Hold Up, Those Department Store Gems Might Be Fake

Cancers, beware: If you were planning on treating yourself to something featuring your red and shiny birthstone, skip the department stores. According to TODAY, Macy's, JCPenney, Lord & Taylor and Littman Jewelers have been selling fake rubies, passing off glass-filled gems as the real deal.

Rossen Reports sent an investigation team along with a professional gemologist to the four major retailers in the New York City-area. With hidden cameras rolling, they shopped the jewelry counters for rubies. First, they stopped at Macy's and examined a gem with a $1,200 price tag. When they asked the saleswoman if it was natural, she said, "It is real. It is natural." The same answer was given at Littman Jewelers, Lord & Taylor and JCPenney. All the salespeople defined the gems as a "geniue ruby."

Whether they were uninformed by their higher-ups or were telling white lies, one thing was certain: The gems they were selling to the undercover shoppers were not real rubies. The Rossen team had all four pieces of jewelry analyzed by two different labs and each of them tested with high contents of lead glass.

"Ninety percent glass, it's almost all glass," said Gary Smith, master gemologist appraiser at Pennsylvania Gem Lab. What's worse is that Smith says the gems were pretty much "fish tank gravel that's been modified."

As a result, the $1,200 Macy's ring was worth about half the price because lead-glass rubies only sell for about $20 per karat wholesale.

Macy's, JCPenney and Lord & Taylor all released statements about the investigation. While JCPenney and Lord & Taylor are offering full refunds to unsatisfied customers, Macy's stands by their "rubies," explaining that the mineral corundum helps "improve appearance" and that they have signs around the department informing their customers that the gemstones "have been treated."