Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Is Silverite "Madagascar Sapphire"? Any Sapphire? NO!!

Silverite - About $25 for an entire strand
I've written about a stone that is found almost exclusively on Etsy that is called "Silverite".  I did a lot of research on this stone, contacted the GIA (Gemological Institute of America---the only real and reliable source of gemstone information and certification) and their response was:  they know nothing of this so-called gemstone.  They never even HEARD of it!  If you'd like to read my original post, it's here

The main wholesale seller of this Silverite stone (in briolettes, rondelles, various colors, etc.) is from India and also has a store on Etsy.  I wrote to them and asked what this stone is exactly, and their response (which you can read in my post linked above) was basically that Silverite is a "new gemstone" and is not coated in any way, and they've sold it almost exclusively to Etsy sellers.

If Silverite is a "new" and uncoated gemstone, then why are Etsy sellers (who obviously bought it from this importer) marketing this as coated diamonds, diamond coated stones, sapphires, pearlescent coated gems, opalescent coated gems, and even mystic quartz?  As I said before, there is only one answer and that is, "creative marketing" -- to deceive the public into buying something from their shop.

Now I see it's being sold on Etsy as "Madagascar Sapphire."

This stone is NOT sapphire.  It's not from Madagascar.  It's not a coated sapphire.  It's not any form of corundum.  To call it "Madagascar Sapphire" is totally fraudulent, because NO wholesaler is selling it as sapphire, because it is not.  As I said, I personally contacted the GIA as well as the wholesale seller of these stones.  GIA hasn't heard of it.  The wholesaler in India SAYS it's just simply Silverite, a "new" and uncoated stone.  And IF these were sapphires, believe me---the wholesaler would be selling these as sapphires, not a "new stone" which costs maybe $25 a strand.

And simple logic would tell you that if someone is selling strands of Sapphires, they would tell you they are genuine sapphires!  They're not going to cloak these stones in mystery, and HIDE the fact that they are precious sapphire gemstones by giving them a different name!!  NO ONE is going to call a precious gemstone anything other than what it is!! (How simple a concept is that?!) 

Anyway, Sapphire mining in Madagascar is FAR from ethical, to say the least.  It's akin to the "blood diamond" industry.  Here's an excerpt from an article found on
In Madagascar, where rich deposits of sapphires were discovered just a decade ago, a Wild West economic situation has led to dangerous working conditions and a highly unregulated industry. Allegations of child labor and abuse have also marred the gemstone trade in Madagascar. Children have been used for their small size and agility, often required to climb into small holes in extremely dangerous situations to see if gemstones are present.
Illegal mining activities are commonplace, often found in locations with poor safety standards. Little to no access to health care services exacerbates dangerous working conditions in sapphire mines. Injuries are common, caused by dangerous conditions including falling shards and rocks, collapsing pits, and underground fires, which can cause smoke inhalation."
So why would anyone want to claim their stones are from Madagascar, which would mean these have been unethically mined?  Not to mention that they aren't sapphires anyway!  My guess is they think that calling them "Madagascar" Sapphires makes the stones sound more exotic, more dazzling, more desirable.  They are preying on the ignorance of potential buyers.

If you google "silverite gem", you will find a link to  (the third google result, which is directly below my original "What Is Silverite" post) and the interesting thing is, that link leads directly to "Vermiculite".   To me this is especially telling since Silverite really does look like Vermiculite, with its mica-like sheen and other attributes.  (If you simply google "Silverite", results are mostly regarding the Dragon Age video game.)

Whatever Silverite is chemically, it most definitely is NOT sapphire, no matter how many times sellers keep saying that.

Please, do your own research and know what you're buying!!
Knowledge is power, and ignorance just plays into the hands of these manipulative sellers.

Monday, April 20, 2015

What Is A "Synthetic" Gemstone?

On Etsy's forums today, someone posted a rant about "synthetic" stones being sold at places like Michael's and Hobby Lobby.  She meant "fake" when she said synthetic.  A lot of people think the word "synthetic" means fake.  But in the jewelry industry, a synthetic gemstone is NOT a fake!  It has a different meaning.

What Does Synthetic Mean In Jewelry?

Tairus Synthetic Emerald
Synthetic gemstones are real gemstones.  Rather than found in nature, they are grown in a lab and become man-made genuine gemstones.  They have the same physical, chemical and optical properties as their natural counterparts.  For example, a natural emerald is very expensive and has lots of inclusions in it.  A lab-created Emerald IS an Emerald, but because it's grown in a controlled environment, there are no inclusions and the result is a flawless and perfect Emerald.  There is a new created Emerald on the market, Tairus Synthetic Emeralds, and they can be found at  Here is their description of this synthetic Emerald:

"Created to exacting standards, using state-of-the-art gem-lab technology and minute attention to detail, this lab-created emerald has a chemical make-up identical to the finest Colombian emeralds. Its color is a more intense green than the natural stones can offer, and it performs at the bench just as a natural stone does."
 Are There Synthetic Diamonds?

Yes!  There are genuine Diamonds that are created in a lab, and possess the same physical, chemical and optical properties as natural Diamonds.  These are called "created diamonds" or "synthetic diamonds" and are ACTUAL diamonds, only lab-created rather than mined.  I like to compare synthetic gemstones to ice that you make in your freezer, versus natural ice that forms in a glacier:  they're both frozen water!

Synthetic Diamonds are made of pure Carbon and have a Mohs hardness of 10---the hardest mineral on Earth.

These synthetic Diamonds are less expensive than natural diamonds, but are still very expensive--almost the price of a natural diamond of that size.

Some terrible sellers on Etsy and Ebay (and elsewhere) sell Cubic Zirconia jewelry as "synthetic diamond" jewelry.  They are NOT!!  A CZ is not a synthetic diamond!  It's a simulated diamond.

Synthetic Diamonds have been manufactured in labs since the mid-1980s under such brand names as Gemesis.  The GIA (Gemological Institute of America) grades these synthetics (issuing an Identification Report) so there is no confusion in the marketplace between synthetics and natural Diamonds.

If you are buying a Synthetic Diamond, be SURE to get the GIA's Identification Report.  If the seller can't offer one, run away!!

What Are Gemstone and Diamond "Simulants"?

Dyed Sillimanite--NOT Gemstones
Simulated gemstones can be made out of anything----glass, crystal, lab-grown stones, natural stones etc.---and just look like a gemstone.  There are lots of simulated sapphires, emeralds, and rubies that are actually dyed Sillimanite, and they're hard to tell apart from the real gemstones to an untrained eye.  These dyed Sillimanite "emeralds", "rubies" and "sapphires" are VERY inexpensive and come mainly from India---and when you see very cheaply priced gemstones on Ebay and Etsy, this is what you're getting.  (Sad, but true.)

CZ Simulated Diamond
Cubic Zirconia (CZ) is the most popular Diamond simulant.  It's grown in a lab, and has "grades" of quality.  It's very affordable and looks the most like a flawless diamond.  And that's the problem---most natural diamonds are NOT colorless and flawless, so when you see a CZ and it's perfect, you can assume it's not a real diamond.

Moissanite (Silicon Carbide) is also a man-made stone and is a good diamond simulant.  Unlike a natural diamond which has a slightly yellowish color, Moissanite has a slightly green to greyish color.  It has a "double refraction" unlike Diamonds, making the stone much more fiery than a Diamond.

What Are Diamond Hybrids?

This is a term used by some manufacturers who coat a gemstone or simulant with a layer of synthetic diamond or  diamond-like carbon (DLC).  These coatings are durable but are not permanent, and can be scratched off or removed.

How Can I Be Sure Of What I'm Buying?

The FTC issues "Guides For The Jewelry Industry" and jewelers are required to disclose any treatments and synthetics.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Gem Silica - What Is It?

Gem Silica Cabochons
I saw a ring today and it was the most beautiful turquoise blue color, like a swimming pool or like Caribbean water.  It was a large oval cabochon, and it was VERY expensive.  It was described as "Gem Silica".  I think it's my new favorite gemstone!

At first I thought it was Aquamarine, or maybe even some sort of man-made glass.  In researching this mineral, I saw that it goes by various names: Gem Silica, Gem Chrysocolla, Chrysocolla Chalcedony, and other similar names.

It is the most expensive gemstone in the quartz family.

What Is Gem Silica?
Gem Silica Rough
Gem Silica is often referred to as "Gem Chrysocolla" but it really is a member of the Chalcedony (Quartz) family.  Technically, it is gem Chalcedony.  Gem Silica is a trade name for a very rare and very specific turquoise-blue color of Chalcedony.  Chalcedony is translucent crypto-crystalline quartz and is found in many colors, and has a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale, making it a great gemstone for jewelry.   Gem Silica is a very rare mineral.  It's mined in New Mexico and Arizona, and has become extremely scarce in the last few years.

What is Chrysocolla?
Chrysocolla is a gemstone that is one of the few gemstones that contains copper.  It's often found mixed with turquoise, azurite, malachite or quartz.  It's a very soft mineral, with a Mohs hardness of only 2-4. 

What is "Gem Chrysocolla"?
When the very rare green-blue turquoise color of Chalcedony is found, it's called "Gem Chrysocolla" because the color is the same as Chrysocolla.  Transparent Chalcedony is stained by the same copper salts that color Chrysocolla, resulting in the unique natural turquoise color of quartz.  Gem Chrysocolla, or Gem Silica, has the incredible color of Chrysocolla but has the hardness of quartz.
Jade-Like Gem Silica Rough

Gem Silica, or Gem Chrysocolla, is extremely rare and is VERY expensive---over $100 a carat and UP, which is about ten to twenty times the cost of chalcedony.

It's popular in Asia for it's similar look to jade.

As a very expensive and rare stone, you would most likely find this gemstone set into 14k or 18k gold.