Dear Colleague, On March 7 an article appeared on page 1 of the Wall Street Journal. It detailed Arthur Groom’s new promo for his line of enhanced emeralds and, as before, the hype is spreading more confusion than good. Below is my response to his article:
Dear Wall Street Journal,
What I have to say may upset the adoring, ‘infomercial’ quality of the Feb. 7 article on emerald dealer Arthur Groom. He is not unique in disclosing emerald enhancements and guaranteeing his emeralds for life. Quite to the contrary. Ask any successful emerald dealer; we guarantee all of our stones, to all of our customers, for life! It’s called good business; it’s customer service!
Also, his proprietary process of emerald clarity enhancement is one of several new processes available and is by no means unique. By the way, unlike many treatments of other gemstones, emerald enhancement affects the clarity only, color remains natural, native.
The chart on page one was misleading and had nothing to do with the article. It shows emerald prices dropping in the year 2000 while all of the negative publicity mentioned in your article was in the mid 1990’s. The record will show that this price drop in 2000 corresponds to a bonanza in emerald production (1998 - 2002) at La Pita mine in the Muzo region of Colombia [a huge slump in the Japanese economy also affected prices in the late 90’s]. The overproduction of fine material reduced prices while the negative publicity of the mid 1990’s was more of a psychological blow than a blow to prices. That helped the Colombian emerald industry eliminate defective emerald enhancement and create better finished product. The 1998 World Emerald Congress accomplished that rather than Mr. Groom, who didn't attend.
Ever since my article in the prestigious ‘Gems & Gemology’ magazine (The Oil Treatment of Emeralds in Bogotá Colombia, Fall 1983, G.I.A.) the disclosure of treatments of colored stones have been a growing issue in the industry. As an expert on the matter and as an emerald dealer, I was interviewed over the phone twice by Mr. Appel [who wrote the article] and e-mails followed. After all that, my name and comments were notably absent from the WSJ article, no doubt because they would have contradicted the ‘Arthur Groom infomercial’ tone of your article which, sorry to say, resembles a classic ‘puff piece’.
It was a number of influences that ‘riled the industry’ in the late 90’s, not Mr. Groom by himself. Several industry organizations were educating and informing the retailers and dealers about emerald enhancements and the need for disclosure. They were doing it in a very professional manner while Arthur Groom began using sensationalistic and negative publicity campaigns, implying that he was the only honest and capable emerald dealer while all others are using shady practices.
I hope today that consumers judge their emeralds by beauty and not by the hype that appears in Groom's advertising campaigns (or the WSJ article, for that matter!). ANY reputable dealer or jeweler will guarantee any stone for life, even without a fancy promotional campaign. And emerald beauty can speak for itself.
I also don’t get how the author, Timothy Appel, could have gone to Colombia and back with Mr. Groom and not gotten the right story. Perhaps this is a case of Arthur Groom ‘oiling’ Mr. Appel! Snake oil, that is!
NOTE: See the same letter, now published in the ‘Gem News’ section of the popular PalaGems website of Bill Larson and The Collector.
Please view it here: http://palagems.com/gem_news_2007_v1.htm
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