Declasse Emeralds - What are They?
As a jewelry and gem seller, I'm surprised to see that there are those who still insist on hawking declasse gems. They are purchased at gem shows for a few bucks a piece (the huge profit margins are the driving force that keeps them on the market). In fact, they can purchased by the bucket load.
A declasse gem is NOT hard to identify (nor is a smashed glass diamond) however, a picture is worth a thousand words...
Below is a picture of a Declasse Emerald Ring...
Notice that the Emerald has absolutely NO LIFE! The color is flat and the stone is NOT highly polished).
It looks like a mottled piece of stone (which is what it is). However, there are those who buy these stones (that's really what they are) and set a few nice diamonds around them, set them in 18KT. gold and can use the description - 18KT. 3 Carat Emerald & Diamond Ring.
Okay, here's what an Emerald should look like set with two high quality diamonds....
You can clearly see the difference between both the top and bottom emerald rings. The same applies to rubies and sapphires. If a ruby or sapphire has the same mottled look as the emerald ring (as the declasse emerald - first picture) - then you're getting a declasse stone. Bring the ring to the appraiser and he'll tell you the score (if he or she is honest).
The argument in the industry is "but, it's still a emerald" and the argument would hold weight (to a degree).
However, what proliferates the sale of these Non-Gems is the use of Gem Cards as a selling tool...
Gem Cards - A Questionable Practice:
What's more disturbing than those selling declasse gems are the labs that are willing to grade them at such high values. Gem Cards seem to be the new wave in selling jewelry and gems. They are usually offered for free and look like a plastic credit card. These cards may have a picture of the item, carat weight and some type of grading information. If it's a diamond and emerald ring, which has been graded and there's a declasse emerald, you'll see the word "Fine" or "Extra Fine" or "A", "AAA" or "AAAA" in the grading of the emerald.
If there are many diamonds in the piece, the piece may be graded as VS-1 to I1. In other words, if it's an Emerald Ring with a pave setting you're being offered (which may contain 5 pointer diamonds) this means that one diamond (out of the entire group) may be VS-1 however, the remaining diamonds may be all I1's.
The Gem Card is the next great selling tool, as this little card can carry a message of "high value". In the case where the diamonds are graded VS-1 to I1 - the term "VS-1 is what catches the buyer's eye. VS-1 is the grading which "sells" the piece. However, once you receive the item and find crusty white I1 diamonds and one VS-1 diamond with a Declasse Emerald- you'll be sorely disappointed - as in many cases, the one "good" diamond stands out amongst the crusty white "smashed glass look" of the I1 diamonds.
It's not by accident that a VS-1 diamond is set into the piece. Put in a VS-1 diamond and the seller can use the grading however, it's a slippery slope upon which they sell such goods - as if one diamond is a VS-1 and the remaining diamonds are I1's - the quality of the piece and the high value attached via a Gem Card - becomes questionable.
Gem Cards should NOT be given any weight when purchasing a finished piece of jewelry or loose gem as they set a bad example for the entire industry. They bring into question the validity of value and this has far reaching implications for the entire gemological grading industry.
Other guides relating to jewelry and gemstone buying which you may find helpful are as follows: