help!