February 1998

Gemstones & Pearls: News


Dangerous irradiated cat's-eye chrysoberyl is circulating in world markets. Know what to look for

Hundreds of dangerously radioactive cat's-eye chryso-beryls circulated through Asian markets this past fall, with levels of radioactivity more than 50 times the limit deemed acceptable in the U.S.

The gems allegedly were treated at a nuclear facility in Indonesia and released "through the back door" before the radioactivity could dissipate.

The high level of radioactivity in the gems could destroy white blood cells and cause skin cancer if worn for an extended period, according to announcements by Thailand's Office of Atomic Energy. Along with news alerts, Jeffrey Bergman, a well-known gem dealer in Thailand, used the Internet to make his own similar findings public.

There have been reports of these stones reaching the U.S., so be on the lookout for suspicious chrysoberyl deals.

Be suspicious if:

  • The price of the gem appears to be too good to be true.
  • The gem has a very dark brown body color. Remember, though, the best chrysoberyls can range from light greenish/yellow to honey-colored to dark brown. Also, cat's-eye chrysoberyl does not respond to heat treatment. Reports indicate the original material is from Orissa, India, and normally looks much lighter and greener than the more desirable honey-colored Sri Lankan material. It also costs far less.
  • You begin to see many more chrysoberyls than normal.

    - by Robert Weldon, G.G.

    Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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