Are they really rubies?

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Are They Really Rubies?

Radiant ruby jewelry. To the naked eye, the pieces are exquisite -- but when put under a microscope, it can be a very different story. You can clearly see bubbles and that's a big problem for consumers, according to Master Appraiser Gary Smith. "That's trapped air inside the lead glass. You'll never find it in a natural ruby," he told InsideEdition.
Are they really rubies?
When this ruby (that InsideEdition was told was totally real) got dropped into a simple jeweler's cleaning solution, the lead glass is eaten away.
"It's all white, honeycombed. Totally destroyed," Christopher Smith noted. "Now, it's less than worthless."

"This glass actually has quite a high content of lead," said Smith. "All of them were of this composite ruby material."

"I am so angry about the failure to disclose what this product really is, let alone the price," said Matlins.

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That's right, he said "lead glass." Smith and other gemologists tell InsideEdition that many of the rubies sold at some major stores should not even be called genuine rubies. They're more like ruby-ringers, consisting of some low-quality ruby and a lot of something called lead glass, which is infused into the stones to enhance their appearance.

These rubies are definitely real ...

Are they really rubies?
A set of ruby and diamond necklace and diamond earrings from the 19th century that will be part of an upcoming auction, in central London, Friday Oct. 23, 2009. The necklace made of 24 cushion-shaped rubies balanced with 24 similarly shaped diamonds, along with the matching earrings, property of Mary, Duchess of Roxburghe, is estimated to fetch some 530,000-975,000 US dollars, (some 318,000-586,000 British pounds, some 212,000-650,000 euros) at Sotheby's Magnificent Jewels sales in Geneva and New York. (AP Photos/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Christie's employee, Laura Vere-Hodge, poses with a 1936 Art Deco ruby and diamond necklace by Cartier on display at the auction house in London, Friday, June 5, 2009. The necklace formerly the property of the first Baroness Ravensdale of Kedlestone is to be auctioned in 'Jewels' sale on June 10 with an estimated price of 100,000 to 150,000 pounds (US$160,478 to 240,718 or euro 113,244 to169,866). (AP Photo/Sang Tan)
A photo provided by Austrian Police in Vienna on Thursday Nov. 6, 2008 shows various gems. Austrian police have seized an uncut stolen ruby, known a the "Prince of Burma" and other gems worth 3.5 million euros (US$4.5 million) in a raid against a suspected international gang of jewel thieves. Austria's federal criminal investigations bureau said Thursday they have arrested three people suspected of stealing the "Prince of Burma" and other gems from a German jeweler in the Italian city of Milan in August 2008. Eds note: Tag on bottom right of the photo is the logo of Austria's forensic science office. (AP Photo/Bundeskriminalamt, HO) ** EDITORIAL USE ONLY; MANDATORY CREDIT **
A Sotheby's employee holds an elegant ruby and diamond bracelet weighting approximately 20.00 carat in total above famous soprano Maria Callas' autograph on the score of Verdi's opera 'Rigoletto' prior to the auction of jewels from the collection of Maria Callas, in Geneva, Switzerland, Nov. 13, 2004. A selection of the Callas' jewellery collection consisting of 11 pieces, most of which were given to her by her husband Giovanni Battista Meneghini during the 1950s, will be offered for sale by Sotheby's Geneva on Nov. 17, 2004. This bracelet is supposed to fetch about US$ 80.000.(AP Photo/Keystone, Fabrice Coffrini)
Ruby and diamond necklace and earrings
** FILE ** An auction house worker wears Marie Antoinette's pearls, a natural pearl, diamond and ruby necklace during a presentation for the upcoming auction in central London,in this Dec. 3, 2007, file photo. The pearls purportedly belonging to Marie Antoinette failed to sell Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2007, a disappointing fate for the centerpiece of the Christie's auction house's "Magnificent Jewels" sale. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis, file)
Natascha Andress, niece of actress Ursula Andress, shows a ruby and diamond necklace and bracelet, which are expected to realize US$ 700,000 and 1250,000 respectively when they go up for auction, in Geneva, Switzerland, Friday Nov. 10, 2000. The auction is scheduled for Nov. 15 in Geneva(AP Photo/Martial Trezzini)
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"Call it by any other name, a composite ruby, a manufactured product, a fake, an imitation. Call it anything you want, except genuine ruby," explains gemologist Antoinette Matlins.

InsideEdition went jewelry shopping to see if retailers where really selling composite lead-glass rubies as genuine.

Zales is one of America's largest national jewelry chains. Here's what they told us at their shop in midtown Manhattan when our producer asked, "Is that a real ruby?"

"Yes, it's genuine," said the salesperson.

We were given the same information when we went shopping at Lord & Taylor's flagship location on Manhattan's famed Fifth Avenue. We were assured the ruby ring was the real deal.

"It's a real ruby?" asked our producer.

"Yeah, it's a real ruby. It's very elegant. You can see the ruby itself," said the salesperson.

But are they, really? We made the purchases and then sent the rings to Christopher Smith at American Gemological Labs for a battery of tests. He says they've all been infused with high amounts of lead glass.

"This glass actually has quite a high content of lead," said Smith. "All of them were of this composite ruby material."

"I am so angry about the failure to disclose what this product really is, let alone the price," said Matlins.

The ruby ring we purchased at Zales cost us almost $2,000.

"I'm just blown away," said Gary Smith. "I can't fathom that kind of pricing on a piece like this. This should retail around $415 dollars to about $625."

And we saw what happened when they got dropped into a simple jeweler's cleaning solution. After a few minutes, the lead glass is eaten away.

"It's all white, honeycombed. Totally destroyed," Smith noted. "Now, it's less than worthless."

Unlike these lead-glass rubies, real rubies are so durable they emerge from a cleaning in beautiful condition.

Gary said, "If I gave one of these to my wife, I would probably be sleeping on the sofa and cooking my own meals for a couple of weeks."

In a statement, Zales claims the jewelry was mislabeled and will now be retagged as "manufactured ruby," but they maintain the ring Inside Edition purchased was priced fairly.

Lord & Taylor's told us they are investigating. Both companies will offer refunds to unsatisfied customers.

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