Independent gemological laboratory. Sounds authoritative, even clinical (why do you think we use it?). We see a lot of “laboratory certified” jewelry and loose stones but not often enough accurate descriptions. And, while we have reported on bogus labs for years it still is aggravates us to see the blatant misrepresentations made all the more prevalent by the internet.
In 2006, the most outrageous cases have involved represented retails at levels several times reality and grading of diamonds that can only be viewed as fraudulent. Still, many buyers blissfully accept any representation they are given and find out the truth far too late to do anything about it.
So the trusting often get ripped off and the skeptical come to see us. Each year, a bigger portion of our business is in verifying or refuting prior documentation. All too often, that representation is wrong, even if by a reputable sounding laboratory.
Most gemological laboratories have a threeletter call sign, like GIA, AGS or NGL and it can be confusing to the consumer who are the good guys and who are not. If they all sound the same, and their documents often do look the same, it’s thought they must be equal. Unfortunately, we even see labs with good looking websites touting their expertise while presenting bad paper on diamonds and jewelry.
It pays to investigate the reputation of the lab doing the gemological documents for your gem or jewelry purchase. Are they well-regarded within the industry, referred by others or only seen only in internet transactions. As mentioned in this year’s op-ed article, always have the right to return merchandise and have your own (well-researched) appraiser look at the article in question before keeping it.
Yes. The problem is you don’t know which until you check them out. We have had some very happy clients who purchased over the internet – and some very upset ones.
In one instance, the client received an appraisal which failed to clearly state that they were buying a clarity-enhanced (fracture-filled) diamond, and the value stated was three times higher than what was paid. The NGL appraisal placed the retail value close to what was paid with prominent disclosure of the enhancement process. On the other hand, we have verified many great purchases, especially when GIA or AGS was the certifying lab and everything checked out.
We have also seen a lot of misleading colored stone transactions on-line. The biggest area seems to be in the emerald market, where stones too light to pass as emerald are being sold as “Colombian emerald”. True, they may be Colombian in origin, but cannot be gemologially classified as emerald if not at least medium-light in tone. On the other hand, many colored stones bought on-line price out significantly more than their transaction price – but remember, price is not the most important factor anyway. The best advice is to obtain a guaranteed refund if not satisfied.
It’s contest time for many of the national sweepstakes companies and once again, NGL is deluged with calls concerning the “Black Star of India.” From our examinations, this often-awarded runner up prize is a natural black star diopside, valued at around one dollar.
Some of the other “prizes” we’ve seen include the “Tigris Emerald”, a natural but excessively included emerald of negligible value and a natural ruby of similar description.