Cheap TV jewellery - a polemic
Out of professional curiosity we follow jewellery offers on various german speaking TV channels since many years.
Besides, we often get requests to repair jewellery from these sources. Most of the times we decline because it´s not worth it or simply impossible...
Recently a jeweller asked us to supply him with arguments to prevent a dear customer from waisting her money.
We gladly complied, especially since we regard the marketing tricks of those companies as, mildly put, unethical.
First the (only) good news: mostly you cannot complain about prices. Their jewellery is produced cheaply and in large numbers in Asia and priced accordingly.
But, and here´s the (numerous) bad news, the stuff is not worth a penny more than what it´s sold for.
These are some of the things you should know when buying TV jewellery
The making is cheap, if not to say bad. In our workshop not even an apprentice in his first year would get away with this
Most pieces are made of 9K gold. This alloy contains only about one third of gold. Before we joined the EU, it was not legal to sell this as "gold" in Austria
Apparently on TV treatments are not disclosed on principle. Whether it´s a simple heat-treatment or irradiaton, coating, diffusion-treatments, glas-filling or whatever, we never heard any of this mentioned during the elaborate sales talk. On the websites of some vendors one sometimes finds hints to treatments. Usually they are well hidden, e.g. under "jewellery care" and incomplete and/or simply wrong.
To state that a glasfilled ruby is "treated" is not enough and in plain violation of trade (and CIBJO) rules. In one case the vendor claimed that fractures are filled with a crystalline substance which manifolds clarity and colour intensity. In reality fractures are filled with glass, which is not crystalline. The procedure (seemingly) improves clarity but in no way it intensifies colour, unless, of course, coloured glass is used
Names like Kashmere Sapphire, Paraïba Tourmaline and Santa Maria Aquamarine are associated with gems of particularly high quality and price. By applying fancy names to cheap, sometimes almost valueless materials, rarity and high value is suggested. Examples are Angelandia Rose Quartz, Ouro Verde Quartz, Salamanca Fire Opal or Vihear Zircon, to name just a few
By giving excessively high starting prices, some TV jewellery vendors give the impression that their sales prices are only a fraction of regular market prices. The starting price of a ring sold for € 349,00 might be as high as € 4000. In fact every goldsmith in Austria could produce such a ring for the same price. We certainly could but would never do so, for fear for our reputation...
Very often TV jewellery sports cheap but flashy gem stones, which should never be worn in jewellery due to low hardness or perfect cleavage. Apatite, Cyanite or Kunzite might just about be suitable for earstuds, in rings their life span is measured in days, weeks or, at best, months. In fact such stones lose their polish rather quickly because even dust in the air may dull them over relatively short periods of time.
Here´s an example of what these companies sell:
At the time of writing (November, 2018) the webshop of one TV seller shows a gold ring with a 10x8mm oval ruby in a prong setting.
The "ruby" is glass-filled and weighs 2.64cts. We use quotation marks on purpose because with glass contents as high as 75%, renowned laboratories do not call these stones rubies any more. Instead they use terms like composite stone or hybrid ruby. At international gem fairs these "gems" are sold for as low as $ 10 p.ct.!!!
Add 1.85g (!!!) of 9K "gold" and the costs for casting, setting and polishing.
Sales price € 199,00 incl. VAT
Sounds cheap? Well, it isn´t. On top of that it´s not worth a farthing more and the resale value is almost nil.
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