Let the Buyer Beware

When Purchasing Gemstones Outside Normal Channels

By John Pearlman

There is an old adage that when something sounds too good to be true, then it very well could be. Even though we speak of that old adage it could not be more relevant today. Once we get outside the good old USA the principles and ethics change. And this is not to say that all dealers of colored gemstones are unscrupulous or lack honesty, however sometimes the general buying public think they can become experts by listening to what various dealers from say a country outside the boundries of the USA, like Thailand, tell them. Another good adage, a fool and their money are soon parted.

When the buying public starts to think they are expert above and beyond the true experts in the US jewelry business, then a disaster in the making is ready to happen. Over the course of 30 years as a practicing gemologist, having earned a degree in Residency from the Gemological Institute of America, I have seen these disasters unfold. Once I had a client that brought me twelve, what where described as gem sapphire, which she purchased on Ebay. In testing, my conclusions were that these we all synthetic. She told me she was on the site late at night when most people were asleep. At this point I had to enlighten her to the fact that the internet is 24/7.

Another story that was published on the net had to do with a company that purchased a large quantity of unmounted sapphires from a Thai gem dealer. The company with their own on-staff gemologists researched these sapphires and their conclusion was that 7 of the stones were doublets, 72 glass, and 31 of these sapphires turned out to be laboratory produced hydrothermal quartz.

I am using these two scenarios not to paint a negative picture of the Thai gem industry, but rather to try and alert the buying public as to the intricacies of purchasing gemstones from arenas outside the normal buying channels. Here in the good old USA we have many consensus purveyors of fine quality available to satisfy the needs of the buying public. Many gemstones today come with laboratory certifications as to treatment or the lack thereof. The leading labs in this country are the G.I.A., of course, and the American Gemological Laboratories, A.G.L.

At Pearlman’s Jewelers we are members of the American Gem Trade Association. This is the largest group of fine gem dealers in the country. When a request comes in we will source and find the perfect gemstone to fill the requirements. Pearlman’s has 2 on staff gemologists which can guide you through the process and give you confidence in your acquisition and answer all questions you may have.

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