November 2007

JEWELRY INSURANCE ISSUES (formerly IM News), provides monthly insight and information for jewelry insurance agents, underwriters and claims adjusters.

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Jewelry Insurance Issues

Table of Contents

Click on article titles in red

2017

Moral Hazard, Documents and the Bottom Line - January

Ruby and Jade - February

How to mail a diamond - March

Jewelry Insurance Appraisal Standards: JISO - April

Describing a gem's color - May

Why not just put jewelry on the Homeowner policy? - June

2016

Inflated appraisals—alive & well! Shady lab reports—alive & well! MORAL HAZARD—ALIVE & WELL! - January

Clarity Enhancements v. Inherent Vice - February

How green is my emerald? - March

Cruise Jewelry - What's the problem? - April

Crown of Light ® - how special is it? - May

Diamonds at Auction — Big gems, big prices, and the trickle-down effect - June

Are you sure her wedding jewelry is covered? - July

What Affects Jewelry Valuation? - August

What to look for – on the jewelry appraisal, on the cert, and on other documents - September

Growing Bigger & Bigger Diamonds - October

Scam season is always NOW - November

Ocean Diamonds - December

2015

Pair & Set Jewelry Claims and the Accidental Tourist - January

Is that brand-name diamond a cut above the others? - February

Vacation Jewelry – Insurer beware! - March

Apple's Smartwatch – The risk of a wrist computer - April

Why you should read that appraisal - May

Smoking Gun! - June

Color-Grading Diamond: the Master Stones - July

Padparadscha—a special term for a special stone - August

Jewelry Appraisal Fees - September

Insuring a Rolex - steps to take, things to consider - October

Diamond camouflage and how to see through it - November

GIA Hacked! - December

2014

Who Grades? - January

Sales, discounts, price reductions, bargains, specials, mark-downs . . . . and valuation - February

Credential Conundrum - March

Frankenwatches - April

Fakes, fakes, and more fakes - May

Marketing Confusion — What is this gem anyway? - June

12 Reasons Not to Insure a Rolex! - July

Why NOT to insure a Rolex: Reasons 5-7 - August

Why NOT to insure a Rolex: Reasons 8-10 - September

Why NOT to insure a Rolex: Reasons 11-12 - October

The Doublet Masquerade - November

Is the gem suitable for the jewelry? Is this a good insurance risk? - December

2013

Wedding Rings on HO? NO! - January

Silver: the new gold - February

Point Protection - March

Tiffany v. Costco - April

What counts in valuing a diamond? - May

Appraising Jewelry - What’s a credential worth? - June

A Cutting Question concerning vintage diamonds - July

Synthesized Diamonds - Scam update - August

Pretty in Pink - Kunzite on parade... - September

Preventing jewelry losses - October

Scratch a diamond and you’ll find . . .??? - November

Synthetics in the Mix - December

2012

Advanced Gem Lab - A deeper look at colored gems - January

Whose Diamond? - February

Appraisal Inflation - It Keeps On Keeping On - March

Big Emerald - April

Changing colors and making gems: Are we seeing "beautiful lies"? - May

Diamonds - Out of Africa. . . or out of a lab? - June

Appraiser's Dream Contest - July

GIA & the Magic of Certificates - August

Pricey when it’s hot: What happens when it’s not? - September

Fooling With Gold - October

Tanzanite – December's stone - November

Branding Diamonds - What do those names mean? - December

2011

Unappraisable Jewelry - January

Replicas - Are they the real thing? - February

Composite Rubies- From bad to worse - March

Jewelry Hallmark - A Well-Kept Secret - April

Non-Disclosure: Following a Trail of Deception - May

Preserving the Diamond Dream - June

Spinel in the Spotlight - July

Jewelry 24/7 - Electronic Shopping - August

Diamond Bubble? - September

Disclosure: HPHT - October

"Hearts & Arrows" Diamonds - November

How a Gem Lab Looks at Diamonds - December

2010

Emeralds - And What They Include - January

Pink Diamonds: From Astronomical to Affordable - February

Palladium-the Other Precious White Metal - March

Bridal Jewelry - April

The Corundum Spectrum - May

How Photos Cut Fraud - and help the insured - June

The Price of Fad - July

Old Cut, New Cut-It's All about Diamonds - August

EightStar Diamonds-Beyond Ideal - September

The Hazard of Fakes - October

Jewelry with a Story - November

Counterfeit Watches - December

2009

Blue Diamond-cool, rare and expensive-sometimes - January

Turning Jewelry into Cash—
Strategy in a Bad Economy
- February

Enhancing the Stone - March

Being Certain about the Cert - April

Every Picture Tells a Story - May

Color-Grading Diamonds - June

The Newest Diamond Substitute - July

What Happens to Stolen Jewelry - August

Jewelry As an Investment - September

Black Diamond: Paradox of a Gem - October

Protect Your Homeowners Market—Keep Jewelry OFF HO Policies! - November

What’s So Great about JISO Appraisal Forms & Standards? - December

2008

Garnet - and Its Many Incarnations - January

Organic Gems - February

Do Your Jewelry Insurance Settlements Make You Look Bad? - March

Don't Be Duped by Fake JISO Appraisal - April

Diamonds in the Rough - May

The Cultured Club - June

Sapphire-Gem Superstar - July

It's a Certified Diamond! 
- But who's saying so?
- August

FTC Decides: Culture Is In! - September

Paraiba Tourmaline – What's in a Name? - October

How Fancy is Brown? - November

CZ – The Great Pretender - December

2007

Moissanite's New Spin - January

Online Jewelry - Buying and Insuring - February

Blood Diamonds - March

Damaged Jewelry, Don't Assume!- April

Chocolate Pearls - May

Appraisal Puff-Up vs Useful Appraisal - June

It's Art, but is it Jewelry?
- July

Diamonds Wear Coats of Many Colors - August

DANGER! eBay Jewelry "Bargains" - September

TV Shopping for Jewelry - October

Enhanced Emerald: clever coverup - November

How do you like your rubies -
leaded or unleaded?
- December

2006

The New Platinum: A Story of Alloys - January

Ruby Ruse - February

How Big are Diamonds Anyway? - March

GIA Diamond Scandal
Has Silver Lining for Insurers
- April

Watch Out for Big-Box Retailers Insurance Appraisals - May

Mixing It Up: Natural and Synthetic Diamonds Together - June

Tanzanite - Warning: Fragile - July

Red Diamonds - August

Inflated Valuations & Questionable Certificates - September

Emeralds - October

Where Do Real Diamonds Come From? - November

Counterfeit Watches - The Mushroom War - December

2005

The Lure of Colored Diamonds - January

Synthetic Colored Diamonds - February

Watches: What to Watch for - March

When is a Pear not a Pair? - April

The Truth About Topaz - May

White Gold: How White is White? - June

One of a Kind - or Not - July

Jewelry in Disguise - August

Valued Contract for Jewelry? Proceed with Caution! - September

Antiques, Replicas and All Their Cousins
October

Grading the Color of Colored Diamonds
November

New GIA Cut Grade for Diamonds - December

2004

Synthetic Diamonds - and Insuring Tips - January

Bogus Appraisals and Fraud - February

A Picture is Worth Thousands of Dollars - March

Don't be Duped by Fracture Filling - April

Gem Scams Point to Need for Change - May

What is a Good Appraisal - June

4Cs of Color Gemstones - July

Gem Laser Drilling: The Next Generation - August

Why Update an Appraisal? - September

When to Recommend an Appraisal Update or a Second Appraisal - October

Secrets of Sapphire - November

Will the Real Ruby Please Stand Up - December

2003

Mysterious Orient:
A Tale of Loss
- January

Bogus Diamond Certificates and Appraisals - February

Can Valuations be Trusted? - March

Spotting a Bogus Appraisal or Certificate - April

Counterfeit Diamond Certificates - May

Case of the Mysterious "Rare" Sapphires - June

Politically Correct Diamonds - July

Name Brand Diamonds - September

Princess Cut: Black Sheep of Diamonds - October

Reincarnate as a Diamond - November

Synthetic Diamonds - December

2002

Irradiated Mail/Irradiated Gems - January

Fake Diamonds (Moissonite) - February

GIA Diamond Report - March

AGS and Other Diamond Certificates - April

Colored Stone Certificates - May

Damaged Jewelry: Don't Pay for Nature's Mistakes - June

The Case of the "Self-Healing" Emerald - July

Mysterious Disappearance: Case of the Missing Opals - August

The Discount Mirage - September

What Can You Learn from Salvage? - October

Gaining from Partial Loss - November

Year in Review - December

2001

Colored Diamonds - January

Good as Gold - February

Disclose Gem Treatments - March

FTC Jewelry Guidelines - April

Myths Part I: Each Piece is Unique - May

Myths Part II: Myths, Lies, & Half-Truths - June

New Trend: Old Cut Stones - October

The Appraisal Process - November

Year in Review - December

2000

Deceptive Pricing - January

Gems - Natural or Manmade - February

Jeweler/Appraisal Credentials - March

Fracture Filling - April

Salvage Jewelery - May

Gem Treatments - June

Don't Ask/Don't Tell - A Buying Nightmare - July

Laser Drilling of Diamonds - August

Jeweler Ethics or the Lack Thereof - September

Gem Scam - October

The Truth about Clarity Grading - November

Year in Review - December

 

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Enhanced Emeralds —
The Clever Cover-up

When it comes to gems, "enhanced" sounds good, but that word signals a cover-up. Here’s the skinny on the good, the bad, and the ugly of emerald enhancement.

Emerald is one of the four "precious gems" (along with diamond, ruby and sapphire), so most people assume emeralds are expensive. Well, some are and some aren’t.

Emeralds, lovely as they are, often have inclusions or fractures. That’s the nature of this gem material. In fact, a natural emerald with only minimal fissures is so rare that it’s worth far more than a diamond of similar carat weight and clarity.

2.38 carat
Emerald-Cut Diamond
$21,000
2.03 carat
Emerald-Cut Emerald
$30,000

Many good-quality emeralds used in jewelry have minor surface flaws. Oiling, a routine practice that’s been done for hundreds of years, improves the appearance of the stones and does not affect their value or durability.

Newer technologies, however, make it possible to sell extremely flawed, low-quality emeralds that previously would have had to be discarded. Without "clarity enhancement," any observer would see these stones as defective, unattractive, even ugly. But after enhancement, they look good to all but a trained gemologist observing them under high magnification.

Problems with the enhancement may not show up until much later. Meanwhile, emeralds of poorer and poorer quality are finding their way into jewelry.

Fracture Filling

Because emerald is so likely to have fractures, suppliers often fill the fractures with non-gem material. This masks the flaws and improves the appearance of the stone, making it more salable. Literally hundreds of proprietary formulas are used to fill fractures and fissures. The transformation of a stone’s appearance can be dramatic.

Emerald - Fracture fill example

Caution!  For the insurer, as well as the consumer, there are serious issues with fracture filling:

  1. Fracture-filling is not considered a permanent treatment.

    Fillers are likely to break down under cleaning with steam or ultrasound, they can be harmed by heat from a jeweler’s torch if the stone is reset, or they may simply break down over time. A filling may turn dark or white or simply deteriorate, leaving the fractured stone in its original condition. In some cases, fillers may even expand over time, causing the stones to shatter.

    Breakdown of a filling is not damage for which the insurer is liable. It is crucial that fracture filling be noted on the appraisal.
  1. Fracture-filled stones are worth considerably less than unenhanced emeralds of similar size. It’s essential that the treatment be disclosed at every step in the selling chain.

    4.90 carat
    fracture-filled Emerald
    $2,000
    2.03 carat
    untreated Emerald
    $30,000
  2. Fracture filling may be done to emeralds that have only slight fractures, or it may be done to stones that are riddled with fractures—unattractive, low-quality stones that in their natural "un-enhanced" state no one would want. Even the disclosure of fracture filling does not tell the insurer (or the buyer) how severely the stoned is fractured.

    Close-up of Fracture Filled Emerald
  3. Fractures in an emerald not only make the stone less beautiful but also weaken it. An emerald that has its fractures filled in will look better to the naked eye, but it’s still a brittle stone, susceptible to breakage.

Caution! Fractures in emerald amount to inherent vice. Filling the fractures only conceals them.  The wisest course would be not to insure fracture-filled emeralds at all.

Eternity Emeralds

One company has developed a filler that it claims will not fade, discolor, deteriorate or dry out under normal wear and tear or under the rigors of cleaning. It sells the gems under the brand name Eternity Natural Emerald. The company states that all of its emeralds are either unenhanced or are enhanced with its ExCel process.

The durability of the ExCel filling has not been independently verified, but all Eternity emeralds come with a written lifetime guarantee. The guarantee states that, if the enhancement fades, dissolves or deteriorates, the company will re-enhance the gem or replace it with an enhanced gem of equal or greater value.

The guarantee "specifically excludes cracking, natural defects or other damage to the gemstone."

Important notes:

  1. Eternity guarantees only the filling, not the quality of the stone. As noted in the section above, an enhanced emerald is one that is fractured to begin with—that’s why it needs clarity enhancing. A highly fractured stone is weak and susceptible to breakage, whether or not the fractures are filled.
  1. Eternity sells fracture-filled emeralds. This name on an appraisal or other documents indicates a fracture-filled stone, unless the appraisal specifically states that the gem is unenhanced, or untreated.
  1. For any damage claim on emerald jewelry, have the stone examined by a trained gemologist in a gem lab to be sure the damage is not due to breakdown of the fracture-filling treatment.

Perma-Filled Rough

Traditional fracture filling is done on emerald that is already cut to its final shape. Some labs have begun a new practice: using a material called Perma to fill fractures in the emerald rough before it is cut into gems.

This practice vastly increases the output from a piece of rough because it allows gems to be cut from material that would otherwise have to be discarded as too fractured. Some gem merchants have seen emeralds held together only by Perma filler as a sort of glue.

Caution! If an emerald is cut from Perma-filled rough, when the filling breaks down the gem will simply fall apart.

One expert in emerald fillers handled an emerald that weighed close to 40 carats. He noted that repolishing the stone opens up fissures. "If I go and clean this stone," he said, "his $135,000 emerald will fall into four pieces."

Perma is commonly used to enhance finished emeralds, and honest jewelers will readily disclose the treatment. However, labs that are using Perma to fill rough gem material (rather than finished gems) will still say "enhanced with Perma."  This amounts to less that full disclosure, since jewelers—and purchasers and insurers—are not told whether the enhancement was done to the rough or to the finished gem.

Caution! A trained gemologist can detect the extent of fracturing and filling, but most jewelers are not trained gemologists and may not even examine the goods they sell.

FOR AGENTS & UNDERWRITERS

Clarity enhancement has a serious effect on valuation. A fractured-filled emerald is worth significantly less than one of comparable appearance that is not "enhanced." 

There is always the danger that gem treatments will not be disclosed—by the supplier, the dealer, the jewelry manufacturer, the retailer, or the consumer—either out of ignorance or as deliberate fraud. The insurer is at the end of this chain and could wind up grossly overpaying a claim.

For all emeralds, be sure the appraisal either explicitly states that the stone is untreated or lists the treatments, such as fracture filling.

Not all jewelers are trained gemologists with proper gemological equipment.  Not all jewelers even examine the gems they sell. For high-priced emerald jewelry, be sure the appraisal is written by a jeweler who is

Not all jewelers are competent to appraise colored gemstones. For emerald jewelry, be sure the appraiser — besides being a GG and a CIA

Fracture filling is done to visually conceal flaws in the gem. A gem with fractures, whether filled or not, is weak and susceptible to damage. An emerald cut from Perma-filled rough could fall to pieces. Such material is an accident waiting to happen.

Would we knowingly insure something with a manufacturer’s defect?

It is our recommendation that fracture-filled emeralds not be insured at all because the fractures constitute inherent vice.

FOR ADJUSTERS

Clarity-enhanced stones are worth far less than unenhanced emeralds of similar appearance. Use every means possible to determine whether or not the emerald has been fracture filled.

Study the appraisal for such words as treated, enhanced, clarity enhanced, or fracture filled. This is crucial information when you are pricing a replacement.

Compare the sales receipt with the appraisal. If there is a great discrepancy between selling price and valuation, the selling price probably reflects value more accurately. If the sale price seems "too low," it’s possible that the gem was fracture-filled or was synthetic. A jewelry insurance expert may help in determining this.

If a claim is made for damage, ALWAYS have the damaged jewelry examined in a gem lab by a graduate gemologist, preferably one who is also a CIA. The exam

If the emerald was fracture-filled, look closely at inherent vice exclusion on the policy.

Ask the policyholder whether the jewelry has recently been cleaned or the gem reset. Fracture-fill materials often discolor or break down under the stress of heat or chemicals, and the vibrations of ultrasonic cleaning may actually cause a fractured stone to break. Such breakage is not damage for which the insurer is liable.

 

 

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