Archive for category Macy’s Fake Gem Lawsuit

Winners and Losers in the Lead Ruby Controversy

A ruby is a hard and durable stone second only to diamonds in hardness.  When the Burmese source of rubies became unavailable in the early 2000s, many vendors turned to low-grade rubies from Africa, loaded them with lead filled glass to enhance color and make them look like the real thing, and these “rubies” found their way to fine jewelry departments in Macy’s and other stores. Initially, the news was kept quiet but slowly spread as problems mounted.  In December 2007, Jewelry Insurance published an article entitled:

How do you like your rubies — leaded or unleaded?

The Jewelry Insurance newsletter provides monthly insight to specialists in the field including jewelry insurance agents, underwriters, and claims adjusters, the people who have to deal with fraud daily.

These “rubies” were found in Africa primarily and were low-grade but plentiful.  By adding the lead glass, the vendors took a very cheap but plentiful source of low-grade otherwise unusable ruby, made them look like the real thing, got real ruby prices, and purchasers were none the wiser.  Although the cost was negligible, the end result was they passed as real rubies and created windfall profits for the sellers, from vendors to on-line sellers or traditional stores like Macy’s.

Photo by Jessica Arditi and Sun Joo Chung.

Photo by Jessica Arditi and Sun Joo Chung.

As stories spread about the problems with the composite rubies, some people began to question the sources and the process, and found the “rubies” needed special care, were not as durable, and often broke down in simple household tasks, like in lemon juice or dishwater.  According to the article, “Researchers have found that when a filled stone is heated to high temperature, the filler begins “sweating” and after a few moments flows out of the stone.  When a highly filled ruby losses its filler, it can fall to pieces if the filler is destroyed.  Fracture-filling merely masks a low-quality, unattractive and weakened stone.”

RubiesLow-quality ruby rough is the starting material for lead-glass enhancement.

Although the Federal Trade Commission section Section 23.22 (Disclosure of Treatments to Gemstones) provides:

It is unfair or deceptive to fail to disclose that a gemstone has been treated if:

(a) The treatment is not permanent.  The seller should disclose that the gemstone has been treated and that the treatment is or may not be permanent;

(b) The treatment creates special care requirements for the gemstone.  The seller should disclose that the gemstone has been treated and has special care requirements.  It is also recommended that the seller disclose the special care requirements to the purchaser;

(c) The treatment has a significant effect on the stone’s value.  The seller should disclose that the gemstone has been treated.

Note to § 23.22:

The disclosures outlined in this section are applicable to sellers at every level of trade, as defined in § 23.0(b) of these Guides, and they may be made at the point of sale prior to sale; except that where a jewelry product can be purchased without personally viewing the product, (e.g., direct mail catalogs, online services, televised shopping programs) disclosure should be made in the solicitation for or description of the product.

§ 23.23 Misuse of the words “ruby,” “sapphire,” “emerald,” “topaz,” “stone,” “birthstone,” “gemstone,” etc.

(a) It is unfair or deceptive to use the unqualified words “ruby,” “sapphire,” “emerald,” “topaz,” or the name of any other precious or semi-precious stone to describe any product that is not in fact a natural stone of the type described.

(b) It is unfair or deceptive to use the word “ruby,” “sapphire,” “emerald,” “topaz,” or the name of any other precious or semi-precious stone, or the word “stone,” “birthstone,” “gemstone,” or similar term to describe a laboratory-grown, laboratory-created, [manufacturer name]-created, synthetic, imitation, or simulated stone, unless such word or name is immediately preceded with equal conspicuousness by the word “laboratory-grown,” “laboratory-created,” “[manufacturer name]-created,” “synthetic,” or by the word “imitation” or “simulated,” so as to disclose clearly the nature of the product and the fact it is not a natural gemstone.

Note to paragraph (b): The use of the word “faux” to describe a laboratory-created or imitation stone is not an adequate disclosure that the stone is not natural.

(c) It is unfair or deceptive to use the word “laboratory-grown,” “laboratory-created,” “[manufacturer name]-created,” or “synthetic” with the name of any natural stone to describe any industry product unless such industry product has essentially the same optical, physical, and chemical properties as the stone named.

§ 23.24 Misuse of the words “real,” “genuine,” “natural,” “precious,” etc.

It is unfair or deceptive to use the word “real,” “genuine,” “natural,” “precious,” “semi-precious,” or similar terms to describe any industry product that is manufactured or produced artificially.

Sellers Ignore FTC Requirements

So many sellers ignored the requirements of the law and sold these lead glass filed rubies as “natural” or “real rubies” when in fact they were low-grade unusable rubies on steroids now known as “composites”. An example is the expose of Macy’s from two television news sources.  Good Morning America did an undercover purchase of rubies at Macy’s and found sales people touting composite stones as real, and getting real ruby prices for them.  KPIX Channel 5 in San Francisco purchased rubies at Macy’s and found the same thing, false rubies sold as real with no disclaimers.

So who wins and loses in this scheme?

Winners: Sellers

For the supplier, fracture filling is a moneymaker because:

They pay far less for a low-grade ruby and after the treatment sell the product for real ruby prices.  Also they expand the supply base by using formerly unusable low-grade rubies resulting in windfall profits for suppliers and ultimate vendors, whether they are established stores like Macy’s or online vendors, or small jewelry shops..

Losers: Consumers

The loser is the consumer who pays real ruby prices for an inferior product that will require special treatment ad is worth far less than they paid for it.  Simply stated it is not a ruby, so if the consumer thought they were buying a ruby it won’t be appraised or insured as a real ruby, is not as durable, and requires special treatment.

AGL, a lab that specializes in reports on colored gems, identifies the stone as “composite ruby.”  This term immediately distinguishes such a highly adulterated stone from ruby that is not fracture-filled.

The Jewelry Insurance newsletter recommends that appraisers, adjusters, and insurance representatives.  Ask the policyholder whether the jewelry has recently been cleaned or the gem reset, or whether it had been exposed to such common household solvents as bleach, ammonia or lemon juice.  Fracture-fill materials often discolor or break down under the stress of heat or chemicals, causing the stone to appear damaged.  In such cases, it’s really the filling that’s been damaged and the insurer is not liable.

Proposed Class Action vs. Macy’s

The Brandi Law Firm is representing people who bought ruby jewelry at Macy’s in California in a proposed class action pending in San Francisco Superior Court before the Hon. John Munter. (San Francisco Superior Court No. CGC 10-495868).

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Fake Rubies, the FTC, and Macy’s

Corundum is the natural stone that provides us with rubies (red) and sapphires (blue).  It has historically been prized for its unique color, durability, and high value.  As long as people have sought nature’s prized jewels, there have been disreputable people trying to take advantage of customers through deceptive and unfair practices.  In jewelry this has been achieved by passing off “natural” stones (stones created by natural process that come out of the ground) as something that is simply not natural (e.g. rubies of poor quality that have been enhanced by infusion of leaded glass, or some other foreign material to make them look natural).  The disreputable dealer then sells the “treated” stones as “natural” for the price a natural stone demands while paying a fraction of the price as cost.  For everyone but the consumer, “treatments” equate to windfall profits because the consumer does not know they are not buying the real thing.

Ruby

The red above is a ruby. The blue below is a sapphire.

Sapphire

In the first ten years of the 21st century rubies ceased being freely available from Burma/Myanmar as political conditions led to sanctions.  Certain companies began taking low quality corundum from other areas, often in Africa, and after “treatment” created composite “rubies” loaded with leaded glass and other foreign material.

Report of the American Gemological Association to the FTC, September 28, 2012

According to the report of the American Gemological Association to the FTC dated September 28, 2012:

“Subsequent research by AGA members. in association with several of the world’s leading gem testing laboratories, revealed that the lead-glass became an integral part of the blended product and cannot be removed without destroying the entire “gem.”  Furthermore, the properties associated with “ruby” are no longer the same since the properties associated with lead-glass are also present and inseparable.  These are two critical differences between this product and treated rubies.

Without the lead glass, there is no “ruby” in terms of color and transparency, but with the lead glass, the physical properties are so altered that the resulting “ruby” lacks the characteristics that make “ruby” a ruby.  The fusion of these two very different materials creates something that is neither ruby nor glass, but a new type of imitation that combines properties of both, each of which is inseparable from the other-in short, a new type of “composite” (an imitation created from two or more materials being joined together in some way, to imitate a rarer, and more costly gem).  Composites can be formed from two or more parts of a genuine stone, or two or more parts of an imitation or synthetic, or from a combination of genuine and artificial.”

Additionally the AGA stated, “This new product now being sold as “treated ruby,” at inflated prices, poses a serious threat to consumers that was unknown at the time of the last FTC review more than 10 years ago.”

The AGA report to the FTC illustrated a lead glass filed ruby as follows:

Lead glass RubyLead glass filled rubies took the gemstone industry by storm in 2005.  With wholesale prices ranging from as low as $2-$15 per carat, several sectors of the industry took pre-emptive action asking labs to have stones treated in this manner clearly disclosed.  Due to the extreme extent of this treatment and concerns over durability, the AGL identifies such stones as:

Composite Ruby, with an additional comment stating: This ruby has been heavily treated Filled Rubyusing a high refractive index lead-glass to fill fractures and cavities, vastly improving the apparent clarity and potentially adding weight.  The glass may be damaged by a variety of solvents.  Stability: Good to Fair.”  The photographs here were taken by Jessica Arditi and Sun Joo Chung.

The lead-glass filling is so pervasive and there is such a close match between the refractive index of the glass and the ruby, that it is often difficult to fully recognize the extent of this treatment.  This image illustrates one of the distinctive features of composite rubies, consisting of large numbers of gas bubbles occurring within the lead glass.

FTC Regulations Require Disclosure

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has regulations to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive sales practices that are consistently violated by these lead infused “treated” stones.

§ 23.22 Disclosure of treatments to gemstones.

Section 23.22 (Disclosure of Treatments to Gemstones) provides:

It is unfair or deceptive to fail to disclose that a gemstone has been treated if:

(a) The treatment is not permanent.  The seller should disclose that the gemstone has been treated and that the treatment is or may not be permanent;

(b) The treatment creates special care requirements for the gemstone.  The seller should disclose that the gemstone has been treated and has special care requirements.  It is also recommended that the seller disclose the special care requirements to the purchaser;

(c) The treatment has a significant effect on the stone’s value.  The seller should disclose that the gemstone has been treated.

Note to § 23.22:

The disclosures outlined in this section are applicable to sellers at every level of trade, as defined in § 23.0(b) of these Guides, and they may be made at the point of sale prior to sale; except that where a jewelry product can be purchased without personally viewing the product, (e.g., direct mail catalogs, online services, televised shopping programs) disclosure should be made in the solicitation for or description of the product.

§ 23.23 Misuse of the words “ruby,” “sapphire,” “emerald,” “topaz,” “stone,” “birthstone,” “gemstone,” etc.

(a) It is unfair or deceptive to use the unqualified words “ruby,” “sapphire,” “emerald,” “topaz,” or the name of any other precious or semi-precious stone to describe any product that is not in fact a natural stone of the type described.

(b) It is unfair or deceptive to use the word “ruby,” “sapphire,” “emerald,” “topaz,” or the name of any other precious or semi-precious stone, or the word “stone,” “birthstone,” “gemstone,” or similar term to describe a laboratory-grown, laboratory-created, [manufacturer name]-created, synthetic, imitation, or simulated stone, unless such word or name is immediately preceded with equal conspicuousness by the word “laboratory-grown,” “laboratory-created,” “[manufacturer name]-created,” “synthetic,” or by the word “imitation” or “simulated,” so as to disclose clearly the nature of the product and the fact it is not a natural gemstone.

Note to paragraph (b): The use of the word “faux” to describe a laboratory-created or imitation stone is not an adequate disclosure that the stone is not natural.

(c) It is unfair or deceptive to use the word “laboratory-grown,” “laboratory-created,” “[manufacturer name]-created,” or “synthetic” with the name of any natural stone to describe any industry product unless such industry product has essentially the same optical, physical, and chemical properties as the stone named.

§ 23.24 Misuse of the words “real,” “genuine,” “natural,” “precious,” etc.

It is unfair or deceptive to use the word “real,” “genuine,” “natural,” “precious,” “semi-precious,” or similar terms to describe any industry product that is manufactured or produced artificially.

Treated Rubies have Lower Value and Require Special Care

According to numerous experts in the field, these composite rubies have a significantly lower value, some as low as $5 to $20 per carat, require special care, and are no longer as durable.  Again, the American Gemological report states “…selling this product as ruby when the most important physical characteristics associated with ruby-its toughness, hardness and overall durability, ranking it next to diamond in terms of these characteristics-is not present in this new product.  These composites are not only less durable, they are very fragile.”

The refractive index (RI) relates to how light moves through and between the ruby and the glass.  The RI of lead glass is almost a perfect match of the ruby, that is, as light moves through the stone, you cannot see where the stone ends and the glass begins.  The RI of the lead glass conceals the fissures/ fractures making it impossible to discern how great a risk there is in normal wear.

Another interesting aspect is that the filler lead glass cannot be removed without destroying the stones structural cohesiveness.  In addition, the lead glass increases the weight and it is not possible to determine the actual weight of the ruby portion. But, the lead glass is softer and thus the composite or treated ruby is less durable, more fragile and more vulnerable to cracking, chipping, breaking than a natural ruby.

The highly respected Gemological Institute of America (GIA) refers to these lead glass rubies as “a manufactured product” while the AGA refers to them as “composites”.  Whatever you call them they are not the same as a ruby that comes out of the ground, and under the FTC requirements, the truth about them should be disclosed.

Macy’s Failure to Disclose

But, sadly for consumers, the truth is not disclosed.  Good Morning America did an undercover purchase of rubies at Macy’s and found sales people touting composite stones as real, and getting real ruby prices for them.  KPIX Channel 5 in San Francisco purchased rubies at Macy’s and found the same thing, false rubies sold as real with no disclaimers.

Appraisal

For many reasons, including insurance, it is sound practice to have jewelry appraised.  If you bought a ruby at Macy’s as featured in the Good Morning America report and wish to get it appraised, you should do so at a reputable appraiser, such as the American Gemological Association.  Below is a report on a ruby from November 9, 2007:

Ruby brief

Proposed Class Action vs. Macy’s

The Brandi Law Firm is representing people who bought ruby jewelry at Macy’s in California in a proposed class action pending in San Francisco Superior Court before the Hon. John Munter. (San Francisco Superior Court No. CGC 10-495868).

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MACY’S Affirmative Defenses Against Plaintiffs in Fake Jewelry Case Suspend Reality

After multiple unsuccessful motions seeking to dismiss Plaintiffs claims that it was selling rubies and other fine jewelry as “real” or “natural” when they were clearly not, Macy’s finally filed its answer to the Plaintiff’s complaint in the fake jewelry case heard before the Hon. John Munter of the San Francisco Superior Court (San Francisco Superior Court No. 10 495868).  In its response, Macy’s denied all fault, as expected, in response to claims it was selling composite rubies that were heavily treated using lead glass as “natural”.  Macy’s also alleged Forty-One affirmative defenses attacking Plaintiffs.  Here, Macy’s has the burden of proving its claims.  While many of the affirmative defenses are based on legal issues, a few of Macy’s affirmative defenses bear closer examination, especially in light of the facts shown in this Good Morning America video.

If you took a moment to look at the video and saw what actually happened, compare that with what Macy’s is claiming as it seeks to avoid liability.

In their 8th Affirmative defense, Macy’s alleges that prior to the commencement of the suit, Macy’s “duly performed, satisfied, and discharged all duties and obligations they may have owed to Plaintiffs…’’.

In its 15th Affirmative defense, Macy’s blames the Plaintiffs for any damages Plaintiffs claim from buying fake jewelry stating, “if Plaintiffs have suffered or will suffer any damages, those damages are the result of their own conduct and not the result of any conduct by the defendants”.  Is Macy’s claiming consumers’ injected lead into the fake stones to make them look real?

In its 18th Affirmative defense, Macy’s amazingly claims that prior to any purchase Macy’s informed the consumer, “that all material facts known by these defendants were fully disclosed in good faith to Plaintiff.”  Does this mean Macy’s really disclosed its rubies were not real and Plaintiffs paid real ruby prices anyway?

Remember that real rubies are from the mineral corundum and are magnificent in color, hard, durable, brilliant in color, and command high prices.  You can take a poor quality stone and enhance it by adding lead glass or treating it with heat to enhance its color and presentation and the consumer will not notice anything with the naked eye.

As the Good Morning America piece points out, “To the naked eye, there’s no difference, but examined under a microscope, gas bubbles that form as the glass cools can be seen in the composite rubies.  Experts say composite rubies are fragile, and that they’re only worth a fraction of the value of natural rubies.”

We are representing a group of people who bought what they were told were the real things, natural rubies, etc., paid real prices, only to later learn their jewelry was not real and worth only a fraction of their purchase price.  If you purchased fine jewelry, rubies, diamonds, sapphires or other gemstones from Macy’s anywhere in the US since 2006, you may have a claim.  Contact the Brandi Law Firm Consumer Fraud Attorneys to find out more about these issues, whether you are in New York, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Seattle, Miami, or parts between.  Please contact the Brandi Law Firm at 800-481-1615 or email us

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Court Denies Macy’s Motion to Strike Fake Jewelry Case

In March 2013, Macy’s Demurrer and Motion to Strike the Plaintiff’s complaint in the fake jewelry case was heard before the Hon. John Munter of the San Francisco Superior Court (San Francisco Superior Court No. 10 495868).  Plaintiff filed eight causes of action against Macy’s alleging Unfair Completion under Business and Professions code 17200, False Advertising under Business and Professions code 17500, Violation of the Consumer Legal Remedies Act, Intentional Misrepresentation by Macy’s, Negligent Misrepresentation by Macy’s, breach of implied warranty, breach of express warranty, and concealment.  Macy’s sought a finding that Plaintiff had not stated sufficient facts to go forward with the case and the case should be thrown out.

After hearing extensive arguments, the Court denied Macy’s motions stating: “The Court holds that each cause of action set forth in the Second Amended Complaint does state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action against Macy’s, including facts sufficient to satisfy the applicable standing and notice requirements.”  The Court also proceeded to deny Macy’s motion to strike portions of the complaint in their entirety.  The case will now proceed with discovery regarding Macy’s conduct and allegations of false advertising pertaining to fake rubies and other precious gems that were sold as “real” or “natural” and were not.  Unfortunately, consumers generally do not possess the knowledge or the expertise to know when they are buying a “ruby” that is not a real ruby.

Real rubies are from the mineral corundum and are magnificent in color, hard, durable, brilliant in color, and command high prices.

How do fake rubies become real?

You take a stone that is of poor quality and you add lead glass or treat it with heat to enhance its color and presentation. When pressed some will concede it is not real but insist on calling them rubies.  Others will say when pressed the stone is a “treated ruby”, “enhanced ruby”, “composite ruby” or even “hybrid gemstone”.  In a “composite ruby”, much of the surface is fractured and the fractures are filled with glass.

To the naked eye, there is no difference to the ordinary consumer.

Jewelry

But under magnification, the difference is significant.

bubble 2                              bubble 3                              bubble 4

On two separate occasions on each coast of our country, television crews have gone into Macy’s and found significant instances where Macy’s was not quite telling the whole truth about their jewelry.  The first was Good Morning America.

Click here to read the full article: Are Your Rubies the Real Deal?

As the Good Morning America piece points out, “To the naked eye, there’s no difference, but examined under a microscope, gas bubbles that form as the glass cools can be seen in the composite rubies.  Experts say composite rubies are fragile, and that they’re only worth a fraction of the value of natural rubies.”  The crew from Good Morning America bought four ruby rings and brought them to gemologist Christopher Smith for testing.  All were supposed to be real rubies.  The result, however, was significantly different;

“We identified the presence of lead within the glass, which is conclusive proof of this material,” Smith said.  The three rings in question were from three different Macy’s stores in the New York area.

The second neutral inspection was from Channel 5 KPIX in San Francisco who aired a program showing the same thing in Macy’s Stores in the Bay Area on Super Bowl Sunday 2011.

We are representing a group of people who bought what they were told were the real things, natural rubies, diamonds, etc., paid real prices, only to later learn their jewelry was not real and worth only a fraction of their purchase price. If you purchased fine jewelry, rubies, diamonds, sapphires or other gemstones from Macy’s anywhere in the US since 2006, you may have a claim. Contact the Brandi Law Firm Consumer Fraud Attorneys to find out more about these issues, whether you are in New York, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Seattle, Miami, or parts between.  Please contact the Brandi Law Firm at 800-481-1615 or email us.

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Is that Ruby Real?

The controversy over selling as real rubies glass filled and treated gem stones is the recent subject not only of recent lawsuits against MACY’S, (SF Superior Court Nos. CGC-09-495171 and CGC-10-495868) but a topic of great concern amongst professionals who strongly resent the practice of falsely portraying rubies as real when they are not.  The Roskin Gem News report, a professional trade journal has weighed in on the practice with guidelines and information for professionals to avoid being duped:

Glass Filled Rubies – the Inside Details

Also see articles from the Accredited Gemologist Association:

Put Lipstick on a Rock and Call it a Ruby

Composite “Rubies” Pose Serious Problem for Consumers

Unfortunately consumers generally do not possess the knowledge or the expertise to know when they are buying a “ruby” that is not a real ruby.  Real rubies are from the mineral corundum and are magnificent in color, hard, durable, brilliant in color, and command high prices.

How do fake rubies become real? You take a stone that is of poor quality and you add lead glass or treat it with heat to enhance its color and presentation. When pressed some will concede it is not real but insist on calling them rubies. Others will say when pressed the stone is a “treated ruby”, “enhanced ruby”, “composite ruby” or even “hybrid gemstone”. In a “composite ruby” much of the surface is fractured and the fractures are filled with glass.

The Roskin Gem News report quotes Chris Smith, President and CEO of American gemological Laboratories in New York: “After this ruby goes through the process of being cleaned, in an acid bath to clean out foreign material, what’s left is very brittle. You can literally crush it between your thumb and index finger. In the strict sense, it may still be a single piece, but you cannot polish it.  So the lead glass is infused into the ruby, stabilizing it in order to be polished. Sometimes there’s more ruby than glass, but sometimes there’s more glass than ruby.”

Few will tell you the truth that what you see is not what you think you see. But isn’t that the essence of a fraud, namely, combining something fake (e.g. treatments or additives) with lies and presenting to the consumer as high value fact something that is a near worthless fiction.

What do glass filed rubies look like?

To the naked eye there is no difference to the ordinary consumer.

But under magnification, the difference is significant.

     

What are some of the problems with glass filled rubies?

Obviously there is the stability issues referred to by Mr. Smith. The glass filler also cannot stand household acids found in cleaning supplies containing bleach or foods such as lemons, limes, vinegar, etc.  The stone below was exposed to fresh lemon juice for 48 hours and then lightly heated with torch.

So keep that ruby ring away from the kitchen or laundry

What about the price differential between glass filled and real rubies? Dramatic.

On this subject, Suzan Flamm, Assistant General Counsel of the Jeweler’s Vigilance Committee, which describes itself as “The Industry’s Guardian of Ethics and Integrity” wrote:

“The Federal Trade Commission regulates the use of many of the words associated with jewelry products, including “ruby,” “gem” and “natural.”  Understanding the proper use of these words, as defined in the FTC’s Jewelry Guides, is the first step in determining the exact nature of the disclosure required.

As a starting point, the Guides state that “it is unfair or deceptive to use the unqualified [word] ‘ruby’…to describe any product that is not in fact a natural stone of the type described.”  As to the use of the word “natural,” the FTC also provides boundaries, stating: “It is unfair or deceptive to use the word … ‘natural’ … to describe any industry product that is manufactured or produced artificially.”

The word “gem” is also subject to restrictions, as follows: “It is unfair or deceptive to use the word ‘gem’ to describe, identify, or refer to a ruby … product that does not possess the beauty, symmetry, rarity, and value necessary for qualification as a gem.”

Applying these rules, a seller must determine whether or not the stone sold is properly described as either “natural”, a “ruby” or a “gem.”  For composite ruby, the words “natural“ or “gem” are probably inappropriate descriptors.  Further, the unqualified word “ruby” is not appropriate – it should always be described.”

Sadly, sellers are ignoring the requirements of the law and simply presenting as real that which his fake.

If you purchased fine jewelry, rubies, diamonds, sapphires or other gemstones from Macy’s anywhere in the US since 2006, you may have a claim. To find out more about these issues, whether you are in New York, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Seattle, Miami, or parts between, please visit the Brandi Law Firm Macy’s Lawsuit website or contact the Brandi Law Firm Consumer Fraud Attorneys.

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Fake Rubies, Fake Diamonds, Macy’s and You

As we approach Christmas, many people will stroll though Macy’s stores and pass by the beautifully displayed gemstones.  Sitting under glass with lots of reflecting light you will find rubies, diamonds, sapphires and other prized stones.  Stuck way out of the way in some stores is a little card that tells you that what you see is not really the real thing.

In some stores you may see a card that tells you the “diamonds may be…treated.”, or that “this ruby has been heavily treated using a high refractive index lead glass to fill fractures and cavities…”

What does this mean?

That you are not buying a natural product but likely paying for the real thing.

Stated another way, what you may be buying is not a natural ruby but a composite filled with lead glass or a diamond that has been treated.  Be careful, ask if it is the real thing and make sure you don’t pay a price based on the item being the real thing — no matter how steep the discount or  “how good the deal”.

This year in San Francisco Superior Court there were two cases against Macy’s dealing with this issue (SF Superior Court Nos CGC-09-495171 and CGC-10-495868).   At their heart the cases dealt with allegations that Macy’s knowingly sold:

  • Rubies that were composites or filled with glass or lead filled glass;
  • Stones were being passed as untreated “green amethyst” when in fact this stone is in reality Praseolite (a heated form of quartz) while only purple amethyst is in fact real amethyst, natural and therefore of a much higher value;
  • Sapphires were fracture filled with glass;
  • Black sapphires were being passed off as “black diamonds”;
  • Many diamonds were enhanced by laser drilling or filling of surface cavities and fractures with a hardened substance;
  • Diamonds were irradiated or heated to induce color and then represented to be natural black diamonds.

On two separate occasions on each coast of our country television crews have gone into Macy’s and found significant instances where Macy’s was not quite telling the whole truth about their jewelry.  The first was Good Morning America.  (http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/ConsumerNews/rubies-real-deal/story?id=8988951).

As the Good Moring America piece points out “to the naked eye, there’s no difference, but examined under a microscope, gas bubbles that form as the glass cools can be seen in the composite rubies. Experts say composite rubies are fragile, and that they’re only worth a fraction of the value of natural rubies.” The crew from Good Morning America bought four ruby rings and brought them to a gemologist Christopher Smith for testing. All were supposed to be real rubies. The result;

“We identified the presence of lead within the glass, which is conclusive proof of this material,” Smith said. The three rings in question were from three different Macy’s stores in the New York area.

The second neutral inspection was from Channel 5 KPIX in San Francisco who aired a program showing the same thing in Macy’s Stores in the Bay Area on Super Bowl Sunday 2011.

If you purchased fine jewelry, rubies, diamonds, sapphires or other gemstones from Macy’s anywhere in the US since 2006, you may have a claim. To find out more about these issues, whether you are in New York, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Seattle, Miami, or parts between, please visit the Brandi Law Firm Macy’s Lawsuit website or contact the Brandi Law Firm Consumer Fraud Attorneys.

We are representing a group of people who bought what they were told were the real things, natural rubies, diamonds, etc., paid real prices, only to later learn their jewelry was not real and worth only a fraction of their purchase price.

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Macy’s Accused of Selling Fake Rubies and other Gems

A lawsuit filed The Brandi Law Firm alleges that Macy’s intentionally deceived its customers by misrepresenting the quality of jewelry, gems and stones it sold to customers throughout California and the United States including misrepresenting heavily glass filled and often heavily lead glass treated stones as natural rubies; selling gems from banned countries; selling Praseolite (a heated form of quartz) as “green amethysts”; and passing off black sapphires as “diamonds.”

One of Macy’s deceptive practices, selling artificially enhanced rubies as natural, received national attention during a story aired on Good Morning America that can be viewed here.

An article in the Daily Journal regarding these claims can be viewed here.

If you purchased jewelry, gems or stones from Macy’s from January 2005 through the present you may have interest in the Macy’s Jewelry Lawsuit.  Please click here to learn about The Brandi Law Firm Macy’s Fake Gem Attorneys and the lawsuit.

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