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Frequently Asked Gemstone Questions


5. What About Treated or Altered Gemstones?

Is It Imortant to Know About Treated and Altered Gemstones?

For thousands of years, jewelry artists have treated gemstones to enhance their beauty and value. Sometimes this was done in honesty simply to improve the gem, but other times it was done with intent to deceive the buyer. In recent decades, with the scientific advances that have been made, the alteration and enhancement of gemstones has become both commonplace and increasingly sophisticated.

Natural gemstones are rare. Only a comparative few of the stones which mined are of the very best quality. If the natural stones that are not the very best can be improved to increase their beauty, and the changes are permanent and fully disclosed to the buyer, why not take the efforts to make a gem crystal put forth its very best appearance? Stone which are naturally nothing much to look at can be made quite beautiful. Many simply view gem enhancements as lending nature a slight helping hand to finish the job started deep inside the earth. Of course, the issues of gem enhancement are just not that simple.  While some of these changes are indeed permanent and nearly impossible to detect even with specialized scientific equipment, such is not always the case.

The positive results of some gem treatments are only temporary, some can even make the gem hazardous to the wearer by making the stone radioactive, and others may hide an otherwise weak or damaged stone making it appear as if it were fully sound. There fore it's worthwhile to know something about gem treatments. The goal of most gem treatments is to alter the crystal structure of the gem to improve its color or hide its flaws. In some cases materials are added to fill cracks and hide other flaws or inclusions. Common gemstone treatments include heat from warm to bright white heat, infusion with glass or other materials, irradiation with a variety of forms of radioactive energy from beta particles to neutrons and gamma rays as well as alteration of the gem with various dyes.


If the seller fully discloses the treatment of a gem to the buyer, including a full description the permanence of the changes and how the enhancements may affect the value and wear ability of the gem, then there is no deception or dishonesty in gemstone treatment. However, because processes as simple as ultra sonic cleaning of the gemstone may remove or reverse some alterations, and heat may distroy some treatments, it is only fair that the buyer needs to know these things. Unfortunately, many times there is not full disclosure of all the potential problems by the seller. Enhanced gems are sold as if they were fully natural and the buyer does not know what he or she is purchasing - and that is wrong. Of course, the value of a truly natural fine piece is definitely greater than a treated stone, so there is a financial incentive for sellers to mislead their customers. It is not always the fault of the jeweler, as he is often sold treated stones without proper disclosure by wholesalers and other suppliers.  

The pages that I am providing here below summarize the most common gem treatments, their benefits as well as the necessary precautions, risks and potential downside of owning stones that have received these treatments.  These pages will provide you what you need to know about gemstone treatments.


The Encyclopedia of Gemstone Treatments:

The treatment of many gems is not always disclosed to the buyer. This is what the jewelry buyer needs to know! Here is a detailed description of how a variety of gems are treated to changed their appearance, how those treatments affect the value of the gems, what precautions the buyer needs to take and if those treatments are permanent or not:


The Beryl Family: Aquamarine, Emerald and Morganite
The Corundum Family: Ruby, Sapphire
The Quartz Family: Amethyst, Citrine and Agates


Nevada Outback Gems

Find out more by checking out all of our links below:
Our Free Colored Gemstone Information Encyclopedia Amethyst and Citrine info Aquamarine information
What Really Is A Gemstone? Apatite information Chrysoberyl information
How are Gemstones Mined? Diamond information Emerald information
What About a Gemstone Makes it so Valuable? Garnet information Morganite information
What About Investing in Gemstones? Opal information Peridot information
Nevada Outback Library and Bookstore - Learn more! Ruby information Sapphire information
The Rockhound's Corner for Gem Hunting Spinel information Oregon Sunstone info
Take a virtual tour of our Nevada Turquoise mines Tanzanite information Topaz information
Rare Crystals and Gemstone Rough, including Turquoise Tourmaline information Tsavorite information
Natural Gold Nugget Photos: Big Nuggets, Crystal Gold Turquoise information Zircon information
Chris' Gold Prospecting Encyclopedia Nevada Outback Gems Homepage Nevada Outback Gems Site Map