Gem scams Part 3 - blame yourself

As a tourist in Asia one frequently stumbles over street vendors offering a plethora of gemstones basically targetting the local population in search of cheap gems for jewellery purposes or, more often, upon advice of the family astrologer or ayurvedic doctor. Often enough, however, tourists succumb to the – admittedly mostly inexpensive – seduction. All of you readers thinking that there are treasures to be salvaged on Asia´s pavements, please take note:

U Tin Hlaing, retired gemmologist of the Panglong University in Burma, studied the gems offered on such a market since 1990. His recordings were published in the 2008 spring issue of "Gems & Gemology", the journal of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).

62% of all stones in the study were rubies, out of which a portly 58% turned out to be Verneuil synthetics. 27% of the gems were blue and colourless sapphires. The percentage of Verneuil synthetics amongst those was even more sobering and exceeded 90%!! At least amongst the colourless sapphires there were more natural specimens than synthetics.

Also plentiful were synthetic spinels in aquamarine colour, GGG (Gallium Gadolinium Garnet) in peridot-like colour, YAG (Yttrium Aluminium Garnet), cubic zirconia and of course glasses which, together with the synthetic spinels, comprised the better part of the larger stones on offer.

To retrieve the vendors´ honour, it has to be said that they actually do not intend to defraud but serve a local market where synthetics and imitation gems are highly sought after. Still you may take it for granted that any chance to pull a fast one on innocent tourists, who do not even speak the language, is eagerly jumped upon.