There are many questions and controversial issues directly related to our project, and here is where we will deal with some of them.  They range from names of origins, description and pricing of specimens for sale, revelation of enhancements and repairs, etc., and similar issues.
     If you have any questions or information that you think we should report on here, please email me at wheierman@corunduminium.com (and best to Cc to williamh@wcjc.edu).  Many of the items below are the results of such queries.  Even if we do not publish the remarks, we will try to respond to each email received and provide whatever information we can.

Last update:  March 13, 2012

 Where is it From?  (Confidence in Origin):  Often, labels on specimens incorrectly identify origins, for a variety of reasons.  For example, some are so old nobody remembers (sadly, many labels which existed have disappeared); while others are "lunch pail specimens" that have been secreted out of mines and "across many borders before being bestowed with an origin!"   Therefore, we can pass along only a confidence level derived from the credibility of whatever paper trail exists, the reputations of the specimen's previous owners, and our own experience with similar material.  Doubts will be expressed only when they are "significant", but they may be implied by phrases such as "probably from ..." or "allegedly from ...".
     A second issue is what to use when the locality name changes.  We prefer to use the name that was current when  specimen was collected, or at the time of the earliest label attached to the specimen. This can create some confusion, but it does help preserve the historic information about the locality. When there is a problem, we may also give the present name, parenthetically.
     It gets particularly interesting when  the name change is controversial ...
"Burma" or "Myanmar"?   In a sense, I guess, it is "Myanmar", because the Burmese Government decided it would rather be the Myanmari Government.  However, due to the way it came into power (and more recently, the oppression of its citizens), that Government has some recognition problems (diplomatically); so Worldwide acceptance of the name change was not immediate.  Similarly, I can imagine most jewelers would not be able to get as much money for a Myanmari ruby as they could for a Burmese one.  Geographically, they are the same; and on this site I will use the classical name,  "Burma", for that country until further notice.
     There is also an embargo on goods imported from Burma into the United States.  We are careful to identify whether any Burmese specimen for sale is "pre-embargo" or not imported directly from Burma.  I am not sure exactly how goods recently exported from Burma into other countries and then imported into the United States are affected by the regulations (though if this were done to sidestep the embargo, it is improper if not illegal).
On Valuation of Specimens:  I have received several e-mails asking about the value of  one or more specimens.
    We do not discuss values of specimens in the permanent collection, because they are irrelevant.  It's a shame that the rocks are not worthless, because then we could leave them lying around and have nothing to worry about. 
     High grade specimens do not seem to have a precisely determinable value.  It seems factors such as the opportunistic greed of the seller and acquisitive obsession of the buyer have more to do with price (selling value) than anything else.  Besides, the price will drop tomorrow of another big find is announced this afternoon.   Those with exceptional provenance, however, will always have "exacerbated" value, as will pieces of such exceptional quality that they will never become common. 
    When we set a price on a specimen for sale, we try to consider fair market value based upon what Rob (capital R, note) sells comparable specimens for.  Lacking that information, we mainly consider when we acquired it and what we paid for it.  Consignment specimens are priced in accordance with the owners' agreements.
     Under no circumstances do we consider a mineral specimen as an investment.  Prices fluctuate, and finding a buyer is often a problem.  The best, however, do seem to keep their value better than mediocre ones.   Recent lack of confidence in global economic stability has caused many to speculate on mineral values, but even a solid gem corundum crystal is a delicate form of investment at best. 
     We say buy what you like, at prices you can afford to forget about.  Just enjoy what you collect, and surely the value will be realized there.
Enhancements and repairs:  When should these be revealed, and do they matter?
     When a specimen, gemstone, or jewelry piece is offered for sale, we feel that any enhancements or repairs should be revealed in the item description.  If one is merely displayed, it is our position this may not be necessary.
    Clearly, a specimen which is repaired tends to have lesser value than a pristine one.  However, there are a few exceptions.  Crystals which occur naturally in pieces and have to be reassembled can be the finest available from a locality.  The "Mount san Jacinto" sapphires from California, found in transversely fractured sections, removed from the matrix, and epoxied together, are iconic examples: 
      "Enhancements" such as heat treatment of a gem corundum may be necessary to bring out the beauty of the stone.  In this case, the value is only because of the enhancement and it may be very high.  The great majority of faceted rubies and sapphires in the market have in fact been heat treated. 

       If you are buying any gemstone or jewelry piece containing gemstones, we recommend you determine from the seller if there are any enhancements.  Do not, however, expect a bargain price on a fine stone just because there are.