Cutting Edge Issues and Answers

“Cutting Edge Issues and Answers”

Richard Drucker, publisher of The Guide, joined DCGIA for an entertaining and visually rich presentation on April 19th. He addressed a myriad of topics that ranged from current gem treatment detection and their respective effect on pricing, to gem nomenclature, to diamond cut grading and light performance, to new information about HTHP that is not widely know. If you couldn�t join us for the lecture, you missed the Indy-500 of slides and new information in the gem world.

Richard Drucker speaking

Richard Drucker speaking

By this time, everyone in the industry should be aware of beryllium-treated padparadscha sapphires. The prices on this once rare variety have taken a nose dive to $8.00-$50.00 per carat due to various concerns, among which include consumer confidence. However, the AGTA laboratory has recently issued an alert that there are now blue sapphires with beryllium treatment in the market. Be on the lookout! Beryllium also produces yellows and blues in addition to the well-known orange color.

Courtland Lee, Richard Drucker and Bob Davis

Courtland Lee, Richard Drucker and Bob Davis

Drucker also addressed the extreme heat treatment of gemstones, focusing on Mong Hsu rubies as an example. He pointed out that many of these natural rubies are heated to high temperatures using flux to protect them�and the glass residue that seeps into feathers can produce inclusions that have the same appearance as synthetic rubies created from the flux process. GIA is doing new research on the treatment of sapphires, rubies, and alexandrite, and that information will be available in the near future. GIA is also issuing new emerald reports in a standard report that will include the level of treatment but not the type of treatment.

One of the many issues covered was dyeing pearls

One of the many issues covered was dyeing pearls

Consumers have taken great interest in the topic of gem treatment recently and are better educated about the various treatments. This has resulted in a movement back to natural-colored gemstones and a strong increase in collector demand. Prices of unheated material are rising, and there is also a shortage of unheated material in the market. Stay tuned to The Guide to track market pricing of unheated material for rubies, sapphires, and emeralds in particular.

Richard Drucker and Toby Fitskee

Richard Drucker and Toby Fitskee

There are an amazing amount of pearls coming out of China recently. Golden Pearls are enjoying a big impact in the market in the last few years. Many of them are treated to produce the golden color. Look for a reddish overtone as proof that they are dyed golden. However you should note that its absence doesn�t prove the color is natural. Drucker predicts that we will start seeing more Vietnamese cultured pearls. They are bead-nucleated, but in the last three months of the process they are sent to Japan, where the colder water will produce a tighter nacre formation, resulting in a higher luster. The colors are subtle, the nacre is thick, and a 4-4.5mm strand is running about $250.00 wholesale. The other issue rippling through the pearl industry is nomenclature regarding tissue-nucleated vs. bead-nucleated. If a lab report identifies a tissue-nucleated freshwater pearl as having “100% nacre thickness” and natural pearls are 100% nacre, the concern over nomenclature becomes immediately apparent.

Someone with Bobby Mann

Someone with Bobby Mann

From corundum to emeralds to topaz to pearls, or any gemstone, Drucker urged appraisers and jewelers to fully disclose any treatment to clients. He also proposed that we shouldn�t be afraid to say “I don�t know” and have the gem sent to a laboratory for testing where necessary�but to use common sense, because simply asking a client, “How much did you pay?” can also provide a wealth of information.

Drucker also tackled the diamond market, focusing on cut-grade and light performance as well as intriguing new thoughts on HTHP. He reviewed GIA�s new cut grading system, which is also provided as a complimentary service at GIA focuses on standard 58 facet round brilliant diamonds only. Some of GIA�s new terms, such as “lower half length” and “star length,” are causing confusion when using GIA�s Facetware. Richard also notes that it is difficult to get below a “Good” rating when using Facetware. However, he points out that this new tool�long overdue�is under development and it will become even better over time.

Melanie Marts flanked by Denise and Dennis Nelson

Melanie Marts flanked by Denise and Dennis Nelson

He also went into an overview of the Gemworld International Laboratories (GIL) and its light and cut grading system. GIL focuses on rounds, modified rounds, and princess-cut diamonds. They also look at brilliance, fire, scintillation and efficiency in addition to cut proportions. His laboratory conducted some interesting independent market research. The research revealed that, of the diamond attributes, clients understand price best and fire/brilliance second best. It also showed that the most important factor in a diamond for the client is brilliance, followed by clarity.

Members' dinner with the speaker

Members’ dinner with the speaker

The topic of current industry issues and scams was also cause for concern. Between questions of opacity within the industry to recent bribery scandals to fraudulent practices on the Internet as well as on television, Drucker is apprehensive that consumer confidence will be shaken. Linked to this hesitation is the question of HTHP. DeBeers has created equipment to detect HTHP, but of the two pieces that are available for purchase by independent laboratories, the “Diamond Sure” and the “Diamond View,” neither detects that treatment according to their own literature. The one piece of equipment that is supposed to be definitive for detecting HTHP, the “Diamond Plus,” is not available for purchase nor is there any information available on it. Drucker also mentioned that there was a huge stockpile of brown diamonds around from about 10 years ago, but this is suddenly gone from DeBeers. He also noted that rough diamond prices have soared while the polished have stayed the same, and wondered whether this is a coincidence.

Drucker ended the riveting evening with a call for transparency and cooperation within the industry, with the need for full information about standard test techniques developed and distributed to everyone in the industry. He made an appeal for full disclosure to clients. Without these two elements, consumer confidence is at risk.

Written by Etta M. Saunders, PhD

Photos by Tony Conway

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