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.
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.
“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.