Synthetic moissanite is now available through two major wholesale distributors: Stuller Settings in Lafayette, La., and Rio Grande of Albuquerque, N.M. Charles & Colvard, the source for both faceted loose synthetic moissanite stones and moissanite jewelry, has signed agreements with both firms to become their loose moissanite supplier.
The move signals a shift for Charles & Colvard, which originally sold loose moissanite directly to independents. ?Charles & Colvard is in transition,? says Jeff Hunter, chairman and CEO of the North Carolina company, which earlier this year changed its name from C3 Inc. Shortly after announcing the new distributors, the company increased its prices 20% for small-volume purchases.
Distribution of synthetic moissanite began with only a handful of retail jewelers but is now expanding to jewelry suppliers as rough production from Cree, the synthetic?s manufacturer, continues to grow. According to Hunter, the 237 retail jewelers who already have been marketing moissanite will now buy the gems directly from the new suppliers. K&G Creations, Highland Beach, Fla., and Leddel International Inc., San Mateo, Calif., will manufacture and supply lines of jewelry set with Charles & Colvard synthetic moissanite.
In another development, Charles & Colvard is unveiling marquise- and oval-shaped moissanite. The synthetic gem had been available almost exclusively as round brilliants along with a small amount of emerald cuts. The company has been working on a new faceting design that is supposed to eliminate the bow-tie effect (dark area in the center of the stone) so common with marquise and oval shapes in diamond. The marquises will be sold in 4×8, 5×10, and 6×12 mm sizes. Charles & Colvard also is developing baguettes and heart shapes, which were expected to be ready this month.
In addition to revamping its distribution system, Charles & Colvard has been keeping moissanite in the public eye. Many celebrities have been wearing the synthetic jewel to high-profile events. Recently, actress Brooke Shields wore moissanite jewelry to the Costume Designers Guild Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. She was decked out in an 18k yellow gold necklace designed by Bruno Montaldi featuring 45 cts. t.w. of moissanite along with matching moissanite earrings, 6 cts. t.w. The ensemble had a total of 305 stones; its retail price was estimated at $20,000.
At the ESPY Awards in Las Vegas honoring sports stars, Mia Hamm, a member of the 1999 U.S. Women?s World Cup Soccer team, wore a half-moon-shaped pendant featuring more than 1 ct. of moissanite and matching moissanite earrings. Neve Campbell, star of the Fox TV show Party of Five, was spotted wearing a moissanite ring at the ESPYs.
GIA Investigators Continue To Assess Emerald Treatments
Investigators at the Gemological Institute of America?s Gem Trade Laboratory (GTL) have taken emerald identification one step further than researchers had been able to heretofore. They?ve established a scale for assessing the degree of apparent enhancement. In the Winter 1999 issue of Gems & Gemology, GIA?s research journal, authors Shane McClure, Thomas Moses, Maha Tannous, and John Koivula tell how GTL gemologists determine the amount of filler present in emeralds.
In examining 500 filled emeralds, the gemologists first had to locate all surface-reaching fissures, since only emeralds with such fissures can be clarity-enhanced. This may sound easy, but finding filled fissures is no simple matter. Reflected overhead light combined with strong magnification helps an observer to discover the subtle break in a facet?s polishing marks, revealing unavoidable drag lines emerging from a very thin but open fissure. This is where the gemologist examines the internal structure of the gem to see how far into the stone the fissure dives.
The next task is to determine whether the fissure has been filled and, if so, to what extent. The GIA researchers borrowed diamond-grading terminology to describe emerald?s surface-reaching fissures. Because their examination focused only on determining clarity enhancement, they ignored clarity characteristics such as pinpoints and crystals and used diamond-grading terms only in relation to filled fissures. Fissures from VVS2 size to VS2 size were considered to have ?minor enhancement,? those said to be of SI1 to SI2 size were classified as ?moderate enhancement,? and filled fissures that would be graded as I1 or lower were called ?significant.? Gems revealing VVS1 hairline feathers, filled or not, received the comment, ?no evidence of clarity enhancement was detected.?
GIA chose to classify emerald enhancement using three categories to conform to a consensus of international laboratories, including the SSEF Swiss Gemmological Institute, the American Gem Trade Association Gem Testing Center, and the Gübelin Lab. Dealers and producers from around the world have agreed that determining the relative amount of filler is more important than determining the type of filler.
Arthur Groom, creator of the Gematrat emerald enhancement, helped GIA remove and replace the fillings of enhanced emeralds for this study. Groom, who is a wholesale emerald dealer as well as a retail jeweler, already has been classifying the degree of emerald enhancement in his laboratory. His own system has nine categories. ?The more information we [retailers] can get to the consumer, the more it?s right for us,? he says. Nonetheless, he thinks GIA?s work is beneficial. ?GIA?s made a real effort to do this, and it?s good,? Groom says. ?It?s all a step in the right direction.? The study was financed in part by a grant from the JCK Jewelry Industry Fund.
Ron Ringsrud, an emerald expert in San Francisco, had positive feelings about emerald sales and the disclosure of emerald enhancements upon his return from the Hong Kong International Jewellery Show. ?People are starting to realize that the good thing about emerald enhancement is that it is so low-tech! It only affects clarity,? Ringsrud says. ?The color of the emerald remains natural and unaltered.? Emerald is one of the few colored stones whose color is natural, he points out. Only those stones that have undergone significant clarity enhancement may reveal hidden or covered body color after treatment. Moreover, Ringsrud notes, ?Clarity can only be improved to the extent that there are surface-reaching fissures. In a stone with few fissures that reach the surface, there will be minimal enhancement.? Although the findings reported in G&G are complex, these concepts are easily understood by emerald buyers, Ringsrud explains.
Groom makes an additional point: The G&G report deals only with clarity enhancement and not with other characteristics affecting the quality of the stone. Only after one compares all the other quality features?color, cut, and size of the gem?does the enhancement issue affect the value.
International Labs Trying to Agree On Standards
As you might expect, a gathering of 32 trade and laboratory representatives for the purpose of harmonizing laboratory practices inevitably leads to disagreements about standards. That was certainly the case at a meeting in Tucson in February. Roland Naftule, representing the American Gem Trade Association, chaired the conference. Participants from Brazil, China, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States all came together for this important event.
Some progress was made toward developing international standards for emeralds. Among the points agreed upon was that emerald fillers can be identified as colorless or colored. The second area of agreement concerned noting the amount or level of emerald filler. Terms such as ?minor,? ?moderate,? or ?significant? enhancement seemed to be acceptable to most organizations. There were repeated requests that the level of enhancement be stated in numerical terms for greater consistency. However, there?s still strong disagreement on this style of nomenclature. Consensus among the labs left the actual identification of the filler as an option. GIA?s Gem Trade Lab uses the new nomenclature. AGTA?s Gem Testing Center identification report includes a ?care guide? for consumers interested in the durability of such enhancements.
On the issue of identifying country of origin, there was concern whether the labs have either the specialized testing equipment or the reliable databases needed to justify their identification. This topic will continue to be discussed at future meetings.
It was suggested that seven categories be used to describe ruby. They are: (1) natural ruby; (2) natural ruby enhanced by heat; (3) natural ruby, with residue in fissures; (4) natural ruby enhanced with glass residue in wide fissures and/or cavities; (5) natural ruby enhanced with colorless oil and/or resin; (6) natural ruby enhanced with colored oil and/or resins and glassy residues; and (7) ruby, treated by diffusion. Whether there is actual synthetic growth in ruby fissures created during the heat-treatment process needs to be proved or disproved.
Standard procedures for identifying HTHP (high-temperature/high-pressure) diamond enhancement also were difficult to develop. ?A lot of research and a lot of time will be needed to control this problem,? reports Naftule.
Gem Cutter Receives High German Honor
Master engraver and gem artist Erwin Pauly of Veitsrodt, Birkenfeld, Germany, has received the Distinguished Service Medal of the Order of Merit for Science and the Arts from the Federal Republic of Germany. The award, which originates from the time of Wilhelm I of Prussia (1797-1888), the first German emperor, is the highest decoration given by the German government. The distinction puts Pauly in the company of eight Nobel Prize winners as well as writers, musicians, and artists.
Pauly is renowned for his gemstone engraving. His cameos, family crests, portraits, modern designs, and sculptures are carved and engraved in aquamarine, tourmaline, sapphire, emerald, and the traditional Brazilian layer agates. Famous actors, musicians and even some royal families own portrait cameos carved by Pauly. Many of his cameo and intaglio carvings are on display at leading museums in Europe, the United States, and Japan.
Pauly has been a leading force in bringing national and international recognition to the gemstone industry of Birkenfeld district, which includes Idar-Oberstein. He has served as president of many organizations, including the Chamber of Krafts and the Engravers Guild. He is a founding member of the International Colored Gemstone Association and of PROGEM, Idar-Oberstein?s marketing initiative.
Master gem cutter Wolfgang Hey, chief administrative officer of the district, who presented the medal to Pauly, said, ?This award not only underlines Pauly?s personal involvement, but also the development of the entire gemstone industry.? Said Pauly, ?It?s a great honor to me, my family, and the entire area of Idar-Oberstein.?