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Urgent Appraisal


#1

I hope some of the gemologists that read this forum can help me. I
have 30 years experience as a bench jeweler and a store owner but I
am not a GG so I am going to need some official advice. A customer
of mine just came back from a cruise that included a stop in India
Where her and a friend both bought approx. 7 carat oval rubies or
what they were told were rubies. They came in to get them mounted and
to see what I thought of their purchase. They were of that perfect
ruby color that imediately makes you suspicious. They have absolutely
no inclusions of any kind but have a rather poor cut and polish. I
handed them over to a friend who is a GG and he said that they are
ruby but without any internal inclusions he could not determine if
they were real or synthetic. We are both of the opinion that they are
synthetic and that these two ladys were cheated to the tune of
thousands of dollars. They paid for these stones with a credit card
and they are planning to contact their credit card companys to see
if they can help them get their money back. I am going to assume that
the credit card company is going to want proof of exactly what these
stones are. A gemologist who is willing to sign an appraisal that
they are synthetic if that is the case. And I think time is running
out on the 30 days that they may have to do this. Does anyone know
where I can send these stones for a quick appraisal.

John Wade
Wade Desgns
@WADEDESIGNS
252-451-9270


#2

Hi John,

With current treatment techniques /synthezising methods it can be
very difficult to almost impossible to determine if such a ruby
(corundum in general) is the real deal or not.

With rubies one might check for extreme reactions under UV-light or
a chelsea filter (or even the crossed-filters), but that is not a
proof. Merely a good indication on its own.

When it’s too good to be true, it usually is, as you indicated.

Best to send it to the AGTA lab and let the pro’s have a look at it.

Alain

p.s.:
If they start the refunding process at the CC company now, they could
probably send the proof from the AGTA lab later.


#3

try Northwest Gemological Laboratory (NGL) Northwest Gemological
Institute (NGI)

10801 Main Street Suite 105 Bellevue, WA 98004-6366 USA 425.455.0985
Fax: 425.454.3088 email: nglaboratory@qwest.net

Ted Irwin is the appraiser. He does quick turn-around, and really
really knows his gems.

Leslie Sherman
Heart of Stone


#4

John,

Several things.

#1 Have the client send them in, not you. If this is going to hit
the fan you don’t want to be in the middle of it.

#2 Most of the cruise lines have ‘guarantees’ about this sort of
thing if it was a seller that they recommended. They are pretty
restrictive for the choice of appraiser and these guarantees tend to
be extremely one sided so read the fine print carefully. Have them
notify the cruise line and the selling jeweler immediately and in
writing about their concerns. This will end the 30 day timer but they
will still need a qualified appraisal to proceed.

#3 Most credit card companies allow way more than 30 days to refund
on a fraudulent transaction. The key date for them is the date of
discovery, meaning the date that the client receives the appraisal.

I’ll be happy to do an appraisal for them and I meet most of the
cruise line rules.

Neil Beaty


303-223-4944


#5

Hi John. I’m responding to your post both on- and off-list.

As Type II clarity gems, a 7 carat ruby should have plenty of
diagnostic inclusions, so you and your friend are probably right
about them being synthetic. From your description, they sound like
flame fusion synthetics. This type of “lab created” has an often
difficult to find inclusion of its’ own called curved striae. I’m a
GG, currently working with a Master Gemologist Appraiser and I’m sure
that between the two of us, we can make the separation for you. I’ll
contact you today (Friday) at the number you put in your post to set
it up if you’re willing.

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


#6

John,

Does anyone know where I can send these stones for a quick
appraisal. 

You didn’t mention which state you and your customers are in. In Los
Angeles, the best most honest appraiser I personally know of, is
Charles Carmona of Guild Laboratories. He is located in downtown LA.
You can reach him heRe: http://www.guildlabs.com/currvitae.html

I think I have mentioned the story of my mother proudly showing off
to me her 6 ct diamond engagement ring flanked by two 2ct. rubies. I
told her that the rubies were synthetic. SHe and her new husband
begged to differ, but they did check back with the nice little
Florida Jeweler that they purchased the ring from. Seems he had
somehow forgotten to mention that to her. Charles appraised the ring
for her a year ago when she was visiting. She was not as pleased as
she might have been at the replacement price he quoted her. Guess
she’ll check in with her jeweler daughter the next time she plans on
paying full retail…lol.

Lisa, (Off to Phoenix for the day tomorrow), Topanga, CA USA


#7

A few months ago, another natural ruby weighing well under 7 carats
broke the previously held price-per-carat record (also held by a
ruby) at somewhere over $300,000 per carat. The published photos of
this Burmese stone showed some obvious inclusions. If John’s
customers’ flawless rubies are natural, I’ll eat my diploma. Then,
I’m flying to India to buy a few (dozen).

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


#8

I have to say that I know Charles Carmona, too, and he is also
pretty fantastic. He has also written books to help jewelers and
gemologists.

Leslie Sherman
Heart of Stone


#9

Thanks for all the replys and advice. It is interesting that neither
of these customers has come back in my store yet. Even though one of
them was in a big hurry to get this resolved. I sometimes wish I had
just told them that" the stones are quite pretty, lets put them in a
ring for you". Being totaly honest with them probably cost me a
couple of grand in custom work. My wife would like to write an
article for the local paper about all the people we have seen cheated
by jewelry purchases they have made while on a cruise. Are the cruise
lines getting a kickback from the retailers? I have been on a few
cruises and it sure looks like it. And I did not see any bargains
even without having to pay tax or duty.

John Wade
Wade Designs


#10

I agree with John’s assessment of the stones and jewelry bought on
cruises. I’ve set some and the stones look like they came from the
$5.00 tables at Tucson.

If someone wants to have a nice momento of their cruise, buy a few
bottles of their favorite … beverage. At least for US citizens, the
price without duty is very good!

Judy in Kansas


#11

I read somewhere (I’ll have to google) that many of the retail shops
that you stop at on cruises are actually owned/operated/funded by
the cruise lines themselves. I don’t know how true that is or not
but it sure makes sense when you think about it. All I know is
whenever someone comes back from that area with any type of jewelry
(usually amethyst) I am already 50% biased that the stuff is
synthetic. Especially when you have 10 or so stones that are all
exactly the same color with no variation at all.

Craig


#12

A few years ago when I had my setting office, one of my clients
asked me to remove her customers Tanzanite and reset it into another
ring. I briefly examined it prior to removal, and it looked a tad
strange. It was TOO CLEAN. All of the facets edges were not sharp or
crisp, but ever so slightly ‘rounded’. It contained no blemishes or
even a slight aberration inside the stone. I immediately called my
wholesaler/customer, “Edith, what’s with this stone? It doesn’t look
Kosher to me”. She said she had her own appraiser come right over and
tell her client the not-so great news also.

Her client paid over $6,000.00 plus the taxes, too boot and saw this
ring in “full glory” in a display of lights and promotional material
attesting to its validity. The said appraiser looked at the stone
only and made a brief comment. “Its not a Genuine-Tanzanite, but a
nice looking $150.00 purple synthetic stone, and how many of these do
you want?”. I set the stone and her new ring of gold cost more than
the stone!

Remember, each and every day about 15,000 holiday visitors can come
to one island. And sometimes many of these small stores are there to
find a “mark”. I bought a bottle of wine at one store, it cost us
$18.00 and in another outlet it cost for the same bottle, year and
name up to $55.00. Go figure!

Moral of the story, buy a ring from the Islands on a credit card and
you might have no problem in getting your money back. Only shop with
brand name stores, not those numerous “outlets”. They seem to
proliferate daily and deal with the ships selection of stores to
meander through. I was on the “HMS. Princess Caribbean” and they
begged ‘us’ to shop at their stores. A bit of a tidy commission to
the ship, is better than getting messed around and paying an
exorbitant retail fee. At least everyone has a chance of a "cooling
off’ period. In short, “If its too good to be true, it probably
is”…:>)

Gerry Lewy!


#13
Being totaly honest with them probably cost me a couple of grand in
custom work. 

That’s probably true, John, but on the bright side, you’ve probably
also saved yourself some, too. Imagine those ladies taking their
beautiful new “natural Burmese ruby” rings to be appraised for
insurance purposes, being told they’re flame fusion synthetics, then
telling everyone they know who made the rings for them. Forget the
fact that they also told everyone that they got the stones in India.
My guess is that most of them will only remember who made the rings.

My wife would like to write an article for the local paper about
all the people we have seen cheated by jewelry purchases they have
made while on a cruise. Are the cruise lines getting a kickback
from the retailers? I have been on a few cruises and it sure looks
like it. And I did not see any bargains even without having to pay
tax or duty. 

Living here in a major cruise port like Ft. Lauderdale, I would
adore an article about just such a subject. But please be careful
about accusing them of kickbacks unless you have proof - libel is a
punishable crime. Also, please submit the article to as many jewelry
publications as you can. I’m very tired of sizing the garbage people
buy on these cruises, then being accused of causing it to break or
lose their crappy stones.

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


#14
All of the facets edges were not sharp or crisp, but ever so
slightly 'rounded'. 

Bummer that your client got taken at the islands, but to be clear,
tanzanite always has rounded facet junctions due to its’ relatively
low hardness and crystal structure. This observation should actually
indicate Tanzanite, not disprove it. I wish I could get $6,000 for a
purple Tanzanite. My customers will only pay that for a strong
violetish-Blue gem.

A last comment: Most gems that are being identified as synthetic
tanzanite aren’t tanzanite at all. They’re usually synthetic
forsterite. Occasionally, I see a fairly convincing-looking specimen,
but they generally look, for lack of a better term, “fake.”

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


#15

Hi James,

I’d be very cautious about using rounded facet junctions as an
indicator of much of anything except poor polishing procedures. I
get to re-cut/re-polish lots of tanzanite and when they leave here,
they have sharp facet junctions and a mirror polish. There are some
newer lap materials and polishing methods that allow sharp junctions
on even softer material than Tanzanite. The rounded edges are
usually caused by a soft lap and too much polishing media, hallmarks
of native cutting.

You’re correct in that there is no synthetic tanzanite and that
synthetic Forsterite is available. But that is not used very much,
because of the cost. Much more common is simple annealed glass in
the right color, sold for a few bucks a carat. Also, there is some
nicely colored purplish-blue synthetic corundum available, but the
best material I’ve seen other than the syn Forsterite is the
tanzanite-colored YAG from the Russians. It is much harder and
tougher than tanzanite and even has the nice color shift from
incandescent to daylight that is characteristic of well-saturated
and properly oriented tanzanite. Easily detectible by its higher RI,
it is more brilliant than tanz when cut to the proper angles for YAG
and polished properly (alumina on tin or BATT lap). Cheap, too, or
at least cheaper then the syn forsterite. Syn forsterite rough costs
25X more per carat than the YAG…and it’s probably the most
expensive synthetic around.

Wayne Emery
The Gemcutter


#16

I may be mistaken, but are you certain tht tanzanite has a color
shift? Bo you mean a color shift as in alexandrite?

Kevin Kelly


#17
I'd be very cautious about using rounded facet junctions as an
indicator of much of anything except poor polishing procedures. I
get to re-cut/re-polish lots of tanzanite and when they leave here,
they have sharp facet junctions and a mirror polish. 

As a G.G. required to make gem identifications on a daily basis, I
am always cautious about every indication of a gem’s identity.
Certain especially diamond, have characteristically sharp
facet junctions, while zoisite (tanzanite’s species) does not.
Compare them and you will see what I am talking about. This is not an
indication of a cutters’ skill or equipment. Rather, it is a natural
characteristic of zoisite.

What you call a mirror polish, gemologists call vitreous (Greek for
glass-like) luster. Gems with sharp facet junctions typically have
adamantine (diamond-like) luster. This is the main reason I never
use the fiber optic light when examining a diamond under the
microscope - the reflection from an adamantine stone can cause severe
retinal problems. I’m sure your stones’ junctions are as sharp as
well-maintained, contemporary equipment can make them, but no
zoisite is capable of displaying junctions that are considered sharp
by gemological standards. And when the question of gem identity is
asked, gemological standards are required, not optional.

Rounded facet junctions, along with refractive index, specific
gravity, birefringence and other data are most certainly indications
of tanzanite. And as a Type I gem, it is typically very clean. So,
the lack of inclusions and rounded facet junctions that were
mentioned in the original post are absolutely some of the first
indicators of tanzanite, but they certainly aren’t enough to go on by
themselves. When I said the word “indicator,” I meant just that.
Indicator, not proof.

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