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Gemstone Treatments

Has Your Gemstone Been Enhanced?

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Gemstone Buying Advice
Photo by Don Farrall / Getty Images
The fact is, most gemstones used in jewelry have been treated to improve their appearance. That's not necessarily a negative, because treated gemstones can be a good choice -- they should be more affordable than untreated stones that achieve the same quality naturally. Are you familiar with common gemstone treatments? Do a little background reading before you buy -- some treatments are permanent, but others are not.

A few methods commonly used to enhance gemstones:

  • Heat and radiation are often used to change or enhance gemstone colors.

  • Diffusion is used to deepen a gem's color, but it only intensifies a gemstone's outer layers.

  • Oil and waxes make a gem appear more richly colored -- the coatings fill-in fine surface cracks, blending them away temporarily.

  • Fracture filling coats gems with a clear or colored epoxy resin or another substance. The treatment fills-in cracks, which improves the appearance of the gemstone, and is more durable than oils.

  • Laser drilling removes inclusions, improving clarity.

If any form of the word enhanced is used in jewelry ads or disclosures, the gem has been treated in some way.

Are Gemstone Treatments Permanent?

Some treatments are permanent, but others are not. Heat treatments can go either way, because they create permanent color changes in some gems and temporary changes in others.

Always ask if the jewelry you are interested in purchasing contains treated gemstones. If it does, ask which treatments were used and if those treatments are guaranteed to be permanent.

More About Colored Gemstones

Many of today's gemstones are synthetic -- created in a laboratory. They match the configuration of natural gems, but are usually more 'perfect.' Lab created gems can be a good option if the price is right and their origins are disclosed. Get the facts about synthetic gemstones.
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