Gemstone Trade Names or False Marketing?

I’ll never forget the day I was standing in my local bead shop buying my favorite big nuggets of African Turquoise. They were beautiful, and inexpensive, and I had already sold them several times in necklace form on eBay thinking that they were turquoise from Africa. While I was perusing the strands I heard someone say; “…of course African turquoise is not actually turquoise”

“What?!” I said, turning towards them.

They all looked at me like I was an idiot. Like everyone was supposed to know this.

Well, how would they know?

If you’re in the jewelry making business – or even if you make jewelry as a hobby – you will rapidly come to know that certain commonly known “trade names” given to minerals are very misleading. But, if you ask me, there is something wrong with buying African Turquoise only to find out that it is not turquoise at all.

“Eh?” Why not call a spade a spade? We don’t call Cubic Zirconium “African Diamonds” for a reason!

Well, just in case you’re still in the dark, here are a few examples. (I’m sure there are more):

– African Turquoise is not turquoise – it is a sort of chalcedony often dyed to have the color of turquoise.

– “African Jade” is not actually jade it is a type of garnet that resembles jade in color and texture.

– “New Jade” and “Olive jade” are actually serpentine.

– Yellow turquoise is not turquoise at all but Flower Jasper.

– Cherry Quartz is not quartz at all – it is glass. (In fact most “fruit” quartzes are not quartz but colored glass.)

These terms permeate the jewelry business so completely that we forget that people would not know this. But, I repeat, how would they know when no one tells them?

I did a search on eBay for “African Turquoise Necklace”. I looked at the first 20 auctions that came up and saw wording such as “Genuine African Turquoise”, “Rare African Yellow Turquoise”, …I even saw “AAA African Turquoise” (what is that?!). And several described the pieces as “turquoise” without using the word “African” (I have to wonder if they know themselves…).

Needless to say none of the sellers saw fit to mention that African turquoise is not turquoise at all.

So, here’s the question:

Is it unconscionable to simply list an item as “Cherry Quartz” without explaining that Cherry Quartz is just glass?

Wholesalers Fire Mountain Gems uses quotations around the word ‘quartz’ or ‘turquoise’ when it may be misleading. Is that enough?

I know it is hard to think of sticking one’s neck out when no one else does, but, in my opinion, if you market your goods to anyone less than a gemologist, you should explain yourself. Even if these are common trade names, they are misleading to the average person. After all, if I buy a wood table and it’s called “Amazon Mahogany”, I don’t want to find out later that Amazon Mahogany is just a trade name for pine.