New AGTA blue sapphire treatment report

There is a report I have just received via email regarding what
appears to be a new treatment on blue sapphires that is not quite
diffusion nor a normal heating process. For those of you who don’t
belong to the AGTA, now would be a good time to join so that you
could also receive updates like these. For those of you who can’t
see how important it is to join organizations like this I will
entertain requests to forward the email on to you. It is critical
that all list members (i.e. all jewelers) keep apprised of these new
treatments as you are obligated to disclose treatments like this when
selling any sapphires.

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

Daniel, What appears to be a new treatment is not, it is the
application of the “bulk diffusion” treatment that has had the
trade buzzing for the past two years, applied to blue sapphire.
Previously, orange and padparadscha sapphire have been treated in
this way. Reduced to simplest terms, the addition of Beryllium in
the form of powdered chyrsoberyl to the heating process results in
the diffusion of beryllium molecules deep into the sapphire, this
is, at least, the cause of the diffused padparadscha sapphire that
flooded the market two years ago.

What we have now is not just the heated “enhanced” sapphire that has
been, since the 70s, about 95% of all sapphire on the market, we now
have the possibility of altering color in all sorts of ways.

Detectable? Yes, by immersion in methyl iodide, that is the
consensus, however, Dr. Adolph Peretti, GRS, Bangkok, told me that
some stones really are not detectable by the standard immersion
method. We should hear more by the time Tucson rolls around.


Richard, Contrary to your post stating the new corundum treatment is
the same beryllium bulk diffusion that was revealed a couple of
years ago, according to the posted on the AGTA website,
this is something different. They say the samples tested showed no
beryllium whatever. Rather than my trying to restate their findings,
which are quite detailed, you can check it out at

Jerry in Kodiak

Aside: An extremely good discussion of this can be found in the
Summer 2003 issue of Gems and Gemology.

Quite right! Although my post simply meant to say that this was
another example of a deep diffusion process, I may be in error.
AGTA seems not to quite know what the process is though their
preliminary report seems to indicate that it is internal diffusion
caused by the breakdown of rutile inclusions already present within
the gem. This is, of course, exactly what happens in traditional
heat treatment, the breakdown of titanium causing the material to
turn bluer. Something, however, is different. These photos show a
visual scene that is quite unlike anything I have seen under the
microscope before, other than deep diffusion. Guess we will have to
wait for updates. None the less, scary!

My apologies,