The Jewellery Industry-good or bad?

In the last month, I have been seeing and hearing about issues in the jewellery industry and how they are discussed outside the trade and with in the trade.

This post is my thoughts on some of the items that have happened over the last month, not that they are new in this industry, but they have happened in 3 separate countries and are problems that we all in the jewellery industry deal with. Those of us who are concerned about the problems in our industry are always looking at ways to correct where and when possible but at the very least to educate the public to be aware and do their research through ethical sources before buying.

As a concerned appraiser, and one that wants to protect the consumer, but also enjoys working in the industry, I look at things slightly different than the average consumer. Yes, I am a gemmologist and yes I like the natural stones and gems, but I am not against synthetics as long as they are labelled and sold as synthetic with no surprises for the consumer.

However, there are some composites, in our industry that right now that are getting attention (and have been for quite a few years) which are glass and ruby combined. Now there are variations on how much is glass and how much is ruby but the question is -should they be sold as ruby. I don’t believe so. I also don’t believe that calling them lead glass rubies is exactly accurate either. They are a composite created by man to look like a natural ruby but there is very little that is natural about filled rubyNotice in this picture the veins of darker purple/blue colour. That is glass. The big problem besides not identifying correctly to consumers is that they are not stable over time.  What I mean by that, is that the glass may come out over time with cleaning and wear and then you are left with ruby dust not the beautiful red ruby you thought you had bought. Unfortunately, we are also seeing this glass issue in sapphires and other gems as well.

Another concern is glass filled diamond. This has been around since the 1980’s and so is not new, but what bothers me, is that people still don’t know about it. Some jewellers that sell diamonds have never heard of it but these stones are out there in the market. I have encountered a diamond where the glass gave way and the client’s diamond was in two pieces in her setting. She had no idea and I had to tell her. These diamonds show their glass with colour flashes  No, not like brilliance or the fire we normally think of when light enters a diamond and reflects and refracts back to our eyes but a  one colour flash. This is caused by the difference of the glass filling compared to that of diamond and how the light reacts when encountering the glass compared to  the diamond. Those red flashes are filled diamondphoto courtesy of Shirley Mitchell

Another issue is with non trained  or poorly trained people that are appraising and or grading stones. They have bumped up the size ( whether from negligence, ignorance or greed) and so the consumer believes they got a better deal than they actually did. If you bump up the size by 5 points ( in the case of my client)  it  may now take the value of the diamond into the next price point.  What a great deal for the client, if they lose the stone ,they will get a bigger one with insurance right? What harm can it do?  In my mind a lot of harm. This is wrong. The consumer has believed they have been treated properly, professionally and with honesty. They have paid money on an insurance premium for years on an inflated price. They don’t find out till years later that the diamond they purchased is smaller than they thought-now where is their trust in the jewellery industry. Of course this could be the clarity or colour grade that is affected instead of the size but it doesn’t matter, it is all wrong if done intentionally.

So have I scared you off  from buying jewellery yet? Don’t be scared!

For every negligent person in the industry you will find a lot of people who just love the industry and are working and striving to improve it. Look for those people to talk to, listen to and learn from. Find the Gemmological associations in your country-most countries have one or there is one close by. Find the people who work at making the jewellery industry better. Ask an Independent Jewellery Appraiser, a Certified Jewellery Appraiser, a Certified Gemmologist about gems. The  concerned professional,  will be glad to answer your questions or direct you to classes where knowledgeable people are talking about these issues and others in the industry, in order to help you educate yourself before you buy your jewellery.

So is the Jewellery industry good or bad? Like every other industry a bit of both but to my mind as long as there are people trying to improve and make the industry transparent for consumers we have hope.

For more information on how I might help you please visit my website A last piece of advice with summer in the Northern Hemisphere here. Before you go to the beach, have your jewellery examined and appraised. Ask what damage sand can do and think about those metal detectors going over the sand finding what you leave behind when you go home.metal detectors

I look forward to talking with you.

Regards Karen                                                                                                                                                  Karen Howard FCGmA, RMV, CAP(CJA), AIJV                                                                                             KC Appraisals


2 thoughts on “The Jewellery Industry-good or bad?

  1. I had this conversation with a gemmologically-educated person (which I’m not) at the weekend. I asked if someone could legally sell a very cheap stone that had been treated in various ways to look pretty and therefore charge a high price. What came out of the discussion, was that it’s not illegal to sell glass-filled rubies as “rubies” in some countries where you’d think it would be considered fraululent and of course, there are countries which have absolutely no consumer protection laws in place for this type of thing. Some of them look fabulous. If it looks too good to be true if probably is and without a look at it under a microscope, you sometimes can’t tell…

    1. You are absolutely correct Jo, that it is not illegal in some countries, to sell them as rubies because they have some ruby in their composition. There are also varying amounts of glass in some of these stones from a little to a lot (more glass sometimes than ruby). If the stone is sold with it being disclosed as being a composite and the consumer is aware of what that could mean, then it is ethical and the consumer has purchased with full knowledge. What happens so often is that the consumer knows nothing about this treatment and think they have a great gem but are unaware of the problems that may be associated with the stone and the care that must be taken to keep it looking good. You are right in saying if it looks to good to be true than it probably is…..
      Thanks for the comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s