For Your Staff:Selling Treated Gemstones
Unsightly inclusions can be eliminated, leaving a hole, but also creating
a more desirable and affordable diamond
|This is seventh in a series of articles in Professional
Jeweler showing how to explain gemstone enhancements honestly and positively.
The series began in June 1998.|
Diamond's beauty and brilliance have captivated us for centuries. Unfortunately,
growth characteristics called inclusions keep some diamonds from attaining
the brilliance they would have otherwise. These inclusions often crystals
of another mineral such as garnet become embedded while the diamond
Technology discovered 30 years ago has come to the rescue in the form
of lasers. Technicians use lasers to drill a tunnel into the diamond and
vaporize the inclusion, which usually has a lower melting point than diamond.
The tunnel the width of a human hair or less may reach deep
within the diamond or enter only a short distance. Sometimes the diamond
is then boiled in acid to remove any remaining particles of the inclusion.
Some laser drill holes are so small they're a challenge to find. Generally,
however, they are easy to see through a microscope. But remember not all
diamonds are laser-drilled. Go over the inventory in your store with your
manager and identify which diamonds are drilled.
Some laser-drilled diamonds are filled with a foreign substance that
reduces the visibility of the hole left where the inclusion had been, and
this creates a specific set of concerns (see Professional Jeweler,April
1998, p. 36).
A laser drill hole is visible through
the table and reaches an inclusion below. It's magnified 20x. Gem courtesy
of Yehuda Diamond Co., New York, NY.
Photo by Robert Weldon
When discussing laser treatments with your customers, appeal to their sense
of wonder about human technology and ingenuity. Explain the high-tech feat
of removing an inclusion deep at the core of a diamond. You might show diamonds
with and without inclusions, just to give customers a choice. Some people
like the inclusions and consider them to be a diamond's natural birthmark.
Others prefer the extra brilliance achieved through laser drilling. Present
the facts and let the customer decide which he or she likes best.
Special Care Warnings
If customers are concerned about keeping the passageway clean, remind them
the hole's diameter is so small nothing can get in anyway. In addition,
consult with your store manager about creating a policy to clean diamond
jewelry for your customers whenever needed.
Diamonds are the hardest element on earth, and laser drill holes do nothing
to diminish this resilience. If a diamond is lasered and then filled with
a foreign substance avoid excessive heat. However, laser-drilled diamonds
without fillers can be put in an ultrasonic cleaner.
Advice for Sales Associates
Learn your store's disclosure and return policies regarding laser-drilled
diamonds. Remember that starting this year, supplier members of the World
Federation of Diamond Bourses are requiring their members to disclose laser
drilling in writing, regardless of the size of the diamond (Professional
Jeweler,October, 1998, p. 33 and this issue, p. 30). Your store might
consider adopting the same resolution.
The trade considers laser drilling in a diamond to be permanent and to
pose no special care considerations. However, it's wise to disclose any
gemstone treatment or enhancement to customers.
The FTC Guides for the Jewelry Industry don't require disclosure of laser
drilling alone. However, state laws allow consumers to sue if they feel
you did not disclose properly or advise them about proper care and protection.
Telling customers how a diamond was enhanced can avert complaints or lawsuits
later. Here is what the FTC Guides say:
"It is unfair or deceptive to fail to disclose that a gemstone has
been treated in any manner that is not permanent or that creates special
care requirements, and to fail to disclose that the treatment is not permanent,
if such is the case. The following are examples of treatments that should
be disclosed because they usually are not permanent or create special care
requirements: coating, impregnation, irradiating, heating, use of nuclear
bombardment, application of colored or colorless oil or epoxy-like resins,
wax, plastic, or glass, surface diffusion, or dyeing. This disclosure may
be made at the point of sale, except that disclosure should be made in any
solicitation where the product can be purchased without viewing (e.g., direct
mail catalogs, on-line services), and in the case of televised shopping
programs, on the air. If special care requirements for a gemstone arise
because the gemstone has been treated, it is recommended that the seller
disclose the special care requirements to the purchaser."
The Nature of Diamonds,edited by George E. Harlow, American
Museum of Natural
History, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
Diamondsby Fred Ward, Gem Book Publishers, Bethesda, MD.
Gemstone Enhancementby Dr. Kurt Nassau, Butterworths, London,
Gem Identification Made Easyby Antoinette Matlins, Gemstone Press,
Woodstock, VT. AGTA Source Directory1997/1998 (contains Gem Enhancement
Manual) American Gem Trade Association, Dallas, TX.
AGTA Gemstone Enhancements, What You Should Know,American Gem
Trade Association, Dallas, TX.
by Robert Weldon, G.G.
Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.