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Complete ripoff?

Posted by JJ Bergstrom  
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JJ Bergstrom March 26, 2012 08:12PM
Hello all - I'm new, and I need help, please.

I have taken control of a family member's accounts, as she is no longer compos mentis.

Among her relatively recent purchases are some items that were purchased through a government auction. The auction used a firm, GLA (Gemological Laboratory of America) located in Los Angeles for appraisal.

The GLA appraisals estimate the value of her items at near $200,000, and a close look at her bank account reveals she paid about $1,000 for them.

Notably, she has two unbelievably (to me) large sapphires, each over 1,000 carats. I find it incredible that this person would have been savvy enough to make such a purchase, and I'd like a little assistance finding out how I should proceed.

A web search of GLA does not leave me with much confidence, so I thought I'd ask some of you veterans for direction.

Can someone give me some ideas? Thank you!
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Alfredo Petrov March 26, 2012 08:43PM
My first question would be, Who paid for the appraisal? Your family member, or the person who sold the stones to her?
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Van King March 26, 2012 11:15PM
Can you post a picture? Do you have the advertisement that said what was to be received? The ratio of value to price is a red flag if a genuine auction were involved as no businessman interested in gems would let such an opportunity pass. Note that Gemological Laboratory of America is not the same as Gemological Institute of America. The Better Business Bureau give Gemological Laboratory of America an "A" rating.

Best Wishes, Van King
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Dan R. Lynch March 27, 2012 12:22AM
My father is a jeweler of 40 years and we've run into GLA gems a few times. In his experience, their appraisals tend to be wildly exaggerated and far from realistic. Recently, a faceted ruby came across his bench that the GLA had appraised at $20,000 and the person had also purchased it from a government auction. Despite its size (around 45 carats), it was heavily included and far from gem grade. It was re-appraised by my dad and another jeweler at about $750. The GLA is not the GIA.
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Van King March 27, 2012 12:38AM
Despite the many complaints concerning the Gemological Laboratory of America, for some unknown reason they have a reasonable rating.
http://www.la.bbb.org/business-reviews/Appraisers/Gemological-Laboratory-of-America--Inc-in-Beverly-Hills-CA-13190650

Best Wishes, Van King
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Owen Lewis (2) March 27, 2012 12:39AM
JJ,

IMHO, you need a lawyer far more than you do a gems expert.

You say you look for advice as to how to proceed. What is it you need to proceed with? You have 'taken control'/ In what way? Power of Attorney - or 'helping out'?

How do you need to proceed? Liquidation of assets - or simple safe-keeping?

In the case of the latter there is not much for you to concern yourself with beyond insurance and a bank-box. In the case of the former, you would be well advised (given the purported importance of these stones) to arrange a viewing and discussion of them with either Sotheby's or Christie's. Branches in London, New York, Geneva, Hong Kong and elsewhere.

Good luck!
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Van King March 27, 2012 12:43AM
Be sure to inquire of the fees you may incur before you ask for any appraisal. High profile appraisers such as major auction houses may have fees exceeding the value of your stone.

Best Wishes, Van King
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Owen Lewis (2) March 27, 2012 01:04AM
Expert representatives of either Sotheby's or Christie's will see you without charge. They (and other major auction houses) have a floor value below which that will not accept items for auction (into $*****). If they think your item is worth less, they will tell you so for no charge (and with a free cup of decent coffee sometimes thrown in to sweeten the pill). If they are happy to auction the item for you and you contract with them, they will advise you on an appropriate reserve. It they sell for you it will cost you the agreed percentage of the hammer price (they will also take a commission from the buyer), possibly plus incidental expenses and plus tax depending on where the sale is held.

'Time spent on reconnaissance is seldom wasted'.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/27/2012 01:08AM by Owen Lewis (2).
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Rock Currier March 27, 2012 06:27AM
Send us a picture and we can probably tell you if there is enough value in the stone? to be worth the trouble of bothering with them. Are these cabochons?, faceted stones or natural sapphire crystals? More than 1000 carats each? They must be pretty low grade stuff if she paid only $1000 at auction.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
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Alfredo Petrov March 27, 2012 05:48PM
Gem lab reports: For a good explanation of how worthless these can be, even from the most "reputable" labs, read the following editorial:

http://www.worldgemsociety.org/Newsletter/GemLabReportFantasy.pdf



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/27/2012 05:54PM by Alfredo Petrov.
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Rock Currier March 27, 2012 06:10PM
Sounds like this guy is writing something to promote his organization, the World Gem Society at the expense of other similar organizations. He implies that the members of his organization are more reliable and knowledgeable that those who are not members. I doubt that his members are given any kind of test to determine their knowledge level or degree of honesty. I wonder when if ever he or his organization have ever showed up in court to back up any claims.

His organization is made up of people and these people are subject to the same sorts of temptations and corruption as the people in any other organization and therefore not perfect and from time to time they will also stray from the sleight and narrow. Yes the GIA has problems. Every organization does, but I would tend to trust their reports more than those of most other labs.

But all this gem report business pales beside certain other reporting agencies blunders/corruption, like the recent credit rating agencies who were responsible for rating the reliability of various financial instruments bases on say home mortgages?

As with all things, buyer beware.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
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JJ Bergstrom March 27, 2012 06:43PM
Wow, thanks for the support!

First, Owen, legal remedies are not my interest, as this was my parent's purchase, and I think we've already spent more on attorneys fees and dementia care than whatever the value of these items could possibly be. Perhaps not financially, but certainly emotionally. These were things I found while moving her, and I know I have every right to deal with them as best I can.

Second, I've enclosed scans of the 3 certs that I have found. There may be and probably are others, I just haven't located them (the certs, not the gems). Would you like pictures of the gem, themselves?

Finally, I live in Vermont. Where do I take these? Or should I send them somewhere?

Thanks again, so, so much.

JJ
open | download - GLA 01.jpg (970.7 KB)
open | download - GLA 02.jpg (108.1 KB)
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Rock Currier March 27, 2012 07:31PM
I don't think the pictures of stones in the certification will do us any good. We need to see some in focus, images of the stones taken on white paper in the sunlight. Though the certifications are interesting, we need to see the reality. You can start by taking them to a local jeweler and asking his opinion. It probably won't be too far off of what we will tell you here. Boy those certs even have it down to the last odd dollar amount. I wonder how they figure that? I wonder why they didn't even put in the cents like $106,907.73? Totally ridiculous!

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
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Owen Lewis (2) March 27, 2012 07:46PM
Valuation is based on a $ per ct trade figure according to stones type and grading. Multiply up by the total weight measured to the nearest point (Ctw@2DP). Multiply by a numeric factor for size range of stone - and you get a calculated value including the small change.

Its a simple calculation and not a price tag winking smiley

$ per ct figure is a trade-wide figure fluctuating with market forces. So is the size multiplying factor. The skill is in grading the stone correctly.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/27/2012 07:53PM by Owen Lewis (2).
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David Von Bargen March 27, 2012 07:50PM
The "auction" site (they just call themselves a government auction, they really aren't one.) covers their behind with the following disclaimer. Their starting bids for items come in at about 1/100 of the "appraisal" value.

"Gemological Laboratory of America- "" Appraisals should be used for verification of gemstone and/or metal weight, size, and grade only, not actual value. Appraisal value should be considered for insurance purposes only, not actual value, as price varies greatly from retail locations thru out the world. Items should not be purchased with the expectation to resell for appraisal price, or for profit."
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Dean Allum March 27, 2012 09:09PM
I won't post the GLA site link because it might increase their legitimacy, but their headquarters are in Beverly Hills, CA. This is a town not known for it's honesty. or accuracy.
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JJ Bergstrom March 27, 2012 09:15PM
There are only chain jewelers in my area (Kay's, Jared, etc), which do not give me a peace-of-mind kind of feeling when it comes to depth of knowledge.

Here are a couple of pix, but the light is running out on the day here.
I can take more tomorrow, if anyone thinks I should.

Thank you again. This is wonderful help!

JJ

ps - I ultimately want to get rid of these stones. I collect coins of the first five Caesars, and (obviously) know nothing about your fascinating realm.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/27/2012 09:21PM by JJ Bergstrom.
open | download - small1.jpg (191.3 KB)
open | download - small2.jpg (177.6 KB)
open | download - small3.jpg (164.4 KB)
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Owen Lewis (2) March 28, 2012 12:15AM
JJ,

No one can say off photos what the stones may be worth. Of the one in the pics, my personal reaction (over a beer and in a conversation of four eyes) is that I've seen a better looking green doorstop smiling smiley A thousand bucks is certainly waaayy more than I would offer for it from viewing the pics. If you trawl the net, you should find large rubies of similar appalling quality, gargantuan size and dreadful cut on offer by crooks of one type or another. Yours is the first green stone I have seen in this category but it looks as though it might have been cut in the same sweat shop.

By all means look up the address of your nearest rock & gem club and show it to them. The *stone* and not pics ! If they tell you anything different... well the next round of beers will be on me smiling smiley

Good luck!.
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Steve Hardinger March 28, 2012 05:05AM
Not meaning to be insulting, but to mean the stones appear to have been cut from low quality, massive, un-gemmy, translucent to opaque green beryl. So low quality I would hesitate to call it emerald. In my mind the stones have very little value, perhaps $100-$200 each.
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David Bruno March 28, 2012 06:20AM
I wonder who's interest's the GLA represent? Being a cynic I reckon its likely the insurance companies who must make huge premiums off people who have had valuations off the them, I'd be intrigued to know if anyone has ever claimed and been paid out based on a GLA valuation.
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Jolyon & Katya Ralph March 28, 2012 08:27AM
Everything in the GLA report seems to be ok, with the exception of the valuation (which, to be fair, it says value NOT TO EXCEED - and $20 does not exceed that value)
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Rolf Brandt March 28, 2012 11:15AM
In general, this might be of interest. I found it on the "World Gem Society" website, I hope they don't mind me presenting it here. A very good website by the way.


Ten Things Consumers and Dealers Need to Know About Gem Lab Reports

If a gem lab makes an error or is negligent, the dealer or jeweler using it has to pay for it.
Lab reports do not cover you in the event of a lawsuit. Even if the report was in error, you will bear the cost and liability for damages caused by the lab’s error.
In the event of a lawsuit regarding a claim you made based on a lab report, the labs will not show up in court to stand behind you. You are on your own.
The labs do not guarantee the accuracy of the information in their documents. In fact, they specifically state just the opposite. No lab guarantees the accuracy of their lab reports.
The labs cannot accurately identify the origin of colored gemstones to a legal standard.
Diamond graders in major labs have been caught selling higher grades on certificates.
It is common that diamonds graded by one lab will grade totally different in a different lab.
It is known that a diamond graded by one lab can be submitted to the same lab at a later date and get a different grade.
All diamond grades are subjective opinions.
The AGTA GTC, GIA GTL, and others who issued erroneous certificates regarding Tibet andesine will never be held liable for the errors in their
reports.

Regards Rolf
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Alfredo Petrov March 28, 2012 11:42AM
I'll be a bit less insulting than Owen and Steve. They're right that the stone is poorly cut and far from gem quality, but it's big for what it is, and some people like big. It is conceivable that you'll get back what was paid for it, or even a bit more, but this is hard enough to judge in person, let alone on a photo.
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Duncan Miller March 28, 2012 01:38PM
There are more of these big rocks hitting the market. See here for more examples, comment and discussion. Duncan

http://www.mineral-forum.com/message-board/viewtopic.php?p=23038#23038
http://www.gemologyonline.com/Forum/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=15667
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Stephanie Martin March 28, 2012 02:38PM
There has been a lot of dyed material coming out of India for quite some time, low grade beryl and corundum cut into large stones.

Alfredo is right, some people like big and there might be people out there willing to pay a little extra for that, however not as much as the prices in the appraisals, they are wildly unrealistic.

Good luck with your efforts.

regards,
stephanie smiling smiley
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Steve Hardinger March 28, 2012 02:47PM
Alfredo, I had no intention of being insulting. Evaluations are highly dependent on opinion. My opinion is that these pieces are worth very little.
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Owen Lewis (2) March 28, 2012 02:50PM
You have a generous heart, Alfredo smiling smiley

For the benefit of JJ who doesn't know about stones, let's set out a few facts.

- Emerald is a variety of the crystalline mineral species called Beryl, with the chemical formula Be3Al2Si6O18 for all varieties.

- In its pure form, Beryl is colourless and this colourless form has the varietal name of Goshenite in the gem trade.

- Other atoms in very small proportions can be trapped in the Beryl crystal lattice and cause the whole to show some weak to strong colour. There are six to eight coloured varieties of Beryl, known respectively at Red Beryl (Bixbite), Aquamarine (light blue/green), Maxixe (dark blue), Emerald and Green Beryl (two types of green Beryl), Heliodor and Yellow Beryl (two shades of yellow Beryl). These are gem trade distinctions and are not all distinctions used by mineralogists. Each colour has a different market value, all else being equal. Goshenite is the cheapest and Emerald is the most expensive variety of Beryl.

- Until the 1990's, only gem quality Beryl that was coloured green by the trapping of Chromium ions in the lattice was called Emerald. All other Beryl coloured green by any other chromophore ion was simply known as Green Beryl. Stones categorised as Green Beryl sell as a heavy discount to those of the same size and general quality that are sold as Emerald.

- In the 1990's large amounts of very good quality green Beryl were discovered in Brazil in particular. This green Beryl was coloured not with Chromium but with Vanadium ions. Market forces drove the GIA to use its clout to obtain gem trade acceptance of Vanadium coloured green Beryl as Emerald. And so it now is, through most of the world. This bust the fence around the Emerald definition and has latterly resulted in a broad - but not yet quite universal acceptance as Emerald any green Beryl of gem quality that is not too yellow or too blue. If you sense imprecision resulting in the definition of what is arguably the most valuable of all gemstones, you'd be right! sad smiley

- You note that I use the rider 'of gem quality' this means that, apart from being pure green Beryl, the crystal must have beauty, being mainly transparent or (in worst case) translucent. and containing (as a cut stone) no really serious flaws. Again, this is - to a point - a matter for skilled judgement.


Now we can turn to your stone and its certificate.

- Simple gemmological testing for refractive indices, birefringence, optic sign and specific gravity will confirm whether it is reasonably pure Beryl or not. Even with an opaque stone, further and advanced testing should determine the chromophore ion.

- In the case of your stone let's say that it basic-tests out properly as Beryl. It's very unlikely that GLA determined the chromophore. From colour and opacity, I incline call it Green Beryl. Whatever, its a bottom grade stone, just about of saleable quality at any price (think 99.99 as a curiosity if the buyer is not to be ripped off).

- The problem with the GLA appaisal (for insurance purposes only), is probably in the misapplication of the value multiplying factor on grounds size - and category of size - (see earlier post). In terms of quality, GLA has correctly (IMHO) grade the quality of your stone as 'junk status'. The mistake is then to multiply up, firstly by carat weight the $ per ct rate for 'junk' Green Beryl. Junk 1,000 times larger is simply *not* 1,000 times more valuable than the small junk - a problem in the mechanistic application of a formula without application of a critical faculty. This mistake has probably been compounded by the mis-application of the 'size category multiply factor on top.

People who buy junk quality - sorry, commercial grade (meaning sellable) - Green Beryl are those who can't afford a decent Emerald. That's most of the gemstone buying public in this world and is why a lot of commercial grade stuff is shifted in the market. However, most is shifted as small cut stones of somewhere in the range of 1-2 cts. To maximise the cash realisable from this stone it might be best to have it cut up into such smaller stones.

A 'back of your beer-mat' calculation might look something like this. Cut and polish the chunk into 1-2ct 'gems' for jewellery setting and a 1,000 ct bulk might yield you 250-500 such stones, the remalnder ending up as dust (with you might also try to sell to a synthetic Emerald manufacturer - if you could ever make the connection). a mix of 1-2ct stones of bottom-end of commercial grade Green Beryl might sell, wholesale, for an average of five bucks each (on a good day). This would give your stone a realised cash value of around USD 1,250 - 2,500, from which you have to deduct the costs of the lapidiary and selling............

OTOH, you might find some punter who fancies a gamble and would pay USD 1,000 at auction for the single piece - but if it were me, I would not be holding my breath whilst waiting; such don't come along very often. Or keep and use it as a paperweight on your office desk - a great conversation piece.
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Alfredo Petrov March 28, 2012 03:33PM
i agree with everything Owen wrote above (even the bit about my generous heart winking smiley ), except the part about a creeping imprecision in the definition of "emerald" when vanadium-coloured beryls were accepted as emeralds. As the use of emeralds predates the discovery of the element chromium by many centuries, it is impossible for "chromium as the chromophore" to be part of the definition. That was a case of attempted imposition of unjustified over-precision by one group of producers attempting to protect their market.
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Kelly Nash March 28, 2012 03:41PM
I'm probably mostly just rehashing bits of what others have said, but the discussion reminds me of the mineral specimens many of us have purchased, and then somebody says "you paid WHAT for that?". The value could be said to be about $1,000 because a person paid that much for it, and that's almost all you can say about it. Several have mentioned that the appraisal is bogus, but it's just a misapplication (perhaps deliberate) of a gemstone calculation. It isn't a gemstone, it's a "collector's item". I don't think there aren't a large number of people collecting those kind of things, maybe some rockhounds who are into lapidary work, but maybe there are more than I think. Steve's estimate of what it might fetch at a rock show, flea market,or rock shop, without spendinng a lot of time and effort, may be about right...it is kind of a pretty paperweight, and people sometimes pay several hundred dollars for those...(but no thanks, I have plenty of rocks like that. I'm looking at a giant transparent, but quite waterworn, topaz crystal holding down all the work I should be doing, I should do a per carat estimate of it's value sometime, but luckily someone just gave it to me because they got bored with it. It's sat on my desk at work for years and I don't think any of the cleaning people have ever had any interest in it).
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David Von Bargen March 28, 2012 04:48PM
GLA also doesn't stand behind the color being natural.(they would take a stab at that with some more testing)
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Owen Lewis (2) March 28, 2012 04:53PM
Alfredo Petrov Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> i agree with everything Owen wrote above (even the
> bit about my generous heart winking smiley ), except the part
> about a creeping imprecision in the definition of
> "emerald" when vanadium-coloured beryls were
> accepted as emeralds. As the use of emeralds
> predates the discovery of the element chromium by
> many centuries, it is impossible for "chromium as
> the chromophore" to be part of the definition.
> That was a case of attempted imposition of
> unjustified over-precision by one group of
> producers attempting to protect their market.

smiling smiley

There is, as you say, more than one point of view here (not the place to thrash it out perhaps). If you are attanding the Ste Maie aux Mines exhipition in June, its something that we might enjoy taking further over a bottle or three of Gewurtztraminer smiling smiley

For the time being, please let me add this. You are quite right that lovely, transparent and green stones were traded for centuries as 'Emerald' before science was applied to market regulation starting in the 19th Cent. First chemistry, then mineralogy and finally, in the 20th cent, gemmology, were applied in an attempt to build sensible rules for the useful, honest and consistent description of gem materials - including Emerald.

I don't argue that arbitary varietal division of species has some overwhelming logic to it. But - as I think it did with Emerald - it need not too fiercely overturn what had existed historically in any event and it has helped make the market more transparent and honest. Busting the fence around the Emerald definition has not (IMHO) improved either market transparency or honesty (turning to nod at JJ's pics and GLA certificate). Similar science-based discrimination caused the largest Ruby in the British crown jewels (for some hundreds of years) to be reclassified as a red Spinel.

But, I agree, right is not all on one side in this discussion. The real problem, it seems to me, is the extent to which market sentiment will value a gem with one name so much more highly that the same gem sold under another name.
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Alfredo Petrov March 28, 2012 05:20PM
I'll take you up on the Gewurtztraminer smiling smiley
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Owen Lewis (2) March 28, 2012 10:09PM
Muy bueno! You're on, I'll PM you nearer the date to arrange meeting up.I'll be staying in Colmar for the nights of 21/22/23 June.

Best, Owen
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Rock Currier March 29, 2012 06:32AM
It sort of reminds me of those sets of fancy silver and gold coins that some private mints put out commemorating famous American Indian chiefs or a number of other topics that they sell to doctors and others in fancy presentation display holders. When it comes time for the family to sell them to raise money, the coin dealers throw them on the scales and pay scrap silver prices for them.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
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Owen Lewis (2) March 29, 2012 12:42PM
You're not wrong, Rock.

People will pay good money to buy a dream. But, come to sell your dream and you find no one else wants it.
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Steve Hardinger March 29, 2012 03:06PM
And (to add to Rock's comment) until there is a run on the beryllium market, scrap beryl is worth even less than scrap silver.
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Jason Barrett (2) April 03, 2012 06:40PM
I think Steve's assessment is pretty spot on...ditto what he said!
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Jerry Petryha April 04, 2012 09:32PM
If you need to sell those pure gold or silver coins in a hurry, then a dealer might just weigh them for the bullion value. But if there is no hurry, then imprinted coins have alot more value then just bullion. Yes, some silver and gold minted coins are purchased for their bullion value only (ease of transport and exchange) , but others are bought for the impressions on the coin and the metal value .Try buying the annual commemorative presidential silver coins that are only two years from the mint date. Some have doubled in value.

But careful, some tv commercials try to sell coins that are only capped in silver or gold. They make it sound intriguing, but these are basically worthless.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/04/2012 09:34PM by Jerry Petryha.
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JJ Bergstrom April 06, 2012 06:51AM
Thanks so much to all of you!

I am putting it on ebay, and do not expect you to bid. winking smiley


JJ
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Jolyon & Katya Ralph April 06, 2012 09:46AM
Good luck, will be interesting to see how much it goes for!
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Owen Lewis (2) April 06, 2012 01:33PM
With just over a day left for bidding, there's presently an 11,000 ct (gasp!!) 'Emerald' for sale here in e-Bay :
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/11210ct-2Kilo-Gigantic-Cabochon-Carved-Natural-Emerald-Gemstone-142mm-75mm-/370599689095?pt=Loose_Gemstones&hash=item5649767b87#ht_2458wt_1142

According to this Indian seller, this is also lab-certified and has an expected sale value of USD 3-6,000 (well, at least its not 2 million....). The bidding stands presently at c. 60 bucks. This stone is also 'forest green' but seems not completely opaque.

If it does nothing else, this should all support the view that harm was done in allowing any green Beryl to be described for sale as an Emerald. The only gain from this 'anything goes' policy is in the pockets of crooks.
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Jolyon & Katya Ralph April 06, 2012 01:52PM
>If it does nothing else, this should all support the view that harm was done in allowing any green Beryl
>to be described for sale as an Emerald.

I don't see the harm in this. It's clearly a green beryl, it's clearly not gem quality, and it's entirely up to buyers what they are willing to pay for it.

Jolyon
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Owen Lewis (2) April 06, 2012 04:52PM
It's a topic that could run and run - elsewhere smiling smiley It's not really about gems but about the general advisability (or not) of regulating trade descriptions. Many (most?) Emerald buyersin the general public don't know green Beryl from a hole in the ground. They do know the name Emerald, have been encouraged to think it is a superior gem (which it is) and are prepared to pay a premium of some size to buy one.

Let me draw an analogy. If a car manufacturer whose business is producing cheap and badly made copies of 1960s-engineered Fiats is permitted to sell its products as 'Mercedes Benz', might that:
- Help them sell the otherwise almost unsaleable in an open market full of better cars?
- Increase their profitability, because buyers have heard of the reputation of Mercedes Benz - even if they have no way of understanding it - and will pay a premium to have the name sitting in their driveway?
- Defraud buyers by selling under a false description?
- Ultimately damage Mercedes Benz's business and the second-hand market in M-B cars?

But here too buyers could see what was being offered and make up their own minds as to whether to buy and what to pay smiling smiley



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/07/2012 02:25AM by Owen Lewis (2).
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Deb From Down Under May 05, 2012 07:43AM
Hi,
I recently purchased 4 pieces of Jewelry from This Goverment auction mob, I was also supplied with GLA indentification cards, I have since had all the pieces look at here by my Jeweller who is a Trained Gemnologist. Ruby bangle , Glass filled Rubies GLA valued at 10,000 lucky to be worth $200, .31 carat diamond Pendant not even diamonds they are Moissanite, need I go on. The stuff is rubbish, this Government auction business is a complete scam, I can't believe they can continue to get away with this sort of underhanded dealings. GLA What a Joke !
-------------------------------------------------------
> Can you post a picture? Do you have the
> advertisement that said what was to be received?
> The ratio of value to price is a red flag if a
> genuine auction were involved as no businessman
> interested in gems would let such an opportunity
> pass. Note that Gemological Laboratory of America
> is not the same as Gemological Institute of
> America. The Better Business Bureau give
> Gemological Laboratory of America an "A" rating.
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Owen Lewis (2) May 05, 2012 04:07PM
Hmmmm..... The auctioneer usually bears only very limited responsibility in respect of items sold. When buying at auction there is generally a responsibility on the buyer to be satisfied pre-sale that the item is fairly described and to be assured of recourse if found after delivery to have been materially mis-described. That said, a reputable auctioneer will, if you have a fair case, assist you in in recovering your money from the seller. This is doubly the case where the auctioneer also is the seller!

You don't say what you paid the for stuff or, for your 'ruby bangle' and the 'diamond' pendant, the valuations you have received. In the case of the 'glass-filled Rubies' (worth $200), If one supposes that you paid 150-250 for them, then you would have got what you paid for if not the fantastic bargain you might have been expecting. OTOH, if you paid several thousand, then you may have been defrauded . Which scenario applies in your case?

With regard to JJ's GLA certificate, its wording is that of 'value not to exceed $******. And as Jolyon pointed out, 10 bucks does not exceed that winking smiley It's called 'weasel-wording'; realtors (estate agents) and used-car salesmen are expert at it - and so need to be buyers! What was the exact wording on the certificates for your items?



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/06/2012 02:41AM by Owen Lewis (2).
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Andrea's Attic June 01, 2012 06:07AM
I recently "attended" one of the online "government" auctions and purchased a 13.53 kt faceted ruby for $120. The GLA appraisal was for $12,000.00 (give or take a few cents). I was skeptical but also intrigued. I had just settled my aunt & uncle's estate where we inherited quite a bit of costume as well as real jewelry. The gentleman that helped us liquidate the jewelry, both costume and real, took a look at the ruby, first with a skeptical eye. I was extremely surprised when he came back to tell me the stone was real and not an "american" stone that you could purchase off of EBay for $10.00. I realized the $12,000 appraisal was inflated, but he assured me the stone should easily sell for $4k and up. Imagine my surprise that within days, not weeks, but days...the stone was sold for $4250 to a middle eastern gentleman. The shape and size of the stone made it perfect to become a beautiful pendant. Considering I paid $120 I was and still am, clicking my heels! Will I try it again, not anytime soon, I think I did get lucky.

I am in the Antique/Vintage Business, I own a shop here in Tampa FL where every day I am approached by family members who are placing loved ones, parents, aunts, grandparents, into nursing homes and they have no clue or time to figure out what to do with their belongings. I specialize in Vintage Toys but will entertain most items. Honestly, most people come to me and beg me to help empty out their home/condo within a week because the place is being sold and they have no idea what to do with their items. I appraise as much as I possibly can, then we often hire an outside party to appraise the remaining items. This is where we find gems such as the ruby I found, stuck in an envelope, in a shoe, in a box, in a trunk in the bottom of their closet. At first we're not even sure if it's real or out of a gumball machine. But more and more I've found that family members just don't care about the items and want to get out of the "ordeal" and on with their own life ASAP. This is where an auction comes in handy and I find many stones like this being sold for pennies on the dollar.

If you have a few dollars lying around take the chance, but please do your homework first! There are tons of con artist out there preying on situations just like this. I really consider ourselves to be fortunate with this situation. Not only did we luck out with the Ruby but we sold it and were able to quickly reinvest it in Vintage Toys again.

Good Luck, do as much homework as possible and before you bid, set a bottom line and STICK to it! Don't go up by even $5.00!

Andrea's Attic Consignment & Resale
Lutz, FL
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Chester S. Lemanski, Jr. June 01, 2012 12:13PM
These stones look like very low-grade, albeit colorful, Brazilian "emerald."
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Owen Lewis (2) June 01, 2012 12:52PM
Congratulations! Yes, very occasionally, enormous bargains can be picked up at auction. But if the item is a 1,000 ct+ sized Ruby. don't walk away, run!

I've recently been chatting to someone who is enthusiastic to buy Emeralds and Rubies in the size range of 1 - 30 Kg (I can't be bothered to write all the noughts for a carat weight), being offered these by a seller close to where he lives. Well, if such things attract him, why not? Provided one knows clearly that one is buying:

-. Items made in an industrial process that can be likened to making house-bricks. The finish is equally cheap.

- Something that can be made in effectively limitless numbers and sizes.

- They can be made in almost any shape or colour you want.

- They have no intrinsic worth and you would be wise to expect never to sell them.

- They are Emeralds and Rubies only is the same sense as Ireland is the Emerald Isle and grape juice concentrate bulked out with water and laced with industrial Ethanol is Ruby Wine.

But to return to your discovery of real gems the value of which has passed unrecognised. It must also be said that even dealers of good experience make bad mistakes from time to time. One of the very few Taaffeites I have handled was discovered (not by me sad smiley )in a parcel of small rough Spinels, bought from a Sri Lankan dealer for USD 5.00! I also know of a diamond ring of several carats being valued recently for USD 4.5K when its likely auction hammer price is 30K+. In the *right* auction and properly promoted, that is!
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Ariana November 28, 2012 12:43AM
-------------------------------------------------------
> My father is a jeweler of 40 years and we've run
> into GLA gems a few times. In his experience,
> their appraisals tend to be wildly exaggerated and
> far from realistic. Recently, a faceted ruby came
> across his bench that the GLA had appraised at
> $20,000 and the person had also purchased it from
> a government auction. Despite its size (around 45
> carats), it was heavily included and far from gem
> grade. It was re-appraised by my dad and another
> jeweler at about $750. The GLA is not the GIA.
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NYC Gal December 09, 2012 02:15AM
For my birthday a recent "ex" decided he wanted to impress me, and sent me a necklace along with a certified "GLA laminated appraisal" with a complete description of the piece and photo.

Supposedly, it was a large emerald surrounded by 106 white sapphires.
In a platinum "plated over sterling silver" setting.
Value, nearly 10K.

My BFF (and big jewelry fanatic) was in town visiting, wasn't buying the hype, and insisted we take it to a reputable jeweler to confirm its value.

1. It was silver, zero platinum, even plated.
2. The "emerald" was an enhanced stone, and with a crack to boot.
and the kicker....
3. The "white sapphires, of excellent grade..?" were CZ..glass!!

Value? less than $100 USD

While I did get a brief and pathetic chuckle from it all, it made me realize how consumers are being ripped off on a regular basis if they are buying jewelry sources with this so-called appraisal "validation".

Dan R. Lynch Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> My father is a jeweler of 40 years and we've run
> into GLA gems a few times. In his experience,
> their appraisals tend to be wildly exaggerated and
> far from realistic. Recently, a faceted ruby came
> across his bench that the GLA had appraised at
> $20,000 and the person had also purchased it from
> a government auction. Despite its size (around 45
> carats), it was heavily included and far from gem
> grade. It was re-appraised by my dad and another
> jeweler at about $750. The GLA is not the GIA.
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Owen Lewis (2) December 09, 2012 03:09PM
NYC Gal Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> Supposedly, it was a large emerald surrounded by
> 106 white sapphires.
> In a platinum "plated over sterling silver"
> setting.
> Value, nearly 10K.

Did the wording say something like 'up to 10K'? An actual value of 10 bucks quite properly fits within that description. It's a question of reading what the words say and not imagining what you would like them to mean.

Alarm bells ring already, anyway

To my knowledge silver is never platinum plated for jewellery. Silver *is* frequently Rhodium plated for tarnish resistance. Rhodium is a rare earth metal, commonly extracted from Platinum ore.

In making the ring of silver, the maker voiced his opinion of the stones being mounted. Fit for nice Christmas cracker stuffing.

> 1. It was silver, zero platinum, even plated.

But was quite probably Rhodium plated.

> 2. The "emerald" was an enhanced stone, and with a
> crack to boot.

Emeralds are routinely treated. The effect on value ranges from little/none to severe, depending on the nature and extent of the treatment. That you say the stone 'had a crack in it' is interesting. Almost all Emeralds do have cracks in them, this being the prime reason for their treatment winking smiley

Is the stone mainly transparent or is it opaque?

> and the kicker....
> 3. The "white sapphires, of excellent grade..?"
> were CZ..glass!!

A competent jeweller is not going to have had any doubt as to whether he was looking at CZ or glass. So which was it? Again it is trivial to differentiate cut CZ from White Sapphire. OTOH separating White Sapphire from cut glass in perfect condition and in 'pin-head' sized stones is not at all trivial without first dismounting at least one of the stones., Small-size White Sapphires are a cheap stone with virtually no fire or brilliance. Most used now in the jewellery trade are synthetic (but real). Only in larger sizes and cut to emphasise clarity and colourlessness do they become desirable. Frankly, mounted as you describe, one would have a better-looking piece if CZ was used instead to emulate the effect of the melee Diamonds frequently used to support a substantial Ruby, Sapphire or Emerald in relatively important pieces of jewellery.

> Value? less than $100 USD

Without having seen the piece and going just from your description, I would not imagine it could be worth more. But 100 is included in the 'up to 10K' bracket, is it not?

> While I did get a brief and pathetic chuckle from
> it all, it made me realize how consumers are being
> ripped off on a regular basis if they are buying
> jewelry sources with this so-called appraisal
> "validation".

Unfortunately. that does not follow. In buying jewellery as with anything else, one needs to apply shrewdness, common sense and a little knowledge - but these too often somehow manage to be absent. One needs some true appreciation of what one is buying - or leave the purchasing to those who do.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 12/09/2012 04:11PM by Owen Lewis (2).
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dcguy April 04, 2013 05:02PM
Mr. Bergstrom, it has been a year. How did you fare on ebay? . . . I found this discussion fascinating. I know the "government" auction house well. Its home office is in the California desert. It is extremely active online. It is not in the same league as auction houses located in, say, New York City. Still, I have five bids pending with it now. I would be interested to know how it comes by the goods it auctions, but I personally trust the descriptions of the items contained in its appraisals. The appraised values themselves are wildly unreliable and are useful only "for insurance purposes," that is the maximum amount someone might pay if they could find the auctioned item in a retail shop. A true market value can easily be obtained by joining an online auction site and searching on past sales of the same item. The "government" auction house alone sells many many copies of the same artwork and near identical gems on a regular basis.
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Martin Galatte August 26, 2013 03:20PM
My 2 cents on GLA. Appraisal reads $9,833 but I had one done by a jeweler (a diamond) and he appraised it at $7,800 so I have to agree, the price on the card is not the actual value, just replacement value for insurance.
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Doug Daniels August 26, 2013 06:37PM
"...government auction." doesn't the "g"-word give the warning right there?
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georgia reynolds November 03, 2013 10:11AM
Ha Ha Alfredo good one lol
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georgia reynolds November 03, 2013 10:28AM
Hi

Yes I have to agree. If they are what I think they are I bought some of these stones out of curiosity.

I think they cost about $10.00au to $20.00 each.

They come with a certificate of authenticity and yes they are natural.

But like the other post said good for door stops and a talking piece.

I bought Sapphire Emerald and Ruby. But the dealer was honest and if your really read their description you would know exactly what you were getting.

I was very lucky with mine the Emeralds had only been oiled as Emeralds are. They weighed in at approx 900cts each

The Sapphire weighed around 5-600cts but is not a good looking stone.

The Ruby 40cts had been filled. looks more like filling than ruby

Not jewellery quality but excellent specimen. Or even for the fish tank.

I hope I am wrong about what the person has bought I really am

Georgia
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georgia reynolds November 03, 2013 10:37AM
Hi

Sorry making mistakes with my messaging.

I have these stones if they are the same Emeralds 900ct each
Ruby 40ct
Sapphire 400cts

Come with certificates of authenticity. They are real. I have tested visual and electronic.

If you read the description on the sale you will find dealer was honest and only selling for a few dollars each.

Make good talking points. Or maybe a fish tank.

My emeralds had only been oiled as emeralds are. But the sapphire was not a good looking stone.

And ruby had more filling than ruby

Although cannot remember which auction but saw one an emerald like mine set in silver pendant go for a few thousand and they have started selling at flea markets now for a good price.

Hope I am wrong about gentlemans stones.

Georgia
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Les December 01, 2013 08:35PM
I can assure you with 100% confidence that the appraisal is bogus. I am a licensed auctioneer. I purchased a few items from www.govermentauction.com ( they have nothing to do with the government / use deceptive name to fool you ). They are now selling on Auctionzip.com

A $20,000 appraisal typically means you have something worth less than $50.00

Once more Scam

If it sounds too good to be true .... Run

GLA will provide a bogus appraisal for anyone that will pay their fee. They should be shut down.
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A.A.Faller December 01, 2013 09:51PM
JJ:
How far are you from Uxbrige, Mass.?
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jojo January 19, 2014 05:45PM
i just got some items from auctionzip.com. they are diamond necklace around 7ct for $5k. now im worried.
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Bob Harman January 19, 2014 10:41PM
Unless you know the dealer with whom you are doing business, expensive jewelry bought on line or from an on line auction should ALWAYS be suspect. You must know with whom you are dealing. I too might now be worried. Read the fine print of the sale…..get the item you bought appraised quickly by a reputable gemologist or equivalent and if the description by the reputable appraiser is significantly different from the on line auction house description then ask for your money back if you can. If you are really lucky, the piece will be essentially as described and then not a rip off. Good luck! BOB
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Rachel June 26, 2014 05:37PM
I bought at an online auction, and got the GLA card to go with this. The stone is a quality 10 (whatever that means) Amethyst with clear topaz stones on the side. It is Plat. Plated over Silver

Estimated Retail Replacement (if I register title transfer on their site) for $18
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Rachel Mcclymont Marshall June 26, 2014 08:20PM
This is pictures of the ring I purchased.
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Owen Melfyn Lewis June 27, 2014 11:37AM
Your pic was not attached to your message, Rachel, as you can see. click on the 'Attach a file (photo)' linle above the message box and follow the steps carefullly?

I doubt that your ring is platinum plated. Rhodium (another metal of the platinum group is the metal usually used. The plating stops the silver from tarnishing - until it wears through. Eighteen bucks for an amethyst with topaz on silver does not sound like daylight robbery! If you like it, enjoysmiling smiley



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/28/2014 11:53AM by Owen Melfyn Lewis.
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Sandra B , Aus June 28, 2014 03:42AM




Hi, I have attached 3 photos of this monstrous pendant that I received from Government Auctions, I say received because although I bought it and paid for it, they apparently lost it and refunded my money. According to the GLA certificate it is a Blue Sapphire, 372.28 carats retail value not to exceed $15,879 dollars. It is supposedly a Sebastian designed pendant, and is signed Sebastian, made with silver mount. I can't find anything about this designer on line.
I am truly embarrassed to have even tried to buy this and really do not know what to do with it now.
Suggestions please.
open | download - DSCN4300 (1024x768).jpg (395.2 KB)
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Owen Melfyn Lewis June 28, 2014 12:53PM
Well, 10 bucks would not exceed $15,879, now would it? winking smiley

As you know, it looks like a pretty poor piece of faceted blue corundum, of minimal gem quality and set in a white metal mount of minimum quality.

Don't despair. I sincerely believe that one learns more from poor specimens - and most certainly at a fraction of the cost of studying the near-perfect. Why not take it out of its setting and use is as a study stone? You don't say how much you already know about minerals and about gemstones in particular, but I'll guess it's not too much at the moment. Why not use this stone to start to learn? It's a fascinating study that will hook you up with other interesting people to chat with and also, if you buy decent quality gemstones from time to time, how to avoid at least the really big mistakes.

If the bug bites you, its an interest on which you can spend a very large amount of money on books, study stones and instruments. But, to make a start, you can learn a lot with just a x10 jeweller's loupe (magnifying glass) and a penlight that can focus its light output and chatting with folk in the net groups such as Mindat or its sister group Gemdat.

Things you can study in your corundum with no more than a light and a loupe:
- Look for surface flaws (there will be at several at least). As they chips, cracks or something else? What causes them? Check of the net gem sites and mineral sites to learn more and look at other stones to compare their quality with yours. Learn about flaws in crystals and why some chip easier than others.
- How hard is your stone? Remember that corundum is harder than anything else in nature except for diamond. so If you can easily scratch a flat surface on a topaz crystal, picked up in a rock 'n gem show or shop for about a dollar or two (and becomes your second study specimen), then you can be sure that what you have a corundum crystal. Learn about how to grade all minerals by hardness without tools.
- Use the light and loupe to examine - as far as you can - other stuff trapped n your crystal. Some are opaque and may or may not have a regular crystalline shape of their own; what are any regular shapes, what are they called and what do the shapes tell you about the mineral of which they are made? If you look carefully inside the transparent parts of your stone, using the loupe and with the light held so the light comes through the stone from behind, you may be lucky enough to find what look like transparent crystals and, if any are large enough for you to be able to see inside them. And if you are really lucky, you may see a bubble inside one of more of these transparent inclusions.Now what looks like a crystal and can contain a bubble?

Enough here to illustrate the point that, if you choose, your lousy quality cut stone can give you some hours of pleasurable observation, interesting enquiry and help develop a little more knowledge than you started with. Who know's it might even spark a major new interest in your life.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/28/2014 01:05PM by Owen Melfyn Lewis.
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Alfredo Petrov June 28, 2014 03:21PM
Well, Sandra, if they lost it and refunded your money, why do you say you "really do not know what to do with it now"? Consider yourself lucky you aren't stuck with the clunker!

And this is a lesson in the value (or perhaps lack thereof?) of certificates from gemological laboratories. Remember that a commercial lab of necessity works for the interests of their employer, the person paying the bill. If the person paying the gem lab bill was the seller, then you the buyer must not assume that the certificate necessarily reflects your interests.
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Doug Daniels June 28, 2014 04:39PM
Reminds me of a magazine ad for "investment-grade" sapphires from years ago (late 70's). Each one cost a whole $5, with a guarantee they would appraise for much more. I went ahead and bought one (I was making the big money back then...), knowing it wouldn't be high quality, and it wasn't - looked much like the one pictured. Wish I still had it (maybe it's buried somewhere), would be a good teaching tool.
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Stephanie Martin June 28, 2014 05:50PM
Hi Sandra,

If you received a refund then I would say you got your money's worth !!!

If nothing else you have learned a lot about these types of sales.

As others have pointed out, at the least you could use this as a study specimen.

cheers,
stephanie smiling smiley
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SRT August 16, 2014 11:04PM
Hi all, so I read with fascination and appreciation for this venue and you all and of course wish I had the foresight to look for it or something like it before I went to one of these ridiculous 'government auctions'. But, it is done and long ago, (last year August I believe). It was my first time and I thought as many of us do that we might pick up something interesting and . . . well, Im not going to lie, something we might be able to sell for a little (or a lot) of profit.

I did follow the one major rule of all buying of high priced items and that is to buy thing you love. BUT, I do not intend to wear the items I bought, so that's out the window.

I made 2 purchases, one is here below, a pair of very beautiful and I believe unique earrings. It is a pair although I have only placed photos of one due to photo limitations on this site.

I did see them on a recent episode of 'Revenge' worn by Victoria, the super RICH villain at her son's wedding to Emily Thorn (the star of the show). I am sure it was the same ones as they are pretty unique and easy to spot. (So of course if Victoria is wearing them they MUST be valuable, right??? Kidding...)

My purchase came with an appraisal from GLA but the appraisers were graduates of GIA, not that that makes a bean of difference but they are considered 'reliable' in this disingenuous field . I am putting the appraisal in the next note as I can only place 3 photos per email.

I would be curious your thoughts on these. Also, I was wondering, because I did take them to pawn shops as well as
the jewelry district and got various differences of opinion. What I didn't get was any where near what I paid for them let alone the 'appraised insurance values. I paid for these $1850.00 but I was told they were worth maybe less than $1000 but that was from a jeweler and pawn broker I was trying to sell to.

Would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks all . . . SRT

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SRT August 16, 2014 11:20PM
Hi all again, here is the GLA appraisal that came with the above earrings. I had to break it up into top and bottom so apologies.

Do I have any recourse here if I have the receipt still or am I out of luck if the price is so out of whack that I get from jewelers versus what I paid for them? I think the jeweler for the earrings may have said less than $500.

The auction did have prices that they started from so it wasn't that I started at those numbers, the auction house did.

I have another piece, (with a GIA appraisal) a bracelet that I bought that I would like to know as well as I paid just short of $3000 for it and although it is gorgeous with rubies & diamonds, I realize and did at the time that it is not perfect as that would have been a lot more $$ but I didn't expect to have a jeweler tell me it was worth $800??? or near there I believe. That is a big difference to me.

I am shocked that these companies are allowed to rip people off and do it out in the open with the government name attached. Has anyone ever tried to sue?

Thanks for all thoughts. Yes, I know, lessons learned. But I will say, I do think they are beautiful and I would try to sell them for more than I paid for them if I had no other recourse as in the personal or private world, it is worth what a buyer is willing to pay for it. (maybe in the commercial world too???)

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Geoff Van Horn August 17, 2014 12:15AM
Van King Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Despite the many complaints concerning the
> Gemological Laboratory of America, for some
> unknown reason they have a reasonable rating.
> http://www.la.bbb.org/business-reviews/Appraisers/
> Gemological-Laboratory-of-America--Inc-in-Beverly-
> Hills-CA-13190650

BBB is not always the trustworthy organization that they seem.

http://gawker.com/5591804/hamas-rated-a--by-better-business-bureau-starbucks-gets-an-f

http://www.bbb.org/us/article/better-business-bureau-expels-los-angeles-organization-for-failure-to-meet-standards-40710



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/17/2014 12:16AM by Geoff Van Horn.
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Keith Wood August 17, 2014 04:17AM
SRT,

If the prices from the jeweler and pawn broker were offers they would naturally need to be lower than the sale value. You may have paid a bit too much, but not multiples too much. Consider it s lesson learned, as above.

Also, CTW, when referring to literally scores of tiny stones, basically means nothing at all. With diamonds, value is all in the four Cs, Clarity, Cut, Color, and Carats. Carats is the multiplying factor, because large quality stones are rarer than similar quality small stones. Thus, with CTW for tiny stones, the Carat multiplier is probably a small decimal number - virtually meaningless. The stones are not valuable in those sizes. Adding them up doesn't add up to much.
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MIll November 21, 2014 08:46AM
I have 600 ct emerald and certificate from GLA like yours .I purchase from same seller .I paid $20 for stone and $19.99 shipping.It is to good to be truth but i buy just to have nice junk for my collection Sory you have expensive junk
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Owen Melfyn Lewis November 22, 2014 06:26PM
Cheer up MIII, they make useful paperweights winking smiley
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LC December 18, 2014 06:20AM
Hi, every one,
Unfortunatily, I've purchased some stones from the same auction, came with the same certificates, i am pretty upset now cause they are nothing but junks, i need to know if anyone ever get a refund successfully and how did they do it?
i need advise, thank you.
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LC December 18, 2014 06:38AM
Sandra,
I've purchased same stones with same certificates, they are nothing but junks, I need to know what did you do with your junks, did you try to refund them? i paid a bit for them, i wonder if this is legal to me this isfruad.
thank you.
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Alfredo Petrov December 18, 2014 07:41AM
So, LC,
Which part of the certificate are you disagreeing with?
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CR December 18, 2014 07:52AM
I just screwed up buying from the same "gov auction" as well... thinking this was a gov sanctioned liquidation sale.
I paid quite a lot for an emerald, and a little bit of a lot for a ruby.... (& misc stuff) .. the auction was tonight, and I have such deep regret considering how foolish I feel in that I:
1) believed this was gov. sanctioned, and
2) didn't research first.
Here are some jpgs of the crap I wasted a bunch of money on... (Please tell me there is some recourse for misleading/inaccurate adverts!?) I am even willing to just pay for this crap and skip getting it, so I can avoid paying all the shipping, handling and other additional charges!

open | download - my emerald gia.jpg (51.3 KB)
open | download - my ruby gia.jpg (50.5 KB)
open | download - my emerald.jpg (36.1 KB)
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LC December 18, 2014 07:56AM
If you see the products yourself you will understand, It is not even close to it's real value.
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