Rapaport Magazine

Letter to the Editor

Speaking of Emeralds

To the Editor,

The publication in your magazine of the very interesting article “Inside Emeralds” (September 2009, Page 139) once again proves your good contribution to the jewelry trade, by providing your readers the opportunity to learn more and improve their knowledge about gems — in this case, the romance, the fascination and the beauty of emeralds — for which I thank you and the writers.

Since this article brings technical issues like “enhancement” to the attention of all your readers worldwide and mentions institutional trade organizations that guide the international jewelry trade with their rules, I would like to comment on two important points that have not been mentioned by the writers.

First, with reference to the emerald “enhancement” problem, the writers did not mention that until 40 years ago, the main emerald cutting and polishing center was India. And they did not mention that from the very beginning, all Jaipur cutters  — and even today, many of them — modify their emeralds, sourced from many different mines, with the traditional near-colorless green Joban oil, which, of course, improves clarity but not the color of emeralds.

Second, as far as the reference to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requiring disclosure of information “at the point of sale” is concerned, it seems to me that CIBJO, which is our industry’s unique international trade organization and which is also recognized by the U.S., deserves to be mentioned as well.

Francesco Roberto

RDR Responds…

Greetings Mr. Roberto,

I am pleased that you liked our article in the September issue of RDR. There is a delicate balance necessary in attempting to cover such a broad topic as emerald in a limited format. Your points are well taken and I thank you for the input, which I’m certain readers will find informative. The topic of clarity enhancement in emerald is actually a much more complicated topic than most fully appreciate.

The product known as “Joban oil” is a controversial material, as it is a mixture of green organic dye and oil. When the inherent color of the emerald being treated is saturated and the degree of fissure filling is faint, the effect on the color is negligible. However, when the quality of color in the stone is lower and the extent of fracturing is higher, Joban oil can also improve the color, as well as clarity. As a result, Joban oil is commonly classified as a “color and clarity enhancement” material.

Regarding your second point, CIBJO is an excellent body for our industry and was included in the statement “… all major trade organizations….” (p. 141). The FTC is a U.S. government organization. There are numerous international and localized trade organizations, most of which have clear rules regarding disclosure and most of which deserve mention. Along with many others, two of note include the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) and International Colored Gemstone Association (ICA). With limited space, a complete listing was simply not feasible.

Christopher P. Smith
American Gemological Laboratories (AGL)
Author, “Inside Emeralds”

The opinions in the Letter to the Editor column do not necessarily represent the views of the Rapaport Diamond Report or its staff.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - October 2009. To subscribe click here.

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