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Jewelry As Art Inc

5 Ways Gemstones Get Treated That Most People Don't Think About

Posted by Danny Mosco on

A question we often get about our jewelry is: are these real stones? We carry a wide selection of both gemstones and natural stones, and some CZ's (synthetic stones), so of course it's a fair question to ask. The short answer to the question is yes, the vast majority of our stones are real. The only exceptions are a few pieces with CZ stones in them, or the more obvious zirconia stud earrings. However, today we'd like to give a more thorough answer to this frequent question.

As an everyday jewelry/gemstone buyer, you will generally encounter stones that have undergone some kind of treatment to enhance their appearance. Some people don't pay any attention to whether or not a stone is treated, while others wonder whether a stone is treated or not, or to what extent. The truth is, you could say all stones are treated in the sense that all stones get altered from their natural state in order to fit into man-made jewelry pieces. This is what jewelry makers have been doing for countless years and generations: cutting, shaping, polishing, and manipulating naturally formed gem crystals to craft a piece of wearable art. But taking it a step further, there are also other techniques which have been developed to do more than just cut or polish a stone, which actually change a gem's color and clarity. These treatments can not only enhance appearance, but can also alter the hardness of a stone as well. Some treatments are permanent, others last a long time, and others only last a short period of time. Here are some of brief overviews of various treatment techniques that exist. 

1. Bleaching

Bleaching involves using a chemical to alter or reduce a color in a porous gem. This treatment is often used in conjunction with dyeing. 

Examples: jade, pearls 

2. Dyeing

Dyeing is the process of adding colored dyes into porous and more fractured gems in order to change their color. This is often used as a combination process with bleaching, after bleaching has been done.

Examples: pearls, coral, turquoise, lapis lazuli, hoplite, jade, chalcedony, quartz, emerald, and ruby

3. Surface Coating 

Surface coating alter's a gem's appearance by adding a coloring agent like a paint to the back surfaces of gems, or applied to all of the surface, or a portion of the surface. This is done to affect the gem's color. 

Examples: diamond, tanzanite, topaz, coral, pearls, and quartz

4. Fracture Filling

Fracture filling involves actually filling in fractures or cavities on a gem's surface with different materials such as glass, resin, wax, or oil in order to conceal the gem's inclusions and flaws. This also can improve a gem's stability, or in the most extreme cases even add weight to it.

Examples: diamond, ruby, and emerald

5. Heat Treatment

Heat treatment is simply exposing a gem to very high temperatures in order to change its color and/or clarity. 

Examples: amber, amethyst, aquamarine, citrine, ruby, sapphire, tanzanite, topaz, tourmaline, and zircon (virtually any and every gem is commonly heat treated)

There you have it folks! Most gems you see in finished pieces of jewelry are not in their rough state, but rather have treated in some fashion to enhance in one way or another, to make it more aesthetically pleasing to jewelry buyers. That doesn't mean a treated gem isn't a real one though!  

For further reading, check out the source we used: https://www.gia.edu/gem-treatment

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