10 Steps to Avoiding a Diamond Scam

US agency warns jewelry firms about deceptive diamond ads: Internet Scambusters #860

There’s nothing wrong with simulated or lab-grown diamonds — as long as you know that’s what they are.

But some jewelry marketers have landed in hot water by not making the source of their stones clear.

In this week’s issue we’ll explain the rules for describing a stone and offer 10 tips and tests you can apply to check on its authenticity.

Let’s get started…

10 Steps to Avoiding a Diamond Scam

Everyone knows the meaning behind the saying “all that glitters is not gold.” So, let’s extend the idea by acknowledging that “all that sparkles are not diamonds.”

That’s not just because there are lots of different sparkly precious and semi-precious gems, from afghanite to zoisite (look them up!), but also because, as we also know, there are real diamonds and fake diamonds — though marketers never refer to them as fakes.

In fact, it’s not even that simple, because the word “fake” when applied to a diamond could refer to, say, a piece of cut glass or other material that might appear to be a diamond but is definitely not (simulated diamonds as they’re called) or to a gem that has nearly all the characteristics and composition of a diamond but was created in a laboratory or factory.

Because real, mined diamonds are so valuable, it’s not surprising that people, including some wearers, try to pass imitations off as the real thing.

You might say that’s fair enough — if that “5 carat” manufactured stone looks genuine enough to impress admirers. But it’s not so good when people get fooled into paying for the real thing when they’re actually buying a fake.

And the trouble is that, to all but the expert eye, a manufactured diamond, whose usual chemical name is cubic zirconia or moissanite, can look like the real thing.

The situation is not helped when manufacturers and retailers use vague language in their descriptions, sometimes giving the misleading impression they’re offering a genuine diamond when they’re not.

The problem reached a head recently when the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a stern warning to a number of jewelry marketers, saying that some of their online advertisements for laboratory-created diamonds could deceive consumers.

For example, the actual description of the source and type of gem might be in small print or placed away from the image.

Or the seller of manufactured or simulated stones may have a brand name that uses the word “diamond” without any further explanation, implying they’re selling genuine stones.

Last year, the agency issued guidelines explaining how to make “non-deceptive representations about jewelry and related products, including mined, lab-created and simulated diamonds.”

The rules forbid the use of the name of any precious stone, including diamonds, to describe simulated or manufactured gems unless the fact that they are not mined is declared beforehand.

The disclosure can’t be put at the end of a block of text or on another web page.

Furthermore, says the FTC, companies selling simulated diamonds should not use a description that implies the item has the same properties as mined gems.

If you’re in the market to buy a diamond, here are 10 ways to avoid being duped:

1. If the price is too good to be true, the stone is probably cubic zirconia or moissanite. A fake would likely be priced at only a fraction of a genuine one.

2. Read the small print in advertisements.

3. If the ad uses terms like “eco-friendly,” “eco-conscious,” or “sustainable,” that clearly indicates the stone was not mined.

4. The same goes for the use of the word “created” with the name of the manufacturer. For example: “XYZ-created stones”

5. Make sure you work with an online jewelry merchant with an established reputation. Check them out by doing a web search.

6. Don’t buy privately without checkable, legal documentation and/or the opinion of an expert.

7. Watch out for misleading hashtags that avoid disclosing the source of the stones — for example “#diamonds” — or that use the source as a separate hashtag, perhaps separated by others. For instance, “#diamonds, #greatvalue #labgrown.

There are also a few tests you can do yourself to check authenticity. For example:

8. A genuine stone will often (but not always) appear blue when an ultra-violet light is shone through it.

9. A real diamond will sink in a glass of water but a non-genuine one will likely float. But that only works with an unmounted stone. On a gold ring, for instance, even a fake will sink.

10. Another test is to breathe on the stone until it fogs. On a real diamond, the fogging will disappear immediately, whereas it will take a few seconds on a simulated or manufactured stone.

You can find more ways of running a test at home at How to Tell if a Diamond is Real or Fake – Complete Guide.

However, if there’s a lot of money at stake, it’s always best to call on the services of a diamond expert. It may cost you money to get it valued but not as much as you’ll lose if it turns out to be a fake.

To be clear, a fake diamond is not illegal. To many people, they’re perfectly acceptable alternatives to the real thing. What is illegal is to suggest that a simulated or lab-made diamond is a real, mined stone.

Alert of the Week

Updated your computer operating system recently? If not, do it now.

Security experts have raised an alarm about the hacking vulnerability of CPU chips (the main “brain” of your computer) manufactured by market leader Intel.

Both Macs and Windows PCs are at risk.

If you need the technical details, check out ZombieLoad Attacks May Affect All Intel CPUs Since 2011: What to Do Now.

But you don’t need to know them. Just make sure your operating system is up to date.

Time to conclude for today — have a great week!