This is perhaps the most far reaching question among all of those posed here on our website. Disclosure issues are probably most pronounced with regard to gemstone enhancements-those processes applied to gemstones in order to enhance their appearance, durability, or both. Disclosure is also critical in the antique and period jewelry arena. If a Victorian brooch has been fitted with a modern safety catch, for example, its desirability to collectors and its value are diminished. Perhaps an antique cut diamond has been replaced with a modern diamond that does not match those others remaining in the piece. This also should be pointed out to a potential buyer.
Back to gemstones for a moment: It is important to know that the Federal Trade Commission’s Guidelines for the Jewelry Industry has established clearly stated rules for the jeweler, specifically regarding disclosure and the use of proper terminology. Some forms of disclosure may not be required by the FTC. One example is the diamond that has been drilled with a laser beam and treated to remove internal discoloration. The fact that the Guidelines do not require disclosure does not necessarily mean that the jeweler is not ethically and morally obligated to disclose the existence of the laser drill holes. Wouldn’t YOU want to know? The consumer can only make an informed buying decision if the consumer is informed! At the time of this writing the FTC is reconsidering the issue of laser drilling and its disclosure.
Other issues are not so clearly defined. For example, most blue sapphires are heat treated to enhance their color, clarity, or both. Because this form of enhancement is common and widely known and accepted in the jewelry industry, and also because the heat treatment is permanent and stable, it is often ignored during the sales presentation. This is not necessarily meant to deceive the buyer; it is often an honest oversight by the jeweler.
For a copy of the complete Guidelines for the Jewelry Industry contact the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, D.C.
Posted in: Authenticity and Disclosure