Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Questions? General Comments?

Sometimes, people have questions or general comments and leave comments somewhere in my blog.  NOW, I have added a "Contact Me" widget (on the right sidebar) so I can directly answer any general or specific questions you might have.  Your email address is required, but is kept private, so I can send you a response.

So please, ask away!!  I'll get back to you pretty quickly.

Thank you!

Monday, September 14, 2015

FYI: Some "Gemstones" That Aren't Really Gems At All!


It seems like every week, a "new" gemstone is found online, with little or no information at all about it.  And jewelry designers will use these stones and pass along the information they are given by the wholesaler, and pretty soon, the misinformation seemingly becomes accepted as fact.

Yet, with just a little effort, anyone can find out about these stones.  But it doesn't seem like consumers or even jewelry designers bother to spend a few minutes researching these stones.

There are SO many fakes and frauds, or what I like to call "creative marketing" of gemstones,  that I could write many blog entries....and I have!!  But I thought it would be easier to just start a quick list of "gemstones" that aren't really gems at all.  I hope this is informative, or at least gets people to do their own research on gemstones before buying!

This list is a work in progress and I'll update it as I get more info.

ARGENON STONE, ARGENON FLUORITE 
There are a lot of body jewelry shops selling Opalite, which is GLASS, as a something called "argenon", "argenon stone", "argenon fluorite", "argenon opalite", "argenon moonstone" and so forth (basically anything using "argenon"!) claiming it's a semi-precious gem or a natural gemstone.  NO, this is simply renaming Opalite glass.  This is a man-made glass and is NOT A GEMSTONE.

"SILVERITE"

July 1, 2016 - I had 3 samples of "silverite" examined by a certified gemologist.  If you read my blog or even shop on Etsy, you will see "Silverite" jewelry for sale---yet each seller seems to have their own description of what it is; i.e., "white sapphire", "pearlized Corundum", "Diamond Coated Quartz" etc.  (Read HERE.)   This gemologist examined the 3 separate pieces of this "Silverite" using various tests, including microscopic examination and other tests. She found no indication that any of these were minerals, but were all GLASS with a coating, some sort of pearlescent paint or coating.  She is a professional jeweler, a certified gemologist with one of the world's largest and most well-known and well-respected gemstone suppliers----and she never even heard of "silverite" and consulted with others in her field--and they never heard of "silverite" either.  (I showed her listings on Etsy and she was shocked.) She examined three separate pieces from 3 different sellers, and determined that ALL WERE COATED GLASS.  These are NOT "corundum" or "sapphire" or "quartz" or any sort of gemstone or mineral AT ALL.  PERIOD.  Silverite is a FRAUD. Beware.

FAKE QUARTZ 


  • Cherry Quartz 
  • Blueberry Quartz
  • Pineapple Quartz
  • Strawberry Quartz 
 These "fruit" quartz stones are actually GLASS with swirling colors inside the glass.  Please note that fruity "Lemon Quartz" is an actual gemstone.  Sometimes, genuine quartz with encapsulated red Hematite needles (often referred to as "Lepidocrocite" which is also false) is sold as Strawberry Quartz. 
  • Opalite, Opal Quartz, Sea Opal, Opal Moonstone, or sometimes just Moonstone

    Opalite GLASS
Just because the word "Opal" is in the name Opalite doesn't mean it's any form of Opal!  This is simply GLASS, and can be found at such places as Michael's craft store where it is sold as "Opalite Glass" -- at least they're honest!  There are a LOT of sellers hawking opalite on Ebay and Etsy under the guise of "Moonstone" and other misleading names.  Opalite is not a form of quartz, it's not an opal or a moonstone or any type of gemstone----it's just glass.  I've written about this a LOT on my blog.
  • Tangerine Quartz

    Tangerine Quartz: Mystic coated?
I haven't been able to determine if this is a real quartz, perhaps treated, a more "orange" color of citrine, or if it's just a coated quartz ("sunset" or "Tangerine Aura") or if it's glass.  I haven't found any tests that were run on this yet, so I can't say for sure.  There is a lot of misinformation about this, some obviously coated crystals, but some crystals clusters that appear to have an orange color within the stone. 
  • Mystic Aura Coated Quartz Crystals

    Mystic Quartz? Looks like Glass to me!!
Many of these quartz crystals are actual quartz crystals that are coated in various metals like titanium and gold to produce beautiful rainbow-like effects.  However, there are LOTS of these mystic aura crystals that are nothing more than coated GLASS, mostly coming from China.  Not all of these crystals from China are glass, and it's very hard to tell (especially online), but if the prices are very low (like on Alibaba) then they most probably are coated glass.  Ebay has a large number of sellers from outside the USA who are selling these pastel-colored coated crystals in colors like lavender and peach and seafoam and turquoise-blue, very pretty---but not necessarily genuine Quartz crystals.  I bought a few strands of these pastel crystals, had them examined by a gemologist, and they were ALL glass.   I bought some titanium coated crystals and they were quartz.   So it's hit or miss.  Be careful when buying these!
  • Fake Rutilated Quartz and Fake Tourmalinated Quartz

    Phony Glass "Rotayti" - In Black and Green!
Found all over the internet, lots of this obvious glass material with "confetti" or scratches and bubbles inside, on Ebay and on Etsy.  One big giveaway is that it is sold as "Rotayti" which is a name that doesn't even exist.  It's obviously a mangled version of the word Rutile or Rutilated, and Etsy sellers (who don't even make the jewelry but buy it from China or India, sadly) just pass along this "Rotayti" as though it's some gemstone!  Wow!  These are terrible looking fakes.  Nothing is found in nature that looks like that!!  Here are the real quartz gems:


Rutilated Quartz is a natural gem---clear quartz with encapsulated "needles" of Rutile (Titanium Dioxide), in golds, browns, or reddish colors.  Often looks like strands of golden hair.



Tourmalinated Quartz is a natural gem---clear quartz with encapsulated "needles" of Tourmaline, usually black but sometimes green.





  • Hydro Quartz

    "Paraiba" HydroQuartz?
Yes, there are actual man-made "hydroquartz" stones that have the same physical, chemical and optical properties as natural quartz---in other words, they are synthetic quartz stones.  However, a HUGE number of these so-called "hydroquartz" stones being sold today are nothing more than GLASS.   I have only seen these "hydroquartz" stones, fashioned into briolettes and pears and cushion cut stones and many other shapes, sold on strands or in pairs, online, or sometimes at gem shows.    I have personally purchased hydroquartz stones from various sellers online  and have had them examined and tested by a gemologist, and sad to say---all were glass, NONE were quartz.  Personal communications with the GIA have also confirmed that only testing will reveal if these are glass, or quartz.  I hate seeing these stones sold with HIGHLY misleading names, such as "London Blue quartz" or "Tanzanite quartz" or "Paraiba Quartz" which are the names of actual gemstones.  To me, this is beyond "creative marketing" and is designed to fool buyers into thinking they're getting London Blue Topaz or Paraiba Tourmaline.  So be careful when buying this "hydro quartz". 

 GOLDSTONE, BLUE GOLDSTONE, MIDNIGHT GOLDSTONE, SUN SITARA,  STELLARIA, GALAXY STONE, BLUE SANDSTONE


These are spectacularly beautiful GLASS stones, in deep blue or coppery gold, and sometimes green and purple.  They are absolutely man-made, not gemstones, and are made in a controlled environment with copper and cobalt oxides, and form beautiful and sparkling crystals which are captured within this very hard glass.  This glass can be faceted and carved into various shapes.  Gorgeous stones, but beware of any seller who claims this is a gemstone!  It is only a type of Venetian glass.  I've written a lot about this in my blog.

I just saw someone selling this as "Blue Sandstone", saying it's a natural gemstone with all sorts of metaphysical properties, "composed of quartz or feldspar because these are the most common minerals in the Earth's crust. The sand inside creates the blue color. For this reason, this substance is named "Blue sandstone."  WHAT?  That's just completely random nonsense, like words just strung together!  (Blue sand??)  This person obviously copied/pasted Wikipedia's description of the real sandstone...except for the blue part, which they made up.  There is NO sand inside this stone, it's not made of quartz or feldspar (??), and it's just simply the man-made Venetian glass called Blue Goldstone.  WOW.

SANDSTONE, BLUE SANDSTONE, SANDSTONE QUARTZ


So-called "Sandstone" which is actually glass Goldstone
I've so astonished at how MUCH of this is being sold now that I wanted to give this "sandstone" it's own section here.  There are pages and pages of this being sold on Etsy as a "gemstone" called "Sandstone" or  "Blue Sandstone" and it's even listed as a form of Quartz!  On Etsy, if you search for "sandstone", there are over 2,100 listings for jewelry and over 950 listings for supplies, with featured listings of this NON-sandstone material.
Real Sandstone--No Glass or Sparkles

This is still just a glass called Goldstone or Blue Goldstone (see the post above).  Of course there is a stone called "sandstone" but that's NOTHING like this Venetian glass that's filled with sparkles.  Every seller from China or India as well as in the US seems to have a new "creative" name for this material.  One year it's "Galaxy Stone", the next it's "Sun Sitara", and now it seems to be Sandstone. Whatever you call it, or claim it to be, it's still NOT quartz or any type of "sandstone" or any sort of stone or mineral at all.  EVER.  There is no "sand" inside it.   It's man-made Italian glass.

There is a seller from India who, although describing this as "Lab Sandstone" (which is only half-right---it is made in a lab!), goes on to describe it like this: "Sandstone has a beautiful glittering sunlight effect as a result of its tiny metallic inclusions (millions of particles playfully interact with light). This feature is known as "Schiller" or "Aventurescence"."  Again, they're half-right!  It is beautiful and glittering with tiny metallic particles, but it is NOT Schiller or Aventurescence.  Those are terms used to describe shimmering or glittering effects in GEMS--not man-made glass.

"MAGNETIC HEMATITE" OR HEMALYKE

This is an artificial magnetic material called hematine, not a gemstone, and is commonly seen in jewelry.  It's referred to as "Hemalyke" or "Hemalike" as well as "Magnetic Hematite".
Carved Victorian Hematite Brooch

There is a genuine mineral called Hematite that ranges in color from red to brown ("bloodstone"), and metallic dark grey, steel grey,  and black.






Lepidocrocite

Hematite in quartz---NOT Lepidocrocite
The red formations you see inside so-called "Lepidocrocite" are actually hematite crystals within quartz.  (Lepidocrocite is an actual mineral, but is not the commonly-seen stone as pictured.) Although quartz with hematite crystals is an actual gemstone, it is not "lepidocrocite" which is a very common misnomer.  There are no known quartz stones with lepidocrocite inside--it's always hematite.

Here is a picture of genuine lepidocrocite:

Actual Lepidocrocite crystals













RAINBOW CALSILICA


This colorful, banded stone was marketed a few years back as a "mined gemstone" found in Mexico.  Still today, some people are claiming it's mined, or it's "a mystery--is it real or not?" which is a way to generate interest in this colorful stone.  But testing has conclusively revealed that this is just an assembled manmade stone that is basically layers of pigments, resin, clay, polymers, etc. that is assembled into pressed slabs and then polished and marketed as Rainbow Calsilica.  There is NO QUESTION---two world-renowned labs have tested this, and it is absolutely not mined, not found in nature.  You can read one of the reports yourself:  http://www.ssef.ch/uploads/media/2003_Kiefert_Rainbow_Calsilica.pdf

CREATED DIAMONDS 

Apollo Cultured Created Diamonds

Although there are a few facilities around the world that actually create diamonds in a lab (synthetic diamonds, or "cultured diamonds"), these diamonds are pretty expensive (almost the cost of a natural diamond) and must have a laser engraving in the stone's girdle to indicate that it is, in fact, a created man-made diamond.  These are beautiful and flawless, and definitely NOT blood diamonds, but they are pricey.

  • NOTE:  A lot of people don't understand the difference between "synthetic" and "simulated" gemstones, and think they're the same thing.  No!  In the jewelry world, "synthetic" means man-made, or grown in a lab, but it has the same chemical, physical and optical properties as its natural counterpart.  So a "synthetic" ruby is a ruby, only lab-created.  A "simulated" stone means that only looks like another stone.  It doesn't have any of the physical or chemical properties.  A crystal is a diamond simulant--it only looks like a diamond.  So is a Cubic Zirconia (CZ).  A red CZ can be a ruby simulant.  So a synthetic gem and a simulated gem are two very different things!

Some sellers are offering CZ (Cubic Zirconia) jewelry, and are calling these "created diamonds".  This is fraudulent and against the FTC rules.  A CZ is actually a simulated diamond, NOT a created diamond.  CZs are lab-created stones, that are the best diamond simulants---they look nearly identical to a flawless, colorless diamond.  But they are NOT created diamonds.  That term is only to be used on lab-grown diamonds---that possess the same chemical (Carbon) and physical properties of a natural diamond, as well as optical properties.

I'm not sure if sellers who try to sell CZs as "created diamonds" are just misinformed (trying to give the benefit of a doubt!), or are trying to deceive the public into thinking their "created diamond ring" is somehow better and more valuable than a high-quality CZ.  (There are different grades of CZs.)
Moissanite on Left, Cultured Diamond on Right

By the way, like the inexpensive CZ, Moissanite is also a diamond simulant.  It is ALWAYS lab-created.  These stones are marketed as that they are "found in meteorites" but that's misleading.  If you gathered ALL of the actual moissanite ever found on Earth, you wouldn't have enough to make a tiny pair of earrings.  So Moissanite is grown in a lab, making this a synthetic stone.  It is double-refractive and often has a more "green" shift than diamonds.  Because of a great marketing effort, prices for this man-made stone are kept high.

FAKE EMERALDS, SAPPHIRES, RUBIES


There has been a FLOOD of phony precious gemstones from India, in particular.  You can find these all over Ebay (and Etsy).  These are large stones set in jewelry, such as necklaces, supposedly in Sterling Silver (but often it's just silver plated mystery metals), and can be found for unbelievably cheap prices.  For example, here is an "emerald" necklace on ebay right now, for $6.66:
Dyed Sillimanite - not Emerald


These types of stones have been tested and it is revealed that it is actually dyed sillimanite.   Sillimanite is a mineral, fibrous, that "takes" color easily.  It is a member of the same family as Kyanite.

I've written about this in my blog HERE. 




*************
Gemstones have been coveted throughout history, and there have been gem fakes and frauds for thousands of years.  Sometimes one gem was mistaken for another (such as the huge "Ruby" in the Crown Jewels of England, which turned out to be a huge Red Spinel gem).

But with today's technology, there are more and more fakes flooding the marketplace, and these fakes are getting harder and harder to discern.  Not too long ago, major jewelry companies and department stores were facing fraud lawsuits regarding rubies that were more leaded glass than gem!  And gemstones are treated with various methods, such as heat, irradiation, oiling, fissure filling, and other methods to enhance or even change the colors of the gemstones, or make them appear clearer with fewer flaws.  A lot of these enhancements are accepted as "normal" within the jewelry industry.  But it's important for jewelers to disclose any enhancements to the buyer.

FYI: Some "Gemstones" That Aren't Really Gems At All!


It seems like every week, a "new" gemstone is found online, with little or no information at all about it.  And jewelry designers will use these stones and pass along the information they are given by the wholesaler, and pretty soon, the misinformation seemingly becomes accepted as fact.

Yet, with just a little effort, anyone can find out about these stones.  But it doesn't seem like consumers or even jewelry designers bother to spend a few minutes researching these stones.

There are SO many fakes and frauds, or what I like to call "creative marketing" of gemstones,  that I could write many blog entries....and I have!!  But I thought it would be easier to just start a quick list of "gemstones" that aren't really gems at all.  I hope this is informative, or at least gets people to do their own research on gemstones before buying!

This list is a work in progress and I'll update it as I get more info.

"SILVERITE"

July 1, 2016 - I had 3 samples of "silverite" examined by a certified gemologist.  If you read my blog or even shop on Etsy, you will see "Silverite" jewelry for sale---yet each seller seems to have their own description of what it is; i.e., "white sapphire", "pearlized Corundum", "Diamond Coated Quartz" etc.  (Read HERE.)   This gemologist examined the 3 separate pieces of this "Silverite" using various tests, including microscopic examination and other tests. She found no indication that any of these were minerals, but were all GLASS with a coating, some sort of pearlescent paint or coating.  She is a professional jeweler, a certified gemologist with one of the world's largest and most well-known and well-respected gemstone suppliers----and she never even heard of "silverite" and consulted with others in her field--and they never heard of "silverite" either.  (I showed her listings on Etsy and she was shocked.) She examined three separate pieces from 3 different sellers, and determined that ALL WERE COATED GLASS.  These are NOT "corundum" or "sapphire" or "quartz" or any sort of gemstone or mineral AT ALL.  PERIOD.  Silverite is a FRAUD. Beware.

UPDATE August 2016----someone contacted me to insist that their strands of pink silverite have been tested and CONFIRMED to be corundum (sapphire)!  The big problem with this is so obvious:  why would anyone sell genuine, precious pink sapphire gemstones as "silverite" or by any other mysterious name?  That would be like selling precious Muzo emeralds as "Muzite" or genuine precious diamonds as "Glitzite" or something----NO ONE WOULD DO THAT!  And beyond that, the gemstone dealer in India who claims to mine these silverite stones, told me that these are "NOT corundum" but are a "new gemstone" that is "uncoated and untreated".   Yet, I still haven't had any of this silverite material tested and confirmed to be anything OTHER than coated glass.  So the idea that these are sapphires is ridiculous.

UPDATE March 2017 - another seller from India is now marketing this "silverite" as "Sillimanite" on their Etsy shop page.  I've also received a couple of emails (probably from these same people) telling me that silverite is the same thing as Sillimanite.  Well, that's not exactly true---there is STILL no such gemstone registered anywhere as "Silverite".  Strangely, sillimanite is considered to be a collector's gem, and can be very pricey.  I would think if this Sillimanite is being sold, it should be sold as what it is---Sillimanite.  To call it silverite is not a good marketing idea.  Reminder: all of the silverite I've had tested---ALL----has been glass.  I have not had this new sillimanite tested.


SCOROLITE
This material is sold, mostly on Etsy, as "Scorolite Opal".  There is NO SUCH GEM as Scorolite Opal, or Scorolite, at all.  I've posted about this gem in 2015 HERE, and now it seems Etsy sellers are calling this "Scapolite".  Scapolite is a genuine gemstone. Scorolite is not.  The two are not related.  Most of this "scorolite" looks to be glass.  It's possibly quartz, or silica quartz (glass).  But...IT'S NOT A GEMSTONE!

ANDARA CRYSTAL 

Wow---this slag glass is being sold as a "crystal" with mysterious and magical powers.  Slag glass is just simply glass that is left over from manufacturing, and is found in all sorts of sizes of these chunks of glass, and in various colors.  It is JUST GLASS.  Sometimes, sellers on Etsy and Ebay appear to be selling chunks of broken glass, maybe bottles or something like that.  There are also pieces of glass that are sold to be used in fireplaces and outdoor gardens that are also being used in jewelry and sold as "Andara Crystal."  

THIS IS NOT A CRYSTAL.  THIS IS NOT A MINERAL.  THIS IS NOT A GEMSTONE.
This is simply GLASS.
Please---buyer beware!!

FAKE QUARTZ 


  • Cherry Quartz 
  • Blueberry Quartz
  • Pineapple Quartz
  • Strawberry Quartz 
 These "fruit" quartz stones are actually GLASS with swirling colors inside the glass.  Please note that fruity "Lemon Quartz" is an actual gemstone.  Sometimes, genuine quartz with encapsulated red Hematite needles (often referred to as "Lepidocrocite" which is also false) is sold as Strawberry Quartz. 
  • Opalite, Opal Quartz, Sea Opal, Opal Moonstone, or sometimes just Moonstone

    Opalite GLASS
Just because the word "Opal" is in the name Opalite doesn't mean it's any form of Opal!  This is simply GLASS, and can be found at such places as Michael's craft store where it is sold as "Opalite Glass" -- at least they're honest!  There are a LOT of sellers hawking opalite on Ebay and Etsy under the guise of "Moonstone" and other misleading names.  Opalite is not a form of quartz, it's not an opal or a moonstone or any type of gemstone----it's just glass.  I've written about this a LOT on my blog.
  • Tangerine Quartz

    Tangerine Quartz: Mystic coated?
I haven't been able to determine if this is a real quartz, perhaps treated, a more "orange" color of citrine, or if it's just a coated quartz ("sunset" or "Tangerine Aura") or if it's glass.  I haven't found any tests that were run on this yet, so I can't say for sure.  There is a lot of misinformation about this, some obviously coated crystals, but some crystals clusters that appear to have an orange color within the stone. 
  • Mystic Aura Coated Quartz Crystals

    Mystic Quartz? Looks like Glass to me!!
Many of these quartz crystals are actual quartz crystals that are coated in various metals like titanium and gold to produce beautiful rainbow-like effects.  However, there are LOTS of these mystic aura crystals that are nothing more than coated GLASS, mostly coming from China.  Not all of these crystals from China are glass, and it's very hard to tell (especially online), but if the prices are very low (like on Alibaba) then they most probably are coated glass.  Ebay has a large number of sellers from outside the USA who are selling these pastel-colored coated crystals in colors like lavender and peach and seafoam and turquoise-blue, very pretty---but not necessarily genuine Quartz crystals.  I bought a few strands of these pastel crystals, had them examined by a gemologist, and they were ALL glass.   I bought some titanium coated crystals and they were quartz.   So it's hit or miss.  Be careful when buying these!
  • Fake Rutilated Quartz and Fake Tourmalinated Quartz

    Phony Glass "Rotayti" - In Black and Green!
Found all over the internet, lots of this obvious glass material with "confetti" or scratches and bubbles inside, on Ebay and on Etsy.  One big giveaway is that it is sold as "Rotayti" which is a name that doesn't even exist.  It's obviously a mangled version of the word Rutile or Rutilated, and Etsy sellers (who don't even make the jewelry but buy it from China or India, sadly) just pass along this "Rotayti" as though it's some gemstone!  Wow!  These are terrible looking fakes.  Nothing is found in nature that looks like that!!  Here are the real quartz gems:


Rutilated Quartz is a natural gem---clear quartz with encapsulated "needles" of Rutile (Titanium Dioxide), in golds, browns, or reddish colors.  Often looks like strands of golden hair.



Tourmalinated Quartz is a natural gem---clear quartz with encapsulated "needles" of Tourmaline, usually black but sometimes green.





  • Hydro Quartz

    "Paraiba" HydroQuartz?
Yes, there are actual man-made "hydroquartz" stones that have the same physical, chemical and optical properties as natural quartz---in other words, they are synthetic quartz stones (Amethyst and Citrine). However, a HUGE number of these so-called "hydroquartz" stones being sold today are nothing more than GLASS.   Glass is non-crystalline, whereas minerals have crystal structure.  I have only seen these "hydroquartz" stones, fashioned into briolettes and pears and cushion cut stones and many other shapes, sold on strands or in pairs, online, or sometimes at gem shows---NEVER at reputable jeweler wholesalers, such as Rio Grande Jewelry.    I have personally purchased hydroquartz stones from various sellers online  and have had them examined and tested by a gemologist, and sad to say---all were glass, NONE were quartz.  Personal communications with the GIA have also confirmed that only testing will reveal if these are glass, or quartz.  I hate seeing these stones sold with HIGHLY misleading names, such as "London Blue quartz" or "Tanzanite quartz" or "Paraiba Quartz" which are the names of actual gemstones.  To me, this is beyond "creative marketing" and is designed to fool buyers into thinking they're getting London Blue Topaz or Paraiba Tourmaline.  So be careful when buying this "hydro quartz". 

 GOLDSTONE, BLUE GOLDSTONE, MIDNIGHT GOLDSTONE, SUN SITARA,  STELLARIA, GALAXY STONE, BLUE SANDSTONE


These are spectacularly beautiful GLASS stones, in deep blue or coppery gold, and sometimes green and purple.  They are absolutely man-made, not gemstones, and are made in a controlled environment with copper and cobalt oxides, and form beautiful and sparkling crystals which are captured within this very hard glass.  This glass can be faceted and carved into various shapes.  Gorgeous stones, but beware of any seller who claims this is a gemstone!  It is only a type of Venetian glass.  I've written a lot about this in my blog.

I just saw someone selling this as "Blue Sandstone", saying it's a natural gemstone with all sorts of metaphysical properties, "composed of quartz or feldspar because these are the most common minerals in the Earth's crust. The sand inside creates the blue color. For this reason, this substance is named "Blue sandstone."  WHAT?  That's just completely random nonsense, like words just strung together!  (Blue sand??)  This person obviously copied/pasted Wikipedia's description of the real sandstone...except for the blue part, which they made up.  There is NO sand inside this stone, it's not made of quartz or feldspar (??), and it's just simply the man-made Venetian glass called Blue Goldstone.  WOW.

SANDSTONE, BLUE SANDSTONE, SANDSTONE QUARTZ


So-called "Sandstone" which is actually glass Goldstone
I've so astonished at how MUCH of this is being sold now that I wanted to give this "sandstone" it's own section here.  There are pages and pages of this being sold on Etsy as a "gemstone" called "Sandstone" or  "Blue Sandstone" and it's even listed as a form of Quartz!  On Etsy, if you search for "sandstone", there are over 2,100 listings for jewelry and over 950 listings for supplies, with featured listings of this NON-sandstone material.
Real Sandstone--No Glass or Sparkles

This is still just a glass called Goldstone or Blue Goldstone (see the post above).  Of course there is a stone called "sandstone" but that's NOTHING like this Venetian glass that's filled with sparkles.  Every seller from China or India as well as in the US seems to have a new "creative" name for this material.  One year it's "Galaxy Stone", the next it's "Sun Sitara", and now it seems to be Sandstone. Whatever you call it, or claim it to be, it's still NOT quartz or any type of "sandstone" or any sort of stone or mineral at all.  EVER.  There is no "sand" inside it.   It's man-made Italian glass.

There is a seller from India who, although describing this as "Lab Sandstone" (which is only half-right---it is made in a lab!), goes on to describe it like this: "Sandstone has a beautiful glittering sunlight effect as a result of its tiny metallic inclusions (millions of particles playfully interact with light). This feature is known as "Schiller" or "Aventurescence"."  Again, they're half-right!  It is beautiful and glittering with tiny metallic particles, but it is NOT Schiller or Aventurescence.  Those are terms used to describe shimmering or glittering effects in GEMS--not man-made glass.

"MAGNETIC HEMATITE" OR HEMALYKE

This is an artificial magnetic material called hematine, not a gemstone, and is commonly seen in jewelry.  It's referred to as "Hemalyke" or "Hemalike" as well as "Magnetic Hematite".
Carved Victorian Hematite Brooch

There is a genuine mineral called Hematite that ranges in color from red to brown ("bloodstone"), and metallic dark grey, steel grey,  and black.






Lepidocrocite

Hematite in quartz---NOT Lepidocrocite
The red formations you see inside so-called "Lepidocrocite" are actually hematite crystals within quartz.  (Lepidocrocite is an actual mineral, but is not the commonly-seen stone as pictured.) Although quartz with hematite crystals is an actual gemstone, it is not "lepidocrocite" which is a very common misnomer.  There are no known quartz stones with lepidocrocite inside--it's always hematite.

Here is a picture of genuine lepidocrocite:

Actual Lepidocrocite crystals













RAINBOW CALSILICA


This colorful, banded stone was marketed a few years back as a "mined gemstone" found in Mexico.  Still today, some people are claiming it's mined, or it's "a mystery--is it real or not?" which is a way to generate interest in this colorful stone.  But testing has conclusively revealed that this is just an assembled manmade stone that is basically layers of pigments, resin, clay, polymers, etc. that is assembled into pressed slabs and then polished and marketed as Rainbow Calsilica.  There is NO QUESTION---two world-renowned labs have tested this, and it is absolutely not mined, not found in nature.  You can read one of the reports yourself:  http://www.ssef.ch/uploads/media/2003_Kiefert_Rainbow_Calsilica.pdf

CREATED DIAMONDS 

Apollo Cultured Created Diamonds

Although there are a few facilities around the world that actually create diamonds in a lab (synthetic diamonds, or "cultured diamonds"), these diamonds are pretty expensive (almost the cost of a natural diamond) and must have a laser engraving in the stone's girdle to indicate that it is, in fact, a created man-made diamond.  These are beautiful and flawless, and definitely NOT blood diamonds, but they are pricey.

  • NOTE:  A lot of people don't understand the difference between "synthetic" and "simulated" gemstones, and think they're the same thing.  No!  In the jewelry world, "synthetic" means man-made, or grown in a lab, but it has the same chemical, physical and optical properties as its natural counterpart.  So a "synthetic" ruby is a ruby, only lab-created.  A "simulated" stone means that only looks like another stone.  It doesn't have any of the physical or chemical properties.  A crystal is a diamond simulant--it only looks like a diamond.  So is a Cubic Zirconia (CZ).  A red CZ can be a ruby simulant.  So a synthetic gem and a simulated gem are two very different things!

Some sellers are offering CZ (Cubic Zirconia) jewelry, and are calling these "created diamonds".  This is fraudulent and against the FTC rules.  A CZ is actually a simulated diamond, NOT a created diamond.  CZs are lab-created stones, that are the best diamond simulants---they look nearly identical to a flawless, colorless diamond.  But they are NOT created diamonds.  That term is only to be used on lab-grown diamonds---that possess the same chemical (Carbon) and physical properties of a natural diamond, as well as optical properties.

I'm not sure if sellers who try to sell CZs as "created diamonds" are just misinformed (trying to give the benefit of a doubt!), or are trying to deceive the public into thinking their "created diamond ring" is somehow better and more valuable than a high-quality CZ.  (There are different grades of CZs.)
Moissanite on Left, Cultured Diamond on Right

By the way, like the inexpensive CZ, Moissanite is also a diamond simulant.  It is ALWAYS lab-created.  These stones are marketed as that they are "found in meteorites" but that's misleading.  If you gathered ALL of the actual moissanite ever found on Earth, you wouldn't have enough to make a tiny pair of earrings.  So Moissanite is grown in a lab, making this a synthetic stone.  It is double-refractive and often has a more "green" shift than diamonds.  Because of a great marketing effort, prices for this man-made stone are kept high.

FAKE EMERALDS, SAPPHIRES, RUBIES


There has been a FLOOD of phony precious gemstones from India, in particular.  You can find these all over Ebay (and Etsy).  These are large stones set in jewelry, such as necklaces, supposedly in Sterling Silver (but often it's just silver plated mystery metals), and can be found for unbelievably cheap prices.  For example, here is an "emerald" necklace on ebay right now, for $6.66:
Dyed Sillimanite - not Emerald


These types of stones have been tested and it is revealed that it is actually dyed sillimanite.   Sillimanite is a mineral, fibrous, that "takes" color easily.  It is a member of the same family as Kyanite.

I've written about this in my blog HERE. 




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Gemstones have been coveted throughout history, and there have been gem fakes and frauds for thousands of years.  Sometimes one gem was mistaken for another (such as the huge "Ruby" in the Crown Jewels of England, which turned out to be a huge Red Spinel gem).

But with today's technology, there are more and more fakes flooding the marketplace, and these fakes are getting harder and harder to discern.  Not too long ago, major jewelry companies and department stores were facing fraud lawsuits regarding rubies that were more leaded glass than gem!  And gemstones are treated with various methods, such as heat, irradiation, oiling, fissure filling, and other methods to enhance or even change the colors of the gemstones, or make them appear clearer with fewer flaws.  A lot of these enhancements are accepted as "normal" within the jewelry industry.  But it's important for jewelers to disclose any enhancements to the buyer.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Can Sterling Silver Jewelry Turn My Skin GREEN?

Many people associate "green fingers" with cheap jewelry.  But that isn't always the case!

The weird colors that can form around your finger (or on ears, or wrists, or neck!) after removing a piece of jewelry is caused by a chemical reaction between the acids in your skin (or lotions on your skin) and various metals.

There are several metals that oxidize or react with skin and then cause discoloration.  Copper is a reactive metal that can leave a greenish hue on skin.  Some jewelry is made of pure copper, and other jewelry is made from metals that are alloyed (or mixed) with copper.  Sterling Silver is 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% copper.

So yes, Sterling Silver jewelry, including rings, can turn your skin green. So can yellow gold jewelry!

Silver plated jewelry can be any underlying metal, but is plated with pure silver.  This plated jewelry can cause tarnish to form on your skin!  This would leave a dark grey or black discoloration.

No worries though---these weird colors are totally harmless and can easily wash off, or can be removed by using a little nail polish remover or even makeup remover.

Nickel is used in jewelry and can result in a red, itchy "ring" around the finger, or wherever it touches the skin.  A lot of people are sensitive, or allergic, to nickel.

How To Avoid "Ring Around The Finger"

Even gold jewelry, as well as silver, can cause discoloration on skin.  Yellow gold is also alloyed with copper.  So avoiding "cheap" jewelry isn't always the answer!

Stainless Steel jewelry is a good choice for very sensitive skin.  Rhodium and Platinum also are considered hypoallergenic.  All white gold jewelry, and often Sterling Silver jewelry, is plated with Rhodium, so these are good choices.

Also, avoid getting soap, lotions, chlorine and household chemicals (like ammonia) near your jewelry.   Remove your jewelry before swimming (especially saltwater) or doing dishes or bathing.

Some people apply clear nail polish to the inside of their Sterling Silver rings.  Applying some sort of barrier does help!

So if you buy a piece of jewelry that is Sterling Silver, and it turns your skin colors, now you know that it's not because the sterling is "fake".  It's because the silver is reacting with your skin and environment! 







Monday, June 15, 2015

"Hydro Tourmaline" Or Synthetic Tourmaline? Does It Exist? Hydro Quartz?



HYDRO TOURMALINE?

"Rubellite Quartz" Hydro Stone
Someone sent me a convo on Etsy and asked me if I have ever heard of "hydro tourmaline".  I responded that I have heard of hydro quartz that is being sold with such names as "Paraiba Hydro Quartz" or "Chrome Tourmaline Quartz" or "Rubellite Hydro Quartz".  In other words, they are selling "hydro quartz" using the well-known names of Tourmaline gemstones.  Otherwise, no, I have not heard of or seen "hydro tourmaline". I also mentioned that "synthetic tourmaline" is not listed on the GIA's list of synthetic gems, or on any other reputable site.

I heard back from this person who informed me that her discussion group (well, one person) determined that there IS a "hydrothermal tourmaline" process, or a "hydrothermally stabilised tourmaline" which results in synthetic tourmaline, or some sort of hydrothermally enhanced tourmaline.  I believe this person's response to me was to "inform" me that I was wrong, and her highly knowledgeable group was really right.  I wondered why she even asked me in the first place...  I stopped communication then, but I continued researching this subject---as anyone can easily do nowadays!
"Chrome Tourmaline Quartz" Hydro

I googled "Hydrothermally stablised tourmaline", and there was only one result (on the discussion board).  (This discussion group is on a highly regarded website for the sharing of information and opinions on jewelry.  Anyone can join and anyone can post answers on the discussion board.) Despite calling it "hydrothermally stablized",  this person was actually describing the "synthetic overgrowth" process of making synthetic emeralds and other stones.  This isn't an enhancement, but a hydrothermal method to produce a new, synthetic gemstone.  This involves taking a "seed" gem, and through pressure and heat in a solution, crystals grow around the center seed, forming a new stone surrounding the center seed. (I added a video below showing this process.)

But the trouble with this regarding tourmaline is that, despite anyone's assertions, there is absolutely NO synthetically grown tourmaline available.   Enhanced gemstones are simply gemstones that have their color or clarity "enhanced" by various methods, and MUST be disclosed as enhanced:  heated, irradiated, filled, oiled, dyed, etc.  (Regarding enhanced tourmalines: they are frequently heated or irradiated, and sometimes "oiled" to enhance the colors and fill the imperfections.) There was a study done a few years ago (see here) regarding rumors and reality surrounding "synthetic tourmaline".   And if you simply google "synthetic overgrowth" or "synthetic tourmaline" you can read many discussions about this, and they all say the same thing: no synthetic tourmaline gemstones are available. Labs try to create tourmaline, but the results are either extremely tiny stones or stones that "explode" or are otherwise not gem-quality.  Even this discussion reveals that, per Tom Chatham (of Chatham Emeralds fame), there are no commercially available synthetic tourmaline stones.  But that was from a few years ago.  What about today?  Has anything changed?
"Paraiba Quartz" Hydro

I contacted the Gemological Institute of America myself, and asked if there are any synthetic tourmaline gemstones available as of 2015.  I received a response and although I'm not able to post the response here (it's considered private between the GIA and me), they told me that, despite many attempts at synthesizing tourmalines, there are no gem-quality synthetic tourmalines available in the market today, nor is it economically feasible to produce gem-quality tourmalines.  This was as of June 10, 2015.

So going back to the convo on Etsy---despite what this person's online group member said, and despite the claim of a seller somewhere offering "hydro tourmaline", the stones they would buy would test as either "hydro quartz" that is simply the color of a tourmaline, some other synthetic or even natural stone that looks like tourmaline, or possibly glass (see below).   Maybe they would receive an oil-enhanced tourmaline, but in that case, it would be just a tourmaline that has been enhanced (and must be disclosed as enhanced), not a "hydro tourmaline".   Perhaps in the future there will be synthetic tourmalines, but there are no gem-quality synthetic tourmalines being sold as of today. PERIOD.

This experience with the Etsy "convo" reminded me of Isaac Asimov---do you want the answer that is true, or the answer that satisfies?  They are often not the same. 
Well, I prefer the truth.  And buyers deserve the truth.

Here's an interesting video from Tairus, a company that makes incredibly beautiful synthetic emeralds using the hydrothermal method (plus sapphires, rubies, beryl, and alexandrite):

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HYDRO QUARTZ

Synthetic Amethyst
There are a lot of stones, online on Ebay and on Etsy, that are being called synthetic "hydro" stones. There are a HUGE number of "hydro quartz" stones being sold on Etsy right now, in colors that range from clear to pale blue to deep blues and purples, reds and pinks, pale colors and vibrant colors.  While it's true that there is a large market for synthetic quartz in industrial applications, sellers are saying that the jewelry industry is now growing synthetic quartz gemstones, despite the fact that quartz is the most abundant and common mineral found on Earth.  The hydrothermal process to create these man-made stones is expensive and time consuming.   For certain, there are some synthetic blue quartz gems, and synthetic Amethyst does exist (and MUST be disclosed as synthetic), as Amethyst is considered the most valuable of all quartz varieties.  Synthetic Amethyst is a perfect, rich purple color, with no inclusions and no color "zoning" like that which is found in natural Amethyst. 

I recently purchased some "hydro quartz" on Etsy from a couple of different gemstone sellers.   I bought the same color of deep "tourmaline pink" (like rubellite).   They arrived and look absolutely beautiful---the colors are rich and vibrant (each stone, although from different sellers, was EXACTLY the same color of pink), and the stones are clear and free of obvious bubbles, which would be found in glass.  Even looking through a 10x loupe, the stones look nice.  The surface on one set of stones had a sort of "orange peel" look, very slight, which made me wonder if it was coated.  The faceting on all the stones wasn't quite as sharp or defined as I had hoped.  I did the "scratch test" on glass, and one stone felt like it was scratching the glass, but I couldn't find any mark.  The other stones just slid over the glass.  None of the stones themselves were harmed.  So my own examination didn't really tell me anything.

I took them to a certified gemologist to have them checked last week, to verify if these are quartz, or glass.  The gemologist used various methods to check all the stones, and then told me they were NOT quartz, but were glass.  All of them were glass.

This is not to say that the Etsy sellers are trying to defraud anyone.  But they purchase their stones for resale from gem dealers in India or China or Thailand---wherever these so-called hydro quartz stones are made---as hydro quartz, and then they sell them to jewelry designers, and so on down the line, until now, the market is saturated with glass stones sold as quartz, as well as some actual hydro quartz.  You really can't tell the difference without having the stones tested, and not many people will bother taking them to a gemologist for testing.

So that was MY very recent experience with "hydro quartz" from Etsy:  just very pretty glass that looks like quartz (or even tourmaline).  No problem----I'll wear it myself!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Fake Gemstone Rings on Ebay: Quench-Cracked Flame Fusion Synthetics?

In 2013, I wrote THIS post about fake gemstones being sold as "natural" gemstones on Ebay.  I wrote it as a "buyer beware" in an effort to help unsuspecting buyers from being "suckers", even though these huge-carat gemstone items are $25-$50 or so. 

17.6-Carat (!)  "Ruby" For $49
Someone sent me an email regarding a $25 "Ruby" ring they purchased from Ebay (Bulran) and claimed they had it "tested" and it was a real ruby, and because the "labor is cheap" in Thailand for stone cutting, they're able to offer inexpensive rubies.  Wow!  Imagine finding a genuine mined ruby, 6 carats or more, that is natural and unheated (or perhaps even heated) and having it set into a ring, for $25!!  What a deal!!  And then this person threatened me because I *dared* to say that a 6-CARAT ruby for $25 was not a genuine ruby gemstone!!




Hahaha!  OK, I'll stop with the sarcasm.  I can't believe I need to say this but here goes:

16.22 Carat "Ruby" - $9.99!
There is NO SUCH THING as a genuine, natural ruby that is 6 carats or so, set into a sterling silver setting, with a halo of stones surrounding it,  for $25.   Could you ever possibly even FIND a 17.6 carat genuine Ruby like pictured above??   To the right is another ring---16.22 carats ("natural from Madagascar"!) for only $9.99!!  First of all,  large gem quality rubies can be more valuable than comparably sized diamonds and are certainly rarer!  For a 6-ct. round-cut VVS2 diamond, the price is: 6 x $106,444 per carat = $638,664 (approximately).  A 6-carat ruby would cost a FORTUNE and would certainly be set in platinum or solid gold, not sterling silver!  What would a 17-ct Ruby be worth??  A million dollars, or more?

If you search all these "ruby" rings on Ebay, it's surprising how similar these all look---EXACT same color, same cloudy or feathered webby "inclusions", same huge size...

There are lots of created rubies (synthetic) grown in various ways, and although those would test as a genuine corundum (ruby), any gemologist would instantly know it isn't natural.  ANYONE would know a ruby that size wouldn't be natural!!  Especially when a ruby is SO large and so red and so clear!!  And from Ebay!?!   It is 100% unethical and unlawful to sell a gemstone and NOT disclose treatments (such as heating, irradiation, oiling, glass filling, etc.) and NOT disclose that a gem is synthetic or just a simulant!!

Quench-Cracked Flame Fusion Synthetic
Because synthetic (man-made) gems are generally thought to be too perfect or too flawless,  and therefore obviously man-made, there is a way to introduce flaws into the synthetic gems to give them "fingerprints" or other naturally-occurring flaws.  Flame fusion synthetic rubies can be heated and then suddenly plunged into cold fluid so they crack internally, producing what looks like natural fingerprints or feather inclusions which are found in natural rubies.  To the right is a picture that clearly shows these web-like inclusions introduced to this synthetic stone via heating and then quenching.  This looks almost EXACTLY like the very inexpensive "rubies" sold on Ebay.  Could they be flame fusion synthetics that have been quench cracked?  Could they be dyed quartz?  They could certainly be---but for sure, they aren't natural rubies.


Lab-Created Ruby at riogrande.com
A created ruby is beautiful and perfect, and great to wear, but they are not worth anywhere near the price of a genuine mined ruby.  A 5mm created ruby (.65-carats), on riogrande.com, is $360, for example.  That's a good deal, but not exactly cheap.  And as you can see (left), the color is of course perfect (pinkish red) and is flawless.  A GENUINE ruby that has been mined from the earth costs about $2,000 a CARAT for a 5mm stone--and UP.  Here is a natural, untreated ruby that is .90-carats and it sells for $12,000
If  you scroll down that page, you'll see a 7-carat ruby for $50,000 a carat--$350,000 for a natural ruby. 

Those are examples of genuine rubies and how much they are sold for.  A lab-created .65-ct. ruby alone (unset) is $360 and that's a wholesale price for jewelers.   What do you think you're really getting from Ebay for $25?

If the ring is pretty and you love it, then buy it.  Jewelry is FUN and fabulous, to be worn and admired and enjoyed.  But know that you are not getting a huge genuine Ruby (or Sapphire, or Emerald, or Aquamarine, etc. etc.) for $25. Or $50.  Is it really quartz, or glass, or some other gem simulant---I don't know for sure.  But I DO know that it's not a genuine precious HUGE real natural  ruby for that price!





Friday, June 12, 2015

What is "Scorolite Opal"? Is It Quartz? Is It Scapolite?

"Scorolite Opal" - Or Quartz?


Someone asked the question "What is Scorolite Opal?" today on Etsy's forums.  And there were many responses from some of the fabulous and informed Etsy jewelry sellers.  So what is it?

The bottom line is:  there is no such gemstone as "Scorolite Opal".  It is possibly glass, or coated quartz, or light-colored (and poor quality) Amethyst, which is purple quartz, or some other quartz such as "Lavender Moon Quartz".

There is no mention of this stone anywhere---not on mindat.org (except for a discussion regarding "fakes, frauds and marketing ploys"), not on the GIA's website,  nowhere outside of Etsy.  Not even on Ebay!!

More "Scorolite Opal"
If you google "Scorolite Opal", the search results are all for shops on Etsy, or for sellers who have websites but also shops on Etsy.  Once again, it's a "stone" that is marketed primarily TO Etsy sellers from gem wholesalers, some located in the US and some in India.

When I searched on Etsy for strands of this stone sold by suppliers, at least one result was simply Opalite being sold as "Scorolite Opal".  Opalite is glass, not any sort of a gemstone, totally man-made.  There were 8 results total.  Some of these stones are more clear and glowing, some are nearly opaque, some seem to have a moonstone-like "adularescence" within the stone, some are more blue...they are all different.

Of course, the best way to discover what a stone really is, is to have the stone tested by a gemologist.  In fact, I found the following information regarding this stone online:

"Another Fake: “Scorolite
Although the term “scorolite” is sometimes used as a synonym for “scorodite”
lately one can find many mentions of “scorolite” on the Internet as a
“relatively new gemstone”. There it is described as “purple/greyish”, and sometimes even “colour change” or “tenebrescent”.
Now , genuine scorodite is occasionally faceted as a gemstone, but very rarely since it is too soft for anything but collectors of rare gemstones, and very few facetable crystals exist. Those that do are prized by collectors because of their beautiful green-blue colour. 
Curious about what exactly this material was, your editor purchased some “scorolite” beads (actually advertised as “scorodite”) on ebay.The specific gravity of the material was much too light for scorodite. 
I then sent it to KerryDay of KGD Minerals in Ottawa, who performed EDS on a sample. Conclusion: the "scorolite/scorodite” was actually just quartz,var. amethyst — and not particularly nice amethyst at that."

Scorodite - Beautiful Blue!
This article (above) refers to Scorodite.  This is from 2009---six years ago!  There is a gem called "Scorodite" which is a natural mineral.  Scorodite is an incredibly beautiful mineral found in ranges of intense blues, and is nothing like this Scorolite stone.

When I first read about this "Scorolite Opal" and looked at pictures of it, my first thought was that it was maybe purple Scapolite.  Maybe a typo somewhere along the way led from Scapolite to Scorolite...?  However, Scapolite is a genuine gemstone (purple, similar looking to amethyst), and is NOT any sort of Opal.  


Some of these "Scorolite" stones look quite pretty.  Some look a LOT like purple Scapolite, or like pale Amethyst, or even translucent chalcedony quartz. They would probably be a nice, fun addition to a  jewelry collection.  But it's NOT any sort of Opal gemstone, it's not a "new, rare" gemstone,  and is most likely quartz, whether natural or coated, or perhaps man-made.




Possibly Lavender Moon Quartz? 

There is a gemstone, a variety of quartz, called "Lavender Moon Quartz".  It is just beautiful, and has a translucent soft lavender glow.  It looks a little like moonstone, it has an opalescent glow, and a little like translucent chalcedony.  But it's none of those---it's a variety of quartz all its own.

I noticed some of this so-called Scorolite Opal jewelry on Etsy that has more of this lavender "glow".  I am guessing that some of this "Scorolite" is actually the beautiful Lavender Moon Quartz.  Some other "Scorolite" appears to be amethyst (it doesn't possess this glow) or some other type of quartz, some maybe scapolite, and some are obviously Opalite.

Here is a picture of genuine Lavender Moon Quartz, which is available at Rio Grande Jewelry  (highly reputable gemstone and precious metals supplier):

Lavender Moon Quartz

That picture doesn't really capture the beauty and luminous glow of this stone.  I googled images of Lavender Moon Quartz and I see that some very high-end designers (Yurman, for example) have used Lavender Moon Quartz in their jewelry.  It's SO beautiful, and it's a natural gemstone!