Las Vegas Overwatch : Dyed Quartz
With the upcoming Las Vegas glitz and glamour comes a lot of shady dealers and misrepresented products
As we learned a few years ago with our investigation of the fake turquoise being sold at the JCK Las Vegas show, the show venues will do nothing to police these kinds of things, even when prima facie evidence is presented.
What is even more sad, when the bad guys are high dollar dealers from China, the GIA will write identification reports to help them out when they are busted, even when it directly violates the United States Federal Trade Commission Guides for the Jewelry Industry. You all may remember our report of the Chinese dealers selling manufactured turquoise product and calling it “natural turquoise”, and the GIA issuing a report calling the material “Natural Turquoise” when, in fact, they knew it was a manufactured product and it was a deceptive trade practice to call it “Natural Turquoise”. This underlines the facts that big money gets whatever they want on a grading report, and that the GIA will kowtow to the Chinese markets when big money is involved. And…that even with prima facie evidence to the contrary, the JCK will use the GIA’s willingness to do this kind of chicanery in order to side-step having to deal with these kinds of situations.
With that in mind, I thought it important that all of you going to shop at the JCK Las Vegas show need to be aware of some of the scams and frauds floating around on the current market, all supported by an unregulated and uncontrolled gemological lab industry. Here is the latest example that is actually an old example come back to life.
There is a group on Facebook called the Scamologists who share information on frauds and scams. Great group that everyone in this industry should join. Recently the image at left was posted up reporting this offer from a dealer of what is supposed to be a “Natural Emerald”. It even comes with a “Certification” from the Global Gem Lab of the authenticity of this stone as an emerald.
The problem is, it is a dyed quartz, and not a very good one at that.
Here is a closer look….
Looking at this, most of you in the gemstone industry would automatically call “foul” on this. But consider a new dealer, a customer, and a myriad of other folks including insurance underwriters who would look at this green stone, look at the “Certification” from the Global Gem Lab, and go with the emerald identification simply because of the presentation.
It is a fraud.
This is dyed quarts and is ubiquitous in the market right now.
While this example is a fairly easy identification, when properly treated these can be difficult to identify for the novice gemologist, gem dealer.
As we have learned with the Tibet andesine hoax, gemstone treatments can often cause the properties of a gemstone to alter. Certain dyes or fillers, certain fluxes or coatings can lead to altered gemological properties that can create havoc for the noob dealers and gemologists, not to mention consumers. When the treatment is well done, the identification can be tricky unless the gemologist has the proper training in that treatment.
Below is a 10x view of one of these dyed quartzes. The stone is “quench crackled” to create the small fissure openings, then a green dye is forced into the stone. Since the refractive index of quartz is fairly close to the refractive index of beryl, the dyes can sometimes create a problem for the novice gemologist, or for the guys at the Global Gem Lab, but more on that in just a minute. Let’s look at the example below.
Here is one of the dyed green quartz. I purchased a parcel of these about 10 years ago, which tells you how long these have been out there. They were properly represented to me as dyed quartz. Sort of fun and obviously an effort by someone to create an emerald imitation.
Looking at this one under 10x it is easy to identify the dye material in the fissures. This is about all it takes to identify these goods. At least for most.
Below is a slide show showing 10x, 20x and 30x of one of these. If you carry a loupe and know these images, you are going to be OK. But let’s carry this one step further.
At 10x, 20x and 30x using our Meiji Techno GEMT-5 BFDF microscope.
If you use a a darkfield light, you can also see the quench crackled veiling that runs throughout the stones, as seen below at 10x and 30x.
Additionally, when heated just a bit the dye will often start to seep out. Bench jewelry artists should be aware of this before applying heat to what you may think is an emerald (which is a bad idea under any circumstances). If you see this kind of thing around the edges of an emerald, and the veiling is apparent as you see here, this is most likely a dyed quartz and you should avoid working on it like the plague.
Below is another look at an example. The 10x image at left is a nicely treated quartz, and this is the one that can create chaos for the market.
You will all remember the Chinese dealers who were dyeing quartzite and selling it as Canadian Jade, just down the aisle from the real Canadian Jade folks, Jade West, at the GJX show in Tucson a few years ago. Image of that is below. This is the same process being used on transparent quartz to make it look like emerald as you see above.
About the Global Gem Lab
Here is where this whole situation turns really nasty. There is a Global Gem Lab located in California who, by all accounts, are a good group of gemologists. When this whole situation came up, many pointed their fingers to the famous Global Gem Lab located in California.
Fortunately, my SIU investigation training at USAA paid off again.
There is a fake Global Gem Lab, or at least a very, very shady GGL that is not connected to the California lab.
I noticed that the url for the real Global Gem Lab is: http://www.globalgemlab.com/
I also read the fine print on that fraudulent certificate of this quartz as Natural Emerald. The URL for that Global Gem Lab is: http://globalgemslab.org/
Two totally different websites, with one using the name of a well-respected lab to apparently turn out grossly substandard and possibly fraudulent “certifications.
Perhaps the most telling is that the fake Global Gem Lab has no address listed on their website, an ICANN search of WHOIS could not find any information (that is easy to do if you know how) and the website of the fake GGL lab has absolutely no information as to who or where they are located. I did find their website server is located in New Jersey, so it is possible that someone in the US as created a fake GGL website and is issuing very realistic looking GGL reports.
Did someone say: Unregulated and Uncontrolled gemological lab industry? Oh, that was me about a million times. The gemological lab industry is operating under the rules of anarchy, and the jewelry and gemstone industry is paying for it. But not as much as consumers are paying for it.
The bottom line is that there are a lot of seedy deals out in the market right now, and this is one we are starting to see more often. It is an easy identification if you know what to look for. Remember, this gemology stuff is not rocket science, it is knowledge and training.
More important, it is not letting the gem labs do your thinking for you.
It is not putting your reputation into the hands of people you don’t know, and have no way to hold responsible for ruining your reputation.
Be careful at Las Vegas. The only professional you can truly trust….is you!
Robert James FGA, GG
Property and Casualty Adjuster, Texas Department of Insurance License #1300433
President, Insurance Institute of Jewelry Appraisal
a 501(c)3 Non-Profit Education Organization
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