Letters

Emerald Editorial Challenged

In your November Editor’s Page installment, “Resuscitating Emerald Sales,” you present assumptions that require reevaluation. Your opening commentary attributes the demise of the emerald business to TV exposés and the Fred Ward debacle. I am not aware of any TV network that is or ever has been involved in emerald treatments.

Dateline didn’t have to exert itself to discover that deception was rampant in our marketplace. During the same time Dateline was preparing its story, 20/20 was working on a parallel piece. Not one retailer disclosed treatment on either program.

Had the dealers and retailers responded to Dateline in a forthright manner, the jewelry industry could have rejuvenated its tarnished image. The trade associations that cried about the story the loudest were interviewed by Dateline. Rather than tell the truth, they individually selected their in-house “spin doctors” to defend the indefensible. Dateline was understandably disappointed with the industry’s response to the discovery of widespread failure to disclose enhancement information. Had it not been for Dateline, we would probably still be deliberating the issue of the deception that has cost an industry its reputation.

Your reference to the Fred Ward case is also loaded with problematic interpretations. The industry re-tried the case in the trade press without the benefit of comprehensive testimony and factual information. The industry determined the judge, jury, expert witnesses, attorneys, and insurance company were all wrong, based on a regurgitation of limited information provided by the party who was found guilty. This was a skewed and self-serving assessment of facts and circumstances.

Your comment about Afghanistan emeralds is an excellent example of how unsupported representations can erode credibility and confidence. The claim of “treatment-free emeralds” in quantity is bogus at best. If untreated Afghanistan emeralds were available, the market value would be well beyond the current price of treated Colombian material unless someone is subsidizing the program. The idea of self-certification, not unlike dealer-owned labs, casts a cloud of suspicion. Dealer claims regarding enhancement and quality should be able to stand the “acid test” of independent scrutiny by a third party who has no financial interest in the transaction.

Perhaps the decision-making power structure of the jewelry industry should be more introspective about the level of responsibility it is willing to accept for the disclosure dilemma. How is it possible that the trade associations and organizations entrusted with the responsibility of protecting and preserving the reputation of our industry could allow this disclosure deception to continue for years until it was finally scrutinized by the media?

Perhaps we should more carefully reexamine the competence of the organization that led us to this point in history and determine whether a change in leadership is necessary for the new millennium.

C.R. Beesley, President, American Gemological Laboratories, New York

Full Disclosure

As a truly conscientious jeweler/emerald dealer, I’m educating customers and disclosing all over the place. And I’m not just talking about emerald enhancement disclosures, I’m talking about the warning labels that I now have on my jewelry boxes that alert the buyer that the box may snap shut on their finger if they are not careful.

But my lawyer tells me I’ve not gone far enough! Therefore, I offer this list of disclosures to other jewelers and emerald dealers as the bare minimum to protect ourselves in a litigious world:

Disclosure #1: To the best of our knowledge, this emerald is Y2K – compliant. If any breakdown occurred on Jan. 1, 2000, please contact our legal department.

Disclosure #2: In-traffic lane-change rollover tests at 45 mph have not been performed on this jewelry; please handle with proper care and use safety equipment at all times.

Disclosure #3: Warning—If this product is heated near boiling and spilled on the lap, it may cause scalding and pain. Please use caution.

Disclosure #4: In the event of a water landing, this emerald jewelry will not inflate automatically, nor will it inflate if the wearer blows into the plastic tubes.

Disclosure #5: The most fundamental particles in this emerald are held together by “gluons,” a force about which little is known and whose adhesive power can therefore not be permanently guaranteed.

Disclosure #6: Enjoying this emerald jewelry within 20 ft. of high-voltage power lines may cause distorted vision and birth defects.

Disclosure #7: Some quantum physics theories suggest that when the consumer is not directly observing this emerald, it may cease to exist or will exist only in a vague and undetermined state. Our company therefore cannot guarantee the existence of this gemstone while it is not being observed.

Ronald Ringsrud, Emerald House of Colombia, San Francisco

Clarifying the Origin Of the SI3 Idea

I just finished looking over your article in the December 1999 JCK about diamond grading (“Can You Justify That High Diamond Grade?” p. 84). I was amazed to see that I am the only source concerning the use of the SI3 clarity grade. It’s a grade I once suggested in an article I wrote for the Accredited Gemologists Association quarterly newsletter, but a grade I have never used or endorsed in any commercial sense.

My article for AGA was a wake-up call to the industry to put some definable meaning into the very subjective field of clarity grading, even if we had to add a new grade, such as “SI3.” I was suggesting that we look at reasonable alternatives to the existing system so that other graders could do consistent, less subjective work.

A few months after that article was published, Tom Tashey and I were co-speakers on diamond grading at an AGA conference in Tucson. Some time later, Tashey introduced SI3 on European Gemological Laboratory-Los Angeles reports. I have never subscribed to the methodology used in his definition of SI3, as it does nothing to clear the air or eliminate confusion. I respect Tashey and his professionalism, but he and I differ completely on the usefulness of this new grade as it currently is defined.

I do not like being attached to something that has been altered so much from what I believed it could be, without a more thorough explanation to the readers of JCK. Certainly, you made mention of my name hoping that it would be appreciated, and I do appreciate the thought. I hope there is a way to correct the misconceptions that will result from using the current SI3 designation, which is not at all close to what I was calling for in my article of long ago.

David Atlas, Philadelphia

Corrections

In the December Heritage article, “A New Look At Old Bar Pins,” by Christie Romero (JCK, December 1999, p. 93), incorrect publisher information was given for Romero’s book, Warman’s Jewelry, 2nd ed. The publisher is Krause Publications.

Two photo captions accompanying the article “Party-Time Necklaces” (JCK, December 1999, p. 76) were inadvertently transposed, and an incorrect telephone number was given for Luvell. Following is the correct information.

18k gold necklace with pearl, peridot, tourmaline, carnelian, iolite, rhodolite, aquamarine, and opal, suggested retail, $2,000. Janis Kerman Design, 366 Metcalfe Ave., Westmount, Quebec, Canada H3Z 2J3; (514) 931-3852.

18k gold choker with diamond pavé, suggested retail, $32,000. Sarkis Kegeyan for Luvell, 151 W. 46th St., New York, NY 10036; (877) 284-7955 or (212) 869-8790.