Lead glass–filled rubies are in the news again, this time at the center of an investigative report from CBS Chicago.
The report aired on May 1. Reporter Pam Zekman said that her team of reporters, called 2 Investigators, went shopping for rubies at two Macy’s locations after a viewer complained she was sold lead glass–filled rubies.
Zekman’s team bought a pair of earrings at the State Street Macy’s for $117 and a pair of studs at the Oakbrook Macy’s for $93.60. At both locations, salesclerks assured the buyers that the stones in the earrings were actual rubies. A small tag that came with the studs read “lead glass filled ruby,” but the reporters said the salesclerk never mentioned the tag at the time of sale.
Richard Drucker, a GIA graduate gemologist and president of Gemworld International, confirmed that both pairs of earrings were composite rubies.
CBS Chicago reached out to Macy’s and received the following statement:
“Various types of rubies are available to consumers. Almost all of the ruby merchandise sold in Macy’s Fine Jewelry department has a base of the mineral corundum and is lead-glass filled. In addition, some have been heated to improve appearance. Macy’s does not carry synthetic, lab-created rubies that are sold by some other retailers. We have signs in Macy’s precious and semi-precious gemstone departments informing our customers that gemstones may have been treated and may require special care. We also tag our ruby merchandise to indicate it is lead-glass filled and include this in our product descriptions on Macys.com. We have trained our store associates to bring this information to the attention of our customers and will continue to reaffirm this training. In addition, we have gemstone treatment and care information available in the stores and on Macys.com, and we provide a web address for online information on our fine jewelry receipts and tags. We are always available to discuss the nature and quality of a purchased item with our customers because we want our customers to be satisfied.”
Lead glass–filled rubies versus natural rubies have been a source of confusion and ire for many consumers and have been the subject of many investigative reports. In July 2014, the NBC’s Today show aired a report on lead glass–filled rubies, and in May, the syndicated news show Inside Edition aired a similar segment. More information is available from JCK’s two-part series on lead glass-filled rubies: “The Ruby Ruse: How Jewelers Can Avoid the Lead Glass–Filled Gems” and “Red Alert: The Lead Glass–Filled Ruby Saga Continues.” Finally, earlier this year, JCK editor Victoria Gomelsky shared “7 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Rubies,” including how to spot a lead glass–filled stone.