GIA Attacks Oregon Sunstone…Again!

Working  with the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) at USAA insurance for several years, I had the honor of working with and being trained by highly trained professional investigators. These included former FBI and US Secret Service Agents, as well as all levels of law enforcement. During this time, I learned some important lessons about fraud.

Although there are endless varieties of fraud, there are two basic scenarios that describe most of the cases. Here are the two with two real life cases to exemplify each:

  1. Quick and Easy. An example is a couple having financial problems. They know their diamond engagement ring has an all risk policy, so the husband suddenly decides to drop it in the garbage disposal and create an instant insurance loss claim.
  2. Intricate and Designed. An example is a trio who would board a plane with one individual seated in the back and a couple seated in the front of the plane. The couple had a bag that was full of jewelry. Once boarded the couple would make a show of needing help to put the bag in the overhead. Shortly after, when the crew was not looking, the third would come from the back, take the bag, and exit the plane before boarding was complete. When the couple arrived at the destination, the bag of jewelry was missing. Plane searched. Crew interviewed. Nothing. Claim for Mysterious Disappearance filed and paid. This scenario was done over and over until the trio tried it on the USAA. Game over.

That second scenario is the most heinous and the most profitable. It is also the hardest to catch. The key is that the group used the same “M.O.” (modus operandi) or method of operation. Same scenario over and over, thinking they would never get caught because the plan had always worked so well.

Today, I have been informed that the players in the Tibet andesine fraud are at it again, just like in scenario #2 above. After reviewing their current report, I found the GIA is using the same modus operandi, with a few changes in geography but the same players and same scenario.

You will remember that with the Tibet andesine fraud we had a situation where various mine locations were claimed, but each one offered was shot down by science. No rough could be produced. And the players were well connected in the industry. Names like Dr. George Rossman, Dr. Lore Keifert, Shane McClure, Richard W. Hughes. All rock star level players who slinked away when the independent scientific facts were produced.

Dr. Rossman only later revealed that he was on the payroll of Andegem, the source of the fraud.  Dr. Keifert led the AGTA GTC and signed many of the lab reports that were proven to be false and recently published her own report on Ethiopian felspar for the Gem-A. And Shane McClure? Shane has played the part of P.T. Barnum in the whole affair then and now.

Well folks, they are back. Same scenario. Same players. Different location. But they have made some adjustments to help overcome some of their prior mistakes.

Is there really an Ethiopian Copper Bearing Feldspar mine?

Let us start at the end and work our way back. At this time, we do not know if there are copper bearing feldspar mines in Ethiopia, any more than we knew if there were copper bearing feldspar mines in Tibet. Independent scientific proof is missing at this point, and totally missing from the GIA report. The very elaborate GIA report is deeply flawed as was their Tibet sunstone report, and strangely enough they are both flawed in the exact same way. While the GIA report looks amazing, impressive, very scientific, highly professional, and wonderful to the novice gemologist, jeweler or consumer, there are two very deep flaws that will be missed by most.

Why the GIA Report is Flawed

The first flaw makes this GIA report DOA…dead on arrival. Totally without scientific substance or merit. You will remember that the Tibet andesine fraud was broken because the reports were based on hearsay evidence. Someone bought something at a gem show and was told something by the dealer.  That was the inherent flaw in Tibet andesine that broke the back of that fraud.

Here is the quote from the GIA report

 “GIA obtained 48 Ethiopian sunstones for scientific examination. Among them, 44 rough stones (figure 1, left) were borrowed from Stephen Challener (Angry Turtle Jewelry), who acquired them from an Ethiopian gem dealer in Tucson in February 2019. Another four rough stones (figure 1, right) were purchased by author YK from Amde Zewdalem (Ethiopian Opal and Minerals) and Benyam Mengistu, who facilitates mining and exporting samples from Ethiopia, at the Tokyo International Mineral Association show in June 2019.”

https://www.gia.edu/gems-gemology/spring-2020-gemnews-sunstone-plagioclase-feldspar-from-ethiopia

In other words,… “We got it from a guy who got it from a guy at a trade show.”  That is the GIA proof of provenance of their test group. P.T. Barnum would be proud of the GIA yet again.

Here is the question for all our Ph.D. mineralogists and geologists who read this newsletter: Is the above sourcing considered scientifically proper for announcing a new mine location of a gemstone?  

Is this a scientifically acceptable study specimen group in any other scientific field?

Let us go one step further: The Players.

Tibet andesine players: Rossman, Keifert, McClure, et. al,

Ethiopian sunstone players, Rossman, Keifert, McClure, et. al,

Same players involved with Tibet andesine fraud, same lack of scientific proof of origin.

The Legal Facts about the GIA Report

Based on the evidence presented by the GIA report referenced above, the GIA cannot prove the provenance of the samples they tested. Therefore, the results of their testing are moot. Bogus. Without merit or substance.

Just like the GIA reports on Tibet andesine, the report on Ethiopian copper-bearing feldspar will fail in a court of law, ( I would LOVE to be expert witness in that case) which should be the legal standard for reporting any new mine location in this industry. I know, I was a party to the Tibet andesine litigation and prevailed on this very point.

Furthermore, just like the GIA reports on Tibet andesine, the report on Ethiopian copper-bearing feldspar fails the scientific test of standards by failing to provide “in situ” specimens obtained by independent geologists, along with independent scientific testing done outside of the gem industry to confirm the GIA published findings.

This is yet another example of the GIA operating in a legal and scientific void.  Using the same players and the same modus operandi to attempt once again to undermine the marketplace of natural Oregon Sunstone.

Does an Ethiopian copper-bearing feldspar mine exist? We do not know. Legally and scientifically this GIA report does not provide one iota of proof that their test specimens are from any Ethiopian feldspar mine.

“We got it from a guy who got it from a guy at a trade show.”

Is that the real scientific standard we want in this industry?

Is that proof of an Ethiopian copper-bearing feldspar mine to you, given the history of the GIA and players involved?

It is not to me.

Robert James FGA, GG
Global Jewelry Claims Associates
Property and Casualty Adjuster, Texas Department of Insurance #1300433