Cochise College           Student Papers in Geology

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Roger Weller, geology instructor

wellerr@cochise.edu

gemstone scams
by Anita Jones
Physical Geology
Fall 2016  
 
6.   

 

                                                                                      Image result for gemstone scams

 

     Gemstones are shiny and pretty stones that attract people of all ages, walks of life, and social status. Thousands of years ago, gemstones were only available to royalty and the social elite. Gemstones were also a used as a status symbol for the wealthy and privileged population. As times have changed, gemstones are no longer just for royalty or the rich and famous.  Gemstones are affordable to all, but certain sizes and types of gemstones can still be slightly out of reach for the common household to afford. Gemstones can still be used as a status symbol, so of course there are always people looking for the best deal.  People are always searching for the biggest and rarest gemstones they can find for the cheapest price; here is where the problem begins.  Most people do not have the knowledge or the background to know what is a good (real) stone is and there is always someone out there that is willing to take advantage of that lack of knowledge.  "The more you know the more you can protect yourself”. (2)
 

        It could be extremely easy to become a victim of a Gemstone scam. Even an experienced Gemstone buyer can fall victim to these predators if they are not careful. Everyone likes a pretty piece of jewelry, whether it’s a cheap piece of costume jewelry or the real deal. Gemstones or their fake counterparts can make you the talk of the party but the scary thing about gemstone purchasing is not knowing whether you have purchased the real deal or if you ignorantly purchased a fugazi. A famous quote from the movie Donnie Brasco, when Al Pacino shows Johnny Depp’s character a stone that he claims is a real diamond. Johnny Depp’s character knew just from a quick glance that the diamond was a fake and Al Pacino was the victim of a scam. There are several different scams out there and one of the most popular scams is called a sandwich. A sandwich is two cheap stones stuck together and colored glue as the filling, or cheap pieces of plastics are being sold as Amber, plastic being dyed and sold as turquoise, and heat treated gemstones. A popular scam is the authenticity of emeralds, as soon as you type in fake gemstones on google emeralds pop up.

 

            
Picture Courtesy of: http://www.jewelrynotes.com/how-to-tell-a-fake-emerald-gemstone/    

           
 
EMERALDS – BEWARE OF SCAMS                           

                         http://www.africa-gems.com/emeralds-beware-of-scams

 

     Sellers often sell dyed or painted pieces of quartz (see picture above) that makes them look like good color and clarity which signifies quality emeralds. This type of scams often happens with diamonds as well.  When purchasing diamonds, one must be able to establish a diamond’s quality and in order to do this, one must understand the four C’s- Cut= The cut of a diamond plays a large part in its value, Color= The less color in a diamond, the more valuable it becomes. Clarity= Clarity is a measure of diamond’s natural flaws and impurities, and Carat= A diamond’s weight, not size, is measured in carats. These C’s determine the value and beauty,

 

     Since 1931, the Gemological Institute of America, also known as the GIA, has been recognized as one of the world’s leading authorities in diamond grading. The GIA developed the four C grading system as a global standard.  There are other established diamond inspectors whose reputation in certification is well accepted like the EGL and even though the EGL seems to have lower grades and priced diamonds than the GIA, it is still a reputable certifier.
 

Image result for gia certification 
Photo Courtesy: http://www.gia.edu/analysis-grading-sample-report-diamond    
     
           Image result for egl report check


                                        
  Photo Courtesy of: http://www.jewelry-secrets.com/Blog/the-cost-to-certify-a-diamond
 

     Scammers are also generating false authenticity papers, to trick buyers into believing that they have a genuine gemstone.
 



Picture Courtesy of: http://insure-jewelry.com/newsletters/2010/2010_10.htm

 

     This ring, for example, which sold on the internet for $400, came with an “estimated replacement value” of 37 times the selling price!  Suppose an insurer accepted this USGL valuation of $14,883. The buyer would then be paying $200-$300 in annual premiums. Would anyone insure a $400 purchase at these premiums - unless they saw an opportunity? Such a grossly exaggerated valuation is a moral hazard to insurers.

 

     Amber’s popularity has sky rocketed since the first Jurassic Park movie was released, but due to its recent popularity there have been many more scam’s regarding the mineral. Amber is a hard, translucent fossilized resin produced by extinct coniferous trees of the tertiary period and typically yellowish in color; this type of fossil is about 2-3 on MOH’s hardness scale. A popular purchase is the Amber bead but what most people are willing to pay for is the fossil that has been trapped in the Amber, and that is where the scam comes in.
 

     The British Natural History Museum recently discovered that a bee preserved in Amber thought to be one of the oldest known examples of this particular species was in fact a fake and probably no more than 150 years old. The fake was extremely hard to spot. The item consisted of a block of true Amber into which had been drilled a hole large enough to receive the dead bee. Resin which had been melted was then poured back over the insect, encasing it in an apparently genuine Amber prison. With the evidence of this nature, it can be inferred that even the best can be fooled and that should alert all collectors to the possibility of being misled or simply cheated.
 

http://www.rockhounds.com/rockshop/amber5.jpg   
                          Poor Bee  
Pictures Courtesy of: http://www.rockhounds.com/rockshop/trueamber.shtml       

                                                 http://www.rockhounds.com/rockshop/amber6.jpg                   

                                                                                                                          

 

                                                             

 

      







Picture Courtesy of:
http://www.balticessentials.com/blogs/news/learn-to-spot-fake-amber 









https://i.redditmedia.com/O135b_kCPNvvU1CpMI0DKiH8j0OyRQ_Ackv2eWjSkXo.jpg?w=640&s=13ae78c27091a95959f26a5972a5d5cf
 Picture Courtesy of: https://www.reddit.com/r/pics/comments/34wfc4/50_million_year_old_snake_preserved_in_amber/#bottom-comments

                                                                                                           

     Scammers also use various types of plastics. Like polystyrene that has inclusions already in it, but still plastic and they dye them. There are even video instructions on YouTube on how to dye plastic with resin and a ball point pen ink. Ink is inserted in fractions and as it spreads it dye’s the plastic https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84QbaefdYOQ  .

 

     Sellers are placing dead bugs such as centipedes or bees in copal. Copal is not as old as amber and isn’t nearly as hard. Sellers often create fractures in the copal and sell it for thousands of dollars as Amber. There are a couple of different methods in checking the authenticity in Amber you can do without equipment on the spot. One way to check the authenticity is with a U.V. light. Real Amber will glow and often it will only glow in certain spots, but it will glow somewhere a fake will not. Another great test is a rub and smell test where the mineral is rubbed in a soft, white cloth. Real Amber will leave a little color and a resinous smell. Copal will become soft and sticky. The quickest test of all is that real Amber never gets cold even in freezing temperatures as the Amber will never change temperature. Real Amber is not cheap, so buyers should not expect it to be. If a deal sounds too good to be true, the product probably is a fake.
 

     Another common gemstone that is fabricated to deceive customers is turquoise. Genuine turquoise is extremely common to find and is competitively cheap, so of course it is extremely cheap to reproduce in large quantities with zero quality. Most customers do not realize that the turquoise they purchased is a fake until it is too late. A common scam with turquoise is called treated turquoise that is when plastic or Howlite and magnesite is dyed with a blue or green color dye in a large container. The best way to check the authenticity of turquoise is to use the hot pin method. Hold a hot pin next to the stone and if it begins to melt or smell funny then it is a fake. Also, if the pin penetrates the stone then it’s a fake. Again knowledge is key so know your seller’s reputation.   
 

 

                         http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0371/8473/files/TurqSkyPic1_grande.jpg?3680  http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0371/8473/files/TurqSkyPic2_large.jpg?3681
Pictures Courtesy of: http://turquoisesky.com/pages/how-to-identify-fake-turquoises

                                                                                                             

 

 

     Lastly heat treated gems or heated gemstones are regularly sold as natural gemstones when these gemstones are not found naturally produced from the earth in the color or clarity that they are sold. Manufacturing gemstones are natural gemstones are transformed with heat to alter their color and or clarity. Popular treated stones are the ruby and the sapphire. Ruby – Heating can remove purplish coloration rendering a purer red color. The process can also remove “silk” (minute needle–like inclusions) that can cause a gem to appear lighter in tone and be more opaque. Heating can also cause recrystallization of the silk inclusions to make them more prominent which allows the gemstone to have stronger asterism (a reflecting star effect). (12) Sapphire – Heating can intensify, or even induce, a blue coloration in sapphires. The heating can also remove “silk” inclusions, which also helps to make the material appear more transparent. It in can also cause recrystallization of the silk inclusions to make them more prominent, which allows the gemstone to have stronger asterism (a reflecting star effect). (12) Treatment’s to these gemstones are continuously being changed and refined so the detection of these treatments can be hard to the untrained consumer. It is legal to sell treated gemstones; the seller must disclose to the purchaser that the stones are treated. In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission has created a consumer guideline outlining the need for treatment disclosures, and countries around the world have to adhere to the guidelines set forth or have a similar adhered guideline in their own country (12). 


Irradiated Topaz


  

 Heat treated sapphires  
Pictures Courtesy of: http://www.gia.edu/gem-treatment
 

      Pale sapphires that were once discarded in the mining process were treated to a desirable color of blue when heated in a controlled environment.

 

     There are too many scams out there to list them all, so in this situation the best thing that a purchaser can do is simply educate themselves.

Knowledge and prevention are the only two things that will save any buyer from purchasing fake items and becoming a victim. Prior to purchase, ensure that your seller is reputable and fully examine the stone before you end up throwing money away.  

 

 

                                                              Works Cited

 

1.     http://traveller24.news24.com/News/Top-10-travel-scams-as-told-by-a-travel expert-20150210
Weller, Roger (2016) GLG 10-R. Weller, Cochise College

3.     Depp, J. (1997). (A. Hollywood, Interviewer) Newell, M. (Director). (1997). Donnie Brasco [Motion Picture].Pistone, J. (1981). Joe D. Pistone His Life In The Mafia- Part One.

4.     http://www.moviequotes.com/repository.cgi?pg=3&tt=107508

5.     http://www.gia.edu/analysis-grading-sample-report-diamond

6.     http://www.jewelrynotes.com/how-to-tell-a-fake-emerald-gemstone/

7.     http://www.jewelry-secrets.com/Blog/the-cost-to-certify-a-diamond

8.     http://insure-jewelry.com/newsletters/2012/2012_02.htm

9.     http://insure-jewelry.com/newsletters/2010/2010_10.htm

1    http://www.balticessentials.com/blogs/news/learn-to-spot-fake-amber

1    http://www.rockhounds.com/rockshop/trueamber.shtml

1    http://www.gia.edu/gem-treatment

Photo Credits


 Photo Courtesy of :
http://www.jewelrynotes.com/how-to-tell-a-fake-emerald-gemstone/    

Photo Courtesy of: http://www.africa-gems.com/emeralds-beware-of-scams          

Photo Courtesy of: http://www.gia.edu/analysis-grading-sample-report-diamond           

Photo Courtesy of: http://www.jewelry-secrets.com/Blog/the-cost-to-certify-a-diamond

Picture Courtesy of: http://insure-jewelry.com/newsletters/2010/2010_10.htm

Picture Courtesy of: http://turquoisesky.com/pages/how-to-identify-fake-turquoises

Pictures Courtesy of: http://www.gia.edu/gem-treatment