Rapaport Magazine

Editorial: A Reader's Response

Letter to Editor

By Francesco Roberto
RAPAPORT... To the Editor:

After carefully reading Mr. Harry Levy’s “Letter to the Editor” in the May 4, 2007, issue of Rapaport Diamond Report, which was most appreciated, I offer a reply, along with my personal comments.

Dear Mr. Levy,
Your views are appreciated in underlining the difficulties still faced by the jewelry industry to clarify the “terminology” and “nomenclature” used for disclosing and protecting traders and consumers from all kinds of treatments, enhancements, processes, modifications, alterations, etc., to almost all kinds of gems in the past 30 to 40 years.

The 2007 CIBJO Congress at Cape Town proved that it is, indeed, difficult to decide on the correct words to satisfy the different exigencies for both the consumers and producers and the communication problems that arise in translating definitions into different languages. For example, the word “enhanced” substituted for “treatment” in the English language is clearly constructive. However, the same meaning is not communicated when it is translated into the Italian language, and probably, also, other languages of Latin origin.

The same problem arises when, instead of the correct word “synthetic” for describing industrial uniform products made by man, some English-speaking countries today are permitting other terminologies like “laboratory grown,” “laboratory created” or “cultured,” all of which are probably used only for speculative purposes and for confusing or misleading consumers. I am underlining this point because when I started my business 55 years ago, I used to buy and sell literally tons of white synthetic spinels, synthetic aquamarines, synthetic rubies, synthetic sapphires, synthetic alexandrite, etc. without any problem. The word “synthetic” was declared and was very well accepted by the international trade, including the U.S., which was also buying from the same common Septmoncel (Jura) and Geneva-Lausanne producers without any objection. The trade at that time was still very genuine, and, as you well know, the speculation started only after sophisticated modern processes applied to gems appeared in the international market about 35 years ago, totally disrupting the correct equilibrium “created” by nature.

Your interesting article, however, ended on a pessimistic note — that it is an impossible task for the trade to understand the usage of certain terms. I, on the contrary, am optimistic and see a very constructive solution if important CIBJO “rules” regulating the trade are suitably adjusted and converted into “law,” thereby describing in a simple and fair way the correct processes applied to the stones. For example, a “natural heated corundum” has to be described as “natural heated ruby” and as “natural heated sapphire.” A natural emerald impregnated with color or near colorless substances has to be described as such, without using different terminology that only confuses the trade and does not protect consumers, who lose confidence in our undisclosed products.

In the platinum, gold and silver trades, consumers buy products with confidence due to the guarantee provided by the legal provision of hallmarking and title of these metals. It is well known that “ignorance of the law is no excuse” and legal recourse greatly increases consumer confidence. However, valuable jewelry products sold to consumers worldwide today can be guaranteed only to the extent of their gold or platinum content, the value of which is a mere 10 to 20 percent, compared to the gem content value, which, at 80 to 90 percent, has no legal guarantee at all. France is an exception, having already converted the CIBJO rule into law. For this reason, countries that convert the CIBJO “rule” into “law” will solve all the problems that you have so intelligently raised in your article.

Francesco Roberto
Past president, Capellaro & Co.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - July 2007. To subscribe click here.

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