February 2017

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


What's a Certified Appraiser? - January

Best Appraiser Credentials - February

Are the diamonds you’re insuring real? - March

Handwritten Appraisals - April


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

GIA Diamond Reports - July

Not just a pretty face - August

Moral hazards on the rise - September

Hurricanes, fires, floods—and jewelry insurance - October

Inherent vice / wear-and-tear losses are rising - November

FRAUD UPDATE – lack of disclosure, false inscriptions & doctored docs - December


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Grading the Color of Colored Diamonds

New GIA Cut Grade for Diamonds - December


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


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


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


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


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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Ruby and Jade

In October 2016, President Obama lifted trade sanctions on Burma, once again allowing Burmese rubies and jade to enter this country.

The sanctions were originally put in place to help suppress the lucrative mining industry operated by networks of military elites and drug lords, using forced labor by the poor. As the situation has improved, the sanctions were lifted.

Since more ruby and jade will now be entering the U.S., we're taking the opportunity to review these two gems.



High-quality ruby can command the highest prices among colored gemstones. The ring above, with a 10.5-carat rare Burmese ruby as its center gem, fetched $10 million at auction last November.

Spectacular gems are often given names, which identify them even as they change hands over time. According to Christie's, this ruby was named Ratnaraj, meaning king of precious stones in Sanskrit, for the stone's significant size, fiery redness and flawless crystal structure.

Mogok ruby

At another recent auction, a 15.99-carat Jubilee Ruby sold for $14 million. The most expensive ruby to sell at auction was the 25.59-carat Sunrise Ruby, which fetched $30.38 million. All these rubies fell within the color range known as "pigeon-blood."

It's not by chance that all these top-price rubies came from mines in Burma (Myanmar). The Mogok Stone Tract has been legendary for producing exceptional rubies for centuries, with records of mining activities dating back to at least the 16th century. Today there are estimated to be more than 1000 mining operations in this area, ranging from large-scale mining companies to individual artisanal miners.

Notes for insurers:

Burma ruby


"Burma rubies" have great status, but the source country is not an absolute indicator of quality. Every mine produces a wide range of quality.  To command the best prices, a high-quality ruby must have its Burmese origin documented by a reliable lab, such as GIA, AGL, or Güblin. (Güblin recently opened a lab in New York, so it's no longer necessary to ship stones to Europe.)


Rubies are usually subjected to heat treatments to improve their color. Some rubies may have fractures filled with a non-gem material to improve their clarity. Any treatments should be mentioned on the appraisal.

Lab-Grown or Mined   

Lab-grown rubies are real ruby but they have a lower valuation than rubies from the earth. You want to be sure a lab-made ruby is not passed off as a mined stone.


For ruby, color is the most important determinant of value. The color description is not just "red'. All corundum within the red range is ruby, while other corundum is called sapphire and is generally less valuable than ruby.  An accurate gemological description of color, in terms of tone, saturation and hue, will distinguish ruby from pink sapphire.

"Pigeon blood" is a traditional term for a highly prized ruby color. Rubies in this range command the best prices. You may still encounter this on appraisals but the term may be used too loosely, applied to stones not even close to the appropriate color range. (Gemologists joke about how to apply this term: first you have to find a pigeon, then you have it kill it, then you have to compare the gem within the first 24 hours. . . .)

In any case, metaphoric or poetic terms are not acceptable color descriptions. For quality ruby, even slight variations in color can mean significant differences in valuation. A gemological description, giving tone, saturation, and hue, should look something like this:

medium dark (tone), vivid (saturation) purplish red (hue)


We've covered the topic of composite rubies in detail before. Check the appraisal for terms like composite or lead-filled, and be especially vigilant with jewelry purchased online, from big-box retailers, or at prices "too good to be true."

Nephrite earrings


Jade has been made into decorative items since Neolithic times, but it wasn't until the 19th century that what is thought of as "jade" was revealed to be two completely different minerals—jadeite and nephrite.

Both are used in jewelry. Nephrite is comparatively common, and thus less expensive. Jadeite is much rarer and is more highly valued.

The world's largest producer of jadeite is Burma. The jadeite mining industry is said to account for half of the country's GDP.

Some of jadeite's colors

Although jade is usually thought of as green, jadeite comes in many colors depending on the presence of other minerals. Color varieties include red, yellow, lavender, brown, orange, black and gray.

Jadeite necklace

The same auction that sold the Ratnarag ruby discussed above also sold a remarkable two-strand jadeite necklace for $3.4 million. It is composed of 98 graduated jadeite beads. Part of its value comes from the accurate color-matching of the beads.

Another star of that auction was a  jadeite jewelry set, which included necklace, earrings and ring, that was—as one source reported—"snapped up" for $3.11 million.

Jadeite and nephrite are exceptionally tough, meaning that they resist breakage under impact. In earlier times, they were even used to make tools and weapons.

Notes for Insurers:


Jadeite may be impregnated with wax or plastic resins to imitate the luster and color of imperial jade. Sometimes these dyes can fade. Treatments should be mentioned on the appraisal.


Stones like chalcedony may be dyed to look like jadeite. The cheapest jade imitations are simply glass or plastic.

JISO form prompts for special information about jadeite

Jadeite ring


Proper grading of jade includes some qualities that don't apply to other gems. Besides color, there's also texture, transparency, and polish. Check your appraisal against the JISO 18 form to be sure all qualities are described.

The best jadeite is nearly transparent—you would be able to read print through a slice of high-quality jadeite, though the print may be slightly blurred. At the other end of the quality scale, jade may be totally opaque.

The most prized jadeite colors are suggested in such names as imperial jade, kingfisher jade, apple jade, or moss-in-snow jade. Again, these are poetic words inherited from an earlier time. Like other colored gems, jade's color should be described in terms of tone, saturation and hue.

Term confusion

Consumers may buy jewelry with stones called Korea jade, Colorado jade, Indian jade, Australian jade, Transvaal jade, or Honan jade, etc. These are not jade at all—they're just nicknames for other (probably green) minerals. True jade is either jadeite or nephrite.

Miners in Burma were looking for rare gems when they discovered something unexpected: A 210-ton jade stone, said to be worth some $170 million.


For rubies and jade—and all colored gems—it is essential that the appraisal be written by a gemologist experienced with colored gemstones and familiar with the current pricing, treatments and frauds. Most jewelers deal primarily with diamonds, and even a trained gemologist may have little experience with colored stones, especially jade or high-end sapphire.

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.

Burma ruby

Be especially cautious with jewelry bought from sources like online auctions and shopping channels. Treatments are almost never mentioned in the advertising, and appraisals and lab reports from such sources should not be relied upon. For more discussion, see our issues on Ebay Shopping  and  TV Shopping.

The best appraisal includes the JISO 78/79 appraisal form, and is written by a qualified gemologist (GG, FGA+, or equivalent) who has additional insurance appraisal training. One course offering such additional training is the Certified Insurance Appraiser™ (CIA) course of the Jewelry Insurance Appraisal Institute.

See JISO 18 for its list of gems requiring special information for proper valuations. This form is a great checklist for verifying that all value elements are on the appraisal.


Synthetic rubies are worth much less than mined ones. Check the appraisal for the word synthetic, lab-made, man-made, or grown.

Fracture-filled rubies are penetrating the marketplace and may be passed off as untreated gems. Check the appraisal for the terms fracture-filled, treated, and clarity-enhanced.

Always have damaged stones examined by a reliable gemologist (who is not the selling jeweler) before settling a claim. For rubies, and all colored gems, be sure to consult a jeweler/appraiser who regularly deals with colored gemstones. The appraiser should also be a graduate gemologist and, preferably, a Certified Insurance Appraiser™.

And review "notes for insurers" in the story above.

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