If you want to know whether the gold chain or diamond ring you are wearing is real, just check with Stacey Sieger, an independent contractor for the Federal Government who shared her knowledge and expertise with students in Forensics Science class.
“I’ve been doing this for over 30 years,” Sieger said. “I touch it and I know what it is.”
Sieger, originally a jeweler by trade, is a much sought after expert who assesses precious metals and jewelry; real and fake Rolex watches; and even rare comic books and paintings. The agencies she serves include the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Agency, Department of State, Department of Defense, the U.S. Attorney’s office, and numerous state and local agencies. She works primarily in New York state, but also in Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. For the FBI, she works for the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Unit.
“What’s inspiring about Stacey’s job as a jeweler is how she applies her career outside of designing jewelry,” said Forensics Science teacher Olivia Kennedy. “She takes her expert knowledge of jewelry and becomes a crucial part in solving a case for the Federal Government. Our class had a chance to see first hand how a career can have very different, and exciting roles!”
When through with testing and evaluation, Sieger provides the government with a “liquid” value - the amount of money the government can realize when selling the item.
Senior Julia Geary offered for testing, a diamond-look jewelry earring, which Seiger confirmed with a special light, was indeed not a true diamond. Senior Matt Gaudet offered a gold chain - passed down to him from his grandfather - for testing. Using a portable chemistry set, Sieger was able to confirm the karat weight of the gold, and the fact that it was a true gold chain. “I didn’t really know what its value was,” Gaudet said. “It was really cool to see how she tested it.”
Seeing the process was a good experience for her students, Kennedy said. “It was amazing to see how quickly Stacey could determine types of gold with a touchstone and indicator solutions. Her tools were so impressive and easy to follow. The class was able to apply the chemistry behind jewelry to toxicology— both using similar scientific techniques to solve the unknown of very different types of evidence. As always, it’s extremely exciting to see the expert at work and for students to reflect on how their experiences at AWHS could build into a fascinating, well rounded career.”
Although Sieger does not work with cases involving diplomatic immunity, she explained how some diplomats may bring items such as expensive watches into the country to sell - without paying taxes - which is money laundering. Her most “valuable” investigation involved a bag of jewelry, which included a 10½ carat diamond worth $1.3 million and total contents worth about $8 million. In another investigation, she had to painstakingly itemize and assess more than 800 coins and tokens.
“I have a very good reputation,” Sieger said. “But if I’m not sure, I contact other experts for help, or I can refer the government agency to the right person.” As a jewelry expert, Kennedy added, “Stacey works with the FBI, emphasizing how the bureau reaches out to all kinds of professionals. She is a perfect example of what makes the FBI well rounded.”
Sieger’s presentation was the most recent for the students. Earlier in the year, special agents from the FBI Emergency Response Team explained their crime scene investigative techniques to the class, and later brought the team’s crime scene van to the school.
“Since meeting FBI agents, ERT members, and evidence experts over the course of this year, our class has truly grown an appreciation and expansion of knowledge as to where a science background may take you,” Kennedy said.