How to dye Okenite; it’s not rocket science

October 10th, 2008 by PuTzu

Colorful Okenite is DYED OKENITE!

Click on this link above and visit The-Vug.com to watch us dye Okenite with food coloring!
You can get the Fakes and Forgeries issue of The-Vug.com Quarterly Magazine in the complete reprint book, available HERE on The-Vug.com

It is exciting to watch the okenite absorb the food coloring so rapidly. Like a cotton ball, simply touching the okenite to the liquid draws the food coloring deep inside the cluster in an instant.

Check out these yellow okenite clusters on eBay.

They even make them in verde!

Fake Citrine abounds on eBay…

September 21st, 2008 by PuTzu

Citrine is one of those minerals that causes the most confusion when people start collecting minerals.

Naturally occuring Citrine is a variety of Quartz that is found at only in superb examples few places in the world. The color of natural Citrine is a lemon shade, in stark contrast to the predominatly red influence to the majority of “Citrine” available to begining collectors.

Since there are so few locations for great quality natural Citrine, the demand for this brightly colored mineral lead to people figuring out that if you stuck certain types of Amethyst into a kiln you could turn the purple into a deep reddish orange.

I’ve sent numerous messages to some dealers about the misleading descriptions and they respond by making the descriptions that much more misleading!

Take this quote for example…

Citrine is very difficult to acquire, and the cost is more expensive than Amethyst of the same quality. This Citrine is a higher standard of quality which of course commands a higher price as with all of my Citrine speciments they have very little matrix which means more crystals for your money.

The problem with this statement is that there is no difficulty to acquire heat treated Citrine from Brazil. Do you need a 5000 pound contaner load? I can have one delivered to you with a couple of phone calls. The Amethyst deposits of South America are nearly limitless and while amazingly beautiful, not lacking in abundance. The problem with heat treated Amethyst is that it becomes brittle and subject to cracking. Is this a “bad” thing? Not really, there is always room for treated decorator minerals. But honesty should be key, informing the customer of what they are buying, rather than leading them to belive that bright orange citrine crystals come out of the basalts of southern Brazil. This stuff is sold by the kilo. Don’t be a sucker, shop around for the best price and form, you’ll get much more enjoyment that way.

Now, a language barrier is leading many dealers from Asia to sell Quartz that has been found with a layer of Iron Oxide over the surface as Citrine. In reality, a dip in some Oxalic acid will return these Quartz crystals to their proper form, white Quartz. Western Vs. Eastern ideals on names and the nature of fakes varies and while we might demand proper identification, the asian market will just label minerals whatever suits them that day. So, iron stained Quartz becomes Citrine! But in reality, most people remove the Iron staining from their specimens.

I hate Fake Rocks!

I hate Fake Rocks!

Copper Treated Andesine Gemstones!

July 23rd, 2008 by PuTzu

One of my favorite websites for gemstone scams is gone, but it was…Colored-Stone.com! There are always people coming up with new ways to dye, irradiate, heat and otherwise screw with the color of a natural gem.

Well, this material, “Andesine Labradorite” has been on the market for awhile, mimicing the most sought after colors and effects shown in top quality Oregon sunstone. Long story short…injected with dye. Whoot!

Andesine Gem Rough EXPOSED!

You should go to this website and read the whole story. It is quite amazing!

To sum it up, this material that was claimed to be completely 100% natural was actually treated, as suspected.

Fake Copper Specimens from China

July 18th, 2008 by PuTzu

First off I want to thank each and everyone who has sent in alerts to FakeMinerals.com! We love getting your feedback and article ideas!

During Tucson of 2008 a mineral dealer recieved these specimens from a Chinese dealer. Just as soon as they were unwrapped they were wrapped back up to be returned! Obviously these matrix Copper specimens are quite fake. These natural specimens have these copper splashes on them as an afterthought.
I hate Fake Rocks!

I have scanned eBay and the internet and I have not seen any more examples of these for sale, but as always, be aware that manufacturing specimens is a never ending endevor for some!

I hate Fake Rocks!

I was alerted to this fraud by a reader of FakeMinerals.com. Thanks John!

Arkansas Diamond Fraud! Salted Diamonds SOLD as Natural Arkansas Diamonds for HUGE PROFIT!!

May 9th, 2008 by PuTzu

Written By Justin Zzyzx and Brandy Naugle for FakeMinerals.com

Investigative Reporting by Yinan Wang

Arkansas is known for something very unique.

The ONLY public access diamond mine in the entire world. For a small fee, anyone can go to the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro Arkansas and search for diamonds in the giant open dirt field.

While it is certainly no easy task to unearth a diamond here, amazing finds have been reported and tracked through time. The average diamond found at the “Crater” is far less than a carat, most weighing in at under 10 points (that’s 1/10th of a carat) (TINY!). Finding a nice big fat stone over a carat is something people work for years and don’t find!

Diamonds at the Crater come in several shades, 70% of them being white, with brown coming in second and yellow is a close third.

The state park registers all of the diamonds that people find at the park, if they are willing to register it. Some don’t because they want to keep it private, while many want the nifty card that you get when you register your diamond with the park. They even keep track of everyone’s finds on their website, www.craterofdiamondsstatepark.com.

Diamonds from Arkansas are also special because of a very important fact. They are worth a great deal more than similar diamonds from commercial mines around the world. They are so special and unique, plus they tend to be among the hardest diamonds known to man. They have a unique form and often look like sleek drops of glass, rather than crude cubes and rough diamonds of so many African locations. So, an Arkansas diamond is going to be one of the most expensive diamonds you can get, but rightfully so!

Now that you know all about the important facts about diamonds from the “Crater of Diamonds State Park”, learn about how someone almost came up with a perfect scam.

You could not take any diamond into the park and just plant it on the ground. Or at least no one thought you could because a diamond from Africa, Brazil, Russia, et al. would not produce diamonds that look like the ones from Arkansas. But someone found a source that could pass for Arkansas diamonds. A source in India that imports diamonds from the Panna Mines.

Photos of diamond lots sent to Eric to examine prior to purchase.

India produces hundreds of thousands more diamonds than the US, therefore, the diamonds from India are much cheaper than their American counterparts. A man named Eric Blake (www.arkansasdiamondjewelry.com) figured out he could make some money by purchasing diamonds from India then take them into the park and “find” them.

A brown diamond from India costs around $100 per carat, while a similar diamond from Arkansas costs $1000 -$2000 per carat. A profit of more than 1000%.

In late October of 2007, Eric Blake and his family took a trip to the “Crater” and found an amazing amount of LARGE BROWN DIAMONDS!

It was no coincidence that he also placed a rush order for an assortment of Indian diamonds to be delivered no later than October 18th.

On 10/6/07 Eric sent the following message from his girlfriend (and accomplice) Susan Gabrielson’s email account.

Hello (Name Withheld),I may have deleted your last mail by accident. As I have not gotten a response from you. We are eagerly awaiting your mail. The stones must be received no later than October 18, 2007. Anything you can do to expedite this shipment would be greatly appreciated.

Over the span of 5 days, Eric and his three assistants “found” over 16.5 carats of diamonds at the park, including a whopping 3.92 carat stone! What great luck, eh? Out of all of the recorded finds they had that week, 60% of them were brown! What an interesting thing, because usually only around 20% of the finds are brown in color.

Screen captures of from the park diamond find archive for Eric Blake, Susan Gabrielson, Sarah Gabrielson, & Sayde Gabrielson

Eric also owns a website called ArkansasDiamondJewelry.com which sells diamonds and jewelry, reported to come from the “Crater” complete with certificate of authenticity issued by the Arkansas State Park. However, some of the diamonds on the site are proven to be Indian in origin. FakeMinerals.com received paperwork which shows Eric Blake importing diamonds from India in early October.

Kimberly Certificate

UPS Tracking code, screen captured from UPS.com

If that isn’t damning enough, photos taken by the salesperson in India which clearly match up with diamonds for sale on ArkansasDiamondJewelry.com

In addition, Eric sells “Arkansas Diamonds” on eBay (sayde1garcia) and has successfully sold some of his Indian diamonds to mineral dealers here in America as originating from Arkansas.

Private sources have indicated that they have been onto Mr. Blake for a few months now, but they have lacked the evidence to be sure that he was “salting” the diamond field.

One regular digger at the “Crater” met Mr. Blake in 2006 when he first tried out his scam. At that time he only registered a few diamonds. Mr. Blake offered to let the regular digger search his hole when he was done. It wasn’t much surprise that the regular didn’t find anything else in that hole. In 2007 Mr. Blake and his family were digging in an area that is known to be the dumping ground for gravel that was trucked in 1924 to put in a road. This gravel is completely free from diamonds as it is not from the diamond field, however they found a remarkable 32 diamonds! Mr. Blake then offered the hole to another family when they were leaving and while the family moved quite a bit of material, no more diamonds were forthcoming.

Mr. Blake. The diggers at the “Crater of Diamonds State Park” would like you to know that you are persona non grata.

With this information MOST, IF NOT ALL of the Diamonds sold by Mr. Blake are not from Arkansas and should be labeled as coming from the Panna Mine in India.

It is amazing that someone could think they would get away with trying to scam these finds, especially since there are dozens of people who stare, poke and prod at the numbers of the finds on the Crater’s website. 32 diamonds is an impossible number of diamonds to be found by two adults and two children during 5 days at the park.

Additionaly, As recently as January 2008, Eric has sent emails trying to “match” certain stones. And while there is nothing wrong with that in itself, in this context, it is more than a little suspicious.

I leave you with this parting thought… What is the Travel Channel’s most promoted collecting location on their “Best Places to find Cash and Treasures” series? Yep, you guessed it! Crater of Diamonds State Park! Could this be the beginning of the inevitable backlash associated with promoting this “get rich quick” mentality to mineral collecting? I guess only time will tell.

Fake Minerals and Scams are all around us. If you catch wind of something fishy, send to us here at Justin@the-vug.com

Thanks again to Hal Guyot (GeoSleuth@gmail.com) for all your hard work on this story!

Special Extra Thanks goes out to the HONEST INDIAN DEALER, Malay Hirani of Soni Tools (www.sonitools.com) for being willing to help stop fraud!

UPDATE!: Just google Eric Blake’s name on Google and you will find AP News report after AP News report about his 3.92 carat stone find in October of 2007. Not only did he scam the public, the state park, but he also scamed the media. What a guy!

UPDATE!: As soon as Eric heard about this website, he removed the photos that match up above and got rid of his “Dealer Lot” section, well, those diamonds matched up perfectly!

UPDATE!: There is a ton of additional extra evidence and it has all been turned into the authorities. We do not know if anyone will ever see that this out to justice, but you can be sure that far and wide, people know what to look out for and a scammer has been chased out!

Arkansas Diamond Fraud, Eric Blake, Appleton Wisconsin

And here is a picture found on Google of Eric Blake holding his “famous find”.

FINAL UPDATE: This story is now ancient history, newspaper articles were written, TV and Radio interviews were given, National Geographic even wrote about the scam.

Sunspar.com, telling people a COMMON mineral is A RARE GEM!

May 9th, 2008 by PuTzu

A reader alerted me to something I had seen before in the past I thought was odd. (Thanks Tim!)

So, when I went back and checked again, I was suprised to see this still in print.

The website SunSpar.com sells faceted translucent Labradorite, otherwise known as Sunstone when it has a schiller effect to it.

The faceted Gem grade yellow Labradorite is very real, however without sparkling inclusions, it should not be called Sunstone, which it is several times on their website.

In addition, the supply of large chunks of facet grade Labradorite are not in any kind of short supply. Quite the contrary, I know one of the owners of a very large Mexican Labradorite mine and from first hand knowledge, the supply of top notch gem grade Labradorite is not running low and it has not for the last twenty years.

While the website states that the information they are giving you in their sales pitch is “In the opinon of their manager”, blatent misinformation is a lie. I contacted the company via phone call to ask them if they stood by their story after I told them the information I had, I was abruptly hung up on. Apparently they have no comment on this.

Here is a photo of their website from the WAYBACKMACHINE, circa Feb. 1998. Below that, a picture of their site from March 26th, 2008.

70% off! I guess that site didn’t do a super great job convincing that yellow Labradorite was some crazy rare gem, never before known to mankind.

SunSpar Website in 1998

SunSpar Website in 2008

I don’t think I like Best Places to Find Cash and Treasures

May 9th, 2008 by PuTzu

A while ago I wrote about the program on the Travel Channel, “Best Places to Find Cash and Treasures”. The program has the following premise, The Host guides viewers to a region of America to search out minerals, gems, and other collectable items. The host then takes the items found and has them cut, polished and sometimes set into jewelry, then appraised to be sold. Sometimes even sold on the show.

I have no problems with the premise of this show. There is certainly nothing wrong with promoting mineral collecting. Selling your finds usually doesn’t accompany a mineral collecting trip, because sometimes a mineral collecting trip is a very non-productive event. Usually, if you find something really incredible, you keep it. It gets sold when you either die or need money for your kid’s heart transplant. Even the most bloodthristy field collectors who collect to sell keep the best stuff for their collections. They program doesn’t even touch on this kind of collecting/selling aspect…no, everything is done as GREED as the main factor.

The host of the second season of this program, Becky Whorley, was pretty focused on the financial aspect. However, as an hour long program, she did have a fun attitude and seemed to be really interested in why things were formed and found. The second host is ONLY concered about money and now that it is only a half hour long, the greed seems to fill the entire episode. Mineral collecting is a fun hobby, but what fun is it when GREED is the main motivating factor!?!

Watch the show, on the Travel Channel. Count how many dollar signs you see in the show. Watch out for the SALTED tailing piles, the SALTED finds, the horrible safety violations and the general poor job of representing our hobby. Cash and Treasures on DVD

Smoky Quartz from Romania, irradiated to add color!

May 9th, 2008 by PuTzu

Smoky Quartz. One of the popular faked varieties of Quartz. But all the NATURAL Smoky Quartz has really made faking it kind of pointless.

Well, in Romania, the regular Quartz isn’t good enough…see this natural colored one below.

White Dolomite on White Quartz from Romania

Take that quartz above and stick it in a hot radiation chamber and BLAMO, aluminum ions are activated, forming a bond reflecting light back out, making our eyes see a deep smoky color, as in the photo below.

smoky quartz from romania after radiation

Malachite Stalactites from Congo, sometimes, they are fake

May 9th, 2008 by PuTzu

I have been looking for awhile for a really good fake Malachite Stalactite specimen on eBay to show you, however, I haven’t seen any on eBay in a long time. A good thing too!

But Mike from Geological Desires showed me a fantastic fake specimen…

What they do is take some powdered Malachite and spray it onto some plasterized Malachite Stalactite base. When you hit it with the UV light you can see all the glue glowing bright yellow/orange in the background.

So, when you see a Malachite Stalactite specimen, check it out for the powdered Malachite surface and check it out with a UV light first to see if the glue stands out!

A trip to Collector’s Edge Anti-Fake Cleaning Lab!

May 9th, 2008 by PuTzu

Hello everyone!

While we were visiting the Collector’s Edge in Golden Colorado we got the chance to see their many flats of FAKE MINERALS that they had pulled out of collections over the years.

Here are some pictures of fake minerals from their collection…can you spot the fakeness?

Three Normal Looking Mineral Fakes
Here are all three of the minerals…

Quartz with Garnets
Quartz with Garnets…

Cerussite with Malachite
Cerussite with Malachite

Calcite on Basalt
Calcite on Basalt from India

Well, the Garnets are glued on and surrounded by some glued on mica, used to hide the glue marks!

The Cerussite is glued on as well, surrounded by a dusting of Malachite around the glued edges!

The Calcite was cut off and glued onto the matrix.

But all three of them look normal, don’t they?