Recently I came across an auction website called Auctionet (auctionet.com). The abundance of lead glass-filled rubies (composite rubies) at this auction website grabbed my attention immediately. So, I decided to dig a bit deeper. One of the first things I noticed was that all these composite rubies are heavily overvalued by the experts. As discussed in the post about lead glass-filled rubies, their actual price is around $2 per carat only. Here their estimates range from EUR 30 to EUR 134 per carat, which is totally insane!
The experts have estimated that this ruby (Figure 1) is worth EUR 284, whereas it’s real value is around $5.
Sadly, this approach of inflated estimates seems to work very well. However, it does not come as a surprise. As discussed earlier in the post about experts’ auction estimates, an estimate should be an unbiased, professional, and consistent valuation of the item offered. In practice, however, it is oftentimes used as a tool for marketing and unfair trade practices. It is used to convince the potential buyers that an item is substantially more valuable than it actually is, and buyers tend to rely on such expert estimates. As a result of that, the buyer here has paid EUR 239 for something that is worth around $20 (Figure 2). In addition, you have to take into account that auctionet.com charges a very high buyer’s premium (24%, on some occasions even more). Thus, the actual price the buyer has paid in this case is even higher – around EUR 300!
What really surprises me is that so many of the lead glass-filled rubies on auctionet.com are being sold with IGL gemological reports (Figure 3).
IGL gemological reports cost money, and sellers want to get their investment back, which is perfectly understandable. The problem, however, is that they do not increase the value of these composite rubies. A gemological report is not a magic wand that would turn an otherwise nearly worthless item into something valuable. I truly do not understand what is the point of investing money in the certification of something that is even not a gemstone but a manufactured product, according to to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). One might as well pay for the certification of glass then.
Yet another heavily overvalued composite ruby and another “lucky” buyer, who has paid over EUR 300 for an almost worthless, yet certified, manufactured product (Figure 4).
Be equally aware of the “rubies” that are being sold on Auctionet with no certificates at all (Figures 5 & 6).
There is not a single word about their treatment or quality in the descriptions. It is very unprofessional and deceptive. However, do not let that mislead you. You can be confident that these all are lead glass-filled rubies. It is pretty easy to recognize them (read more about the identification of composite rubies here).
The fact that the Auctionet’s experts present items for sale like this, without revealing crucial information, is an indicator of inferior professional standards. Just like offering items with untrustworthy, I’d even say fake, certificates is (Figures 7 & 9).
Here we have a 4.5-carat lead glass-filled ruby with a KGCL gem identification report. The report states that this ruby has been “heated”, which is not true. No doubt, this is a composite ruby. The difference between heated rubies and composite rubies is immense, as discussed earlier. Both in terms of value and durability. This “report” cannot really be regarded as a reliable gem identification report or certificate in the true sense of this word. Reports like this can be obtained in India and Thailand for $ 5-10, and they will print whatever you might request on them. So, it is not worth even the paper or plastic it’s printed on. No reliable and reputable auction house should ever accept items with such reports for sale.
Yet, they not only accept such items for sale but also continue with the same lies in the item description, stating that it is a natural ruby and only heat treated (Figure 8).
Here is another heavily overvalued lead glass-filled ruby with a fake certificate, claiming that this is natural, heated ruby. Pay attention to the clumsy wording – no serious gemological lab would ever use a term “inclusion of heating”.
There are substantial quantities of lead glass-filled rubies sold on Auctionet with inflated estimates, unprofessional and deceptive item descriptions, and fake certificates. All of this happens despite the fact that only professional auction houses are allowed to sell at auctionet.com. As they put it, “Only select auction firms make it onto Auctionet”. Obviously, that does not help much. In this context, Auctionet’s official statement sounds almost anecdotic: “Auctionet is a safe place to bid online. You can bid with confidence. Guaranteed!” They claim that Auctionet guarantees the following: “All items are carefully inspected, described and photographed by experts”; “All lots are double-checked by Auctionet before being published”; “Auctionet requires auction houses to follow a high ethical standard”. Well, well, well… What a joke!