Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Gemstone Treatments


#1

All, Maybe those of you reading my objections to the way we market
gemstones think that I am trying to destroy the gemstone market. I
am not. What I am trying to do is put some integrity into the market
and stop the marketing going on now from destroying the gemstone
market. Another gem person, much more knowledgeable than me, more
traveled than me, more studied than me, has

put my concerns in much clearer terms. He has granted me permission
to prin t his words from his website, From Mr. Richard Hughes:


#2

Gerry, Unfortunately, the quote you picked from Mr. Hughes, whose
work I read regularly, refers specifically to the case of rubies
that, due to the heating processes involved,ended up with a glass
residue in the fissures and fractures of the material. This is
extremely different from the process used to heat treat most blue
sapphire into a better blue color. The issue in the case of the
rubies was not the heating but the RESIDUE left because of the
heating. I doubt very much he has made a similar comment about blue
sapphires.

Daniel R. Spirer, GG
Spirer Somes Jewelers
1794 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140
617-491-6000
@spirersomes
www.spirersomes.com


#3

All, I will not get into a contest with Mr. Spiersomes or anyone else
about my ability to read or to understand what I have read. Suffice
it to say that my education up to the bachelors level with several
years of post graduate study indicates that my ability to read and
understand what I have read is sufficient.

People that deal in products look for areas that they can exploit
for maximum profit with the least of their own energy expended.
They also spend a lot of time looking for different ways to
interpret written guidelines to their marketing advantage. Treated
corundum is only one example in the jewelry industry that falls into
this category. There are many more. At issue is the question: Is
it ethical to sell something that you have added no value to by
raising the price of the item to near the price of a natural item?
Cutting of a gemstone is necessary to bring out the inherit sparkle
and beauty of the stone. Cutting will not make a murky, bad colored
stone into a gemstone. Treatment makes a murky, bad colored stone
into a gemstone. In any gemstone deposit there are many more stones
that will become gemstones by treatment than there are gemstones
that do not need treatment. Corundum, quartz, topaz, beryl, and
tourmaline are the most commonly treated At issue is
cost. Why should a treated gemstone cost as much as a natural?
Untreated rough gemstones that are not gem quality are very
inexpensive. Gemstone rough that requires no treatment are very
expensive. Treatment of gemstones is not expensive in large
quantities. Marketing is why treated gemstones are so expensive. I
deal at the cutters level. At my level there is very little value
to a treated gemstone as compared to a natural gemstone. I will not
pay near as much for treated rough as I will pay for natural. Our
marketing system has conjured a price schedule that gives maximum
profits to selling of treated gemstones at the expense of natural
To me it is unethical trading because the marketing
misrepresents the value of the treated stone as compared to the
value of the natural.

Make your own opinion. Read, study, and learn. At shows check the
price of rough. Learn how to grade rough. Learn what the color of
natural rough stones looks like. Ask the rough stone dealer if his
rough has been heated, radiated, filled, colored, etc. Compare the
color of the rough to the color of finished Cutting can
slightly change the perception of color to your eye. Cutting will
never change a murky, bad colored stone into a bright gemstone.

I am off to Tucson. This will be my last post until Feb 18th or so.
If you like my reasoning drop by my booth to say so. If you do not
like my reasoning, drop by my booth to say so. If you only want to
argue and do not want to pursue knowledge stay away.

Gerry Galarneau


#4

hello everybody! i assume here that everyone sets fair prices for
their work - ie, they take their time, cost of materials, and
overhead into account when pricing, and set a price the market will
bear.

i am under the impression that a natural sapphire would cost
thousands of dollars, whereas a treated one would not. if a stone is
sold as untreated when it is, in fact, treated, that is the unethical
part. if you have a treated stone, disclose it as so, and then ask
the price of an untreated stone, that is plumb silly. :wink:

if people in your area want to pay thousands of dollars for a
treated stone disclosed as such, then give the customer what they
want. :wink:

or, you could do the “emperor’s new clothes” approach to jewelery,
which is what the big chain stores do. you could not even bother
trying to get pretty stones, sell them at a hefty markup, and in the
meantime, tell customers “this is fine jewelery.”

i tell my customers that most gemstones have been treated in some
way - either with heat, filling, irradiation, what have you. then i
tell them the truth: the accent stones i purchased, and have probably
been treated. however, the center stone is cut from a rock i found,
then i give them the story of that day when i found the rock.
generally, the piece sells.

i think all parties have presented valid points on this issue; esp.
gerry, who obviously cares deeply about the stones he cuts and sells.
however, i also think we have gotten a little carried away with
details. emails are starting to read like tax instructions. :wink:
perhaps the best thing for everyone would be if the parties most
interested in this subject could discuss it one on one rather than
going after each other in front of the whole group. (this is meant in
the friendliest possible way). susannah wiseman Wiseman’s Workshop
@sgsjbears


#5
    however, i also think we have gotten a little carried away
with details. emails are starting to read like tax instructions. ;)
perhaps the best thing for everyone would be if the parties most
interested in this subject could discuss it one on one rather than
going after each other in front of the whole group. (this is meant
in the friendliest possible way). 

I must say, I do agree w/ Susannah in her above comments. This all
gets a bit much sometimes - I love the but not the
animosity that creeps in.

Another thought - it would be much easier for Orchid readers to
understand the info conveyed if writers would use conventional
paragraphing structure - these big blocks of text are quite daunting

  • I am sure I am missing valuable info!

friendly comments, thanks for listening, etc.


#6

Susannah,

   i am under the impression that a natural sapphire would cost
thousands of dollars, whereas a treated one would not 

This is actually not at all true. It is something I keep bringing
up but seems to get lost. There is a relatively small difference in
pricing between natural and heated material until you get into the
very fine ($10,000 and up) range of stones. The crazy thing is that
because many of the natural sapphires are lighter in tone (because
they haven’t been heated) they are often less expensive than the
heated (which have the color that most people want in their
sapphire).

I would be happy to take some of these discussions off list but
since not everyone gives their email address this is not always
possible. Also this is supposed to be an open forum for the exchange
of ideas, which it does appear to be acting as even if we do get a
little testy with each other once in awhile. Daniel R. Spirer, GG
Spirer Somes Jewelers 1794 Massachusetts Ave Cambridge, MA 02140
617-491-6000 @spirersomes www.spirersomes.com


#7

Hi All,

I’m back, after getting tanned and eating plenty of fish and shrimp
in Puerto Vallarta and Punta Mita. Here are a few more of my limited
views on the treatment subject which I’ve picked up during my years
in the gem and mineral business.

Treatments need to be understood and put into their proper
perspective. They should not be lumped together and all viewed in
the same light in my opinion. Below I wanted to expound a little on
a few treatments and their differences.

Heat treatments of which there are two types need to be viewed
separately.

1 - Lower temperature treatments used on tourmaline, aquamarine,
tanzanite, citrine and maybe others. These stones can have their
color changed by heating to a relatively low, easily reached
temperatures. Temperatures that Mother Nature often creates on her
own to achieve the same as man does in a laboratory. Temps which
range from 350 - 700 degrees centigrade (Celsius). These low temp
treatment are not different from what many stones are subjected to
naturally in the ground. The stones subjected to these temps in the
ground emerge in the same state as their counterparts heated by man
in a lab. These lab heated stones remain indiscernible from the
naturally heated stones.

The following are high temperature heat treatments:

2a - High temperature treatments which are used on corundum and have
only come into development in the last 20-25 years. These treatments
rely on heat near the melting point of sapphire and often leaves
trace evidence such as fracturing around inclusions due to heat
stress and uneven expansion. Seen as a “halo” around inclusions
within the corundum. The high temperatures (1200 - 1900C) required
to due this treatment are not normally reached in nature or by man
and require special equipment not readily available . This man
preformed process is not ordinarily duplicated in nature and should
be viewed as much higher tech than previously mentioned low
temperature treatments.

2b - Diffusion treatments which have made a huge impact in the
corundum market as of late also rely on very high temperatures
(1200+ C) along with the diffusion of metal (i.e. beryllium, chrome)
ions into the sapphire to change the original color. This is a high
tech treatment not ordinarily seen in the natural environment. Again
it relies on special ovens to reach these temps. It has also been
recently used to treat topaz into never before seen colors of reds
and greens. The give away is that often the color which is diffused
in from the surface does not penetrate to the center. Under specific
lighting and immersion conditions the darker colored skin can often
be detected. However if the process was preformed for a long enough
time the diffusion would be completely throughout the stone and not
easily detectable. This process has thrown the sapphire market into
unchartered territory. The AGTA and the GIA have been battling the
sapphire producers in the orient for complete disclosure. Something
the Bangkok heaters have resisted strongly.

2c - Clarity enhancing heat treatments used on sapphires also relies
on high heat (1200+ C) in order to dissolve titanium oxide needles
and improve the transparency within the stone. This process
conducted in an environment containing other enhancing ingredients
can turn a yellow green silky sapphire into a transparent blue stone
of superior value. Just ask anyone who has a lot of Montana Sapphire
from the Eldorado Bar on the Missouri River. You rarely find any of
these in their natural color anymore.

Irradiation Treatment

This process uses radiation from atomic sources both natural and man
induced. It occurs in nature to slowly change the color of stones
via background radiation from surrounding rock. Man has greatly
accelerated the process by using linear accelerators, cobalt 60, and
other sources of high energy rays and particles. It is high tech and
has only come into use in the last 20-25 years. It has been used to
enhance most blue topaz, some rubelite, some kunzite, all root-beer
colored topaz, some people are saying amethyst (I am not so
convinced on this), most yellow quartz, some citrine, some other
colors in quartz like army green and green browns, smoky quartz,
some beryls (maxixe) which usually fade back quickly, and I am sure
others which I am unaware of. Heck, people who have access to
radiation try everything they can get their hands on. It does take
special knowledge, is not easily available to most dealers (I do not
know anyone to send things to), when induced by man often creates
colors that are inferior to the best natural counterparts. From what
I have seen this is the case with rubelite tourmaline. Pink
tourmaline can be turned red, but they do not compare with the
natural fine red tourmaline. Since irradiation occurs in nature the
process preformed by man is not detectable normally. However
knowledge of the gem field combined with and control of
the hard to access manmade irradiation sources tend to let “the cat
out of the bag” when it comes to who is irradiating what. Sometimes
though the truth is slow in coming from Third World irradiation
sources.

This is just a little more I wanted to add about common treatments
discussed here on the Orchid List. In my opinion (IMO) it is not
correct to lump the low temperature treatment into the same group as
all the other treatments I listed above. Irradiation, and the
assorted high temp treatments have not been done for hundreds of
years. They are treatments that through modern technology have only
been preformed recently. IMO they are not the same as a treatment
which can be done on a campfire in a tin-can full of sand by man 300
years ago or today. So please view the low temperature treatments
for what they are and do not lump them together with irradiation,
diffusion and the high temp corundum treatments seen recently.

Regards, 
Steve the briolette guy     Rough and Ready Gems, Inc.      
www.briolettes.com

PS I do buy all my stones in the rough and thus I am more assured
of their treatment or lack of treatment history.


#8

The “it can happen in nature” line of reasoning crops up regularly
with reference to gemstone enhancements, generally cited to
rationalize non-disclosure to the customer. Under the right natural
conditions, many treatments including irradiation and even electric
treatments can be said to occur in nature, albeit rarely. So, where
does this line of reasoning lead us?

In nature, under the right conditions, carbon is subjected to high
temperature and pressure, and as a result undergoes an improvement
in color, clarity, RI and hardness, changing from black and opaque
to transparent and, say, blue-white. These conditions can now be
duplicated in a lab. Because Mother Nature also employs the same
methods, should we sell the resulting stone as a natural? The gem
and jewelry industry would make windfall profits- for awhile, until
the word got out, and then the diamond industry would fall under a
cloud of suspicion from which it might never emerge.

The thing is, in nature, we find a great variation in rocks. Even
among rocks of the same composition found in the same locale, there
is often great variation in color and clarity. Only a few of the
rocks we find are likely to be of perfect clarity, with a color that
is both vivid and attractive, which is why some people pay a lot of
money for these pretty rocks. It is rarity which drives the value.
If we take the more common, less attractive rocks, which are of far
lesser value, and by cooking, nuking, zapping, dyeing, diffusing,
etc change their appearance so that they appear the same as rarer
stones, then there are two possible arguments which we can make
about the result-

1). The resulting enhanced stones are the same as the natural
stones. If this is the case, the naturally occuring stones of the
same appearance are no longer rare- we have destroyed their value.
It then becomes a fraud to represent to the customer that either the
naturally occurring stone or the enhanced stone is of high value, as
the rarity which drove that high value is now a thing of the past.

2). The resulting stones are not the same as the more highly valued
stones, as their color, clarity, etc did not occur naturally,
regardless of whether the processes used can also occur in nature.
If this is the case, the value of the natural stone (driven by
rarity) is preserved, but it then becomes a fraud not to disclose to
the customer that the enhanced stone is enhanced and therefore of
lesser value.

Currently, these enhancements are not being fully disclosed, and the
value of the enhanced stones has largely been represented to the
public as that of the natural stones. As explained above, if the
enhanced stones are equivalent to the natural stones ,then the
natural stones are no longer rare, and neither the enhanced nor the
natural stones should be represented as being of high value. If the
enhanced stones are not equivalent to the natural stones, then the
enhanced stones (due to lesser rarity) are of far lesser value and
this must be disclosed to the public. While many concerns are
currently profiting from the industry’s failure to disclose, there
will likely be a day of reckoning. The only way to protect the gem
industry in the long run is to press for both regulation and
enforcement which will guarantee full and complete disclosure
treatments.

Lee Einer
Dos Manos Jewelry
http://www.dosmanosjewelry.com


#9

Hi all, I have been following the recent debate about gemstone
treatment with some interest and would like to throw in my two
pennies worth.

I fully agree with Lee and Gerry that all gemstone treatments should
be disclosed. Certain gemstone dealers go through great pains and
expense to supply quality stones to the industry. Is it fair that
someone else can lay their hands on inferior quality gems, enhance
them and then sell as quality stones?

The value of a gemstone is determined by its rarity and quality and
the buying public have a right to know what they are paying for.

To give an example: I have just spent 5 months in Ethiopia
researching and sourcing After much effort and hardship I
have managed to secure a constant supply of Sapphire, Peridot and
Opal. These are all natural materials, purchased direct from the
source and have not been treated in any way. I will advertise and
sell these stones as being natural, untreated and therefore expect
higher prices for them.

However, when John public buys his gemstone from a jewellery store
or dealer his main criteria is generally price followed by quality.
If he has a choice between two similar stones (one natural and one
treated) and is not told of the treatment he will almost certainly
choose the treated stone as it will be cheaper.

We all want to make money but are the words honesty and integrity no
longer part of our vocabulary?? Let`s clean up our act otherwise we
are looking serious long term problems for our industry.

Shaun Pearton
Africagemstones
South Africa


#10

All, One of the reasons I do not copy others posts and then dissect
them is because communication is meant to be received as a whole
entity and not taken as parts. My goal is to inspire more exchange of
ideas by challenging current accepted and repeated themes that when
inspected cannot be backed up. I offer and accept all meaningful
communication.

I went back and read again my posts and all other posts about
"gemstone treatments". If you disagree with what I have written then
rebut it with logical argument. Fly off the handle and you
communicate the weakness of your communication. If you take the
whole of the argument as a personal attack on your integrity then you
should be able to logically present your side. I see nothing to
apologize for in my post.

I would like to hear from others about gemstone treatments,
disclosure, and the current state of disclosure. How about Europe,
Asia, South America, any else?

Gerry Galarneau


#11

Shaun:

  If he has a choice between two similar stones (one natural and
one treated) and is not told of the treatment he will almost
certainly choose the treated stone as it will be cheaper. 

I’m sorry to inform you of this but unless you are dealing in stones
that sell wholesale in excess of about $5000 it is simply not true
that an untreated stone will always be more expensive. We deal in
sapphires on a daily basis in wholesale price ranges from about
$400/ct and up and we see almost no price difference between heated
and unheated stones, and, yes we do handle both. Granted when you
get into larger, truly rare stones ($5k/ct wholesale and up) there
will be about a 10-15% difference in the price for natural vs.
heated, but the reality is that these stones do not represent the
bulk of what is being sold. We have also found that, at least in
sapphire material, most people prefer the heated color to that which
is coming on the market as natural material. The reason they heat
sapphire is to try to end up with the color that is considered most
desirable.

On a second note, selling opal as natural stones should not command
a premium either because, except for opal doublets (or triplets) and
sugared opals, these stones are not routinely treated. Asking a
premium will only price you out of the market because most of the
material is already natural. Daniel R. Spirer, GG Spirer Somes
Jewelers 1794 Massachusetts Ave Cambridge, MA 02140 617-491-6000
@spirersomes www.spirersomes.com


#12

Dear Lee and All,

It does not really matter what, where, or to who Gerry’s comments
were directed.

What does matter though is that dubious does not go
uncontested on this public educational forum.

Gerry and some others here would have us believe or suspect- “ALL
GEMSTONES ARE TREATED”.

This is not true, and with a little knowledge one should not even be
suspicious of many gems.

Buying rough gem materials and mineral specimens for many years has
given me some knowledge in this area. However, you do not need to be
a rough buyer to have this knowledge as it is not secret, just of
more interest and availability to gem cutters and mineral dealers.

As I stated in previous posts (many times) I have numerous gems that
are not treated at all in any way. How do I know this? I was not
there when they were dug up, nor did I have my eye on them for the
entire time. So how do I know this? How do I (or you) know anything?

As stated befoRe: Knowledge equals Properly Justified True Belief

The above are not just fancy words but an analysis of what knowledge
is. Knowledge is distinct from opinion, conjecture, or prejudice.
Nobody, none of you can prove everything you know.

In the words of John Locke - “He that, in ordinary affairs of life,
would admit of nothing but direct plain demonstration would be sure
of nothing in this world but of perishing quickly.”

Personally, I know and believe many things which I did not
personally witness. Contact with minerals, rough gems, knowledgeable
people, actual mines, written materials, museums and more have given
me a foundation of knowledge in this department.

There are many gems for which it is well known there are no
treatments. So why suspect them? Then there are many gems which
could be treated but usually are not. You will have to evaluated the
circumstances in this case and come to a properly justified true
belief in these cases. If you do not have the knowledge, it pays
to know a reputable knowledgeable dealer or person you can trust.

And then there is the distinction made in a recent post of mine
between the high tech treatments (radiation and ultra high temps and
diffusion to change color) and the low tech treatments (heat
treatment in the range of normal kilns >700 C). In my opinion this
is an important distinction and all gem treatments should not be
lumped together. Some are considerably more insidious than others
IMO (i.e. bulk diffusion in sapphires, recent diffusion in topaz,
colored dyes, irradiation, and high temp corundum treatments).

The following are stones I have in my inventory that are not
treated: (Remember I buy all my materials in the rough.)

amber from Chiapas, chrome beryl, chrysoberyl, moonstone,
labradorite, sunstone, almandine, spessartite, grossularite,
andradite, iolite, nephrite, lapis-lazuli, opal, peridot, rock
crystal, red and gold rutilated quartz, quartz with edenite needles,
strawberry quartz, rose quartz, amethyst from
Bolivia-Zambia-Brazil-Madagascar-Mexico-Uruguay-Colorado, citrine
from Mozambique, smoky quartz from Colorado, chrysoprase,
chrysocolla, blue chalcedony, carnelian, Montana agate, sphene,
spinel, turquoise, tourmaline-most of mine are not heated, imperial
topaz from Ouro Preto, cassiterite, datolite, rhodocrosite,
rhodolite, demantoid form my old mine in Veracruz, yellow apatite,
fire agate, most of my aquas and green beryls, phenakite, danburite,
scheelite, clinohumite, all colors & locales of my tourmalines
(except some of the browns from Nigeria), sphalerite, ametrine,
black jade from Wyoming, charoite, sugilite, morganite, green Mali
garnet, tsavorite, hessonite, Maw Sit Sit, holly blue chalcedony,
moldavite, pink opal, rhodonite, Transvaal jade (hydrogrossular
garnet), variscite

I also have heat treated materials:

Some tourmalines, some smokies, some aquas, all blue zircon,
tanzanite, some citrines

And irradiated materials:

blue topaz, lemon citrine, “root-beer” topaz

Some questionable: Heliodor

I do not carry many corundums (ruby & sapphire), but the general
feeling in the industry nowadays is that they are all treated with
high heat, diffusion or both. Of course there are some natural gems
out there.

Nor do I have many emeralds which are usually well oiled under very
high pressure. Sometime even with colored oil.

So now that I have stated my position on the gem treatment issues
for the umpteenth time and listed my natural gem inventory, I will
let this comatose horse lie for awhile.

Steve Green / Rough and Ready Gems (Tired of talking about gem
treatments, I think I’ll take a long ride on my motorbike.)
www.briolettes.com


#13

Dear Steve, I quite agree with most of what you have said with
respect to gem treatment and I laud you for sticking to rough that
is treatment free.

Let us bear in mind, however , that many of the stones that you
cited were at the lower end of the value spectrum. I think it would
be perfectly fair, nonetheless, to say that treatment probability
increases with the market value of the material. Thus, the incentive
to spend money on enhancement is much greater. Another factor that
comes to mind is that one has to consider the degree to which
enhancement is effective in a particular material and the
cost/effort ratio involved. You mentioned that you do not carry
treated Turquoise or Lapis that has been treated yet both are
regularly treated inasmuch as the cost/benefit ratio is miniscule
vis a vis results.

I too am a bit jaded on the issue, but it is, nonetheless, a subject
of great importance to all of us and it behooves everyone to stay
abreasr of the latest developments. It occurred to me recently that
there is an interesting parrellel here with hybridization of plants
and vegetables. There has been a movement afoot lately to bring back
the veggies and flowers that are virtually unknown in todays’
marletplace. If you delve into the history of man’s involvemnt in
playing around with botanic evolution you will find that virtually
none of the flowers or veggies that we take for granted would bear
any resemblance to their forbears. As a matter of fact, those so
called Heritage plants were just a step in the manipulated
development of botanical products. The true forebears came from all
over the world and were those crops that were cultivated by
primitive cultures. And, lo and behold, it is probably true that
these commodities were already being “fooled around with” hundreds
of years ago.

So , when we rail against manipulation with natural objects, it is
important to bear in mind that enhancement may not necessarily
always be evil. Even synthesis may have its’ place. Personally, I
draw the line when man concocts gemstone imitants whose gemological
traits are marketable, but no better than their natural
counterparts. Moissanite has some handsome attributes , but it does
not even come close to having the durability of its’
imitant…diamond. When the supplier blatantly suggests that it is
comparable to diamond and then perpetuates the fraud by demanding an
exhorbitant price based on that fraud, THAT is unjustified…it
is, quite simply, unethical marketing !

Ron at Mills Gem, Los Osos, Ca.


#14

Mr. Cleveland & All, A true story. Three years ago I got quite
heavily involved in concave cutting sapphires. All the stones we
were cutting came from three areas Madagascar, Africa, and Sri Lanka.
I was cutting for one of the major sapphire players in the USA and
for a large jeweler. We have concaved about 500 -750 sapphires in the
size range of .75 - 5 carats. All the stones we were working on were
recuts because it is almost impossible to obtain quality rough in
corundum.

In the cutting I get to look into the heart of the stone. Most of
these stones showed marked heat treating. Partially dissolved
rutiles and fractures around included crystals, but some showed no
indications. All the stones were purchased in parcels from different
dealers that would not guarantee the treatments or the providence of
the stones. After the cutting was accomplished every stone was
carefully graded by the gem dealer and jeweler. Stones that looked
like they would certify as natural and were of such size, color, and
clarity that it was worth while were sent in for certs. One stone in
particular stands out. It was a Madagascar stone of very nice color,
about three carats. and clean except for a small area of silvery
rutiles that showed no indication of heat treating. The gemstone
dealer immediately jumped on the chance to send the stone into a gem
lab to have it certified non- treated and the providence determined.
It took three tries at the labs, but he finally got a Kashmir
non-treated certification. Each time the stone came back without the
correct (in his mind) cert he would have me repolish and rearrange a
few facets to change the stone enough to send it in again.

This is only one instance in many that have occurred in my 20 +
years working as a cutter for gemstone dealers and jewelers. I am
very happy to see people getting educated about gemstones and getting
their GG’s. Only with knowledge at the buyers level will the trade
feel pressure to correct the many half-truths.

All is not dark. Education of the buyers is changing the market
place and will continue. With each educated buyer I meet at a show I
help them and learn more for myself. With each uneducated buyer I
meet I help them as much as I can and encourage them to seek further
education before they make purchases. I am in the process of making
handouts to give out a each show that will have copies of the Federal
Trade Commission Disclosure Guidelines and will have copies of each
gemstone species that is normally treated and imitated as determined
by guidelines of entities like the GIA and AGTA. There is much light
in education.

Gerry Galarneau Off to the Flagstaff, Arizona Gem & Mineral Show 4-6
July and a break from the 110F degree heat in the desert.
@Gerry


#15
     It took three tries at the labs, but he finally got a Kashmir
non-treated certification. This is only one instance in many that
have occurred in my 20 + years working as a cutter for gemstone
dealers and jewelers. 

Yes, it’s surprising how little-known this process is. This kind of
activity is extremely common in the diamond field. The difference
in price between a D-flawless stone and an E-flawless stone (for
example) is so big that it is normal for a diamond dealer to
re-submit the same stone to a gem lab several times, in the hope of
getting the better certificate. The expenses of repeated
re-certification are outweighed by the big increase in price.

I seem to recall reading somewhere that if you send the same stone
repeatedly to a gem lab, it will come back with a different clarity
or colour grade about one in every six times.

?:sunglasses:
-Michael.


#16

Greetings Orchidinites,

(Here we go again.) What Jim says below is true only when
considering mass produced commercial stones. Stones which are
predominant in the market. I do not want the “all stones are
treated” myth to be perpetuated since it is not true. Many many
cutting edge gem dealers, who produce their own high quality goods
have plenty of untreated gems for sale. Below I address some of
Jim’s comments. Please do not perceive my comments as adversarial,
they are not intended to be. I just want to set the record straight
by someone (me) who buys and cuts gem rough, from all over the
world, all the time, for the last 25 years. Steve

The Doctor docktor@bellsouth.net   James S. Duncan, G.G.  wrote: 
the fact is that a large bulk of the world's gem rough comes out of
the earth looking much different than the gems you see available
for sale to the public. 

Not true alot of stones come out of the ground the same as they are
in their cut state. Altered only in shape.

Even most topaz is heated and irradiated to bring out the blue
color...it's most often found clear, with no apparent color. 

Imperial topaz comes out just like you see it in cut form. A small
percentage is heated to bring out the pink, but most is not. Blues
are a different story. It is a rare blue topaz that is natural.

It is thought that most of the citrine available is amethyst that
has been heated. 

There is plenty of natural citrine from many locales. The heated
amethyst from southern Brazil and Uruguay makes for the best and
most expensive citrine. Far costlier than any unheated material. In
this case the treated sells for more than the untreated.

And yes, you hit the nail on the head when you assumed that
natural stones are more expensive than the same stones that have
been enhanced. 

Again, this is wrong. Very few people would buy unheated brown
zoisite from Tanzania, much less pay $200 + per carat for it. But
heated zoisite (tanzanite) will bring $200 + easily. Again, the
treated costs more than the untreated.

Because much of the available gem rough is enhanced before it even
leaves its' country of origin 

Again, not true. Many stones are heated out of the country of
origin. Madagascar (and other)sapphires in Thailand, tanzanite in
the USA and so on and so on. Madeira citrine (and related colors)
is nearly always heated in Brazil and the rough is then sold in the
beautiful rich orange color.

natural stones are difficult to find, and therefore they sell at a
premium (rarity always adds value). 

Sorry, but the above is wrong as I have shown in two previous
examples. Also, rarity is not what makes value, supply and demand
does.

Natural stones are all over, just people have gotten so skeptical
about everything in life they can’t recognize them any more. Of
course most people do not have the knowledge to recognize them
anyway. If you buy rough, and are in the gem business, you do know,
and can tell. Come by my booth I will show you natural stone after
natural stone. Stones which have only been - cut.

I have stones which are treated too. Treatments need to be
understood and not all lumped into one big “TREATED” category. What
is a treatment? What is “Natural”? These are terms that are very
loosely thrown around, and yet, in their true meaning and essence
remain quite elusive to define. Mother nature does treatments just
like man and man obeys the laws of this natural world, so what is
not natural about it. It can be quite confusing if you truly try to
put it neatly into little boxes. Impossible actually… we try
though.

Real case scenario: If you mine 100 pieces of tanzanite, and 90 of
them are brown, and 10 of them are blue right out of the ground, are
those ten worth more than the other 90 which were heated to 700 C to
make them blue?? The market does not think so.

I have said it before and I am saying it again, treatments fall into
different categories which are ever evolving as man’s abilities
"progress." Many gems are treated in nature and by man with the
same low temp, low-tech conditions. Other gems are treated with
high-tech conditions that generally only man creates here on the
surface of the earth.

  1. Low temp treatments easily reached with ordinary heat sources,
    sub 1000 C. Low-tech, nature or man sometimes do these treatments to
    some: aqua, citrine, tourmaline, demantoid, tanzanite-almost
    always, apatite, sphene, and others

  2. High temp heat sources requiring special equipment. Temps not
    ordinarily found on the surface of this planet, 1000 to 1700 C and
    above. Man creates these conditions for treatment, high- tech. Used
    to clarify corundums (sapphire), with some color change too.

  3. High temps combined with new diffusion processes where other
    elements (beryllium)are able to penetrate the crystal lattice
    permeating the structure and altering the gems properties. This
    involves extremely high temps. High-tech man made conditions used
    for major color alteration in corundum.

  4. Irradiation involving manmade conditions. Nature does some of
    this, but over long exposure time periods. High-tech, used for
    color alteration in some: blue topaz-almost all, smoky quartz,
    rubelite, heliodor, brown topaz, vertrine quartz-all and others.

Gem treatments need to be viewed like food treatments. Is a food
that is seasoned with chiles and other natural spices, the same as a
food which has man-made flavors or man-made sweeteners added? Is a
food which has been sterilized, canned, and stored with no oxygen
for long shelf life (like they did in the old days) the same as a
food which has been irradiated for sterilization, or chocked full of
manmade preservatives for long shelf life?

Of course not. To be educated and informed - the differences need to
be understood and recognized.

It is one thing to heat amethyst to citrine, or to heat aqua to
drive off the green color in favor of blue (both done at very low
temps), and quite another thing to treat white topaz to blue with
atomic radiation obtained via high-tech methods.

You have got to know where to draw the line, and make a distinction
on where a “treatment” falls.

What all jewelers should really be worried about is - the new
lattice diffusion (previously known as “bulk diffusion”) in
sapphires. This is where the real deception currently lies.

Jim’s treatment comments would be correct if he were solely
referring to mass produced gems, from the world’s largest
cutting/production centers. These mass producers treat everything in
bulk whether it is worth it or not. They are dealing with >$10
stones and thus deal with them in bulk methods. The smaller higher
quality gem cutters and dealers, specializing in finer goods do not
fit into Jim’s categorization. They have many non-treated gems for
sale.

I am headed out of the country for a few days so replies might be
delayed. CYA in Tucson.

Steve Green
Rough and Ready Gems, Inc. www.briolettes.com Fine Briolettes and
Ultrasonic Drilling
see us in Tucson at the GJX Show booth # 700 Feb. 5th - 10th, 2004


#17
And yes, you hit the nail on the head when you assumed that natural
stones are more expensive than the same stones that have been
enhanced. Because much of the available gem rough is enhanced
before it even leaves its' country of origin, natural stones are
difficult to find, and therefore they sell at a premium (rarity
always adds value). 

That statement should be true in all cases, but our research has
found that it isn’t. For gems that are extremely rare and/or
high-quality, whose value is over (approximately) $1,000 per carat
wholesale, yes, absolutely. But once you get into the hundreds of
dollars per carat price range, it gets dicey. The problem in a
nutshell is that with treatments so prevalent, and so difficult to
detect in some cases, the only way a dealer can charge a premium is
by getting the gem certified as untreated. If you’re talking about a
one-carat blue sapphire that sells for $600 per carat, it may or may
not be worth it to the dealer to get that certification, depending
on whether the customer is willing to pay a high premium to justify
the expense. A lot of customers aren’t, and if you think about how
much of a premium they’d have to pay, it’s hard to blame them.

Inexpensive gemstones – under $100 per carat wholesale – nobody
bothers to get checked at a lab unless they’re thinking of buying
huge quantities and suspect a problem or just plain aren’t sure what
it is. That’s the reason there are such a mind-bogglingly large
number of undisclosed strange treatments and outright fakes being
sold, especially in gems around $20 to $30 per carat and under.

The practical result of all this is that for inexpensive gemstones,
the prices reflect the fact that neither wholesaler nor buyer really
knows what’s been done to the stone. It could be natural, it could be
treated, it could be a synthetic – they all go for the same price
because that’s more cost-effective than getting individual stones
tested. Even the most inexpensive batch-testing a lab can offer is
still more than, for example, the price of a decent-quality amethyst
(or it was the last time I checked). If a miner can offer a personal
guarantee that a stone hasn’t been treated, and the customer accepts
that, then they might be able to charge a premium. But that’s an
exception rather than the rule.

Morgan Beard
Editor-in-Chief
Colored Stone


#18
   Here we go again.)  What Jim says below is true only when
considering mass produced commercial stones. Stones which are
predominant in the market. I do not want the "all stones are
treated" myth to be perpetuated since it is not true. Many many
cutting edge gem dealers, who produce their own high quality goods
have plenty of untreated gems for sale. Below I address some of
Jim's comments. Please do not perceive my comments as adversarial,
they are not intended to be. I just want to set the record
straight by someone (me) who buys and cuts gem rough, from all over
the world, all the time, for the last 25 years.

Boy Steve, you really did twist my words to your advantage. You
changed the intent of every point you argued. I never said “all
stones are treated”. And, while I haven’t been cutting for 25 years,
I certainly have bought and cut rough from “all over the world” as
well. I don’t want to be adversarial either, but I also want to “set
the record straight” as to what I said, and what you changed the
meaning to.

    The Doctor docktor AT bellsouth.net   James S. Duncan, G.G. 
wrote: the fact is that a large bulk of the world's gem rough comes
out of the earth looking much different than the gems you see
available for sale to the public. 
Not true alot of stones come out of the ground the same as they
are in their cut state. Altered only in shape. 

Yes, but my statement said “a large bulk” of the world’s gem rough.
You said “a lot” of stones. Sorry, but "a lot’ of stones doesn’t
carry the same meaning as “the bulk” of the world’s gem rough. Sure,
there are plenty of untreated stones available, but I still maintain
that a large bulk of the world’s gem rough comes out of the earth
looking different from the gems you see available FOR SALE TO THE
PUBLIC.

    Even most topaz is heated and irradiated to bring out the blue
color...it's most often found clear, with no apparent color.
Imperial topaz comes out just like you see it in cut form. A small
percentage is heated to bring out the pink, but most is not. 
Blues are a different story. It is a rare blue topaz that is
natural. 

Right, Imperial Topaz comes out just like you see it in cut form. My
statement was “Even most Topaz is heated…” Tell me Steve, is
"most" Topaz Imperial? Of course not.

It is thought that most of the citrine available is amethyst that
has been heated.
There is plenty of natural citrine from many locales. The heated
amethyst from southern Brazil and Uruguay makes for the best and
most expensive citrine. Far costlier than any unheated material.
In this case the treated sells for more than the untreated. 

Yes, there is plenty of natural citrine. However, I maintain that it
is thought that MOST of the citrine available is heated, just as I
said. Far costlier? Not in the least. Sure, there are some processes
that require computer-controlled ovens, etc., but heating amethyst
to the 450C required to change it to citrine does not require such
rigidly controlled conditions. Natural Citrine is far more rare than
amethyst, and I believe that untreated, natural citrine sells for
more than the treated. You, yourself, called it a "low-tec"
treatment in your response, but here you say it is “far costlier
than any unheated material”. I disagree completely, and in your
post, so did you.

And yes, you hit the nail on the head when you assumed that
natural stones are more expensive than the same stones that have
been enhanced.
Again, this is wrong.  Very few people would buy unheated brown
zoisite from Tanzania, much less pay $200 + per carat for it.  But
heated zoisite (tanzanite) will bring $200 + easily. Again, the
treated costs more than the untreated. 

Sure, treated zoisite is expensive. So is untreated zoisite that is
naturally blue. But you didn’t illustrate the pricing difference
between the natural, blue stone and the brown stone that’s been heat
treated. I still maintain that a (proven) natural blue Tanzanite can
(and does) sell for more than a treated one.

Because much of the available gem rough is enhanced before it even
leaves its' country of origin
Again, not true. Many stones are heated out of the country of
origin. Madagascar (and other)sapphires in Thailand, tanzanite in
the USA and so on and so on.  Madeira citrine (and related colors)
is nearly always heated in Brazil and the rough is then sold in
the beautiful rich orange color. 

(My response) I agree with your statement that “many stones are
heated out of the country”. My statement was that “much of the
available gem rough is enhanced before it even leaves it’s country
of origin”. I don’t understand your argument. Much of the available
gem rough is enhanced before it leaves its country of origin. It’s a
known fact.

natural stones are difficult to find, and therefore they sell at a
premium (rarity always adds value).
Sorry, but the above is wrong as I have shown in two previous
examples. Also, rarity is not what makes value, supply and demand
does. 

While I agree with your two previous examples, neither really
addresses what I said originally. In fact, I agree with nearly all
of the points you made. However, those points hit wide of the mark,
as they don’t address what I said, they just made new points. And
this time, you’re wrong. Supply and demand makes prices rise and
fall. VALUE is derived from a combination of beauty, durability and
rarity. It follows, then, that natural stones are more rare,
therefore more valuable. And costlier. Your statement: “Many many
cutting edge gem dealers, who produce their own high quality goods
have plenty of untreated gems for sale” is undoubtedly true. But
"high quality goods" sell at a premium, as opposed to the goods to
which I referred (“the bulk”, “most”, “much”, etc).

Jim's treatment comments would be correct if he were solely
referring to mass produced gems, from the world's largest
cutting/production centers. These mass producers treat everything
in bulk whether it is worth it or not. They are dealing with >$10
stones and thus deal with them in bulk methods. The smaller higher
quality gem cutters and dealers, specializing in finer goods do
not fit into Jim's categorization. They have many non-treated gems
for sale. 

Here you say that these mass producers treat everything “in bulk”.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? You just proved exactly what I was
saying. The Bulk!!!

What all jewelers should really be worried about is - the new
lattice diffusion (previously known as "bulk diffusion") in
sapphires.  This is where the real deception currently lies. 

“bulk diffusion”? Need I say more?

To be educated and informed - the differences need to be understood
and recognized. 

Although my GIA education hasn’t provided me with every possible
facet of gemology, it has certainly provided me with the knowledge
of which gems are routinely treated, as well as a well-rounded
knowledge of gem and gem rough treatments. I never said there aren’t
natural, untreated (by man) gemstones available, only that the large
bulk of them have been improved and enhanced to make them more
attractive and valuable. Also, that treatments must always be
disclosed, whether the treatment is known or suspected. This thread
was prompted by a contributor who said :

I sent away for a jewelery supply catalog and noticed that many of
the gemstones sold in it were irradiated, treated, or dyed in some
fashion. I was recently told by an associate that this is "an
industry-wide practice." My question is two-fold: is this really
true, and if so, why isn't it more widely disclosed to consumers? 

Steve, I’m fairly certain that the catalog in question was not
likely to be advertising “cutting edge high quality” They
are most certainly NOT “a large bulk” of what’s available. You can
pick apart my posts whenever you like, just please don’t misquote
what I said. Thank you :slight_smile:

James S. Duncan, G.G.
(and who’s that guy you keep calling “Jim”)? :slight_smile:


#19

James,

Sure, treated zoisite is expensive. So is untreated zoisite that
is naturally blue. But you didn't illustrate the pricing difference
between the natural, blue stone and the brown stone that's been
heat treated. I still maintain that a (proven) natural blue
Tanzanite can (and does) sell for more than a treated one. 
Sorry, but the above is wrong as I have shown in two previous
examples. Also, rarity is not what makes value, supply and demand
does. 

This is one place you’re really in the wrong. Not specifically
about the tanzanite but that natural gemstones always carry a higher
price tag than treated stones. I buy (and sell on a retail level)
treated and natural stones every single day and I can assure you that
there are thousands (tens of thousands) of treated sapphires (among
other that sell for far more than natural stones. The
problem is that, because of the quantities of material being taken
out of the earth and marketed there is a vast amount of material
being removed from the earth and most of it is not in a desirable
color form. Blue sapphire is treated routinely because of this.
The result is that most (not all, but by far and away most) of the
material that is natural is not a “desirable” color. This may be
because this is what the public has been sold on as a good color, but
it is as Steve has said less desirable, and therefore, less
expensive. The other reality is that until you get into stones
valued in multiple thousands of dollars it really doesn’t make a
difference whether the stone is natural or not. I buy these stones
every day. I see the price on naturals and treated. Until you get
into a stone valued at over $2000/ct (which the bulk of the material
coming on the market today doesn’t) there is absolutely no
significant (read plus or minus 5%–a difference that could also come
from how you pay the supplier for the material) difference between
the two when the color and clarity are comparable. As for the
tanzanite issue, I own one piece of natural color tanzanite crystal
and I paid far less than most of the treated material goes for. It
is simply a question of supply and demand, not rarity. If rarity
were truly the issue in pricing gem materials today than diamonds
would never sell for more than $200/ct. but we all know that isn’t
true, and we all know exactly why that isn’t the price. It simply
isn’t based on rarity but on the ability of the suppliers to market
to the customers and to create a demand for a product. So while all
of our gemological training may have said that rarity is what
determines price it just ain’t so anymore.

Daniel R. Spirer, GG
Spirer Somes Jewelers
1794 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140
617-491-6000
@spirersomes
www.spirersomes.com


#20
        This is one place you're really in the wrong.  Not
specifically about the tanzanite but that natural gemstones always
carry a higher price tag than treated stones.  I buy (and sell on
a retail level) treated and natural stones every single day and I
can assure you that there are thousands (tens of thousands) of
treated sapphires (among other that sell for far more
than natural stones.  The problem is that, because of the
quantities of material being taken out of the earth and marketed
there is a vast amount of material being removed from the earth and
most of it is not in a desirable color form. 

Okay, I see the problem with typing back and forth across the
Internet about practically any discussion: The privilege of being
able to immediately clarify points of interest. Of course you’re
right about this if you consider each and every piece of gem rough
that is mined. I should have qualified the statement with something
like “all color factors being equal between the treated and
untreated stones”. What I meant was that I believe a natural,
untreated sapphire (or tanzanite, or ruby, etc.) that is blue (or
the optimum hue of whichever gemstone you wish to price), with
medium tone and strong to vivid saturation would probably sell for
more than one that has been enhanced to meet those same criteria. Of
course I’m not talking about commercial-grade stones here but the
more significant ones, but neglected to qualify that in my original
post. Still, I myself do not buy and sell treated and natural stones
every day as you do, so I’ll just shut my yap about it. And yes,
classrooms cannot replace the knowledge you get from everyday
involvement in the gem trade. But if, as you say, (and I’m not
arguing it, just quoting you, Daniel) “The other reality is that
until you get into stones valued in multiple thousands of dollars it
really doesn’t make a difference whether the stone is natural or
not.” I guess that attitude is why gemstone treatments aren’t
routinely disclosed

By the way, where was everybody when the person who posted the
original message asking why gemstone treatments weren’t more widely
disclosed? I hope that I have at least answered some of that
person’s questions, as opposed to flaming the guy who tried to
actually answer them.

    Until you get into a stone valued at over $2000/ct (which the
bulk of the material coming on the market today doesn't) there is
absolutely no significant (read plus or minus 5%--a difference that
could also come from how you pay the supplier for the material)
difference between the two when the color and clarity are
comparable. 

You’re right, the bulk of the market isn’t in the $2,000/ct range
and there’s no significant difference in prices between treated and
untreated commercial stones, as opposed to the more significant
ones. I’ll try to be more precise in future posts.

    So while all of our gemological training may have said that
rarity is what determines price it just ain't so anymore. 

I never said that, Daniel. Nor did I say that “rarity makes value”,
Steve. My words were “rarity always adds value”. Perhaps the word
"always" is too absolute, but the statement is nonetheless correct
and I stand by it.

Only wishing to help the newbies (as opposed to flaming them),

James S. Duncan, G.G.