December 2006

JEWELRY INSURANCE ISSUES (formerly IM News), provides monthly insight and information for jewelry insurance agents, underwriters and claims adjusters.

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Jewelry Insurance Issues

Table of Contents

Click on article titles in red


What's a Certified Appraiser? - January

Best Appraiser Credentials - February

Are the diamonds you’re insuring real? - March

Handwritten Appraisals - April


Moral Hazard, Documents and the Bottom Line - January

Ruby and Jade - February

How to mail a diamond - March

Jewelry Insurance Appraisal Standards: JISO - April

Describing a gem's color - May

Why not just put jewelry on the Homeowner policy? - June

GIA Diamond Reports - July

Not just a pretty face - August

Moral hazards on the rise - September

Hurricanes, fires, floods—and jewelry insurance - October

Inherent vice / wear-and-tear losses are rising - November

FRAUD UPDATE – lack of disclosure, false inscriptions & doctored docs - December


Inflated appraisals—alive & well! Shady lab reports—alive & well! MORAL HAZARD—ALIVE & WELL! - January

Clarity Enhancements v. Inherent Vice - February

How green is my emerald? - March

Cruise Jewelry - What's the problem? - April

Crown of Light ® - how special is it? - May

Diamonds at Auction — Big gems, big prices, and the trickle-down effect - June

Are you sure her wedding jewelry is covered? - July

What Affects Jewelry Valuation? - August

What to look for – on the jewelry appraisal, on the cert, and on other documents - September

Growing Bigger & Bigger Diamonds - October

Scam season is always NOW - November

Ocean Diamonds - December


Pair & Set Jewelry Claims and the Accidental Tourist - January

Is that brand-name diamond a cut above the others? - February

Vacation Jewelry – Insurer beware! - March

Apple's Smartwatch – The risk of a wrist computer - April

Why you should read that appraisal - May

Smoking Gun! - June

Color-Grading Diamond: the Master Stones - July

Padparadscha—a special term for a special stone - August

Jewelry Appraisal Fees - September

Insuring a Rolex - steps to take, things to consider - October

Diamond camouflage and how to see through it - November

GIA Hacked! - December


Who Grades? - January

Sales, discounts, price reductions, bargains, specials, mark-downs . . . . and valuation - February

Credential Conundrum - March

Frankenwatches - April

Fakes, fakes, and more fakes - May

Marketing Confusion — What is this gem anyway? - June

12 Reasons Not to Insure a Rolex! - July

Why NOT to insure a Rolex: Reasons 5-7 - August

Why NOT to insure a Rolex: Reasons 8-10 - September

Why NOT to insure a Rolex: Reasons 11-12 - October

The Doublet Masquerade - November

Is the gem suitable for the jewelry? Is this a good insurance risk? - December


Wedding Rings on HO? NO! - January

Silver: the new gold - February

Point Protection - March

Tiffany v. Costco - April

What counts in valuing a diamond? - May

Appraising Jewelry - What’s a credential worth? - June

A Cutting Question concerning vintage diamonds - July

Synthesized Diamonds - Scam update - August

Pretty in Pink - Kunzite on parade... - September

Preventing jewelry losses - October

Scratch a diamond and you’ll find . . .??? - November

Synthetics in the Mix - December


Advanced Gem Lab - A deeper look at colored gems - January

Whose Diamond? - February

Appraisal Inflation - It Keeps On Keeping On - March

Big Emerald - April

Changing colors and making gems: Are we seeing "beautiful lies"? - May

Diamonds - Out of Africa. . . or out of a lab? - June

Appraiser's Dream Contest - July

GIA & the Magic of Certificates - August

Pricey when it’s hot: What happens when it’s not? - September

Fooling With Gold - October

Tanzanite – December's stone - November

Branding Diamonds - What do those names mean? - December


Unappraisable Jewelry - January

Replicas - Are they the real thing? - February

Composite Rubies- From bad to worse - March

Jewelry Hallmark - A Well-Kept Secret - April

Non-Disclosure: Following a Trail of Deception - May

Preserving the Diamond Dream - June

Spinel in the Spotlight - July

Jewelry 24/7 - Electronic Shopping - August

Diamond Bubble? - September

Disclosure: HPHT - October

"Hearts & Arrows" Diamonds - November

How a Gem Lab Looks at Diamonds - December


Emeralds - And What They Include - January

Pink Diamonds: From Astronomical to Affordable - February

Palladium-the Other Precious White Metal - March

Bridal Jewelry - April

The Corundum Spectrum - May

How Photos Cut Fraud - and help the insured - June

The Price of Fad - July

Old Cut, New Cut-It's All about Diamonds - August

EightStar Diamonds-Beyond Ideal - September

The Hazard of Fakes - October

Jewelry with a Story - November

Counterfeit Watches - December


Blue Diamond-cool, rare and expensive-sometimes - January

Turning Jewelry into Cash—
Strategy in a Bad Economy
- February

Enhancing the Stone - March

Being Certain about the Cert - April

Every Picture Tells a Story - May

Color-Grading Diamonds - June

The Newest Diamond Substitute - July

What Happens to Stolen Jewelry - August

Jewelry As an Investment - September

Black Diamond: Paradox of a Gem - October

Protect Your Homeowners Market—Keep Jewelry OFF HO Policies! - November

What’s So Great about JISO Appraisal Forms & Standards? - December


Garnet - and Its Many Incarnations - January

Organic Gems - February

Do Your Jewelry Insurance Settlements Make You Look Bad? - March

Don't Be Duped by Fake JISO Appraisal - April

Diamonds in the Rough - May

The Cultured Club - June

Sapphire-Gem Superstar - July

It's a Certified Diamond! 
- But who's saying so?
- August

FTC Decides: Culture Is In! - September

Paraiba Tourmaline – What's in a Name? - October

How Fancy is Brown? - November

CZ – The Great Pretender - December


Moissanite's New Spin - January

Online Jewelry - Buying and Insuring - February

Blood Diamonds - March

Damaged Jewelry, Don't Assume!- April

Chocolate Pearls - May

Appraisal Puff-Up vs Useful Appraisal - June

It's Art, but is it Jewelry?
- July

Diamonds Wear Coats of Many Colors - August

DANGER! eBay Jewelry "Bargains" - September

TV Shopping for Jewelry - October

Enhanced Emerald: clever coverup - November

How do you like your rubies -
leaded or unleaded?
- December


The New Platinum: A Story of Alloys - January

Ruby Ruse - February

How Big are Diamonds Anyway? - March

GIA Diamond Scandal
Has Silver Lining for Insurers
- April

Watch Out for Big-Box Retailers Insurance Appraisals - May

Mixing It Up: Natural and Synthetic Diamonds Together - June

Tanzanite - Warning: Fragile - July

Red Diamonds - August

Inflated Valuations & Questionable Certificates - September

Emeralds - October

Where Do Real Diamonds Come From? - November

Counterfeit Watches - The Mushroom War - December


The Lure of Colored Diamonds - January

Synthetic Colored Diamonds - February

Watches: What to Watch for - March

When is a Pear not a Pair? - April

The Truth About Topaz - May

White Gold: How White is White? - June

One of a Kind - or Not - July

Jewelry in Disguise - August

Valued Contract for Jewelry? Proceed with Caution! - September

Antiques, Replicas and All Their Cousins

Grading the Color of Colored Diamonds

New GIA Cut Grade for Diamonds - December


Synthetic Diamonds - and Insuring Tips - January

Bogus Appraisals and Fraud - February

A Picture is Worth Thousands of Dollars - March

Don't be Duped by Fracture Filling - April

Gem Scams Point to Need for Change - May

What is a Good Appraisal - June

4Cs of Color Gemstones - July

Gem Laser Drilling: The Next Generation - August

Why Update an Appraisal? - September

When to Recommend an Appraisal Update or a Second Appraisal - October

Secrets of Sapphire - November

Will the Real Ruby Please Stand Up - December


Mysterious Orient:
A Tale of Loss
- January

Bogus Diamond Certificates and Appraisals - February

Can Valuations be Trusted? - March

Spotting a Bogus Appraisal or Certificate - April

Counterfeit Diamond Certificates - May

Case of the Mysterious "Rare" Sapphires - June

Politically Correct Diamonds - July

Name Brand Diamonds - September

Princess Cut: Black Sheep of Diamonds - October

Reincarnate as a Diamond - November

Synthetic Diamonds - December


Irradiated Mail/Irradiated Gems - January

Fake Diamonds (Moissonite) - February

GIA Diamond Report - March

AGS and Other Diamond Certificates - April

Colored Stone Certificates - May

Damaged Jewelry: Don't Pay for Nature's Mistakes - June

The Case of the "Self-Healing" Emerald - July

Mysterious Disappearance: Case of the Missing Opals - August

The Discount Mirage - September

What Can You Learn from Salvage? - October

Gaining from Partial Loss - November

Year in Review - December


Colored Diamonds - January

Good as Gold - February

Disclose Gem Treatments - March

FTC Jewelry Guidelines - April

Myths Part I: Each Piece is Unique - May

Myths Part II: Myths, Lies, & Half-Truths - June

New Trend: Old Cut Stones - October

The Appraisal Process - November

Year in Review - December


Deceptive Pricing - January

Gems - Natural or Manmade - February

Jeweler/Appraisal Credentials - March

Fracture Filling - April

Salvage Jewelery - May

Gem Treatments - June

Don't Ask/Don't Tell - A Buying Nightmare - July

Laser Drilling of Diamonds - August

Jeweler Ethics or the Lack Thereof - September

Gem Scam - October

The Truth about Clarity Grading - November

Year in Review - December


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Counterfeit Watches —
the Mushroom War!

Fake watches are big business — and spreading rapidly. One manufacturer of luxury watches feels like he's engaged in "a mushroom war…. If you cut off one mushroom, there are three more the next morning."

Huge profits drive the counterfeiting of luxury goods. One estimate puts the profit margin at $10 per dollar invested, about equal to profits of the illicit drug trade (and well below the profits of legitimate watch makers).

Counterfeiting watches is a global networking business, and its products can be found at tourist resorts, internet sites, local jewelry shops, and a flea market near you.

Types of Fakes

There are basically two levels of counterfeit watch. The first is an extremely cheap imitation. The watch carries a luxury name but there's no effort made to copy details of the real watch. Sellers assume a customer who pays $30 on a street corner must know it's a fake, must know he's not getting a "real bargain" on a $2000 watch.

A higher-quality fake is one designed to closely resemble the real product. It may incorporate real gold, diamonds and leather. It may have a case that bears a legitimate model number, but have other parts that are poor-quality substitutes. Such a watch will sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars, and an uneducated buyer could take it to be genuine. However, it is of inferior quality, made with questionable parts and workmanship. Because it does not come from an authorized dealer, it carries no warrantees.

In an example of quirky marketing, some fakes are openly sold on counterfeiters’ Web sites. The site might include pictures of brand name watches, then pitch its own replicas at a fraction of the price.

counterfeit watches   

click to enlarge (will open in a new window)

One counterfeit site ticks off the Rolex-like qualities its own fakes include, such as a sapphire crystal and screws in the links, rather than pins. It even boasts serial numbers, Rolex's magnified date at 3 c’clock position, the "characteristic Rolex green sticker" on the watch back, and "all the appropriate Rolex markings in the correct places." And at the left is a list of all the other brands the site offers fakes of!

click to enlarge (will open in a new window)

Here, the buyer is well aware he's getting a knockoff. (But what does he tell the insurer?).

Who Makes the Fakes

It's a small world, as far as counterfeiters are concerned. In an increasingly sophisticated black market, watch components make their way to entrepreneurs around the globe. One Italian store owner purchased, through Georgian and Egyptian intermediaries, watches and watch parts that came from Hong Kong. Police found in the Hong Kong shipment metal plates and diagrams showing how to attach them to watch faces and how to forge a brand-name logo.

Closer to home, in October authorities arrested a Florida woman for operating a counterfeit watch business. Her rented storage unit held almost 2,000 brand-name fake watches, with a total estimated retail value of $8.5 million.

According to Interpol, the high returns have lured organized crime groups and terrorist groups into the trade, as well. A civil suit in New York involved a Vietnamese group that imported to the U.S. from China watch movements that cost 27 cents to make. After assembling the watches and adding fake logos, the group sold them to wholesalers for $12 to $20 each. The wholesalers resold them to street vendors and beauty parlors for $20 to $35 and to Internet dealers for even more. Consumers bought the watches for as much as $250.

Who's Being Fooled?

The shop owner-turned-counterfeiter in Italy used, as part of his defense, the argument that "a watch that sells for 100 euros ($120) is clearly not the real one, so the consumer isn't being tricked."

In the U.S., a private investigator for Rolex visited a local flea market and purchased two replica Rolex watches for $27 each. Federal authorities eventually seized the offending flea market booth and found 742 replica watches. The seller was indicted on two felony counts, but the District Court dismissed the indictment on the grounds that no person could reasonably believe that a $27 flea market watch was in fact a genuine Rolex.

The Court of Appeals subsequently reinstated the indictment. It turns out some of the customers were bringing the fake Rolexes to authorized Rolex dealers for service. The court took this as evidence that the customers did, in fact, believe the watches to be genuine.


Protect yourself from fraud! Regardless of whether or not the customer knows he's bought a fake, you should guard against insuring a counterfeit as the real thing.

Things to keep in mind:

Many customers may not be aware that luxury watches bought from sources other than an authorized dealer may be counterfeit, despite any logos or trademarks. Insisting on complete information about the watch not only protects the insurer but is a service to the policyholder.


Though claims on luxury watches are relatively infrequent, they can be expensive. To guard against fraud:

If you suspect a watch is counterfeit, consider consulting a jewelry insurance expert to help resolve the issue.

Seek a replacement only from an authorized dealer for that brand. Do not be tempted to shop in the huge market that exists for watches with unauthorized, aftermarket add-ons (unless you are satisfied that the insured watch contained aftermarket add-ons).

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