GILC gives verdict on glass-filled ruby disclosures

The following article appears courtesy of National Jeweler

New York–Following months of discussion and debate about what jewelers should say when selling lead glass-filled rubies to consumers, the Gemstone Industry and Laboratory Conference (GILC) ruby committee–which held a meeting about the issue during the Tucson gem shows in February–has reached an agreement on disclosure.
 
Specifically, the GILC committee voted to approve a measure that says retailers should describe lead glass-filled rubies to consumers as follows: “Composite-Ruby, Glass-Filled, Requires Special Care.”

Consisting of gemstone traders, gemological laboratory experts, jewelry manufacturers and major retailers who are active in the international gemstone industry, the committee represents jewelry industry members worldwide who operate at various levels of the gem trade, says Barbara Wheat, executive director of the International Colored Gemstone Association (ICA), which has been organizing the GILC meetings for more than a decade.

“We involved every segment of the industry,” Wheat said, adding that the retail representation included American Gem Trade Association retail members and larger players, such as Jewelry Television, as well as gem dealers from some of the 46 gem-producing countries that ICA represents. The suggested disclosure language is just that–a suggestion–but it does come with the approval of many who are heavily involved in the sale of gemstones, she said.  

Composite rubies, which were initially sold in overseas gem markets, have reached the U.S. market in recent years, and have created some controversy within the trade since their arrival. They have been described as consisting of about 50 percent ruby, 50 percent glass–although the ratio varies. As a result of the treatments, composite rubies are less expensive than rubies that have undergone conventional treatments. Most rubies are heated to improve their color and some are also filled to hide fissures.

Given that the composite rubies have become much more common in the U.S. market in recent years, and as the treatments that produce the stones have improved, the feeling is that “there’s a place for them in the market,” and that there is also a need for proper disclosure, Wheat said.  

Several media exposées over the past year have revealed composite ruby jewelry being sold without proper disclosure, with salespeople describing the stones improperly and not telling customers that the pieces require special care. A simple tag on the stones that describes them as composite, glass-filled and requiring special care, could have prevented salespeople from selling stones without proper disclosures at the counter, Wheat said.

The ruby committee’s goal was to recommend disclosure language at the retail level, which might not be the same disclosure standards required of gemstone traders. While the terms “composite ruby” and “glass-filled” are both proper disclosures, the committee felt that it was also necessary that jewelers add in “special care required” when selling the composite rubies since household cleaners and products such as lemon juice, soda and regular gem cleaner can cloud the glass filler. The stones also require special care during repairs.

These issues regarding disclosure have been carried out within specific GILC committees as well as within the GILC inter-committee. Each of those committees has a discussion area on the recently launched GILC forum, at GILCForum.org.   
 
In other news from GILC, GILC Chairman Sushil Goyal announced the appointment of Bear Williams of Stone Group Labs as GILC co-chairman. Williams has been moderating the GILC forum committee ruby discussions and will continue to cooperate with Goyal on directing GILC activities moving forward.
 
Upcoming GILC dates are set for September 2010, at the time of the Hong Kong gem and jewelry show, and Jan. 31, 2011, in Tucson, Arizona.

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