I had a very nice time tonight. I attended my Alumni Association lecture.
While most of you do not follow me for these little blurbs I write, I thought I might indulge for a moment…
The evening started off rather chilly and sadly for me. My family member was in an accident several weeks back (but is recovering, not without some complications)…nevertheless after speaking with my mom to check in, I walked in to the lecture. It was a great big crowd, more than I thought, and my apprehension bubbles under my cool facade. These types of events can be a bit intimidating when such opinionated and passionate people get together, but that is what also makes for lively discussion.
I am just the technical sort though…give me the info without the fluff (meaning audience participation, or in most cases useless/pointless interruptions by boisterous tactless audience members…yes some people like the sound of their own newly educated voices). The speaker was dynamic however and rose to the challenge of even the most unimpressed audience member, she dazzled with intellect and comfort from a well seasoned knowledge of the topic. She waxed theoretically and with much passion. No dull moments for me at at all…
The speaker was none other than Antoinette Matlins. For those of you that have followed me for awhile, you might recall Antoinette is a bit of a legend, but more importantly, my own personal hero. Yes indeed I got to attend a lecture on those infamous “Composite Rubies”, I hate to even use the term Ruby when it comes to these things.
Finding the rough (uncut) form of these gems in an appropriate picture has proven to be a bit of a task which I was not up to (and I apologize for that) but I will say seeing them up close rather grossed me out.
The poor quality rough “ruby” is leeched of its associated minerals and what is left over looks like a dried out sponge, even worse than before. Lots of pits and crevices in the rough. The unscrupulous dealers learned a way of taking this pitiful altered rough, filling all those holes and pits with leaded glass, there by making the stone more glass than actual ruby gem material.
Then it is created into a faceted gemstone and called a “nice” or “good quality” ruby and placed into inexpensive (in some cases very expensive) jewelry. This jewelry is then in turn massed marketed out to the public through “Designer” jewelry houses, featured in major retail jewelry chains and on Television shopping channels. The worse part about all of this? Well the worse part is this…these stones are set into rings (and other jewelry pieces), with little to no disclosure of the truthful nature of the stone, the fact that it is more “Glass” than Ruby.
However wait a minute it gets even more shady…these stones are nothing like a natural ruby or a ruby that has only been heated. No no these “composite” gems are so delicate, they take on the nature of glass and not all suitable for wearing everyday. A natural ruby is a hard gemstone and can withstand everyday wear and tear (great engagement rings ladies).. but these composites? Well those stones are so brittle that a blow that might shatter your favorite drinking glass, it just might shatter your “ruby” into pieces as well. Unsuspecting jeweler’s could also damage the stone, thinking it to be a natural ruby, with the same hardness and ability to withstand jewelry repair etc… (so please be aware…if you purchased any ruby jewelry from a major retail store in the last 12 years, please have it looked at, and if you have purchased rubies from television shopping channels, please have those checked out too!)
When a corundum (ruby) gem rough is so overly treated with lead glass, that the glass makes up the majority of the stone…should you really call it a Ruby? Of course not…when you add Lemons to water you call it lemonade…it is no longer simply water. The same holds true for these Lead Glass composite stones…they are not Rubies, and in my own personal opinion they should not even be placed in Fine jewelry. Leave them for use in costume and faux jewelry, or even better still a new kind of kitty litter…better yet lets not use them at all.
It is this type of gemstone alchemy that makes me sick to my stomach with worry…too many everyday regular none gemstone loving people will never know that this is going on, and just might potentially get ripped off, and that pisses me off more than the alteration of gems.
It was quite nice to listen to Antoinette speak with such passion, and as I said before in another post…very few people impress me (not that any one needs to) nor do I care for the ideas of many people, as far too often ego and pride get in the way of true education, but Antoinette is a true believer in what she does, she speaks with passion and it is very catchy. So if you follow me and you are a gemstone lover, a jewelry lover or just a casual jewelry fan and you want to learn a bit more, I do suggest picking up the latest edition of her latest book:
Gem Identification Made Easy
This read is the next best thing to seeing her speak. On another note and quick minute here, I was hoping we would have covered in a lot more in-depth review of the same sorts of treatments to sapphires (Oh yes Tumbleweeds) it is happening to Ruby’s sister gem Sapphire too. So file that under more research. In the mean time as I always always state:
If you are going to spend a substantial amount of money on a gemstone, get it in writing that the gem is either
1) Free of treatment altogether or
2) The gem is treated and what that treatment entails…it is simply not enough to say a gem is treated. You will want to know if you are buying what you suspect or expect to be buying. So if they are not willing to stand by the stone and claim it is what is being represented in writing, then walk away on second thought, run away to another jeweler that will be more than willing to stand behind their jewelry.
Well that is all for now…I know it was not much of a review on the lecture, but I was too star struck to be of much use to you guys here on the blog. I’ll get it right next time though and until then I hope you have a great upcoming holiday season, and may you find the gem of your dreams waiting on one of those special days to come.