Is that Ruby Real?

The controversy over selling as real rubies glass filled and treated gem stones is the recent subject not only of recent lawsuits against MACY’S, (SF Superior Court Nos. CGC-09-495171 and CGC-10-495868) but a topic of great concern amongst professionals who strongly resent the practice of falsely portraying rubies as real when they are not. See these articles from the Accredited Gemologist Association:

Put Lipstick on a Rock and Call it a Ruby

Composite “Rubies” Pose Serious Problem for Consumers

Unfortunately consumers generally do not possess the knowledge or the expertise to know when they are buying a “ruby” that is not a real ruby.  Real rubies are from the mineral corundum and are magnificent in color, hard, durable, brilliant in color, and command high prices.

How do fake rubies become real? You take a stone that is of poor quality and you add lead glass or treat it with heat to enhance its color and presentation. When pressed some will concede it is not real but insist on calling them rubies. Others will say when pressed the stone is a “treated ruby”, “enhanced ruby”, “composite ruby” or even “hybrid gemstone”. In a “composite ruby” much of the surface is fractured and the fractures are filled with glass.

The Roskin Gem News report quotes Chris Smith, President and CEO of American gemological Laboratories in New York: “After this ruby goes through the process of being cleaned, in an acid bath to clean out foreign material, what’s left is very brittle. You can literally crush it between your thumb and index finger. In the strict sense, it may still be a single piece, but you cannot polish it.  So the lead glass is infused into the ruby, stabilizing it in order to be polished. Sometimes there’s more ruby than glass, but sometimes there’s more glass than ruby.”

Few will tell you the truth that what you see is not what you think you see. But isn’t that the essence of a fraud, namely, combining something fake (e.g. treatments or additives) with lies and presenting to the consumer as high value fact something that is a near worthless fiction.

What do glass filed rubies look like?

To the naked eye there is no difference to the ordinary consumer.

But under magnification, the difference is significant.

     

What are some of the problems with glass filled rubies?

Obviously there is the stability issues referred to by Mr. Smith. The glass filler also cannot stand household acids found in cleaning supplies containing bleach or foods such as lemons, limes, vinegar, etc.  The stone below was exposed to fresh lemon juice for 48 hours and then lightly heated with torch.

So keep that ruby ring away from the kitchen or laundry

What about the price differential between glass filled and real rubies? Dramatic.

On this subject, Suzan Flamm, Assistant General Counsel of the Jeweler’s Vigilance Committee, which describes itself as “The Industry’s Guardian of Ethics and Integrity” wrote:

“The Federal Trade Commission regulates the use of many of the words associated with jewelry products, including “ruby,” “gem” and “natural.”  Understanding the proper use of these words, as defined in the FTC’s Jewelry Guides, is the first step in determining the exact nature of the disclosure required.

As a starting point, the Guides state that “it is unfair or deceptive to use the unqualified [word] ‘ruby’…to describe any product that is not in fact a natural stone of the type described.”  As to the use of the word “natural,” the FTC also provides boundaries, stating: “It is unfair or deceptive to use the word … ‘natural’ … to describe any industry product that is manufactured or produced artificially.”

The word “gem” is also subject to restrictions, as follows: “It is unfair or deceptive to use the word ‘gem’ to describe, identify, or refer to a ruby … product that does not possess the beauty, symmetry, rarity, and value necessary for qualification as a gem.”

Applying these rules, a seller must determine whether or not the stone sold is properly described as either “natural”, a “ruby” or a “gem.”  For composite ruby, the words “natural“ or “gem” are probably inappropriate descriptors.  Further, the unqualified word “ruby” is not appropriate – it should always be described.”

Sadly, sellers are ignoring the requirements of the law and simply presenting as real that which his fake.

If you purchased fine jewelry, rubies, diamonds, sapphires or other gemstones from Macy’s anywhere in the US since 2006, you may have a claim. To find out more about these issues, whether you are in New York, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Seattle, Miami, or parts between, please visit the Brandi Law Firm Macy’s Lawsuit website or contact the Brandi Law Firm Consumer Fraud Attorneys.