Wanna buy a beautiful parcel of top-color Aquamarine?
The Internet is killing the middle-man. In this, it’s giving lapidary artists unprecedented access to sources on-the-ground in places like Africa and Pakistan. It is doing that by giving those sources unprecedented access to the lapidary artist market, too.
Unfortunately, thieves and scammers are advantaging that same access – spamming our e-mail and FaceBook feeds, and trying every trick in the book. This just another story of the rough dealer in Nigeria trying to sell … whatever he can … to the Western artist.
This story unfolded immediately after I returned from Tucson – where we saw a scam with some glass-filled Ruby – and of course the usual “natural volcanic glass” (that has supposed magical powers) – but which is clearly just slag glass from a refinery…
Here’s how this one went down, starting with the standard pitch: “I have these wonderful rough gems for sale. Please wire money.”
Here’s a photo he sent – of “high-quality Morganite”:
Here’s another photo he sent me of rough gem material, with the identifications as shown (The Tourmaline is obvious. And, putting something that’s obviously natural next to something that’s really fake is a psychological trick.)
Here’s his close-up photo of a wonderful, large, top-color 18.6 gram Aquamarine:
Our guy was adamant at first about being paid up-front.
I don’t pay up-front without well-established relationships. And, these goods look a bit iffy to me. Eventually, he agreed to ship the goods on-approval. In the package, he added some other things to offer for sale.
When we opened the package, the handful of garnet gravel that’s really industrial grade was the first clue…
Remember the “Aquamarine” at the right-hand end of the line? It’s a really-badly-included piece of Topaz. The flat on the right side of this photo is actually the cleavage plane:
There was one other low-grade piece of Topaz added as well:
That 11.7 gram piece of “Goshenite” turned out to be Fluorite. In this photo, you’re looking at the cleavage. The spot of purple is actually a bit of characteristic purple zoning:
Though I didn’t do an RI test, the “Morganite” looks to be “Strawberry Quartz”. It certainly isn’t something we want to facet.
Then, there are those other three beautiful pieces of “Aquamarine”. In my photo of this pretty parcel, the surface “frost” doesn’t seem right, and the fractures and many chips are pretty very glass-like. Let’s look closer:
This piece has an interesting shoulder that looks like it was molded-in. It’s a transition from a 90-degree concave along a line (like an inside corner) to a slight convex. Not very natural-looking:
Another piece has this great molded-looking inside radius:
The third piece has this outside radius with a molded-looking shoulder:
Here’s an end-view of the radius on the same piece:
Then, there’s this compelling 18.6 gram piece of Aquamarine:
Close inspection showed at least three sites on that item where it had clearly been subjected to scratch-hardness testing:
The smaller pieces of “Aquamarine” also had such tell-tale marks.
Here, using his photo of the original parcel, with the identifications corrected, here’s the actual deal:
So, do you want to buy a beautiful parcel of “Aquamarine”?
These sorts of lessons can come at significant cost. Figure the large “Aquamarine” alone may have had an asking price north of $30 / gram – which would have alone been $558.00
Rough identification and evaluation is an ongoing study and practice. It’s very important for anyone in the faceting trade to pay attention and use every opportunity to learn. These skills in particular often come at a high price. And, every transaction could possibly risk wallet and/or reputation. If you are serious about faceting, check out my FREE on-line article on rough evaluation, and consider taking your skills to the next level with resident training at the Faceting Academy.