Seeking Answers

July 1999

Gemstones & Pearls:Gemology

Seeking Answers

To protect yourself when buying emeralds, ask your suppliers these questions

It may be some time before there are definitive answers for many of the crucial questions regarding emerald treatment, though the Gemological Institute of America may settle some issues with a study now under way.

Until then, you may continue to depend on suppliers for disclosure information. Though many jewelers enjoy longstanding relationships with emerald suppliers who are knowledgeable and disclose properly, it won't hurt to review the following issues.

The questions and answers are suggested by emerald dealer Ray Zajicek of Equatorian Imports, Dallas, TX. Critical issues such as the stability of the enhancement, its removability and guarantees in case the filler fails are topics your supplier should be able to discuss knowledgeably and openly. Read the following responses to see what types of answers are trustworthy and what response should raise a red flag of concern.

Where is this emerald from?
"Colombia (or Brazil or Zambia)." The source is a matter of choice, of course. But if your supplier knows the source, he or she probably also knows how the gem has been enhanced.

Red Flag: "I don't know"should raise your suspicions the supplier isn't knowledgeable or is trying to hide something.

What specifics can you tell me about the emerald's enhancements or treatments?
"I use Canada balsam (or cedarwood, Groom-Gematrat, Opticon or PermaSafe]." A reliable supplier knows what's in the emerald.

Red Flag: "All I have to do is disclose that the emeralds are enhanced. No one knows exactly what's in them."

To be safe, you have to know what's in an emerald you sell, so you should know what it is when you buy it.

How does the enhancement affect the emerald's value?
"I take great care in understanding the true nature of the emeralds I buy before I sell them to our customers. I understand that less-included and less-enhanced emeralds are premium gems for discerning customers who can afford the best. But I also offer value in emeralds with more enhancement at a substantially lower price."

Red Flag: "Our emeralds are not enhanced" or "An enhanced emerald is more valuable because the enhancement makes it look better."

Why do you use Canada balsam (or another enhancement?)
"I use this product because it is legitimate and because I know exactly what's in the emerald."The answer should include as much information as available about the stability and durability of the filler.

Red Flag: "Because it is the enhancement of choice that best hides the fissures."

This sort of answer tells you nothing you can use.

Will the gem weigh more with the enhancement?
"Not to within 1/10,000 of a carat, which is why we refer to emerald's identifying characteristics as fissures instead of fractures or flaws. The amount of enhancement in an emerald's fissure is a weight differential that cannot be measured by conventional standards. But not all of emerald's fissures can be enhanced – only those fissures that reach to the surface of the gem."

Red Flag: "Probably not. But if it does, you will be getting a little more back for the stone when you sell it."

– by Robert Weldon, G.G.

Brainstorming Emerald Disclosure

Emerald sales are in decline – some jewelers have stopped selling emerald altogether. Professional Jeweler posted the following question on our monthly "Brainstorming" feature on "How are you handling the difficult issue of emerald disclosure?"

Some jewelers, whose names we have omitted for privacy's sake, submitted rather startling and contrasting statements:

"I have been shying away from purchasing emeralds because I find such a wide variation in prices ... from dealer to dealer in like goods."

"My wholesaler and I will not touch them with a 10-ft. pole; they are nothing but trouble."

"We simply state the facts as we know them: that emeralds are treated, the treatment is usually not permanent and great care should be taken as to how and when these items are worn. Pendants and earrings, of course, are of less concern than rings. We find most customers are not being told anything about treatments or how to care for any colored stone jewelry purchased from department stores, chain stores and discount stores. And this is a concern for us as it puts a shadow on all stores in general. As an independent jewelry store owner, I sell jewelry because I love it, not because of the bottom line or stockholder profits."

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


HomeAsk the ExpertBrainstormStatsSite of the WeekConsumer Press Scan
Your Business On-LineCalendarMagazine & Site ArchivesStaffSite Map
Professional Jeweler EventsGuide to Electronic Services
Classified On-LineJA Certification Study Session

Home Ask the Expert Brainstorm Stats Site of the Week Consumer Press Scan Your Business On-Line Calendar Staff Site Map Home Ask the Expert Brainstorm Stats Site of the Week Consumer Press Scan Your Business On-Line Calendar Staff Site Map