Lumina Jewellery – Caught Red Handed

It may surprise you to know that there are companies out there who have absolutely no interest at all in creating a personalised website for their business that’s unique and tailored specifically to their own needs but who are instead, happy to steal design ideas and complete pages of content from other businesses.  That’s exactly what Lumina Jewellery which is run by Sara and Picky Saund did, they came across Stone Mania at least five years ago and decided that what we had created, was everything they wanted for their own business so set about taking as much from us as they possibly could. Purely by chance, I happened to land on their website a few days ago and this is what I found.

Let me start off by explaining something called plagiarism, this is the practice of taking the work or ideas of someone else and passing them off as your own.  Sadly some people feel this is perfectly acceptable and believe that due to the size of the internet, they’ll never be caught.

I have written about plagiarism many times over the years in various blogs but the focus of my articles has usually been about the accuracy of information that you read online in relation to crystals, rocks and minerals which is my business and my hobby.   Usually when someone plagiarises an article they will try and disguise the fact that the work is not their own by changing some words or adding in or removing a few lines.  By doing this facts and accuracy often become confused or lost and once the amended version is published, there’s a good chance it will be plagiarised again and the process of making it look like an original piece of work will then be repeated.  As this cycle continues, the article will shift further and further away from how it was originally written.  Plagiarism violates Google’s guidelines and procedures are in place to ensure those who are caught are punished and this will usually be done by the offending pages being taken down or even the entire website being blacklisted.

Lumina Jewellery like Stone Mania sells ladies gemstone pendants and some of their designs are quite similar so having landed on their website, I was curious to find out more about them.  The first page I clicked on was their Order & Returns policy because I had written a page for my website with exactly the same name.  I could hardly believe what I saw when the page loaded, this was MY Order & Returns Policy, the page that I had written for my website.  Almost nothing at all had been changed except of course for the company name which had been changed from Stone Mania to Lumina Jewellery.  I had written this long and detailed page back in 2003 when I built my website and it had been in place until about five years ago when the site was redesigned and updated.  At that time I also updated many of the information pages including Terms & Conditions and the Order & Returns Policy so I knew they had copied it at least five years ago.  I then noticed they also had a page called Shipping Policy which wasn’t a particularly unusual title but upon opening it, that too had been plagiarised and no changes at all had been made to that page either.  A third page called Our Photos which explained how we took photos for Stone Mania’s website had also been copied but that had been reworded in places.

The very detailed Order & Returns Policy on the website of Lumina Jewellery and they’d even kept our hyperlinks in place!

 

 

And the original page on Stone Mania

 

And then the Shipping Policy on Lumina Jewellery’s website

And the original on Stone Mania

 

This is their version of the page from our website called Our Photos

 

And this is the original

 

I then began noticing how the design of their website was strangely similar to Stone Mania before we had it redesigned and updated in 2013.  It had been some time since I’d seen the last version of our website so I asked the guy who hosts my site if he could dig out an old copy and upon doing so, it confirmed my suspicions, they had based the design of their site on ours.  The company name and logo was in the top left corner, they had a shaded bar featuring links to various pages, a large rotating banner which featured photos of their jewellery, the search box, shopping cart and tag line were all in the same place as they were on an even earlier design of our website but that was too far back for me to be able to obtain a copy.  There were just too many similarities for it to be coincidental.  The colours that they’d used, purple and yellow were almost the same as the lilac and yellow that we had in two of the octagon shapes in our logo, as it was back then.  Their logo which sits to the right of their company name, the one that’s also a kind of octagon shape, where did the idea for that design come from I wonder?

 

 

The original Stone Mania logo that was on our website until we had a new one designed in 2009. Two of the colours that we used were yellow and lilac

 

Even their tag line, “The natural beauty of gemstones combined with creative use of silver to breathtaking effect” although terrible, bore an uncanny resemblance to a tag line that we use in relation to our gemstone pendants “Transforming magnificent gemstones into breathtaking pieces of jewellery”.  The ladies rings on their website were organised into size groups which was very unusual to see online but it’s something that we used to do when we sold rings, they even had a section called “Stone Directory” but instead of writing about each gemstone individually, they just put a long list of gemstone names there.  Obviously they hadn’t managed to copy all the pages from the Gemstone Directory on my website yet!

This is a screenshot from one of my forum posts from 2009, it shows the tag line that we used to use before it was removed when we adding crystals, rocks and minerals to our collection.

 

 

I was just stunned that anyone could be so audacious, designing and building an online business takes a huge amount of time and effort and since being launched in 2003, we’ve put an enormous amount of work into our website and business as a whole and continue to do so on a daily basis.  We work hard to ensure ideas are original and that our site is well maintained and most importantly, that it’s kept up to date with new technology. Clearly Sara and Picky Saund of Lumina Jewellery feel there’s no need to go to such lengths when they can steal designs and information from another business and better still, one who has a very similar product.

I also discovered that Lumina Jewellery move around the country doing shows and fairs like Stone Mania did before we decided to trade solely online and then it occurred to me, I had seen their stand at a few different shows when I had returned in later years as a visitor.  It caught my attention because in all the years I had been trading, I had never seen a display of gemstone pendants and rings quite as large as ours, it was what we specialized in and until 2011, we sold little else.  The pendants on our large display boards always attracted plenty of attention and our regular customers recognised our stand as soon as they saw them.  The other thing that surprised me was how similar the set up of Lumina Jewellery’s stand was to Stone Mania.  I’ve seen them at three different shows, a circuit market in St Albans, one of the Rock n Gem shows and also at Winchester Christmas market and needless to say, I had traded at all three of those venues for many years.  I had even spoken to Picky in Winchester and commented how similar some of his pendants were to mine.  I could see their pieces were made in Jaipur in India just like ours were but there was a significant difference in the quality of the silver and craftsmanship.  They were basically made in the same way that ours were when we first started buying in India many years ago but we had come a very, very long way since then.

Out of curiosity I then searched for their Facebook page and guess what?  This is a screenshot from one of their pages, I have erased their photo due to data protection.

I wonder where they got the idea from to take photographs of loose gemstones before they were mounted into pendants and rings?  In 2007 we had many photos like this on our website that we had taken whilst buying stones.

 

This is another photo from Lumina Jewellery’s Facebook page, it’s them I assume with their suppliers choosing labradorite for their collection.  Nice stones!

 

 

But hey, wouldn’t you know it, we had a photo just like that on OUR website and it’s still there today!  This is US choosing labradorite for our collection, but those are not our hands, they’re our suppliers, I’m taking the photograph!  (I’m just trying to be funny!) The above photo was not taken by me so it’s their own photo unless they’ve stolen it from someone else which is a very good possibility.  Is this yet another coincidence?  You decide.

 

Here’s a nice photo of their stand at the Royal Berkshire Show, we used to do all the county shows around the UK as well.  Those boards full of pendants look very familiar as do the trays of rings on the counter and the display case in front of the board on the right side.  Nice black table cloth and I like the drapes behind the counter.  Wonder where I’ve seen that set up before?

Oh yes of course, we have boards just like that and we also had a huge selection of rings on our stand for people to try on.  This lovely photo was of our chalet at the Winchester Christmas market with our newly made boards and display cases.  I think it was 2006.

 

 

And this was Stone Mania at one of our very early shows back in 2003 or 2004, that’s quite some time before Lumina Jewellery started trading.  Looks very similar to their stand don’t you think?  Note the black cloth and I much prefer the drapes Lumina Jewellery has behind their stand to ours!!   Another coincidence?  I wonder……

 

Soon after landing on Lumina Jewellery’s website I filed a DCMA (a copyright infringement notice) with Google, plagiarism violates their guidelines and all such pages are reviewed and usually removed and permanently blacklisted.

I also sent an email to Sara Saund of Lumina Jewellery confronting her about what I had found on her website but needless to say, she didn’t reply.  What she did do very quickly though was remove the plagiarised pages and now they look like this

 

 

 

Sara probably thought having quickly deleted the pages, Google would no longer be able to find them and nor would I, however erasing a page from the internet does not mean it can no longer be found, especially once it has been cached.  Google takes regular snapshots of pages of a website and they’re dated and stored until it crawls them again to take a more recent snapshot.  I took these screenshots after Sara had deleted the pages so they may not be on her website anymore, but they’re still available to view through Google.

 

 

 

Sadly there are people out there who think it’s absolutely okay to plagiarise others’ work and many believe they’ll never be caught.  I have to say I’ve never heard of anyone stealing pages to put on their website that have been written specifically for another business to explain policies and procedures and literally not change a thing other than the company name.  To be honest I find that really weird.  Clearly Sara and Picky found us online, probably after seeing our stand at a show or in a market and decided our business model was exactly what they wanted for themselves so instead of using their own ideas and doing research to create a unique business that they could be proud of, they just copied everything from Stone Mania.  I can only assume they believed with the internet being so vast, they’d never be caught but that shows just how naive they really are.

Stone Mania has come a very long way since the company was established in 2002 and we owe everything that we’ve achieved to many years of very hard work, absolute dedication and possibly most importantly of all, an unwavering desire to succeed at building a unique and successful business.  As it’s plain to see from this article and the accompanying photos and screenshots, Lumina Jewellery have been caught red handed and don’t deserve to have a business at all.  One thing I am really curious about however, is did they even have a jewellery business before discovering Stone Mania or did they steal that idea from us as well?

My closing comments are simple, if you have information online that you want to keep safe, use a programme like copyscape regularly to ensure people don’t plagiarise your work especially considering these guys will now be on the lookout for new material for their website.

And most importantly always remember, Karma works in mysterious ways.

Karma – the spiritual principle of cause and effect where intent and actions of an individual (cause) influence the future of that individual (effect).  Good intent and good deed contribute to good karma and future happiness, while bad intent and bad deed contribute to bad karma and future suffering

 

Articles on the Internet

Trying to find decent articles about crystals, rocks and minerals online can be a real challenge because so much of what your read on some mainstream websites is repetitive, unoriginal and in many cases, not even factual.  I research extensively in preparation for the articles I write on crystals, rocks and minerals for Stone Mania and have been doing so for a very, very long time.  One thing that has become apparent over the years is that people love using other people’s work and having tweaked it slightly, truly believe they can pass it off as their own.  In many cases the information that’s been copied is not even factual which has led to an explosion of inaccurate articles being published online especially in relation to rocks, minerals and in particular gemstones.

If you want to be sure that something you’ve read online is accurate, cross reference the information with a respected website, we tend to use four or five but our two favourites are Wikipedia and Geology.com  Alternatively try to find an article that has been written by an expert in that subject matter but admittedly unlike mainstream websites, they can be a little more difficult to find and you usually stumble across them when you least expect to. Specialist discussion forums can also be an invaluable source of information and if you can’t find the answer you’re looking for, you can always post a question.  Most forums have members with a vast amount of knowledge in a particular subject so it’s unlikely, certainly on the subject of crystals, rocks and minerals, not to be able to find the answer that you’re looking for or to get clarification on whether something is factual or not.

When Google first made it known that writing articles to post online contributed to search engine ranking, articles started popping up all over the place and whilst that certainly helped build the internet into what it is today, it also meant that a huge amount of copying was going on.  You could even pay someone to write an article for you but generally the end result was low quality, generic and repetitive and often it was blatantly obvious that its sole purpose was to improve search engine ranking.  I have to say that having had a few articles written for Stone Mania on crystals, rocks and minerals by different companies, they all turned out to be utter rubbish and were never used and I even refused to pay for them.

It’s really important to emphasize that there are some truly excellent articles to read on crystals, rocks and minerals but sadly, there’s also far too many that are really not worth reading at all.  Many unfortunately are works that have been copied and reproduced to make them appear to be original but having read exactly the same information so many times before, you don’t need to be Einstein to see that they’re really not original pieces of work.  The practice of stealing someone else’s material to use as your own is known as plagiarism and sadly, it’s rife across the internet.  Google has become wise to this in recent years and takes the problem very seriously but despite making various amendments to their algorithm, it’s not a problem that’s going to be easy to eradicate.

A few years ago if you put something into Google which related to crystals, rocks or minerals such as, “Turquoise comes from the French, pierre turquoise meaning turkish stone”, that exact line of text would appear in page after page of search results on hundreds of different websites.  We all have different ways of writing and expressing ourselves so it’s pretty unlikely that so many people would write a line of text in exactly the same way so it was clear the text was being taken from one source, only to be used in another. Thankfully this rarely happens nowadays not only because Google’s algorithm has changed so it searches in a completely different way but also because it has become wise to the issue of plagiarism and is trying to address the problem as best as it can.  That certainly doesn’t mean text is no longer being copied, it just means people are being much more careful.  It’s common knowledge that if you want a page that you publish to rank well, it must be original so significant changes are now being made to material that’s been plagiarized.  The problem with this however is that if not done carefully and by someone with a thorough knowledge of the subject matter, the article may end up having a completely different meaning and will likely also lose much of its accuracy.

There are more articles online about amethyst than I care to imagine which is great because it’s a fascinating and interesting gemstone to read about but unfortunately, some of what’s been written is not accurate and in some cases bears little or no truth at all.  Amethyst is the purple variety of the mineral quartz whose colour is caused by trace impurities of iron and manganese, this statement is factual and can be written or incorporated into an article in many different ways depending on who the author is.  If Google detects that it appears on multiple websites written verbatim and also finds additional text in the same article that is also repeated, it’s highly likely that the page will be penalized.  Facts are facts and Google recognizes that but it soon becomes clear when information is being copied, even if it has been changed.

Another example which demonstrates how inaccurate information can spread like wildfire relates to a myth that was written by French Poet Remy Belleau and published a year before his death in 1576:

“Bacchus (Roman name for Dionysus, Greek God of wine) was pursuing a maiden named Amethyste who refused his affections. Amethyste prayed to the gods to remain chaste, a prayer which the goddess Diana answered, transforming her into a white stone. Humbled by Amethyste’s desire to remain chaste, Bacchus poured wine over the stone as an offering, dyeing the crystals purple”

Although written in the 15th century, many articles online and even in a book that we have in our collection called ‘Guide to Gems’, state that it comes from Greek mythology which is not correct and furthermore, as the passage has continually been rewritten, it has changed considerably and in some cases is not even recognizable as the same text.  Several variations have also popped up and they too claim to be from Greek mythology.  This is one of the most popular:

“Dionysus had been insulted by a mortal and swore to slay the next who crossed his path creating fierce tigers to carry out his wrath. The mortal turned out to be a beautiful young woman named Amethystos who was on her way to pay tribute to Artemis (Goddess of virginity and protector of young girls). Her life was spared by Artemis who transformed the maiden into a statue of pure crystalline quartz to protect her from the brutal claws. Dionysus wept tears of wine in remorse for his action at the sight of the beautiful statue. The God’s tears subsequently stained the quartz purple.

Despite being a heart warming tale it is just that and is neither factual or a myth from Greek mythology.  The only reference to amethyst in historical text relates to a stone that was given to Dionysus by the titan Rhea in order to preserve the wine-drinker’s sanity.

The original myth as written by Remy Belleau is quite difficult to find and what people who want to use it as part of their article on amethyst don’t understand, is that they should be quoting it as historical text using citations instead of trying to reword it to try and keep it unique for the benefit of Google. As a result there are hundreds of versions online many of which lack accuracy and with regards to the longer version, not only does it bear no historical value, but there’s little or no proof of where it even came from.

Historical text should always be quoted instead of being rewritten and citations used to show readers that it has come from another source.  Citations should also be used whenever something is quoted, paraphrased, if you use an idea that has come from someone else and when a reference is made to someone else’s work.  They should even be put in place when something has been used to develop your own ideas.  The purpose of a “citation” is to make it clear to the reader that something has come from another source and it also enables them to refer to that work should they wish to.  Using citations in an article is completely acceptable and not considered by Google to be plagiarism nor does it detract from the originality of the article.

Some of the worse culprits of plagiarism are people who manage an online business because its success is largely reliant on Google.  In order for potential customers to find a website, it must rank well so articles are often churned out on a regular basis and lengthy descriptions written adjacent to products being offered for sale both of which help improve search engine ranking.

The purpose of this article is to highlight that not everything that’s published online is accurate and especially with regards to crystals, rocks and minerals.  A large amount of what’s available to read has simply been written with the sole purpose of increasing search engine ranking and not everyone goes to the lengths required to ensure that what they are writing is factual or accurate.  In many cases articles are written hastily or by someone with little or no knowledge of the subject matter hence the minimum amount of research is done in order to find suitable and adequate material to use.

From the perspective of an online business and someone with plenty of experience writing articles to publish online, I would recommend that citations be used where relevant and if ever you’re not sure whether something is factual or not, make that very clear in your article.  Sometimes it is difficult to confirm whether something is true and that’s fine but never take it for granted that it is without having hard evidence to back it up.  If in doubt leave it out or make it clear that you’re not able to find evidence to support what you have said, it’s better to be truthful than to put your name to something that’s simply not true.   Remember that once an article has been published online it’s likely to be around for a very, very long time and what may initially seem like a well written and original article, may over time begin to have a negative impact on the page or website that you’re trying to promote.