Most any decent gemmologist could tell you that synthetic
corundum has been around since about 1885, when there were some
early “Geneva rubies” that were synthetic, but synthetic corundum
began to be produced in volume by the Verneuil process about
1902. Such synthetics are relatively easy to detect under
magnification and if your jeweler had to send this stuff to a
lab outside your city he doesn’t know what he is doing, as the
first thing to do would be to have a local gemmologist look at
it, probably for $30-60 for a simple ID. (An appraisal might be
more.) According to GIA’s course material from 1992 (and their
info should be reliable), better synthetic corundum of a
different type (flux type synthetic) didn’t begin to be marketed
(by Chatham) until 1959. Synthetic Alexandrite was first
produced by Creative Crystals of California in the early
seventies, and by some other companies later in the seventies.
You will find some info on synthetics in Renee Newman’s Ruby and
Sapphire buying guide. Armed with the pictures there and a
microscope with 30x to 50x and a penlight to fool with the
lighting angles, I think an intelligent layman could learn to
identify Verneuil type (also known as flame-fusion synthetics)
synthetics in 30 minutes or less. The tipoff is characteristic
curved striae (curved lines of growth) as well as bubbles and
other typical inclusions. The later synthetics are sometimes
harder to identify.
I would raise heck with the jeweler who got you to spend money
on sending these stones off if they are indeed flame-fusion
synthetics, see if I could get at least some of my money back.
Most jewelers who send these things off (and there are sometimes
good reasons for doing so in cases of difficult identifications)
charge a fee in addition to what GIA or other nationally known
labs charge them. I would try to get the whole fee back less
what it would have cost you to get the things ID’d by a local
person. Failing that, the jeweler should give you back any money
he made, and he can show you the bill to him from GIA or other
lab. Or the lab should be willing to tell you what they charge,
esp. if you explain the situation.
Any jeweler who tells you something is “pink emerald” is
stamping himself as totally ignorant. Emerald is green beryl of
a specific color green. Simply put, lighter green beryl is
called “green beryl” and only darker green beryl is called
emerald. Pink beryl is called morganite. Some people have used
the term “pink emerald”, but it is not an accepted name.
Natural morganite is usually pale, but it could be a fairly deep
shade of pink in an exceptional piece. However, morganite prices
for the best stone would not run over $200/ct, retail, for a one
carat stone. As you may have guessed, morganite is not all that
uncommon. To be in business 40 years and never see one would
mean you didn’t educate yourself and didn’t get out much. I
would say there are some jewelry stores which have not had a
morganite in them in 40 years if they carry only conventional
stuff, but you couldn’t pick up ANY decent gem book without
reading about morganite and you couldn’t go to too many gem shows
without encountering some morganite.
Guys like this give good jewelers and gemmologists a bad name.
Do anything you can to complain (Better Business Bureau as a
start) and find yourself a good jeweler and/or a good
gemmologist/appraiser in your town next time you need help. HTH,
sorry you had trouble. Hope you will enjoy the jewelry from Dad
for the memories it holds — those ARE priceless as is the idea
that he thought of you and your mother and brought you all
something nice from far away.