Assay-ssination: Reflections on the Cost of Jewellery and Gem Crime

Maria MacLennan, Kelly Ross*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract / Description of output

Jewellery is a provocative object which has a particular criminal allure due to several inherent qualities. As a commodity, the high value, portable, and concealable nature of jewellery makes it an attractive target for opportunistic thieves, organised crime gangs, and other criminal magpies. The ‘value’ of jewellery, however, is inherently polysemic, and thus the impact of jewellery-related crime is not limited solely to economic loss. Beyond the more obvious financial reasons that jewellery is increasingly a criminal target, lies a sinister betrayal of the centuries-old human preoccupation with precious metals and gemstones. With many items of jewellery operating as treasured family heirlooms, signifiers of meaningful relationships, or memorials for deep personal loss; the true cost of jewellery and gem-related crime is often painfully human—even the loss of life itself. Drawing upon the authors combined 35 years of research and professional experience across both law enforcement and the jewellery industry respectively; this chapter will discuss the spectrum of criminal activity related to jewellery and gemstones internationally. It will consider jewellery’s ability to both provoke crime and simultaneously solve it; exploring the criminal attraction to jewellery and the motivations that lie behind jewellery crime, through to the inherent nature and forensic properties of jewellery and gemstones themselves as useful investigative tools in instances of crime, death, and disaster. The authors will conclude by highlighting the lack of awareness amongst the law enforcement community and the challenges faced by police in tracing, identifying, and recovering jewellery items. They will culminate by promoting the need for more proactive collaboration between law enforcement professionals and jewellery industry personnel, in order to prevent and deter individuals from utilising jewellery and gemstones as enablers of criminal activity.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStudies in Art, Heritage, Law and the Market
EditorsNaomi Oosterman, Donna Yates
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-031-14084-6
ISBN (Print)978-3-031-14083-9
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Nov 2022

Publication series

NameStudies in Art, Heritage, Law and the Market
ISSN (Print)2524-7425
ISSN (Electronic)2524-7433


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