Friday, February 17, 2012

Jet of the Day - The Silver Bear



FAKES, FRAUDS & RIP-OFFS


As a gemologist with over 30 years’ experience under my belt, my pet peeve is the influx of internet sellers trying to make a quick buck by selling dubious, & in many cases downright fraudulent, gem materials to the unsuspecting public.

I don’t want to rub anybody up the wrong way, but as a gemologist I am a scientist, and I can PROVE, scientifically, any gemstone properties I claim. I will confess that I have little time for supposed metaphysical properties of gemstones, none of which can be PROVEN, and all of which pander to our innate need to believe in something.

So, I thought I’d do a quick treatise on some of the more common unethical marketing ploys in the gem arena.

The latest money-spinner is the “recovery” & renaming of previously unmarketable material. The prime examples are Lapis Lazuli, “Moss” Aquamarine & Amethyst and such out and out rips-offs as Super Seven.

Moss Amethyst


Moss AquaMarine

These are all materials which are so low-grade they have been relegated to the dumps as unmarketable. In the case of Lapis, this reject material is now being recovered, dyed a dark, inky blue and marketed as “Indigo” Lapis, or left in its original pale state, often with more Calcite than Lapis, & sold off as trendy “Denim” Lapis. Truth – low grade rubbish which is worth $2 a bucket.

Denim Lapis

“Moss” Aquamarine and Amethyst is nothing new. It, like the Lapis, is ultra low grade material, full of inclusions which would normally render it uncuttable. It’s now been given a fancy name & is being sold for a great deal of money. It is worth mentioning that no reputable gem dealer or jeweller will be found handling this material because it is, if one is to be brutally honest, rubbish.


Dyed Indigo Lapis

Quality Afghani Lapis Lazuli

Super Seven. What can I say? The same deal. One person has bought up tons and tons of reject common or garden Quartz (the second most prolific mineral on Earth), rejected because it’s full of inclusions (otherwise known as “dirt”). The claims that it contains 7 other minerals have been disproven in laboratory tests. The claims that these included minerals have mystical properties can in no way be proven. The claim that not all pieces contain all 7 minerals, but because they are part of a larger piece which did, means that the smaller piece retains those magical properties – excuse me? Sorry, this is one of the biggest rip-offs of modern times. $20 a tonne in the rough, and pendant pieces being sold for upwards of $30 each?

Vessonite” is another relative newbie you might come across. There is actually no such thing. Vessonite is a made up name. Not to be confused with Hessonite, which is an orange variety of Garnet. The stone is Idocrase, also known as Vesuvianite. It’s a mineral rather than a gemstone, & is not often marketed as a gem, as it has no relative value. Certainly not worth $50 a strand of beads.




Green Amethyst”. No such animal. Amethyst is purple, period. It’s the purple variety of Quartz. Natural green Quartz is exceedingly rare. The green “Amethyst” on the market is simply heat treated purple Amethyst. (A different temperature turns Amethyst into orange Citrine.) Another marketing name for “green Amethyst” is Prasiolite. It should simply be marketed as Green Quartz. Value? Next to nothing, in reality. Don’t pay a lot of money for it.


Other artificially colored Quartzes – whether beads or faceted stones. Being sold for up to $80 a strand. As previously mentioned, this is the second most common mineral on Earth, worth $2 a bucket. To artificially dye it & have it cut into beads in a third world country does not increase the value by 1,000%. The second biggest rip-off currently in the industry and again, being flogged to unsuspecting internet buyers. Won’t be found in any reputable jewelry store.




Herkimer Diamonds. This name is currently being applied to any & all doubly terminated Quartz crystals from any locality. The term “Herkimer Diamond” applies specifically and only to a type of Quartz crystal from Herkimer Co., New York state. They are ultra clear, stubby crystals which are not found anywhere else.



On a slightly different note – “Black Rutilated Quartz”. There are two minerals which are found as needle inclusions in Quartz. One is Rutile, the other is Tourmaline. Rutile occurs only as gold, silver or sometimes reddish needles, but never black. The black needles are Tourmaline, hence Tourmalinated (not Tourmalated) Quartz. There is no such thing as Black Rutilated Quartz.


This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to gem misnamings & rip-offs, but some that you are likely to come across. I hope this may have been of some help  to you. Thanks for reading.





20 comments :

Bob J24-7 said...

THANK YOU for posting this. Most people don't know these things, and they should. We may not know how to prove a stone is genuine but should understand basic things about the stones we sell in our jewelry. All of these "fruity" varieties of quartz are usually glass. There is no such thing as "new" or "mountain" jade. Magnesite is not turquoise and Howlite is not white turquoise. Much of the "opal" seen in cheap jewelry is epoxy based simulated opal ... not even synthetic like the opal made by Chatham or Gilson. I especially like your comments about "denim lapis". Excellent post!

Rough Magic Creations said...

This informative and well written post by a trusted and professional gemologist is a much needed and very welcome wake up call! Thank you!!!

Donna's Artisan Designs said...

Wow Bearsie!!

You are a true and trusted team member who we are so delighted to call upon for ANY questions or concerns regarding gemology.
We are so very lucky to have you in our midst and your knowledge in an INVALUABLE ASSET to our team as a whole and a trusted source for such immense value to us individually!!!
I knew very little about these things you spoke of but I am SO GLAD you shared such great info with us and increased our knowledge base a 100%!!!
AND YOUR JEWELRY??? Oh My... indescribable in beauty AND RICH in materials and design!!!
I take a BOW to you my HERO and CHAMPION and defender of all this is RIGHT in our business!!!
Donna

Tracy said...

This post is fantastic! SO much to learn!

nancy's crystal fantasies jewelry said...

Bearsie, thanks for sharing this wealth of information with us. Wow! This is a keeper!

Crystal Impressions said...

Bearsie....

Thank you so much for the great info......very appreciative.....xo.....

O V Gillies said...

I'd vote for Bearsie to be made JOD for a whole week & write more posts like this!

Yep, LOTS of misnaming & overpricing of 'gemstones'.

Blanche said...

Very informative and important to know what you are buying and pitching to customers but sometimes the less expensive stones, minerals or composites can make for great affordable designs and I believe any mysticals powers any of them have is how your feel when creating with them and feeling pretty when wearing them!

Jennifer said...

Thanks for such an informative posting. I learned a lot!

DG Jewelry Designs said...

Augie, thank you so much for this information. Great post.

SendingLoveGallery said...

Good info for avoiding falling for bead merchant rip-off~

WanderingJewel said...

Thanks for the very informative post Bearsie... It's intersting how marketing can change the value of items.

Michele said...

Very informative, thanks Augie!!! I know who to go to when I have a question.

MadeByTammy said...

Fantastic Post - not only for our Team, but also for all the buyers out there. You leave me wanting to read more...

capitalcitycrafts said...

Thanks for the great information!

JillreOzmay said...

This is a great post. One of my bigger peeves is with so many stones being called Jade.. ugh!!

Thing is though, the point is to KNOW what you are buying and pay/charge accordingly and with a stone like denim lapis, for example, it can be pretty. So can a lot of lower grade stones. We can call them rustic :) They aren't rare, and they aren't good specimens of the stone, but if they are pretty, then the responsibility is to know what you are working with, and give full disclosure, and price accordingly, rather than shun them in our designs. Yes?

Dee Dubbah Yew said...

Thanks so much for sharing your extensive knowledge. At a time when so many stones are treated in various ways it is good to have a better understanding. You are our go-to girl, Bearsie!! (LoveStoneArts)

Ribasus said...

I love Bearsie for many reasons, not the least of which is her unvarnished, no nonsense approach to gems and minerals. I, too, am always appalled by the schlock which is being pawned off on the unsuspecting, over eager customer. I do differ about the healing quality of metals, gems and minerals from my Bearsie, but that is a whole other subject (subjective as it is!) Thank you thank you thank you for what I pray is the beginning of a series of eye opening treatises on REAL gems and minerals and their value. I am SO glad you talked about "green amethyst"...tehehehe!!!!!
LOVE LOVE LOVE from Auntie Ribasus

Beadsme said...

Interesting! I think many of us have been duped by incorrect descriptions.

Erika Price said...

Fantastic article - thank you so much for enlightening us about the way we're being ripped off. Love ya, Bearsie!