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A Museum Finds Fakes in its Gem Collections (Prague | 2018)

The National Museum in Prague found out that several specimens from its collection were actually fakes. While our resident gemologists were catching up on the week's diamond trading news, an article from Rapaport about this caught their eye.

If museums with their security protocols and sky-high maintenance budgets can still be victim to gemstone misidentification, then what does that say about risks posed to the private sector?

The museum administration was doing an audit in preparation for the country's 100th anniversary, when some of their precious items did not turn out the way they were described. Among the faux gems discovered was a stone thought to be a beautiful five carat diamond. The item was later revealed to be a glass gem that was cut to resemble a diamond's appearance.

Another gemstone misidentified was a 19-carat sapphire that turned out to be synthetic or man-made. This was a costly error, as the museum had originally paid 200,000 CZK for it in the 1970's under the impression that it was a natural, earth-mined sapphire.

Today synthetic sapphires can cost as low as 5 USD per carat, even in certain facet-grade qualities. People have long since invented many ways of creating ruby and sapphire in an artificial environment imposing very low costs (Verneuil Flame Fusion).

Actually, it was noted in the article that half for the ruby collection inspected also turned out to be synthetic or lab-grown. It's quite evident now that the museum has to continue its full audit of all artifacts, jewelry and gemstones, as the price for error steadily increases.

The museum is still doing an investigation as to whether the fake stones were indeed part of a scam, or were acquired due to a lack of expertise among its former employees.

Michal Stehlik, the deputy director in charge has even said during one interview that they might organize an exhibition of different fakes found at museums from around the world. While fake gemstones in a Prague museum can sound scandalous, it also draws a curious eye from the public.

This should serve as an alert warning to the public sector, whether here in Metro Manila, or anywhere around the world. Always remember that gemstones are some of the most easily misidentified items being traded today. Unless proven by an experienced gemologist with the proper laboratory setup, it's quite difficult to find self assurance in your gem's identity.

Just because gemstones are bought at retail shops do not make them immune to fraud, intentional or unintentional. Diamonds and gemstones change hands many times from mine to market. Just one fraudulent individual out of 5 dealers who pass the stone to the retail environment, can hurt the integrity of even the largest jewelry store, or museum for that matter.
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