January 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

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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The New Platinum: A Story of Alloys

A new kind of platinum is making its way into the marketplace. What’s wrong with the old platinum? you may ask. A better question is, What’s wrong with the new?

Platinum is rarer than silver or gold. But unalloyed platinum is soft. It has a high melting point, which makes it difficult to fabricate into jewelry. It’s dense and it’s expensive. So what’s the big attraction of platinum jewelry?

The answer is in the alloys.

With the addition of certain alloys, platinum becomes one of the hardest metals known. It is more durable than silver or gold. This hardness makes platinum ideal for jewelry with diamonds and other gems because it provides the most secure material for setting gems.

Traditionally, jewelry manufacturers have used alloys from the “platinum group” of metals, primarily iridium, ruthenium and palladium. These metals have been so intrinsically part of platinum jewelry that they are covered in the Federal Trade Commission guidelines.

FTC Guides

Guidelines for platinum jewelry, set by the Federal Trade Commission on April 8, 1997, say that only items consisting of 950 parts or more per thousand of pure platinum can be marked “platinum” without the use of any qualifying statements.

Jewelry with fewer than 500 parts per thousand (ppt) of platinum cannot carry the word “platinum” at all.

Jewelry with a composition that falls between 500 and 950 ppt of platinum must be marked with the ppt of platinum plus the ppt of the particular alloy from the platinum group metals, for example: “600 Plat.400irid.”

New Alloys

Now along come some new alloys on the block, and they’re not from the “platinum group” metals. The jewelry made with these alloys, usually copper and cobalt, is only 585 ppt of platinum—well below the 950 ppt that can be marked “platinum.” This “585 platinum” does not contain the platinum-group alloys and is not covered by the FTC Guides.

1. New alloys = less platinum = lower costs for the manufacturer.

Manufacturing cost is no small concern. The price of platinum has risen sharply over the last few years, and is likely to continue its upward move.

(You can check the prices of gold, silver and platinum yourself here.)

While the soaring price seems not to have slowed down sales of fine-quality jewelry, it does affect mass market retailers (Zales, Wal-Mart, Costco, etc.), which account for the vast majority of U.S. jewelry sales. Platinum jewelry is popular, and manufacturers are scrambling to find lower-cost ways to meet the demand.

Creating substitutes is not new. When platinum was unavailable during World War II, palladium was used to make white jewelry. It was harder to work with and had a more grayish look but was fairly durable. More recently, Japan has experimented with alloying platinum with gold. This lowered the price, but the jewelry was not durable and had an unappealing yellow cast.

2. Less platinum = less durability.

This “585 platinum” cuts the manufacturing price almost in half. The problem is that jewelry containing a low percentage of platinum (or platinum-group metals) is less durable. The very quality that makes platinum uniquely suited for fine jewelry, its reliability for holding gems, is sacrificed. The new alloys produce a more brittle platinum, more susceptible to damage.

3. All platinum is not the same.

Before now, the consumer has never needed to be concerned about the purity of platinum because the use of platinum group metals as alloys insured a standard quality. Now alloy is an important issue.

The new, lower quality, platinum looks the same as the higher quality. Unlike gold, where color changes occur depending on the alloys used (producing white gold, for example), platinum jewelry looks much the same regardless of alloys used. A knowledgable jeweler would recognize the “585 platinum” by its lighter weight, since it contains so much less of the very dense platinum, but the average customer would be unaware of this difference.

At this time, platinum quality marking is not regulated. The U.S. metal stamping act, which governs the purity marking of gold and silver items, does not cover platinum (though the international stamping act does).

The FTC Guides do not mention the new platinum alloys. Since it’s likely that jewelry made of the new alloys will become widespread, many dealers in fine jewelry are working to update the FTC Guides. These guidelines do not have the force of law, though violators could be accused of unfair trade practices.

All of this raises the old issue of DISCLOSURE. Consumers equate platinum with highest quality. Even if a manufacturer does mark platinum and alloy content, most consumers will not recognize the significance of particular alloys or of the ppt markings.

True DISCLOSURE means:


Jewelry containing at least 950 parts per thousand (ppt) platinum can be marked “platinum.” Jewelry of more than 500 ppt platinum alloyed with a platinum-group metal can be marked according to its content, such as “600 Plat.350irid.”

Jewelry sold as platinum but bearing no mark as to content is likely to be of a low platinum content.

Jewelry with a low platinum content is more susceptible to damage and there is greater risk of losing stones.

An appraisal stating only that the jewelry is platinum is not sufficient. The appraisal should list the purity mark found on the jewelry (or state that there is no purity mark).


Examine the appraisal for a record of the jewelry’s purity. Be sure the settlement reflects the quality of the original jewelry. All platinum is not the same!

For a damage claim, check the jewelry for the stamp, which carries both the manufacturer’s trademark and the purity of the metal. Reading the markings usually requires magnification. Manufacturer and purity information make it much easier to determine like kind and quality (LKQ), facilitating a fair replacement or cash settlement.


The Gemological Institute of America is in the midst of a scandal over some of its Diamond Reports. Four employees were let go after being accused of accepting bribes in return for higher gem grades. Some lawsuits are still pending over questionable grading, as GIA continues its own investigations.

GIA has the most highly regarded independent diamond grading labs and the organization is eager to maintain consumer confidence. GIA has offered to recertify any diamonds for the next six months, at no charge, as long as the original certificate was from GIA and the diamond is loose (not in a setting).

Look for more details in future issues of JII as the situation develops.

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