Estimates within the jewelry industry suggest that 90% of colored gemstones offered for sale have been treated (enhanced) in one way or another. With such a high statistic, it is important that you, the consumer, understand how treatment or enhancement effects both the beauty and price of any gemstone you may be considering. It is also important to understand that enhancing the appearance of gemstones is not a new practice. Improving the appearance of colored gemstones is an age-old practice that is said to have originated in Sri Lanka (ceylon) approximately 2,000 years ago.
While gemstone treatments have become commonplace within the jewelry and gemstone industries, the general public's awareness (your awareness) has been considerably lower. For that reason, our goal is to provide you with clear answers to some of the most frequently asked treatment questions. The information that follows was collected from gem dealers and suppliers around the world. If you any questions as you read through this section of our website, please do not hesitate to call or email us. Further, the United States Federal Trade Commission has very specific guidelines related to the disclosure of gemstone treatments/enhancements. These guidelines are available for access by the public. The FTC is an excellent technical resource for the serious gemstone buyer/collector.
Is the use of treatments globally accepted? Yes, with 90% or more of the most popular gem types currently being treated, permanent techniques are virtually universally accepted. Since it is a reality that the majority of gemstones traded internationally have undergone some form of treatment, you should assume treatment when purchasing gemstones. As stated above, some techniques such as heating are centuries old. It is indeed likely that cherished family heirlooms containing rubies or sapphires may have been heat-treated! Further, some 18k gold and platinum pieces may even contain fine synthetic stones. As with natural gemstone treatments, the creation of synthetic gemstones is not a recent development, but that's another subject.
Are all the treatments used permanent? With the exception of Emeralds, which are treated with Colorless Oil or Polymers, other "typical" treatments are permanent and stable.
Why are natural gemstones treated? Most commonly, they are treated to improve the color or appearance of the finished product. Some gemstones simply would not exist in salable quantities without treatment.
The following is one dramatic example of how treatment actually creates a truly magnificent and extremely popular gemstone: Heating greenish brown Zoisite (which you would probaly not consider a viable gem material) to 600 degrees Celsius produces the vibrant violet-blue gemstone known as Tanzanite. Very simply put . . . no heating (treatment), no Tanzanite! Please note that the term "natural gemstones" refers to those formed in the earth, whether or not they have been treated after mining. This is in distinct contrast to "lab" (laboratory), "man made" or "synthetic" gems.
Does treatment affect a gem's value? Interestingly, in some precious and semi-precious colored gemstones there is no variation between the value of treated and untreated material. In fact, treating may even increase a gem's value. As noted above, when greenish brown Zoisite is heated to 600 degrees Celsius, an incredible metamorphosis takes place. Vibrant violet blue Tanzanite is created, commanding a far higher market price. However, high quality unheated Rubies and Sapphires are extremely rare and command a much higher market price. When purchasing high quality Rubies and Sapphires, you should be aware that unheated material is almost non-existent. As a result, you should only purchase from a reliable jeweler that offers full disclosure and a guarantee for their gemstones.
At The Ross Jewelry Company
we offer both, full disclosure of treatment/enhancemet and a lifetime guarantee on our
gemstones. As with our diamonds . . . we unlock the industry secrets for buying a fine
gemstone at the very best price. How? . . . with more than 40 years of experience buying from
suppliers and cutters all over the world.