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Sapphires buying

Hello all,

A good friend of mine just spent a week in Bangkok and fell in love
with sapphires and wants some info for buying a large one in a few
months. Firstly she said she prefers the brighter clear colored ones
from Sri Lanka rather than the darker Thai ones and she asked me
about the heat treatments etc. that are being done. I am not an
expert in stones at all so am asking people out there to please tell
me where are the best ones coming from? Does heat treatments change
or fade or devalue then and how much? is a certificate on a stone
saying it is untreated be believed? Anything you can tell me would
be greatly appreciated both my her and myself. She is a lady who
loves lovely gem stones in great simple setting but she wants the
best she can find if affordable. I think she is looking quite large
stones not small ones.

Thanks to you all.
Wishing everyone a wonderful and prosperous year.

Heat treatment of sapphires, which should not be confused with any
other treatments (i.e diffusion, oiling, etc.) is a permanent
treatment and will effect value only slightly until you get in the
$5000 and up range. A certificate from a reliable lab should
generally be trusted, but you should make sure that the lab is an
internationally recognized lab. You should also be prepared for some
differences of opinion between labs. Origin reports are often a
little dubious. Your friend should buy her stone from a reputable
jeweler in her own country. If you purchase a valuable stone in
another country and come home and find it is not what it was
purported to be you will not have legal recourse (or at least not
easy legal recourse).

Ultimately however, as long as the stone is a natural stone and all
treatments are revealed (buy at a reputable jeweler!!) she should
pick a stone that truly moves her. It doesn’t matter where it comes
from or if it is heated or not–if she doesn’t like the stone she
shouldn’t buy it and if she does like it and it makes her feel good
then she should. You can have a great, expensive, beautiful natural
color stone but if it isn’t the color you want you shouldn’t buy it
just because it is certed as natural.

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

Sharron, I will not repeat my last post about but I will
accentuate one item. Learn about gemstone identification reports and
appraisals. Your basic question is: What is the value of the stone?
This is where the jewelry marketers have mislead the buying public
for many years. You can get an idea of what the value is through
gemstone identification reports and gemstone appraisals. Make an
agreement with the seller that if the stone is identified as being
what they say the stone is and appraises at a dollar figure at or
above the selling price of the stone, you will pay for the paper work
and purchase the stone. If the stone does not meet both of these
requirements the seller pays for the paper work and the deal is off.
For a stone that sells for $50,000 you should expect to pay $3,000 to
$5,000 for proper paper work. About 10% the selling price of the
stone. I hesitate to recommend a gemstone laboratory to send the
stone to or an appraiser. I would suggest you check with the
Jewelers Board of Trade or the Jewelry Vigilante Committee for
referrals. Learn that not one laboratory will give you a
"certification" on a gemstone. They will all give you a written
opinion. That opinion could be wrong. An appraiser will give you a
dollar value based upon either insurance replacement for the stone or
upon recent sales of similar items in the market. This also is an
opinion. Gemstones are bought for value, history, intrigue, and love.
All these variables are very difficult to affix a value to in
dollars to a specific item. Buying a gemstone is not like buying an
automobile or a house. That is why gemstones are “luxury” items.
You buy them because you want them. If you are straining your budget
and ability to feed your family by purchasing a gemstone you are
making a mistake.

Gerry Galarneau

Daniel and All, My first reaction to your post was total
disagreement, but then I thought about your post from a jewelry
marketers view point and you are correct. The value of sapphires
below $5,000 US is not affected by heat treatments. I agree. Why
is that so? It has been estimated by gemstone experts that over 99%
of all sapphires mined are heat treated. Even stone that have been
identified as showing no identifying signs of heat treatment have
probably been heated. How much does heat treatment change the value
of sapphire below $5,000? I can buy kilo parcels of rough for about
$5,000 - $10,000 per kilo. That is $1 - $2 per carat. This is
unheated rough. After sorting for flaws and the ability to cut a
stone I normally end up with about 75% cuttable stone. My price is
now $1.25 - $2.50 a carat. What is normally done at this point is
the stones are shipped to a cutting center in SriLanka or Thailand.
There I pay for preforming and initial heating. The cost is
variable. Probably about an additional $1.00 per carat. $2.25 -
$3.50 per carat. After heating a certain percentage of stone will
treat to a salable color other will require more treatment. Stones
that are salable I send to a cutting house, ones that require more
treatment are added to new stones and heated again. Cost of cutting
is between $.50 and $3.00 per carat. $5.25 - $6.50 is now my cost.
At this point I have sapphires that retail in the US for $50 - $ 600
per carat. You do the math. Heat treating affect the value that
much. Why this is down played by jewelry marketers is because this is
where they make their tremendous markups. Jewelry marketers also
know that no one is going to instigate a law suit over $5,000 in
stones, not when cost of litigation can cost millions. So the
market for sapphires under $5,000 has become the place where the
most misrepresentation of value takes place. The market below
$5,000 is also where most jewelry marketers play because it is very
lucrative and safe. In the old business world you could fairly well
trust most jewelry marketers to have sapphires for sale that were
what they say they are. Now that has changed. Most jewelry
marketers are buying from the best priced source they can find and
do no further investigation into the stones. These best priced
sources are traveling sales representatives for non US companies or
first generation US citizens representing family cutting ooperatoins
in China, Thailand, Brazil, Africa, and Sri Lanka. Most of the
stones sold by these people are not properly identified. Their
success in marketing has been price and price alone. In the new
business world gemstone dealers and cutters like myself have to sell
at these prices or below to stay in business selling to the jewelry
marketers. Price is driving sales to jewelry marketers, quality is
a distant second. Our sales have dropped consistently over the last
5 years. Now instead of lowering our prices to the point that we
are working for slave wages we are no longer marketing to the
jewelry marketers. Gemstone dealers and cutters are selling at or
below prices that we sold to jewelry marketers. We are selling
directly to the public at these prices. Our stone have the
guarantees of quality cutting, identification, disclosure, and the
best possible price and value. Therefore, tell all your friends
that the best deals are now to be made directly with gemstone
dealers and cutters, not with jewelry marketers. My new website
will be custom gemstones at wholesale or below directly to retail
customers. New game.

Gerry Galarneau

If you purchase a valuable stone in another country and come home
and find it is not what it was purported to be you will not have
legal recourse (or at least not easy legal recourse 

Actually you are much better protected under European laws than you
are under American. Likewise if you purchase a stone from any source
in the UK, for instance, and it turns out to be not what it was
purported to be you can return it for a full refund. If a chain snaps
you have a very good case for return as it was “unfit fopr the
purposes sold” and so on.


How does diffusion effect the value of a sapphire or a star
sapphire? What exactly is the diffusion process for star sapphires.
The reason I am asking is I came across a dealer recently that I
suspect is selling diffusion star sapphires (they look exactly like
the diffusion stars I see on thaigem). He will not reveal his source
for the material and hasn’t talked about treatments either. Basically
he just says here they are, aren’t they pretty. Needless to say I did
not buy and will not buy but I am curious about diffusion stars
because I have been considering using them in my work due to their
nice dark blue color and sharp star.

Alicia Miller
Exquisite Creations

Sharron, I agree with Garry almost completely, except that I WILL
suggest a Laboratory/Appraiser: Guild Labs, run by my friend Charles
Carmona, in Los Angeles.

I am a gemologist and appraiser myself, and think that Charlie is the
best one around. Totally honest, VERY knowledgeable, and he will give
you his best opinion for a reasonable fee, with no conflict of
interest (as there IS with the gem seller.)

I always suggest to strangers, when they want to buy a gemstone,
“don’t take the word of the seller; check it out with an INDEPENDENT

Also, I am sure his fees will be much lower than Garry quoted. Guild
Labs’ phone # is (213) 624-0137.

I have no financial connection…he’s a good friend. David Barzilay,
Lord of the Rings.

Hi Everyone out there ! I am not an expert on Gemstones, but would
like to add somethings here which I find missing. Sorry Gerry but I
seem to differ with your opinion in this case, you seem to be making
it difficult for Sharron her friend to make up their minds in
favor of a stone instead of helping them take an objective point of
view. To a greater extent I would agree with Daniel that heat
treatment or not ( a natural ), a stone should primarily appeal to
the soul of the intending buyer( and of course suit the budget too
).If a buyer thinks that any person, institute or Lab is going to
back up the responsibility of buying a stone 100%, it
issomething that is not going to take place. But 99.99% of the
times the opinion/s expressed bya reputed Gemmological
institute is correct technically (except that of the Origin of the
stone ). Generally heat treatment makes a difference of 10 to 20% in
the price factor but ultimately is is the total appeal of the stone.
Firstly and foremostly we have to understand what makes a dealer go
in the favor of heating a stone ? What is the process ? What changes
the stone undergoes before and after heating ? etc., etc. As I
understand, Gemstones are formed when there are favorable conditions
of different minerals, temperature, pressure etc and gemstones are
formed. In some of the cases and the stones are somewhat "raw " when
they are mined. So depending on each every individual stone a
decision is taken whether it requires heat treatment to bake it
fully ( and most of the times results in a better stone color
&claritywise. There is no guarantee of any result and it
is all based on decision taking based on an individuals experience
and expertise.In heat treatment the stone is heated to nearly its
melting stage where a reallignment of its consitutents takes place
and cooled in a more rapid time frame ( than it was heated ) to
freeze the beneficial changes. Diffusion is a process wherein a
coating of color( the same minerals that impart distinctive color to
a stone )is made superficially on a faceted stone and which
needless to saywears outwith use time ( specially
on the edges ).It is therefore an unaccepted treatment in the
industry. A few more pages can be written to describe all the
treatments done and their acceptability and non acceptability so I
would not take more time & space here. (You may read a
book onthe treatments etc of gemstones to get more
professional & updated ). In my opinion buying
a stone is similar to buying a car or a house or making any other
investment wherein you take an INFORMED decision and you stay
with it and where NO ONE guarantees you the final result. You take a
calculated risk and surely your life is not atstake. The only
important thing is whether you can make do with the loss of that
amount ( in the worst come worst scenario ). It indeed helps if
you are buying a stone in your own country for the reasons Gerry
states. From sharron’s mail the thing I am able to make out that she
has a liking for Sri Lankan material whichhas more crystal to
it (generally rather than as a rule )as compared to Thai material. I
have been associated with the gemstone industry for a decade now,
& If you were to describe the quality and carat wt. of the stone
you are looking for maybe I couldhelp you with a few
tips on the pricing aspect, and maybe give a referral of a suitable
vendor ( of that quality ). I wish you all the best in your endeavor
to buy a Sapphire.


Ms. Miller, The Federal Trade Commission Guidelines require that the
sellers of gemstone disclose any and all treatments, the nature of
the treatment, etc., on the receipt at time of sale. Members of the
American Gem Trade Association do so all the time.

I would NEVER buy from someone who will not state, IN WRITING, on the
receipt, whether the stones or natural or treated. There are no free
lunches in this world, the gem world is RIFE with misrepresentation
and the people who are looking for some great deal are the prey of
these scammers. Buy your stones from a known source who obeys the
rules and with whom you have recourse. There IS a going rate for
gemst ones, and those who would have you think you can get fine
quality for the price of junk are misleading you…EVERY time.

Use your common sense and be cautious.

Wayne Emery

  My new website will be custom gemstones at wholesale or below
directly to retail customers.  New game.  

Mr. Galarneau, Selling “at wholesale” or “below” to retail customers
is a serious violation of the law. If you market over the intenet
you have just violated the Lanham Act. I’d suggest you do some
serious research before you continue this line of marketin g. In
MANY jurisdictions you must clearly identify and license your self as
either a wholesaler or a retailer. Selling "bel ow wholesale"
implies you are selling below the actual wholesale cost of the goods
(that’s YOUR cost). That is a fraudul ent trade practice, if you
advertise it. Not opinion, it’s the law. If you tell a retail
customer you are selling at “wholesale” prices to them, but you
collect the required tax in a retail sale, you have broken the law.
I strongly suggest you consult an attorney and quickly about what is
deceptive and what is not. IMO, if I understand you correctly, you
are one of the problems.

Wayne Emery

    Likewise if you purchase a stone from any source in the UK, for
instance, and it turns out to be not what it was purported to be
you can return it for a full refund. 

This may be so in the UK but if you lived in the US and bought your
stone in the UK and you want to get a refund you still have issues
about getting it back to the jeweler and getting a refund. I have to
stand by my statement that you should purchase your stones in the
country in which you live.

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

Gerry, First of all I have to tell you that you are absolutely doing
something wrong in your business. I work with a whole lot of gem
dealers and absolutely none of them have seen their business decline
over the last 5 years (some of them were impacted last year but I
think most of the country was). This means that you are doing
something wrong. I can’t tell you what since I don’t know how or what
you are marketing but from what I have discerned from your various
postings I would say that you are trying to cut and sell material
that is much too inexpensive. You are competing with the wrong

The issue about heat treating effecting prices in goods under $5000
has nothing to do with who is selling it (or litigation that comes
from it). It has to do with the fact that if heating has a 10%
impact on the price downwards then the difference between a $4500 and
a $5000 stone just isn’t that big. On a $20,000 stone it makes a
more substantial difference.

“In the old jewelry world” you could mostly count on jewelers
selling stuff that they had no idea about what had been done to it
and that were filled with mis(I mean how many people have
actually seen pigeon’s blood so that they could describe a ruby as
being a “pigeon’s blood ruby”–and I can’t tell you how many times
people have come into my shop with old pieces that they, or their
grandparents, were told contained Kashmir sapphires, Burma rubies,
natural rubies{but it was my grandmothers and they didn’t have
synthetic rubies then!}, natural alexandrites {you know that
"natural" purple/blue color change synthetic sapphire}, etc.–not to
mention their flawless blue diamonds that are SI2, K color and have
strong blue fluorescence). In the new jewelry world we have made
huge strides at eliminating these kinds of horrendous

It is time to wake up and smell the roses. I think the marketing of
the people you were selling to changed and you didn’t change with
them. I can also assure you that any gem dealer who markets
directly to the public will never get a penny from me (we buy
1-200,000 a year in colored stones). All of my suppliers, who
incidentally all have to disclose treatments if they are going to
sell to me, abide by this and seem to be doing a fine business in
general. As a matter of fact a lot of them have experienced
significant growth in the last five years.

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

End of forwarded message

Alicia, Diffusion treated sapphires should be priced significantly
lower than natural or treated material. The primary reason for this
is that diffusion treatment is a surface treatment only and the color
can be impacted by minor repolishing. If the treatment is disclosed
and you want to buy this material (and resell it with proper
disclosure) than go ahead. The price however should be really low
relative to other similar colored material. On the other hand I
wouldn’t buy from anyone who was unwilling to talk about treatments.
You are ultimately responsible if you sell something to the public
that is misrepresented to them–whether or not it is your fault.
Daniel R. Spirer, GG Spirer Somes Jewelers 1794 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140 617-491-6000 @spirersomes

I am having serious problems with this interpretation of the Lanham
Act set forth in this thread. I did not get in on the beginning so
if some of this is out of context, please excuse me. Some more
on the act may be found at This act
deals with trademark protection including the usage and/or
infringement of trademarks and website names and links. I did not
find any mention of not being able to sell at wholesale prices to the
retail market or for selling to both if that is how you wish to
conduct your business. If it does there is a bunch of us in a heap
of trouble which would call for an intense public outcry. I have not
heard a word from the thousands of business’ via the news media that
do just this and aside from the fact that the jails in Texas are
already full.

This is still the ‘good ole USA’ where marketing of goods and
services still has a “buyer beware” attitude. The use of “wholesale
to the public” or “at or below wholesale” is a slogan and not a
trademark or trade name that is registered with the federal
government and is not allowed to be used by another entity. The only
restraints concerning sales tactics placed on trade are more for
public health and safety and not for making the best deal.

I have spent the last several days looking for glass beads by the
kilo at wholesale prices on the net and have found many companies
selling to both retail and wholesale. As an aside, if anyone has a
good source, I would appreciate the info. Besides, when you use the
wording or see the wording “below wholesale” in advertising, ask
yourself what does that mean? Below whose wholesale prices? What
wholesale price? Is there some sort of wholesale price index? There
is no established pricing system, only competition. In my glass bead
search, I have been getting everything from 10% off list with a
minimum order/quantity to not disclosing prices until I furnish
documentation that I am an actual business.

The Lanham Act is meant to protect patented/trademarked US goods
from being copied overseas and then marketed either physically in the
US or over the internet through utilization of a website or trademark
that so closely resembles that of the patent or registration holder,
the average consumer does not know the difference. US
manufactures/business cannot compete nor are they rewarded for their
research and development unless they are afforded this protection for
a limited time on patents and copyrights and an indefinite time on

Here in Houston, Harwin Street gets raided by the police on a
regular basis for selling all kinds of items that are presented as
the genuine thing, but are copies made in unacceptable sweat shops
and/or with child labor in third world countries. These vendors are
actively advertising “below wholesale prices”. The vendors are not
shut down because they advertise or sell below wholesale but because
they infringed upon the copywrite/trademark laws. Do local people
know this when they purchase from these merchants? Of course they
do. Does this stop them from shopping on Harwin Street? Of course
not. If there was not a market for the counterfeit items these
business’ would go under and the problem would resolve itself.

Now as to the second part of this thread-- the treatment of
gemstones and the disclosure of such treatment, we get into another
sticky situation. This one is called ethics. I regularly buy blue
topaz for some of my designs. The color suits my designs and the
price is right. Does blue (or green for that matter) topaz occur
naturally? I don’t think so. Has anyone ever, either here in the
states or overseas, disclosed this to me? No! Let the “buyer
beware” which in my case means that I have studied, searched, and
developed contacts that I trust along with developing my
questionable artistic talents. I do not find any laws that say they
must disclose unless I ask. Now if they tell me blue topaz is an all
natural stone it indeed is, but if they say the color is natural to
the stone, they have stepped over the line. The heat does not change
the fact that this is a natural stone, it only changes the color.

Federal Trade Commission Guidelines are just that, guides and
nothing more. They do not carry the weight of law. I do not believe
(and I may stand corrected on this) they do not carry any penalty for
failure to comply. I again attempted to find the exact law where a
seller had to disclose this on gemstones and was unable.
There are accepted grading standards of gemstones from private
sources, but none that is law with exacting penalties.

There are laws governing statements that something is something when
it is not. In other words, if I tell you my pale yellow glass bead
is genuine Imperial topaz, then I come under the deceptive trade
practices portion of the law. But if I refer to this bead as topaz
(meaning color) I do not. Topaz becomes a generic term. How many
times have I seen the term for November’s birthstone "genuine stone"
referring to the bright yellow stone in the pendent or ring? It is a
genuine stone with most people assuming that, if the stone is yellow
and it says November on the box, it must be a topaz stone. This is
indeed deceptive but not illegal. The manufacturer never said it was
a “genuine topaz stone”.

When considering the wholesale vs. retail pricing, if I tell you
that I will give you 10% off of the going wholesale price, that means
10% of nothing since the going wholesale price is what I say it is.

Last, and then I will shut-up, is the first part of this thread
concerning someone’s business going down prompting them to try
reducing their prices by using lower quality stones (I think). When
you aim for a lower market, you begin placing yourself in competition
with factory made, mass produced items. Can you work for wages paid
to third world factory workers? It will take you longer to produce
something by hand than something mass produced so you will need to
reduce your hourly rate below that of the third world to compete thus
reducing your standard of living to below theirs. And now consider
the sting of mass merchandisers who are always looking for a better
buy even if it is of lesser quality. This lower price market is
usually unaware of quality, artisanship, or design and only wants
something that is in vogue at this moment in time. They do not want
something that will be coveted or valued by their grandchildren.

My way of handling the many discrepancies about quality vs. pricing
is to always look for the best stone that fits the piece I have
designed, thus maximizing the look of the piece. Sometimes less
expensive is more esthetically pleasing due to color, shape, etc. I
always disclose what stone(s) I have used including common and
technical names, the weight of the stone(s), the country where the
stone(s) originated along with some ancient history on the stone(s)
and art design. I have never had anyone ask if the stone was
treated, but if I know I reveal as in blue topaz by stating that “the
blue color is obtained by heat treatment” in the stones description.
All of this goes onto a tag of hand made paper and attached with
each piece.

It is always my hope that some great, great grandchild will receive
the box with the and be very proud to own it, after all,
it does represent me. All of this adds to the price because it
involves time and research. But–If I feel that someone really
appreciates the beauty/quality of the piece but just can’t afford it,
I make a judgment call and reduce my price to 10% below wholesale.

You miss out on some very nice stones under the strict guidelines
you use. As a faceter I can tell you the ONLY thing I would state in
writing is ; treatment - UNKNOWN (unless I personally treated it)
,perhaps followed by something like “Most blue topaz is irradiated
and heated.” Or " Citrines can be made by heat treating amethyst".
Unless you dug it up yourself or diligently observed the

excavation,cleaning,cobbing,preforming,cutting and transportation at
each step YOU ARE GUESSING. On many smaller stones, gemmologists
can’t detect some synthetics much less treatments that duplicate in
a lab what nature does in the ground. In actuality, the only stone
that’s never been ‘enhanced’ is the one still undiscovered. It
starts being ‘treated’ as soon as the mud is cleaned off. This is
not to say owners shouldn’t be warned about fraudulent, toxic, or
impermanent issues with ANY jewelry. They sometimes are their own
worst enemy. You and I know that - say - amber - is not going to
hold up well in a ring BUT if you don’t sell it to ‘em they’ll just
buy it down the street. We all know that iolite is a sturdier stone
than Tanzanite (heat treated zoisite) but the marketing has caused a
skewing of emotion over logic. Ultimately the same is true for all
’self adornment’. If people didn’t have an emotional attachment to
’natural’ colored stones there’d be no reason to cut anything other
than CZ. Certainly your cautions about who you do business with are
very important, especially if they insist that their stones are
natural. But I can tell you the GIA has found synthetic rubies mixed
in with natural AT THE MINE. Now how can a cutting house stand
behind that? They’re whistling in the dark. Carl 1 Lucky Texan

Nancy, Sorry, you are mistaken about your assumptions about the FTC
Guidelines being used as law. Any judge in any jurisdiction can use
them as law by simply saying so in his courtroom. Lots of precedent
for this, and most states write their own co des around the
Guidelines. ALL states have code covering these matters and strictly
defining what is allowable in the “w holesale” and “retail” trades.

And the Lanham Act deals with LOTS of deceptive practices, not just
the subject you mentioned. You need to research this a little more,
and, in the US, “caveat emptor” is NOT the rule. If you conduct your
business t hat way, you are headed for big trouble. I’d suggest you
consult an attorney who deals in such matters, rather than using a
bead-seller as a business model.


Nancy, For the sake of accuracy, blue topaz is found naturally,
though is a relative rarity. Blue topaz is made from white topaz
through irradiation, not heat treatment. Jerry in Kodiak


    This is still the 'good ole USA' where marketing of goods and
services still has a "buyer beware" attitude.  The use of
"wholesale to the public" or "at or below wholesale" is a slogan
and not a trademark or trade name that is registered with the
federal government and is not allowed to be used by another entity" 

This phrasing has nothing to do with trademark however it is
considered unethical and, in many states illegal, to say that you are
selling at wholesale to the public. By definition the price you are
charging becomes retail because you are selling to the public. All of
the jewelers trade group do not allow their members to use this type
of advertising. Although they don’t have the law to back them up the
subscribers to these organizations feel that the organizations are
attempting to promote ethical sales practices in our trade, which as
a trade member you should be supporting.

     Now as to the second part of this thread-- the treatment of
gemstones and the disclosure of such treatment, we get into
another sticky situation. This one is called ethics." 

You may think this is only an ethics issue but I can assure you that
you are absolutely wrong on this. As the ultimate seller of your
goods to the public YOU are personally (or your business) liable for
misrepresenting your product to the public whether or not you knew of
the undisclosed treatments. In other words if you sell an irradiated
(blue topaz are irradiated, not heat treated, and incidentally I
have seen naturally colored blue topaz) blue topaz and do not reveal
this fact to the consumer than they can come back and sue you for
triple damages for misrepresenting the goods you sold to them. It
doesn’t matter whether or not your supplier gave you the
You are still responsible. (Sure you can go back and sue them but by
the time you get through paying all the legal fees you might as well
find another career.) Granted on a blue topaz it may not be that
much money, but think about what it is like when you sell a $15,000
emerald. If you don’t believe this than you haven’t been reading any
of the trade magazines that have reported on numerous law suits over
just this type of misrepresentation.

    Does blue (or green for that matter) topaz occur naturally?  I
don't think so.  Has anyone ever, either here in the states or
overseas, disclosed this to me?  No!" 

You’re buying from the wrong sources. We insist that all of our
suppliers provide this (since we are personally
responsible for any law suits that might arise).

    But if I refer to this bead as topaz (meaning color) I do not." 

You are wrong here as well. First of all Imperial topaz is a trade
name not a gemstone name. Secondly you can only legally sell this
bead as “topaz colored” not as topaz. If you sell something that
resembles a gem material and call it by a gem materials name without
a qualifying definition you are breaking the law. While the FTC
rules may not be commonly enforced (they are not just guidelines,
they are laws), the consumer can take you to court over it anyway.
Daniel R. Spirer, GG Spirer Somes Jewelers 1794 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140 617-491-6000 @spirersomes

   You and I know that - say - amber - is not going to hold up well
in a ring BUT if you don't sell it to 'em they'll just buy it down
the street. 

In this ethical jeweler’s store you’re right they can go down the
street because I won’t sell it to them in a ring with the guarantees
I offer, so in the long run the jeweler down the street looks like a
hack and I don’t, even if it means losing those sales.

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

Well done Carl! You have a very level headed and well informed
atitude with respect to the realities of the gemstone marketplace.
It is, indeed, no longer practical or feasible to assert whether a
gemstone is natural or untreated. Furthermore, what is the relevance
if the typical consumer puts a stone in a ring and proceeds to
destroy it through careless wear.? The only stones that are fairly
consistently natural and untreated are the semi-precious cabochons.
For this reason I will continue to use them whenever possible
inasmuch as they are honest examples of nature’s art.( I subsidize
my cabochon habit by selling the glittery baubles…it works for me
! ) Ron at Mills Gem, Los Osos, CA.