March 2015

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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Vacation Jewelry – Insurer beware!

That blue topaz pendant or amethyst ring or elaborate gold necklace that your client purchased over the summer vacation is a fine reminder of a wonderful trip.

As a souvenir, it's priceless. But how about its insurance value?

People on holiday expect bargains . . . because labor is cheaper here than at home, because this purchase is duty-free, because the gem is mined here, because the concierge or the cruise director or the friendly tourist they met in the hotel lobby recommended this shop, because a small shop like this has low overhead, because a large emporium like this does such a booming business, it must have quality goods. And these are only the stories the consumer tells herself or himself.

Blue Topaz

To this open mindset, the scammer's access is easy. A tour bus shows you the city, but the only stops are at tourist sales areas.  A cab driver says, I can take you to a government store that's offering a special discount for foreigners and, you're lucky, today is the last day. A shop owner declares that his wife has just given birth to their first son, so he is celebrating by selling diamond and ruby jewelry at 90% off. Tourists all over the world report versions of these very stories, and many others.

And then there are cruises, which one appraiser has called incredible jewelry-selling machines. The captive voyagers are primed with on-board jewelry counters, ads for jewelry shops at ports of call, and "shopping experts" to guide them to the best shops and help them get the best deals. The shops pay a good premium to be on the ship's "recommended" list. Retailers generally mark their prices at ten times cost, knowing that passengers have been told to expect a 70% discount.


The big players are available—diamonds, rubies, sapphires—as well as brilliant and colorful eye-catchers, "rare" stones, and gems mined in the region.

Some typical examples:

Tanzanite jewelry is a trendy seller on cruises. There's even a company called Tanzanite International, with outlets in tourist areas around the world. Some cruises give away pairs of tanzanite earrings to draw customers to the jewelry counters.

High quality tanzanite is expensive, but most of what's available is inexpensive because it's pale in color. Also, some jewelry sold as tanzanite turns out to be synthetic forsterite. This happens even in Tanzania, where visitors expect the real thing at reduced prices.


Consumers may not be told—but insurers should be aware—that tanzanite has low resistance to chipping and cracking under impact, so it is a poor choice for a ring or bracelet. The stone may also shatter if exposed to ultrasound cleaning or to a jeweler's torch.

Often a gem is touted as rare, but the product being sold by the retailer is not necessarily rare, or valuable. Naturally occurring blue topaz is rare, but the topaz typically used in jewelry is likely to be gray, pale yellow or pale blue material that's been heat-treated and irradiated to produce a darker, more desirable blue.


Citrine stands out because of its bright color. A transparent, yellow variety of quartz, natural citrine is very rare. However, almost all the material offered under that name is not natural citrine, but heat-treated amethyst. Oddly enough, the pale purple amethyst turns golden when heated.

Amethyst's natural purple can be very seductive. Up until the 18th century, amethyst was regarded as one of the most valuable gemstones, right up there with diamond, ruby and sapphire. But it lost much of its value since the discovery of extensive deposits. Today JTV can offer 1.79-carat amethyst ring for $29.95.  There is also synthetic amethyst, that's even less expensive than the natural. Amethyst is quite brittle and easily chipped.

Some countries do not require gold to be stamped with karatage. If you don't know the karatage of gold, you can't determine its value. And if a piece doesn't bear a karatage mark, it may well be gold plated. Gold chain, often sold aboard cruise ships and in ports as "gold by the inch," may also be merely gold-plated.

Retailers in tourist areas may supply appraisals or descriptive sales receipts, but these are not necessarily trustworthy. One buyer found, after he'd left the shopping site, that the receipt he was given did not even have the name of the shop on it.

Since a tourist cannot have the jewelry independently appraised to verify its quality, and the retailer is not a dealer of known reputation, the opportunity for fraud is high. Sellers who target tourists know that a disappointed buyer has little recourse once the sale is made and the buyer leaves town (and country).

You can't count on big names, either. One tourist website enthusiastically proclaims, "If you haven't heard of Diamonds International before, by the time you get on the plane or cruise ship, you will hear a LOT about them!"

This company is one of the largest jewelry retailers in the world, said to have stores in more than 125 locations. Yet Internet blogs show many complaints from customers who, once they got home, had their Diamonds International purchases appraised and found they'd paid two or even three times the jewelry's typical retail value.

Buyers who declare themselves "happy" with their purchases abroad may never have taken that important step of getting the jewelry independently appraised.

Excerpts from a blog – a question and some responses

Has anyone bought jewelry on a cruise ship? I am wondering how reputable they are and if prices are much better.

[I bought ] a sapphire ring.. I could have bought it for half online.

No. I can find better prices at home and if there is a problem, I can easily return to the store.

I bought my wife's engagement ring on a ship, by far not a bargain.

They do push the tanzanite like crazy on cruise ships.

Good luck if there's a problem. I'd rather deal with an established jeweler.

my daughter bought a of the stones came out the next day...luckily we were still on the ship and she was able to return it. She replaced it with another ring...same thing happened, only this time we were home.

I'm planning on buying a Citizen watch on my next cruise. They were much cheaper on the ship than I've been able to find them online, by a good amount.

On the ships they're Sitizen watches. [That is, fakes.—JII]



Be extra vigilant about insuring jewelry purchased out of the country, aboard cruise ships, or under unusual circumstances. "Discounted" prices may, in fact, be excessive; quality may be low; workmanship may be poor; gems may even be imitation.

For jewelry purchased on holiday, it is particularly important to have a detailed appraisal to verify the qualities of the jewelry. Recommend that your client get an appraisal from a trained gemologist (GG, FGA+, or equivalent), preferably one who has additional insurance appraisal training. One course offering such additional training is the Certified Insurance Appraiser™ (CIA) course of the Jewelry Insurance Appraisal Institute.

For colored stones, it is essential that the appraising jeweler be trained and experienced in dealing with colored gems. He must be able to recognize imitations and synthetics; he must know the market for the gem he is examining and be aware of frauds and scams that may be current; and he must be able to describe, in proper gemological language, the color and quality of the gem.
Request a colored gem report from an internationally respected lab such are AGL (American Gemological Laboratories) or Gubelin Gem Lab. You can verify the contents of a report by contacting the labs.




Always have a damaged stone examined in a gem lab to verify its identity and quality before settling the claim.

For all colored gems, be sure to consult an appraiser who regularly deals with colored gemstones, as scams abound. For example, tanzanite is sometimes sold (and may be insured) as sapphire, and synthesized gems may be passed off as natural.

Be suspicious of any damage reported after cleaning or resetting a stone. Some gems, such as tanzanite, are susceptible to fracture from ultrasonic cleaning or the heat of a jeweler's torch. This gem's fragility is an inherent vice (see policy exclusions).

On claims for colored gem jewelry, it is best to rely on a JISO 78/79 appraisal by a jeweler who regularly deals in colored gems. If such an appraisal is unavailable and other documents on file are inadequate, consider consulting a jewelry insurance expert who can help determine the accuracy of the appraisal.


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