Jewelry TV Gets Heat Over Andesine Sales

The Associated Press reports that a California woman has filed a $5 million class-action lawsuit against Jewelry Television, of Knoxville, Tenn., accusing the home-shopping network and Internet retailer of false advertising.

Marliese Weed claims in the lawsuit filed May 23 that Jewelry Television sold gemstones described as rare and expensive red or green andesine labradorites, AP reports. Weed said the items were actually colorless or yellow common feldspar that had been chemically treated.

Weed’s suit was joined by a second false-advertising class-action lawsuit filed by a Kodak, Tenn., couple according to the Knoxville News Sentinel. The second suit claims the shopping network “fraudulently advertised and misrepresented” the gemstone andesine-labradorite as being “highly coveted” and “extremely rare,” the newspaper reports.

Both lawsuits deal with andesine enhancement disclosure. In late 2007, after selling andesine for several years as natural color, JTV announced it had found an andesine mine in Mongolia but that the gems found there were not the reddish-orange color being sold. The Mongolian miners told JTV the gems were heated to produce that color. JTV announced this on its video blog, giving historical references to industry acceptance of gemstone heating. According to the two recent press reports, JTV feels that it acted responsibly in notifying customers.

More at issue is the still unconfirmed rumor that the andesine is “chemically treated,” i.e., externally diffusion-treated with copper. While some gemologists claim to have found proof of diffusion treatment, scientists at the California Institute of Technology, Gemological Institute of America, and Crystal Chemistry are still trying to unravel the mystery of andesine’s color.

Ironically, JTV has been at the forefront of finding the andesine mines and providing gem materials to the scientific research laboratories, and it was the first to announce heat treatment as a possible enhancement. All professional gem laboratory reports on andesine prior to JTV’s announcement noted no evidence of any enhancement.