I recently had a client very upset and asking for my help with two gemstones they had bought from a very popular online auction website.
While they were natural tanzanite and were the actual gemstones in the listing’s photo they had been touched so much that it was ridiculous to argue it was not a misleading description of those particular tanzanites.
This is not the first time I see people in that tricky situation and quite frankly this one was just the drop that made the cup overflow. That got me cranky! For those of you reading this who know me, you already know how much I love what I do. To see such a blatant ripoff prompted me to write this post in the hope that it will prevent a few people from getting caught by those nasty dealers that give my industry a bad reputation.
Following are the details of this very bad transaction:
The tanzanites were listed on a popular auction website. The normal details of size and weight were there along with only 1 photo of each tanzanite and the seller’s clarity: “internal flawless”and “AAA” colour grades.
What I think of this listing:
the weight and dimensions were correct
only 1 photo, this cannot give an accurate representation of the gemstone as you cannot see the proportions or regularity of the shape and facetting.
while referring to “Internal flawless” means something it does not have the same importance for a coloured gemstone as it does for diamonds
“AAA” colour means absolutely nothing. No professional laboratories use this in there certification of coloured gemstones. (to see a genuine sample of a coloured gem certificate from the GIA click here or visit the Gemological Institute of America website here)
Now for the eye opener… the photos I took of the 2 tanzanites:
I know I do not have a professional photo set up or pretend to be a good photographer but I think it is quite clear that the colour is different and the angles the photos were taken was to make potential buyers think they were of much higher quality, colour and cut than they actually were.
While the seller refused to refund as they were the gemstone listed, my client got his money back from his credit card company after he gave them the report I wrote for him.
A lot of gemstones sold on the internet are genuine gemstones but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful. You usually get what you paid for but something bought for a few dollars online is not going to be valued at a thousand dollars if you know what I mean…
I recently posted on Facebook photos of emeralds repairs including one matching set which had one emerald completely stripped of its oil during rhodium plating (see the Facebook post here). I showed the usual before and after photos which triggered a few questions about emeralds and oil.
I am sure you have seen natural emeralds and noticed they tend to have inclusions and fractures. These are marks of the conditions they experienced when the crystal formed deep in the Earth’s crust. Very often water or some form of liquid was around as well and became trapped inside the gem while it was crystallising.This minute amount of liquid can be released when the emerald is cut and the fractures reach the surface of a facet.
I don’t know when exactly the oiling process began but I can tell you it was a long time ago! The first cutters would have noticed the change in appearance of those inclusions when “wet” as opposed to “dry” and went on researching the best way to make it look as it first did. Through research it was found that Cedar oil had a refractive index very close to emeralds. Basically that means this particular oil is not going to affect or change the natural characteristics of an emerald and simply replace the original fluid that was lost when cutting and minimise the appearance of fractures. Oil is stickier than water so it stays in the inclusions better, this is why I always recommend the utmost care when cleaning jewellery with emeralds.
Oiling of emeralds has been done for many generations and is an accepted treatment in the jewellery industry. Why it is accepted? Because it is non invasive and does not change the overall characteristic of the emerald. It can be removed safely without damaging or any adverse effects to the natural gem.
Any other form of treatment has to be disclosed by the seller, that includes fracture filled emeralds (with some sort of resin), dyes or coloured oils to enhance the colour of the emerald… Synthetic emeralds are normally displayed as “Biron emeralds” or “Chatham emerald” to refer to the manufacturing process that created them (the 2 most common synthetic emeralds available).
This is a very brief explanation about emeralds and oiling, there are entire books written on emeralds… If you have any other questions or comments please use the comment box bellow 🙂
Having a big part of my business online means I haven’t met all the visitors to my website or Facebook page. While we talk and chat on social media it is not quite the same as a face to face conversation. I thought it would be nice for you to meet me! I hope you enjoy this short video interview filmed in my office and workshop.
This video interview was done by Rolling Film Australia. If you are interested in a similar video for your work, business or any kind of function you can contact Daisy directly : 0415 287 848, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website to get details of all the services available: http://rollingfilmaustralia.com
As you can see in all the articles in the Gem-cutting category of my blog I do a lot of cutting from rough, repairs and some carving right here in my workshop. If you would like to know if some gemstones you have can be cut, recut or improved, pearls to drill… please contact me to arrange an appointment. (no obligations and no charge)
Design consultations for jewellers / designers are available for a fee, please contact me to discuss your project.