Saturday, March 14, 2009

Flux and More Flux

Shortly after I had the flux healed ruby information under my belt I was wandering around a gemstone market and saw a very lovely ruby in a case. It was about 3 carat and a very glowing red. I asked to see it and the lady brought it out and I immediately put my 10x loupe to it. I was stunned. Inside this very red stone was very translucent clarity and well defined flux like patterns. There also appeared to be a few comforting black spots. I say comforting because we all know synthetics will be perfectly clean, no black spots and no flux fingerprints, right?
Well, I asked her calmly what the price was and she looked me straight in the eye and with a twinkle told me $500 USD. Holy cow, over a hundred a carat in this location. If this was the real McCoy it was worth way more than that but $500 is a ton of money here soooo....
I told her the price was a little high but did she have any more. Her eyes lit up again and she removed a piece of parcel paper from inside to case and unfolded it. Inside were about 100 pieces, all absolutely gorgeous. Some quick math and a quick glance at the old rubber slippers she was wearing told me I had some room to negotiate. When she wouldn't accept my much lower offer I noticed another vendor, 2 booths down getting very anxious to catch my eye. I politely made my departure for the next lady and was intercepted by a man that insisted on a word in private. He told me I was about to be scammed and he could show me where to buy the rubies that I really wanted. Off we went on foot to a small jewelry shop. Much higher scale, well dressed employees and a clean shop. He explained in Burmese what I wanted and out came the rubies. The exact same look but with an even higher price. They even demonstrated with some 'test' to prove that theirs was real and how those others must be some kind of plastic or something. Suddenly I noticed the clock and exclaimed in a lie that I was to meet my girlfriend in 5 minutes and had to run. Run I did, circling back to the ladies with the rubies.
I found the second one that had been trying to lure me over. She had the same merchandise and accepted an even lower offer than the first lady had refused. Now I had about 300 carats of something. The original lady made her way over to watch the transaction and said she would now accept my original offer. Of course I said that the offer was now lower, a little lower than what I had just paid, in fact. She accepted it with a smile after a little pleading and now I had well over 500 carats of something I knew was interesting.
I needed a second opinion or more so I took some to my local lapidary club. The president was baffled and took one to show an 'expert' he would see next month. Several months passed and she was still checking on it. I didn't want to wait longer but wanted to sell them. I had a regular route where I set up a booth in various markets so I labeled them as synthetic and put them out there. Every gem lover always noticed them and had me pull them out. I enjoyed watching them as they noticed the inclusions. Several experts took me under their wing and told me that these were not synthetics and my price of $25 a carat was ridiculously low. I insisted that I was OK with that price and they were then delighted to relieve me of some. I traveled around to various jewelers and had many adventures with them trying to figure these things out. Definitely ruby but I was seeing inclusions in the microscope that I still have not seen again to this day. After several more months and half of them sold, one jeweler knew of a lab I could mail them to. He had to know as he wanted to buy all the rest if they checked out as natural as he thought they must be.
Into the scene steps Bear Williams of Stone Group Labs. After receiving the package, Bear called me and wanted to know where I had gotten these as they were highly unusual. The surprising diagnostic was a flame fusion ruby that perhaps had been heated then cooled quickly causing it to crack, perhaps then it had been reheated with Borax flux to heal the cracks. This type of ruby had not yet been documented as far as he knew. A little more than a year later there was an alert from a major gem lab that this type of stone had been observed. Now, quite a number of years later, many experts are still selling these as naturals at well over $100 per carat. I now sell them for $5 a carat retail in my eBay store. They do make an excellent study stone, are very cool just to look at and show and also make a very stunning piece of jewelry.


  1. Hi! I like all the details that you give in your posts -- that's really useful! I just saw these photos of rubies, today, and wondered if they were similar:



  2. Hi Tenney,
    They sure do look similar, however, the fractures in those were created naturally and were not healed by flux. The fractures in the ruby you see in my picture were created by heating the stone with probably a torch then spraying it with a mist of water to quench crack it. The created fractures were then healed with the high temperature heating with Borax flux. The gem treaters that came up with this technique had no doubt looked at many rubies that had similar inclusions to those natural rubies you pointed out.
    Thanks and always let me hear from you, Lee

  3. Lee
    Thanks for sharring your valiable experiences.
    LUIS XVIII SERVICE GUIDE Diamond Distric 47th ST. NY will be honnor to have some of your stories published.
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