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Are they really rubies?

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.

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 ...

"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.

Join the discussion

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Raymond May 18 2014 at 5:03 PM

I'm shocked that "Zale's Jewelers" or "Lord & Taylor's" would even come up with the excuse that the "manufactured ruby was mislabeled." That's a crock!!!! Any Jeweler of any caliber and fine reputation wouldn't make that mistake. When any gemstones (diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, etc.) that is bought, it is first checked for quality, graded, and is always certified by a Gemological Expert. I can tell you what's going on here, it's called "FRAUD!"

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hackitoff2 May 18 2014 at 3:48 PM

before buying, why not ask that it be cleaned in jeweler's solution. if they say no - run don't walk from the store

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2 replies
ilenedan2 hackitoff2 May 18 2014 at 4:05 PM

That won't normally eat away at the stone in my experience. You can dip lead glass in jeweler's solution. Instead ask if it is composite ruby, lead glass filled, a doublet, or treated in any way other than basic heating without flux or additives. Look at it through a jeweler's loupe. If you see bubbles, do not buy.

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billc7777 hackitoff2 May 18 2014 at 5:17 PM

Why would you trust them to answer that question truthfully when they know full well that they are screwing you with a piece lead glass... Sales person; Yes, yes they were washed several times do you want that gift boxed and shipped to where the sun never shines sir?

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Lbrikman02 May 18 2014 at 12:27 PM

if it was counterfeit money these people would be in jail for life. so lets make fake jewelry and sell it as if it were real and make real money from all the suckers that buy it with no repercussions from the law.

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1 reply
globe2see Lbrikman02 May 18 2014 at 2:03 PM

Good idea. Have to get lots of voters behind their recalcitrant politicians.

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David S. May 18 2014 at 4:09 PM

Who cares? Jewelry is a waste of money. Women's obsession with it is ridiculous.

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2 replies
ladybug12603 David S. May 18 2014 at 5:08 PM

lots of men love jewelry also ---

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sjrura1960 David S. May 18 2014 at 5:30 PM

Women are obsessed with jewelry, but men are obsessed with sex.....So women trade one for the other ! ! !

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SATTARAWOLF May 18 2014 at 2:08 PM

they were not surprised at all .they knew up front its how they make a bundle off of lower quality gems .i buy and sell gems on the side so i know about --filled rubies -- to the naked eye they are fabulous but in a jewelers loop they are revealed .suggestion-- ask the jeweler to use their loop for a moment --especially when spending any considerable amoutn .any jewelry stor worth shopping in will help you out as they have nothing to hide . if they dont shop elsewhere. caviat emptor buyer beware

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1 reply
nneola SATTARAWOLF May 18 2014 at 2:27 PM

I worked for a fine jewelery store for four years. I ALWAYS showed diamonds under a microscope. Other gem stones too. A loop doesn't begin to show everything. If a jeweler doesn't have a microscope, get the heck out of there. Another red flag - they are having a BIG sale. Reputable jewelers do no mark prices up and down. You might think you are getting a deal but you are not.

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xraybrain May 18 2014 at 3:49 PM

"mislabled" yes. The question is....are they mislabled on purpose?

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1 reply
ilenedan2 xraybrain May 18 2014 at 4:07 PM

Sheer sloppiness. They should know to check all sapphires and rubies for bubbles under magnification at this point. The market is saturated with them. They are fine if you know to treat them with care, but you should not pay untreated prices for treated or substantially altered stones.

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krug1284 May 18 2014 at 9:19 AM

All the more reason to shop at local SMALL business. Corporate America rips us off daily. Starting with bought and paid for tax laws. Then they lie and get away with it. Corporations are accountable to NO ONE. Thanks to unlimited political contributions. Commit fraud, illegal banking, poison waterways etc. No jail time the corporations just pay a fine. Then they are allowed to take a right off for the fine or raise prices to off set it. So in reality we the working class tax payer makes up the cost of the fine. The founding fathers are rolling over in their graves. They fought and died to become independent of this type of oppression. Start taking back our country from the corrupt corporations this November. Vote out ALL DC politicians NO matter what party !!!!! Until we make corporate investment in DC a non issue, we will never be free.

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2 replies
champjr krug1284 May 18 2014 at 9:24 AM

Wow! Lighten up.

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1 reply
geoflying champjr May 18 2014 at 9:37 AM

It is always good when someone takes time to post the truth for others to see, on the other you reply is useless. maybe a troll?.

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d1anaw krug1284 May 18 2014 at 9:59 AM

Actually the troll would be the one using this to pound the union drum.

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1 reply
jelun d1anaw May 18 2014 at 10:28 AM

Sometimes you sound like a nut...

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billc7777 May 18 2014 at 5:09 PM

Zales insists that the Ruby`s were fairly priced at $2,000.00 because they are keeping $1,500.00 they screwed the customer out of.... FU ZALE`s

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therealkatsmell May 18 2014 at 5:15 PM

mark up on jewels is worse that the mark up at the liquor store

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talldkny May 18 2014 at 10:16 AM

It is all about the retailer making a profit at the cost of the consumer. A bit unethical one may be think, but today it is business as usual. "Let the buyer beware!"

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2 replies
blindskeeter talldkny May 18 2014 at 10:33 AM

Its wayyyy more than unethical...It's CRIMMINAL. If they are caught again it should be jail time. For now they need to be facing a judge so they can get on probation they deserve and RESTITUTION to thier VICTIMS of a CRIME. I really wonder what the crimminal justic system is doing about this CRIME?

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rgkarasiewicz talldkny May 18 2014 at 10:36 AM

I would call it a bit more than unethical as it spells fraud to me. It's analogous to one purchasing a Rolls Royce, but given a Chevy instead.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
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