What Is The Opal / Gemstone Sheriff Program?

The Gemstone and Opal Sheriff Programs are a world first program that allows customers to request a review on any item listed on Gem Rock Auctions or Opal Auctions. We are proud of this program and it has given customers peace of mind when buying gemstones and opals online. Gem Rock Auctions is a ‘man made gemstone free’ zone so everything listed on this site is 100% natural. Opal Auctions only allows natural Opals to be sold with no imitation or synthetics. The Gemstone and Opal Sheriff Program helps keep our high level of customer satisfaction by delivering exactly what we advertise.

It is operated by an independent panel of qualified Gemologists and advisers from within the Gemstone industry.

The panel will review and audit individual items at the request of customers and leave their findings on publicly visible reports on the item page.

The Sheriff has two main goals –

  1. To answer questions and guide potential buyers via the Audit system
  2. To support, mentor and guide our Verified Sellers.

Our Sheriff Program is offered across our entire network, giving you an extremely consistent experience and useful tool set on all our websites.

How To Use The Sheriff Program

Look out for “Audit Information” on the right hand side of all items. To request an audit simply click the button “Request Audit”

gemstone sheriff program

Once an audit has been requested the following message will be displayed until the audit is complete. “This auction has a Sheriff audit pending. Check back soon to see the completed audit.”

audit pending

Once the audit is complete the person who requested the audit will be notified via our internal messaging system. For everyone else the audit will be visible by clicking on the “View Report” button.

audit complete

The final report will specify two checks

  • Description Accurate - This is all of the details on the item including treatments.
  • Pictures Accurate - Pictures are accurate including enhancement

audit details

We aim to maintain a quick turnaround time, but it may take up to 48 hours for the audit to be written, therefore we recommend you request an audit early in an auctions` cycle and add the item to your Item Watch list to keep an eye on the audit status.

Now that you know how the Gemstone and Opal Sheriff program works go ahead and request a few. We are always here to help.

A Word On Opal

Some descriptive terms that everyone needs to be aware will no longer be acceptable for use without prior approval from the Opal Sheriff, including

  • Investment
  • Museum
  • Harlequin Pattern
  • Top Class
  • World Class

Any opal listed that has been treated most be described as treated

Ethiopian opal that is smoked cannot be called black opal but described as Smoked Opal.

No Ethiopian opal can be called black opal unless certified by an approved laboratory.

Black images Sellers can use black background image but have to have hand image and neutral image with each listing .

Regarding each term, in order to fit the criteria to be called worthy of the word ‘Investment’, sellers must be certain that what they have actually qualifies, but how can you ‘qualify’ something when the word ‘Investment’ is essentially meaningless?

Please read this short article by Don Clarke, President of the International Gem Society: Investing in Gems http://www.gemsociety.org/info/igem15.htm

We are adopting Mr Clarke’s guidelines, therefore use of the word ‘Investment’ will no longer be acceptable, and there are other words that are being used excessively to pump up auctions that are meaningless, such as World Class, Top Class or grade, and all are frowned upon because there is no standard for using them.

The same holds true for the word ‘Museum’, which is also meaningless since museums have just about every gemstone on earth in their archives, and all in varying qualities, so by what criteria would a stone be considered ‘Museum’ quality? There is none, so the word ‘Museum’ is also now unacceptable for use in auctions.

The word Harlequin, however, does have meaning, although the experts don’t always agree on what it means, but the consensus of opinion seems to be that the true harlequin pattern was so named because it resembles the costume of a harlequin, with its regularly arranged squares, of equal size, in a checker board pattern. This is why true Harlequins are extremely rare, since it is more common to see patterns with distorted angles, squares that are unevenly arranged, or squares that are too small to be called harlequin, and those patterns would be better designated as mosaic, honeycomb, flagstone. In ‘A Field Guide to Australian Opals’ (1977), Barrie O’Leary lists 12 subspecies of harlequin, and says the individual color patches in true harlequins should be set closely together, and be over one millimetre in diameter to qualify to be called ‘Harlequin’.

One thing everyone does agree on is that true harlequins are extremely rare; so rare that they consider themselves lucky if they get to see just one a year.

Based on that criteria, there are no photos of the Harlequin pattern on the chart, so if you have a photo of a true Harlequin we would appreciate you submitting it for the chart.

Rarity carries a lot of weight when it comes to value, so it can be very tempting to stretch the strict requirements of the definition of ‘Harlequin’ to fit many celled opal patterns, therefore, the use of the word ‘Harlequin’ now requires pre-approval by the OS Posse. So all our sellers need to go through their auctions and remove the words “Investment”, “Museum”, “World Class”, “Top Quality”, and all such derivatives from their titles and descriptions, as well as the word “Harlequin” until they get approval to use it from the Opal Sheriff. You can find a link to message us by looking for the Opal Sheriff Badge in the verified sellers list. This is effective immediately, so please clean up your auctions before the OS Posse finds these words being used, or someone reports you to the OS. Thank you for your time and cooperation, and for helping us keep our sites the #1 auction sites in the world, all because of our sellers’ reputation for professionalism, honesty and integrity. Keep up the good work. The OS Posse

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