Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A close-up of a lead glass-filled Ruby

Ironmaster's Gem
Ironmaster's Gem

A close-up of a lead glass-filled ruby where the internal features with flow structures are visible.
The same ruby before heat is applied.
Ironmaster's Gem
Ironmaster's Gem
The outer layer of the lead glass is considerably altered by applying heat.
A close-up photo of a lead glass-filled ruby shows large bubbles in the glass which indicate the extent of the fill fractures. Photos ©AGTA.

ON THE MORNING OF NOVEMBER 4th, ABC's "GOOD MORNING AMERICA" RAN AN EXPOSÉ ON SALES OF UNDISCLOSED "COMPOSITE" (GLASS-FILLED) RUBY, CHARGING WIDESPREAD FRAUD. Many in the jewelry industry believe that the network's investigative methods are as scandalous as its findings. Just what did and didn't ABC prove; and did it go overboard in its tactics and conclusions?

Nobody disagrees with ABC that there are sales of ruby in American jewelry outlets that owe their looks to glass filling. No one disagrees that some of these sales of what is now called "composite" ruby are deceptive because shoppers are never told this critical fact. Indeed, nearly two years ago, gem dealer groups even issued global alerts about this material and demanded that gem labs develop specific nomenclature for this material and flag it as treated on lab identification and grading reports. As proof, we are re-printing our story from that time about this material called "X-Gems: The Rise of the Mutant Mineral," published in January 2008 and preceded by an email bulletin to all subscribers.

Where many in the trade find fault with ABC is over its tactics and conclusions. First, the network never mentioned the trade's own warnings about this ruby and attempts to prevent fraudulent sales of it. The trade was made to look implicitly guilty of indifference and neglect. Second, the network only found deceptive sales at three Macy's stores and in no others. Do sales by one firm in one market constitute proof of rampant rip-off nationwide and in all types of jewelry stores? Did ABC shop high-end stores where one would be less likely to find low-grade ruby? You be the judge. On our website we link to ABC's "Good Morning America" video. Look at the 5-minute segment and let us know if you think it's fair.


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