Composite Rubies Aren't as Durable as Natural Stones

Macy's declined to go on camera but said in a statement: "Ruby gemstones sold in settings in Macy's fine jewelry department are genuine. In general, rubies are heat treated to enhance their quality and appearance. Rubies also may be fracture-filled with a glasslike substance during the heating process to improve the overall quality of the stone. We have signs in our precious and semi-precious gemstone display cases to inform customers that gemstones may have been treated and may require special care. Rubies sold at Macy's are of excellent quality and represent an outstanding value for our customers."

During our shopping trip, we were never told about the addition of glass to the stones.

There was a disclosure sign that said precious and semi-precious stones may have been treated or enhanced by oiling, heating or irradiation, accepted techniques that have been around for decades.

There was not one word about glass composites.

Consumers Need Disclosure, Experts Say

"Each one has to be represented for what it is," Smith, of the American Gemological Laboratories, said.

Matlins added: "Without this kind of disclosure, the consumer does not have any idea what they're buying."

And no idea if they're getting a fair price, a practice that has some consumers seeing red. To make sure you know what you're buying, the best thing you can do is to ask if the gem has been treated, and how; if it contains glass; if it requires special care and whether the store accepts returns.

Get the answers in writing and then verify what you've been told by taking your gem to an independent gemologist appraiser. If you didn't get what you paid for, take it back.

For more information, go to the Accredited Gemologists Association, the Jeweler's Vigilance Committee, or to the American Gemological Laboratories.

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