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Very Important New JVC Findings

Good Morning Everyone

I’m a little confused by all the replies in this thread. I went back
to the archives to read Mr. Spirer’s original post and am curious. My
understanding of the post being that the problem with the stones was
that there is no one currently holding a certificate allowing the
importing and sales of the treated gems. Is the issue with JVC the
legality of selling these irradiated stones without a proper
certificate or the safety to the wearers? Assuming that these
irradiated gems have been on the market for a very long time and
that treating the gems is a common practice, I would expect that any
health issues would have been resolved long ago.

Just curious… Sheila

NRC Says No Need to Panic Blue Topaz Regulations in Fact Finding

Gary Roskin, Senior Editor – JCK-Jewelers Circular Keystone,
7/18/2007 3:03:00 PM

On July 26, leaders from the jewelry industry will meet with members
of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Rockville, Md., to discuss
irradiated gem materials, specifically, the testing of imported blue

Recently, many retail jewelers were informed by Jewelers Vigilance
Committee that they may be selling blue topaz in noncompliance with
NRC regulations, i.e., without documentation that they had been
tested by an NRC-licensed facility. JVC suggested that, while there
is no apparent health risk, retailers may want to consider removing
said topaz from stock. As a result, many retailers pulled blue topaz
from their shelves and are wondering how it may affect Christmas
sales. Although it’s likely that none of the blue topaz for sale in
this country has been testedand there is some concern about material
that wouldn’t pass musterjewelers shouldn’t panic just yet.

“We’re on it,” says Cecilia Gardner, chief executive officer and
general counsel for Jewelers Vigilance Committee. “We’re leading
delegation to a meeting with the NRC. We hope to get some results
from that meeting that will help people decide what to do going

“Generally these stones are not a health risk,” says David McIntyre,
public affairs officer for the NRC. "We just want to make sure there
are safeguards in place when dealing with irradiated materials."
McIntyre notes a growing concern that gems are “out there” that “are
no longer within this regulatory framework.” Of course, even if
jewelers wanted to be compliant, there are no NRC-licensed facilities
for testing blue topaz, most of which comes from overseas. While it
has been reported that topazes from certain localities in Nigeria and
China have remained radioactive long after the normal cooling-down
periodsome could potentially need 10 years to cool off before falling
under the limits set by the NRCreportedly the levels of radiation in
those stones is still low enough not to pose a significant health
risk. Nevertheless, some gem dealers, such as Eric Braunwart,
president of Columbia Gem House in Vancouver, Wash., still think gems
should be tested before being sold. He’s tested his own stones for
almost two decades, using an instrument called a Gem Alert.“We’re
really not in an enforcement mode here,” says McIntyre. He hasn’t
asked anyone to stop selling blue topaz. “We’re really in an
gathering mode.”

McIntyre adds, "We want to get together with industry people for
three reasons. First, we want to re-establish arrangements whereby
somebody would apply for an exempt distribution license to be a
clearinghouse for all gems coming into the country, and do this to
make sure that these gems are within the regulatory limits. We would
like to speak with the jewelry industry to determine whether there is
a company that would be willing to do this service.

“Second, we need to be reassured some way that the stones that are
already in distribution do not pose any health and safety issue,
especially if it’s true that there are gems that have come in that
do still have some residual radiation.”

Timing is important for the NRC and the jewelry business. “We know
that the Christmas season is coming up,” says McIntyre. “And that’s a
big sales point for the industry. We’re sensitive to that.”

The third point of business is an upcoming regulation for
accelerator-irradiated materials. “There’s a new deadline, which is
a totally different regulatory issue altogether, that just happens to
wrap the gemstone industry inside,” McIntyre notes. Prior to now, the
NRC has not regulated accelerator- produced radioactive material. The
Energy Policy Act of 2005 gave the NRC the authority over
accelerator-produced radioactive material. Most of that is medical
isotopes. While gemstones may be a very big issue for the jewelry
industry, it is a smaller subset of what’s being done with particle
accelerators. Congress gave the NRC 18 months to come up with a
regulation, putting it on a fast track. The NRC has approved the
final rules implementing it. This can be found on the NRC Web site
under “key topics.” There should be a reference to a “tool kit” on
accelerator materials. This new regulation should take affect
sometime around the new year. Accelerator-irradiated (also
electron-irradiated) gems will need some kind of regulatory
framework similar to reactor-irradiated (Think diamond,
kunzite, morganite, prasiolite, tourmaline, etc.)

According to the NRC Web site, meeting participants include members
of the Division of Material Safety and State Agreements and of the
Division of Interagency Liaison and Rulemaking; Rick Krementz,
president of the American Gem Trade Association; Cecilia Gardner,
chief executive officer and general counsel of Jewelers Vigilance
Committee; and Matt Runci, president and chief executive officer of
Jewelers of America.The public is invited to observe this meeting and
will have one or more opportunities to communicate with the NRC after
the business portion, but before the meeting is adjourned.

“Your readers don’t have to worry about NRC agents in blue
windbreakers with big yellow NRC letters on the back coming into
their stores,” chuckles McIntyre. “And no, individual retailers will
not need to be licensed by the NRC.”

For more visit,, and

It really would be easier if you went to the JVC website where they
post all this (actually it would be better if you joined
the JVC–it’s there to help the whole industry after all). However
the issue is that no one has a license, not that the material is
necessarily unsafe. But, if even one hot piece is found somewhere and
the media picks up on that and the fact that no one is licensed to
import the stuff then there’s a real problem.

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