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Disclosure of Gemstone Treatments
The issue of gem treatments disclosure is controversial. However, it makes a good business sense that all information related to gem treatments should be fully disclosed to the buyer at the time of sale at any level of gem & jewelry merchandising. This policy has been adopted by many gem and jewelry trade associations. In treating gems there are many "gray area" issues which are not clearly addressed and interpreted variously, often leading to a debate. Ted Themelis supports full disclosure of the gem treatments and periodically announces alerts on gem disclosure and related issues. To learn more about the disclosure of gem treatments, read the article "Cranking Up the Heat" published in the Professional Jeweler.

What the "US Federal Trade Commission Guides" say:
Guides for the Jewelry, Precious Metals, and Pewter Industries, Effective April 10, 2001.
§ 23.22 Disclosure of treatments to gemstones.

"It is unfair or deceptive to fail to disclose that a gemstone has been treated if:
(a) the treatment is not permanent. The seller should disclose that the gemstone has been treated and that the treatment is or may not be permanent;
(b) the treatment creates special care requirements for the gemstone. The seller should disclose that the gemstone has been treated and has special care requirements. It is also recommended that the seller disclose the special care requirements to the purchaser;
(c) the treatment has a significant effect on the stone's value. The seller should disclose that the gemstone has been treated.
Note to § 23.22: The disclosures outlined in this section are applicable to sellers at every level of trade, as defined in § 23.0(b) of these Guides, and they may be made at the point of sale prior to sale; except that where a jewelry product can be purchased without personally viewing the product, (e.g., direct mail catalogs, online services, televised shopping programs) disclosure should be made in the solicitation for or description of the product".


\303\ AGTA recommended that diffusion-treated and irradiated gemstones always be described as ``chemically colored by diffusion,'' and, if the color does not permeate the entire gem, that fact should be revealed with a warning that re-cutting or re-polishing is not recommended. Comment 49, p. 16. However, River (254) stated, at pp. 2-3, that many people find diffusion treated sapphire a better value, and that the problem of re-cutting is ``blown out of proportion'' since very few stones are re-cut or re-polished at a customer's request, and in the rare instance when a stone is broken, it is replaced. For these latter reasons, the Commission has not included the language suggested by AGTA (i.e., a warning about re-cutting or re-polishing) in the Guides. Further, it is not practical for the Guides to address every conceivable issue that may arise in a jewelry transaction. [Source: Federal Trade Commission, May 30, 1996 , Vol. 61, No. 105, p.27206/303]

\305\ Numerous comments noted that disclosure of treatment of all gemstones would be expensive for retailers. Service (222) p.5 (stating this is difficult because the stone probably changed hands a few times before being purchased by the retailer); Best (225) p.9 (stating that the retailer may not know of the enhancement); Finlay (253) p.2 (stating that it would be an ``overwhelming task'' for the retailer to obtain information about enhancement from the manufacturers). Others commented (without further explanation) that disclosure would ``complicate'' sorting, advertising, and selling. Philnor (93) p.1; PanAmerican (101) p.1; Fame (102) p.1; Orion (113) p.1; Precision (121) p.1.

\306\ The Commission does not believe that it would be unfair to fail to disclose the treatments because, even assuming there might be some consumer injury associated with such failure, the injury would be outweighed by the benefits to competition, see supra note 305, associated with not requiring the disclosure. See International Harvester, 104 F.T.C. at 949. [Source: Federal Trade Commission, May 30, 1996 , Vol. 61, No. 105, p.27206/305]

"It is unfair or deceptive to fail to disclose that a gemstone has been treated in any manner that is not permanent or that creates special care requirements, and to fail to disclose that the treatment is not permanent, if such is the case. The following are examples of treatments that should be disclosed because they usually are not permanent or create special care requirements: coating, impregnation, irradiating, heating, use of nuclear bombardment, application of colored or colorless oil or epoxy-like resins, wax, plastic, or glass, surface diffusion, or dyeing. This disclosure may be made at the point of sale, except that disclosure should be made in any solicitation where the product can be purchased without viewing (e.g., direct mail catalogs, on-line services), and in the case of televised shopping programs, on the air. If special care requirements for a gemstone arise because the gemstone has been treated, it is recommended that the seller disclose the special care requirements to the purchaser." (Source: Fed. Register Vol. 61, No. 105 / May 30, 1996 , page 27217, Sec. 23.22)
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What Ted Themelis has been saying for years:

At this point there are many complicated issues regarding the disclosure of gem treatments. In Ted's opinion ALL gems, in one day, all gems would be classified into the following broad categories:

N Natural (no treatment, except cutting/polishing)
T Treated (any treatment)
E Everything else (synthetics, etc.)

Those gems designated as "treated" comments should be made as per US FTC recommendation, except § 23.22 (c), because it is impossible for the seller to know what value was added to the stone due to treatment. It is wrongly assumed by the gem traders that the gem treaters are making fortunes in selling treated gems. These stones, in the rough, are often sold for their potential value, not for what they are actually worth. Ted recommends the following statement to appear in all invoices at all levels of gem merchandising: "All gems described in this invoice are assumed treated, unless otherwise stated".

If you want to know exactly the type of treatment, a Gemstone Report from qualified commercial gem laboratories is recommended, but the lab cannot always recognize the treatment, especially if multiple treatments are involved in the same stone. Above system was first introduced by Ted in Nov. 2002 and published in his book "Flux-Enhanced Rubies & Sapphires". It is expected that the various trading associations eventually will use my system with different wording to avoid giving credit. Nowadays most natural colored gemstones sold in the market are TREATED one way or another. Natural UNTREATED colored gems are the EXCEPTION, not the RULE.

On another thought, lead/beryllium treated rubies and other gemstones treated by various methods with low commercial value may be termed "PROCESSED GEMSTONES" just like like ay other consumer product.

What the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) has to say on the ruby disclosure:

"RUBY. Passion, excitement, luxurious opulence ... these are just a few words that describe our fascination with this most precious of gemstones. For thousands of years, man has sought to own precious Rubies as symbols of devotion and objects of desire. Imperfections and impurities may be removed by controlled heating of the gemstones. Occasionally Rubies with small imperfections are permeated with a silicate by product it is of the heating process. Care should be observed when wearing fissure filled Rubies. This enhancement technique may wear over time if treated harshly or exposed to strong solvents or abrasives. Your jeweler will inform you of the best method to care for your natural gemstone treasures."

Translation: "Rubies are heated to remove imperfections and impurities; occasionally, other imperfections in rubies are filled with glass. The treatment may be unstable and if you want to know how to take care your gem, ask your jeweler".

Comments: Impurities & imperfections are altered (not removed) from a gem stone by controlled heating and the use of additives. Fore details please refer to Ted Themelis' book "Flux-Enhanced Rubies & Sapphires".

What Ted Themelis has to say on the disclosure of gem treatments:

For more than 25 years Ted has been advocating full transparency on the disclosure of the gem treatments at all levels of gem merchandising. His work was ignored not only by the gem treaters, but also from the gem industry in general. Full treatment disclosure is mandatory of all the gems we sell through our company.

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