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Gemstone Treatments


Do you get confused when you hear about treated gemstones when you shop for jewelry?  Does it scare you to hear that a gemstone has been heated, coated, dyed, irradiated, etc?  There is no need to worry!  All gemstones receive SOME sort of treatment, whether it altering the appearance or just cleaning, polishing and cutting it.  Here are some of the more common treatments gemstones receive.

·         Heat Treatment- This is the most common treatment a gemstone receives.  Most of your most popular stones receive it. For instance, topazes are not naturally blue! They are heat-treated.  These gems can be submerged in hot liquid or steam or heated to high temperatures. Usually the heat will cause the stone to turn colors but it also can enhance color or opaqueness.

·         Coating-Another common treatment is applying a film to the back of a gemstone to alter the surface.  The most common coated gemstones are topazes (think mystic fire) and diamonds (colored diamonds).

·         Bleaching-Acid is applied to remove bad spots in a gemstone or to make an even color in the stone or to match stones (think pearls). Bleaching can soften the gemstone, though, as the acid leaves open pores in the stone.  So normally a polymer is used to coat the stone and fill in the pores.

·         Irradiation-Irradiation is the process of apply radiation to a gemstone to cause color change.  The hottest trend today is the colored diamond, which is caused primarily by irradiation, sometimes followed by heat treating.  Sapphires, topazes and to a lesser extent, pearls are also occasionally irradiated.  And no, it is not dangerous to you!

·         Dyeing-Dyeing involves injecting dye into a porous gemstone.  Some of these gemstones are made porous just for this purpose.  The most commonly dyed stones are the pearl, ruby, emerald, quartz, turquoise, and chalcedony. 

·         Drilling-Drilling involves using a laser to drill out bad areas of a gemstone, usually replacing the bad section with a substance to mask inclusions.  Generally, this process is only done on diamonds because of the extreme heat.  This generally weakens the diamond.

These are the most common treatments and gemstones not subjected to any of them are most rare, and therefore very expensive.  Most times the treatment only involves color so it is NOT a bad thing to have a treated stone as long as you know what the treatment is.  It is against the law to treat a stone and not disclose the known treatment. However, a lot of times it is impossible to tell if a stone has been treated.  So ask your jeweler if you are concerned.



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