There was a time when rubies ruled the market. Despite their fault lines and flaws, the rubies old like hot buns. But today, if you are looking for clear brilliantly cut rubies, you would be disappointed, especially if you are planning to buy from a staple street-side market. Ever since the hybrid rubies have come into the market, the demands for artificial glass-filled gemstones have drastically fallen.
Why is that so? Well, the major reason behind the success of the hybrid rubies is its proximity in character to the naturally mined rubies and sapphire gemstone. Minus the flaws and add the durability- that is what hybrid ruby gemstones are all about.
If you are searching for rubies in the gemstone market, here is how you can make a distinct and informed choice on hybrid rubies and the real ones.
Do all rubies require hybrid processing?
No, all rubies don’t require hybrid processing. Despite the fact that only 1 in 100 naturally mined gemstones is ranked as the perfect stone, it is still considered as a healthy ratio. In order to save on the cost of commercial mining, the remaining 99 percent rubies are treated artificially with heat treatments, glass lead filling and other low-cost procedures.
Is hybrid ruby a misrepresentation in the gemstone industry?
There is still a lot of confusion surrounding the status of hybrid rubies. Many organizations consider the hybrid/ composite rubies as the corrected versions of natural gemstones. For them, the only difference in the two varieties lie in the way fractures and flaws appear under the microscope!
If you take into account the degree of stability and the cleaning process, the hybrid gemstones can’t match up to what natural gemstones deliver. Of course, the fragile gems like lapis lazuli, onyx and opal are distinct exceptions to these misrepresentations.
As per the latest rulings by international bodies regulating the gemstone quality, hybrid rubies are not same as the natural ones. They are not even an extension of the real ones.
Why are they in so much demand?
First, the cost of hybrid rubies is nowhere close to what real ones are demanding. But even if you consider the cost of manufacturing a one carat hybrid ruby, it is an economical affair, with numerous profit channels. Big industries like jewellery makers, fashion apparels, art decors dealers and trophy makers rely heavily on the supply of such beautiful and sparkling hybrid gems, creating a steady flow of demand for these rocks.
Even at 40% lead-glass composition, these hybrid gemstones easily rake in a price tag of USD 50-75 per carat.
The good and the bad of hybrid rubies:
Hybrid rubies look delightful and can be almost passed off as a real ruby set. Even under the microscope, they look just as authentic as the natural stones. Only with regular use can one identify the tangible worth of these gemstones. Fragile, susceptible to scratches and chipping at ends make hybrid gemstones a short term romance.
Even compared to the traditionally treat rubies, these hybrid gemstones start losing their sheen after a few years. But for imitation jewellery makers and fashion designers, these cheap hybrid rubies are perfect accessories.
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With each passing year, there is a significant rise in demand for different types of natural gemstones. In 2016, the technology of cutting and polishing gemstones has reached a “never seen before” stage where new definitions and concepts are ruling the roost.
If you are new to gemstone industry, and are exploring the world of assembling top grade gems, here are 4 terms you should know in 2016!
1. Opal doublets:
Also called the composite opals, opal doublets are actually two gemstones glued back-to-back using resins and glues. There could be an opal as one layer glued to other materials. Man-made doublets include a well-rounded off opal glued to black industrial glass or vitrolite.
The doublets are classified as primary opal gemstone or a secondary opal, depending on the thickness of the natural gemstone. Used in jewellery, opal doublets are very hard to distinguish from their natural counterparts.
Opal doublet is given a cabochon cut for the superior gem-like finish.
2. Opal triplets:
Triplets are not as extensive as doublets. The triplet has three layers-
- Black base
- Thin layer of natural opal (usually white opal)
- Clear slice of quartz, glass acting as a capping
The difference in layering adds weight to the opal, without compromising on the clarity and translucency of the natural gemstone.
Compared to the doublets, opal triplets are cheaper but serve just the same purpose in jewellery making, especially considering the fact that natural opal gemstone is very fragile, and often chips away.
The doublets and triplets remain intact for years, if not decades, and hence give the opal a sense of durability for a longish use.
3. B Jade:
Jade is a popular ornamental rock, and counted as a semi-precious gemstone. There are two distinct varieties of jade with similar silicate crystalline structure:
“B Jade” is an artificially treated jadeite that is bleached in acid and later doped with the polymer resin to enhance its look. The B Jade family has a clear, spider-web like crystalline structure bearing a smooth apple green shade. The bleaching and subsequent impregnation process leave absolutely no trace of spotting on the surface.
In jade gemstone market, there are different categories:
- A Jade: Bee-waxed jade with no artificial treatment or bleaching
- C Jade: Dyed B-Jade
- D Jade: Dyed Jadeite
In 2016, the B Jade is back in popularity after revisions in technology and acceptance of polymeric doping as a regularised process in lapidary.
4. Lead-glass filling Rubies/ sapphires:
Also called composite ruby gemstone and sapphire gemstone, these are hybrid gemstones made using combination of lead-glass and corundum. Natural ruby is brown and hard, which makes them hard to cut. When combined with lead-glass, the ruby transforms into a clearer and brilliant gemstone that is easier to cut. In normal market, hybrid rubies can be as much as 35%!
Though rated as one of the least accepted heat treatment process for ruby enhancement, lead glass filling clears up the impurities and the rutile silk structure is very much conspicuous.ve
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With the demand for natural gemstones putting immense pressure on the market, there have been resurgent rise of composite gemstones too. Called by many names in the industry, assembled gemstones or hybrids are not 100% natural material. They contain the significant amount of man-made materials like glass, corundum, resin polymers and dyeing agents, but still command a position to reckon with. At least in the fashion and imitation jewellery industry assembled rubies, sapphires, emeralds and turquoise have a huge demand.
Let us dig a little about the hybrid or assembled rubies, sapphires gemstone and emerald beads.
Assemble gemstones: The definition:
An assembled gemstone is a combination of two or more materials. They could be singly natural or a blend of artificial and natural stones. For instance ruby and lead glass in Lead-glass filling gemstones. The commonly identified gemstones in the assembled categories are:
- Doublets and triplets
- Mabe pearls
- Reconstructed, re-crystallized and restructured gemstones
But is assembling really an alternative! Here are five popular reasons given by the manufacturers to give synthetic process a legitimate backing in the market.
- Give the gemstone a greater durability making them more wearable as a daily use accessory
- Boost the pricing and quality in terms of clarity, carat weight and fault filling
- Add desirable fillers and dyeing agents to make them more saleable
- Build a distinct family of gemstones that are hybrid, and not synthetic
Popular assemble gemstones:
Doublets and triplet Opals:
Without doubt, the doublets and triplets are popular as widely accepted hybrid gemstones. They are done exclusively for opals. White opal is used as a sandwich in triple layers, where the base is a black backing glass material, while the top surface is a translucent plastic that delivers a higher refractive index.
Like a cementing, opal gemstones assembled as a doublet and triplets have the desired thickness and strength, without compromising on the lustre, refractive index, translucency and hardness.
Apart from the fragile gemstone like opal, lapis lazuli, black onyx, turquoise and quartz are other naturally extracted items cut into doublets and triplets for a fashionable market.
Cultured pearls are susceptible to scratches and breaking. Mabe pearls are assembled gemstones using a blister dome cut apart from the mother shell. Mabe pearls can be attached back-to-back as if they look like a single wholesome pearl.
Composite Hybrid rubies:
Rubies and sapphires often carry a fault that requires filling. Fillers like dyeing agents, polymer resins and lead glass are used in the faulty gemstones. Use of composite materials as a filler occurs as an indistinct process where it is hard to detect the presence of unnatural material using unaided vision.
Point of caution:
Assembled gemstones can’t be cleaned and maintained like regular natural stones. Techniques like ultra-sound cleaning and laser treatment can affect the bond, giving rise to visible fault lines.
As a buyer, you must look for hints in the gemstone surface to distinguish the assembled gemstones from the real ones. From weight in carats to their clarity, there are many ways assembled gemstones catch the attention of usual buyers.
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Milky white gemstones with colourful sparkles symbolise the love for translucent dazzlers. Yes, glassy and clear gemstones like diamond, garnets, rubies, sapphires and emeralds remain the top eye-catchers. But there is a certain attraction that makes opals, moonstones and agate very popular. The optical phenomenon of adularescence is what renders these gemstones their enticing beauty.
What is an adularescent gemstone?
Crystals exhibiting the Schiller effect are called as adularescent stones, which is very similar to the labrador essence and adventure scene. Adularescent gemstones exude a milky and bluish glow originating from the diffused structure within the crystal. The schiller seems to move within the stone, and hence gives an effect of the light source moving as well. Orange and blue lustres are commonly seen in the gemstones.
The name ‘adularescence’ is derived from the gemstone called Adularia. Adularia itself derives its name from the location where it was first discovered. Adularia is orthoclase potassium-enriched feldspar found in Adula Massif, Ticino (Tessin), Switzerland in 1780.
The degree of schiller effect in the gemstones other than Adularia is a highly varying and hence remains a scattered phenomenon. In non-Adularia gemstones, schiller effect appears along with ‘girasol effect’and opalescence. Some gem experts like to connect adularescence with indistinct bands of chatoyant effect. In other words, adularescent gemstones are likely to showcase cat’s eyes effects and asterism.
Labradorescence and adularescence are related terms as far as optical phenomena are concerned. Both of them are seen in moonstone Gemstone and Labradorite in equal intensity. The similarity arises due to their origin from feldspar.
Moonstone has two feldspar minerals in it- orthoclase and albite. Adularescent moonstones exhibit intermingling of the minerals and result in a new ingrown stacked in alternate rows. The light scatters randomly between the thin lines and layers causing a blue sheen. When the moonstone gemstone beads are viewed in different angles, the misty light also rolls in action.
How to check for a real Moonstone:
Moonstones are approved of their originality by checking three factors:
- Background colour
- Surface colour
- Sheen orientation
The adularescent gemstones are semi-transparent and colourless, with sheens bearing shades of blue, silver and rose. Rainbow moonstone show multiple colours like green, yellow and brown-grey. In terms of pricing, brighter the shade, higher will be the cost. High valued moonstones exhibit a 3-dimensional depth in blue shade. Blue moonstones necessarily command a higher price than milky and transparent adularescent gems.
How cut makes a difference?
Moonstones are often shaped in the beads and balls, stranded in necklace and bracelets. The adularescent moonstone is cut in cabochon that multiplies the sheen and clarity of the colours. Oval moonstones cut in cabochon remains top collections, apart from the Fancy Cut and Pointcuts with the square base.
For uniform adularescence effect, moonstones are never given a long flat base. They diminish the effect and also take away the sheen and clarity. In short, flat based moonstones are not as attractive and glittery as the cabochon ovals.
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Mankind has always been drawn to the mystical skies shinning with uncountable number of stars. Since time immemorial, numerous artworks have been inspired by the stars and planets twinkling. And when someday, gemstones with starry dazzle were discovered, it meant owning the stars. Meanwhile not all gemstones known to man exhibit the starry dazzle and it is an exclusive phenomenon. But why is that? That’s because, it is an optical property based on the crystal structure.
What is the phenomenon called?
The property is called asterism. Asterism is an optical phenomenon that occurs sparingly in some gemstones. When the light beam passes through the crystal, it showcases star-shaped figure. In astronomy, asterism is defined as a pattern of stars. It is very different from what we know as a constellation. Asterism is a pattern of stars or constellations which may not be recognised in any form.
Types of Asterism:
There are two distinct types of asterism exhibited by the gemstones found naturally. They are:
Seen in sapphire gemstone and garnet beads, epi-asterism is caused due to the reflection of the light along the parallel planes formed from inclusions/ rutile within the gem crystal.
Commonly seen in the Rose Quartz, the phenomenon is seen when the light source is behind the stone. The phenomenon is seen in crystals with milky and opaque appearance.
In short, di-asterism in gemstone is caused by a transmitted light, while epi-asterism occurs due star formation from a reflected light beam. Diffused light sources don’t form star shapes in the gemstones.
Asterism in Sapphires:
The first instance of gemstone asterism was discovered by the Greeks. The cuts necessarily enhance the phenomenon. For example, star sapphires cut in cabochon display six-rayed star pattern. Other stones that exhibit the property are rubies, topaz, chrysoberyl and moonstone. The presence of titanium oxide particles, called rutile, gives the gemstones their trademark asterism.
Gemstones with asterism have always been linked to folklore and superstition. They were believed to ward off evils in the dark and keep the faith strong. Star Spinel, garnet, Diopside and sapphires were specifically cut to enhance the healing properties of the protective gemstones.
Asterism in Quartz:
Pink and red quartz exhibit asterism that occurs due to transmitted light. Citrines also reveal asterism when heated to a certain temperature. The heating dissolves the finely lined rutile particles an align them to form stars. Round cut quartz are known to showcase exciting play of star formation, with interesting planes.
Asterism in Synthetic gemstones:
Synthetic corundum is aluminium oxide which is largely produced to replace diamonds in cutting and abrasive tools. The asterism is seen in corundum gemstones.
Commercial influence on Star gemstones:
Asterism is a key commercial feature that makes the gemstone look rarer in the market. Star beryl and star spinel gemstones are anyways rare, which are complemented with immaculate cuts and shapes. Star gemstones too have to meet the 3 C’s parameter to qualify as precious item: Colour, clarity and Carat.
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Tourmaline gemstones and Paraiba are now commercially accepted as synonymous with each other. Considered as an electrifying item for jewellery and fashion, tourmalines bearing this characteristic shade owe their origin to north-eastern parts of Brazil. Much later, the sizzling varieties in effervescent green-blue were mined from Mozambique and Nigeria. If you are planning to buy a Paraiba tourmaline, there are chances that you might get confused between the ones coming from Brazil and those mined from Africa.
How are they different? Does it really count if they are from different sources? How to tell the difference between the two?
In terms of physical differentiation, it is very hard to find the variation between the Paraiba tourmalines from Africa and Brazil. Even under the microscope, they are hard to be differentiated.
So, how to differentiate? The only way gem labs can find the difference is by using quantitative chemical testing. Origin-wise, gem collectors rank Brazilian tourmalines higher than the ones mined from Africa. The African tourmalines have a reputation similar to what Burmese rubies enjoy in the gem lines.
History of Paraiba:
One of the recently discovered naturally occurring gemstones, Paraiba tourmalines have a history dating back to 1980s, when Heitor Dimas Barbosa and his assistants dug out pegmatite deposits in the hilly areas of Paraiba in Brazil.
Why are Paraiba gemstones so popular?
The shady electrifying blue shade in the Paraiba tourmalines matches the beauty of blue sapphires. The blue colour appears due to the presence of copper oxides and hydroxides. Brazilian stones are darker in colour compared to their African counterparts by virtue of higher copper ions in the crystal structure.
Paraiba tourmalines exhibit a variety of colours ranging from sky blue to aquamarine to psychedelic blue. Highest variation in colour shades is observed in Mozambique Paraiba tourmalines.
World’s most famous Paraiba:
The Guinness World Records rank stunning Ethereal Carolna Divine Paraiba as the world’s largest, flawlessly cut naturally occurring Paraiba tourmaline in the world. It weighs 191.87 carats and is enlisted in the same bracket as Logan Sapphire, Hope Diamond, The Golden Jubilee and Alan Caplan Ruby.
The Ethereal Carolina Divine Paraiba is an oval shaped tourmaline featuring Brilliant Cut, and is four times heavier than the second largest tourmaline ever mined. The stone now graces as a part in the necklace called Paraiba Star of Ocean. It entered the ranks in 2009 when the stone featured in the necklace designed by Canadian jewellery house- Kaufmann de Suisse.
This tourmaline exhibits a radiating neon blue-green colour very distinct from the traditionally mined stones. It is best described as the blue of the tropical ocean. Even the necklace it is fit into has been inspired from the aqua flora and fauna. A compliment to the marine animals like turtles, shells crabs, star fish, rays and sea horses, Paraiba tourmaline is flanked by the likes of canary yellow diamonds, blue, orange sapphires, ruby, garnet, emeralds, blue topaz gemstones and Tsavorite. The 191.87 carat Carolina tourmaline easily exceeds the size of all other gemstones.
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Rose cuts are not new as they are often quoted to be. There have been instances when diamond dealers rate the rose cut as 20th-century phenomena. Breaking the norm, rose cut diamonds were pretty much the regular jewellery items in Antique and Heirloom collections. First rose cut diamond was made in the 16th century. This cut continues to win hearts and remains one of the most sought after stones in the modern jewellery sets.
Why are Rose Cut diamonds named so?
The diamonds are cut in the shape resembling the open petals of the rose with the spiralling pattern. When cut in the shape of the rose petals, the diamonds have a flat bottom and a larger surface area. This opens the surface to exhibit the brilliance even more emphatically. They feature triangular facets in the multiples of 6 on the tipped crown of the diamond.
Why rose cuts lost the charm?
Undoubtedly, the rose cut diamond were symbolic representation of the Moughal glory in India. One of the most popular medieval gemstones is the Great Mogul, owned by Shah Jehan. The French traveller and gem collector, Jean Baptiste Tavernier,as one of the most beautiful stones he has ever seen.
Between 18th and 19th century, rose cut diamond lost the position significantly. New machining tools and cutting saws rendered the rose cut diamonds as out of fashion. They were largely replaced by the Brilliant Cuts Diamond. The popularity of Table Cuts and Point Cuts in diamond gems made the floral shaped diamond stones all the more obsolete in the 18th century.The cut returned with a bang when the gem collectors tagged this as synonymous with the “engagement” and “romantic” stories.
What are different versions of rose cut?
Rose cuts are made on the diamond in an upside-down manner. The flat base is complemented by the dome-shaped crown converging at the centre of the stone. The different names of the Rose cut are Crowned Rose Cut, Full Holland Cut, Antwerp rose, Dutch Cut and the very popular Antwerp Rose cut diamond is machined in a hexagonal shape.
The Rose Cut Diamonds can be cut into 24 facets and 48 facets (called Double Dutch Rose). If you observe closely, the "Briolette Cut diamond" is actually a modified twofold Dutch Rose cut which has half of its hemisphere elongated against the other hemispherical half.
Another prominent variety of the cut is the Senaille Cut which has notable unsymmetrical facet.
Rose Cut Diamond Solitaire: The Magic
Considered as a regale cut, Rose Cut is used extensively in diamond solitaire, re-introduced with brilliant clarity and pristine lustre. The open mouth cut allowed the light to pass through the crystal freely with no hindrance in the setting.
Almost all diamonds can be cut into Rose. The most prominent factors to determine the feasibility of cutting a diamond into Rose are width and depth of the stone. Symmetry and crystal alignment are secondary factors that lapidary artists look for before going ahead with Rose Cut.
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There are exclusive gemstones named specifically as per the colour they reveal. For instance, Turquoise, aquamarine gemstone, opal, lapis gemstone and many more are only a handful of an exhaustive list. And then, there are others that have an effervescent optical characteristic of changing colours depending on the angle you view them, or on the way light falls on them.For example, Alexandrite runs a beaming green shade in daylight and mysteriously transforms into richly blue under fluorescent light.
If that is not enough, the same stone displays a majestic play of orange and red colour when exposed to incandescent light.
How distinct is colour change phenomenon in gemstones?
Colour change is a well-recognised optical phenomenon that occurs in a gemstone when exposed to different wavelength of light. This optical property is observed in sapphires and garnets too, but it is exclusively called “Alexandrite Effect”.
What is Alexandrite?
A type of chrysoberyl, Alexandrite is an orthorhombic gemstone named after the Tsar of Russian, Alexander II (1818-1881). Discovered for the first time in the Urals near River Tokovaya in 1834, the gemstone gained immense popularity only after master gemstone George Frederick Kunz produced some of the most magical platinum and diamond ensemble featuring Alexandrite.
What contributes to the Play of Colour?
The chemical composition complemented by the crystalline structure and its double refraction index of 0.009 gives the stone its majestic optical brilliance. Just like its optical phenomenon, the crystal itself so very rare in the nature. Alexandrite is not a regular chrysoberyl. In addition to iron and titanium oxides, the gemstone also contains traces of chromium. Some minor traces of vanadium and gallium are also present but they are considered as impurities, rather than featuring as colouring agents.
Due to the presence of so many ions, Alexandrite reveals a show of colour ranging from green to yellow, brownish red to purple, yellow green to bluish green.
The most genuine form of gemstones:
Alexandrite is rarest gemstone to make it to the collector’s list. They are mined from Sri Lanka, India, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Burma, Tanzania and Brazil. Synthetic Alexandrites are yet to be produced with satisfying results. They remain untouched by the heat treatments and dyeing agents that mark the markets for sapphire and rubies.
A true gemstone bearing the tag of Alexandrite always exhibits two optical phenomena: Cat’s eye gemstone or chatoyancy and change of colour.
Cut and Clarity:
Alexandrite is blessed with clear lustre and rarely has any inclusions. It’s the inclusions in sparing numbers that give the gemstone its chatoyancy property. Often cut in mixed cuts, aristocrats prefer uncut Alexandrite owing to the rarity and save weight. They are mostly available in cut form weighing less than one carat.
However, some world-famous Alexandrite stones are actually way heavier than standards. For example, the 17.08 carat Whitney or the 43 Carat Gem or 66-Carat Gem… they all are big and magnificent.
Perfect engagement gifts revered by the lovers all over the world- The Alexandrite Russian rings set on platinum.
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Garnet bracelets are one of the world’s oldest recognised forms of gemstone jewellery. The Romans were known to adorn the rings and crowns adorned with garnet gemstones of different sizes. They continue to be as impressive as they used to be in the 15th century.
Garnets look like Pomegranate grains!
Yes, they do resemble the fruity grains. And that is why they are named from Latin word “Garanatus” that translates to “like seeds of pomegranate”. Small garnets are brighter in shade than the bigger ones. If you have difficulty analysing the authenticity of the garnet, get it tested under a refractometer. There are many varieties of garnets. Some of the popular varieties are:
- Grossular hessonite/ tsavorite
Here are some less common, but very precious garnets available in the market sparingly.
World of synthetic garnets:
Garnet is one of the easily synthesised gemstones in laboratories. Apart from silica, calcium and magnesium, garnets crystals can be impregnated with ions of Germanium, Gallium, Aluminium, Vanadium and Iron.
Very similar to zirconium, garnets too have their own series of synthetic gemstone members. Yttrium aluminium garnet- YAG, is one of the most popular and commercially accepted garnets to have made it big in the market. Other significantly popular synthetic garnets are Yttrium iron garnet- YIG, and Gadolinium gallium garnet- GGG. All synthetic garnet beads are coated with a film of magnetic substrate to replicate the magneto-optical properties as seen in the real gems.
So, how to identify a real garnet?
Physical testing for hardness, colour, magnetic properties and abrasive nature are popular methods used to separate original garnets from the synthetic ones.
Colours of garnet:
Garnets used in modern day jewellery exhibit myriad colours like red, orange, yellow, green, purple, brown, blue, black, pink and burgundy. Some garnets are pale and colourless as well which can be coloured after heat treatment.
Darker the colour of the garnet, older is the age of the gemstone. Depending on the diffusion, garnets can have shallow colouring as well as core colouring.
Discovered in 1990s, there is a special family of garnet called Blue pyrope–spessartine garnets. They exhibit multiple colour hues when observed from different angles. The colour changes from shades of green to purple, depending on the diurnal temperature and natural slight intensity.
Garnets is one of the hardest naturally available material on the planet. The synthetic garnets have hardness measured in Mohs scale. They could be anywhere between 6.5 and 7.8.
Easily the most authentic method to detect original garnets, magnetic susceptibility to neodymium magnet is a common feature among end members of the series.
But hey! Like all gemstones, garnets too can be faked and forged with impressive adulation. That is why there are certain restrictive trade regulations to keep only original garnets in the market. Find and assess gemstone certification that is tagged on every garnet.
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3. August 2016 06:41 /
Rubies and sapphire gemstones available in the market are available in two forms. One category would be heat treated with additives, and another would be those without additives. It is obvious that though heat treatment is done to improve the colour of the gemstones, adding extraneous stuff to the crystal structure actually means that there has been physical distortion with the original gemstone. In short, gemstone that has been heat treated with additives is what you should stay away from.
Let us review how heat treatments with and without additives work, and why they are important in gem studies.
Heat Treatments without additives:
Natural gemstones command higher price than those manufactured artificially. Natural stones may not be perfect in terms of their brilliance and crystalline structure, but their origin is all that matters. Gems created in labs have lower value primarily because they may not give the same healing benefits that they are known for.
Heat treated rubies beads and sapphires are common, and they are respected for their consistency and suitability in different applications. They are heated under specific temperatures, glazed in condition that is free from impurities of any kind. Depending on the amount of oxides and the colour-bearing properties, rubies and sapphires exhibit the same beauty as their natural counterparts.
It is important to note that sapphires and rubies are heat treated using different agents. Heat treatment for sapphire gems is carried out in reducing process, while rubies are heat treated in an oxidizing environment.
Heat Treatment with additives:
The heat treatment process using additives is not illegal, but it affects the commercial viability of a gemstone. All gems have to be necessarily subjected to inspection by leading gem quality testing labs, and this is where additives are named.
The most popular gemstone treatment processes using additives for rubies and sapphire are:
Also called fracture filling, this process is utilised to cover up the fissures and cracks. Rubies and sapphires with dull and rough appearance are infused with lead to produce high refractive indices. It can be used for opaque gems as well, which after lead filling result in brilliant transparent or translucent/ milky stones.
Cheap rubies are available in the market, and they are more often than not, lead filled. Moreover, this additive process is actually reversible. Lead filling for gemstone has been rendered as hazardous, as lead is a carcinogen.
In order to enhance the transparency and improve the refractive index, rubies and sapphires are made to undergo recrystallization. The first known synthetic ruby was actually produced using this process. Geneva Ruby in 1886 made headlines, but it turned out to be a reconstructed gem. Same process is used to produce emeralds.
An accidental discovery led to the commercialization of this process. Between 2000 and 2006, the market was full of richly coloured padparadscha sapphires. Lab testing proved that they were actually orange sapphires, diffused with beryllium ions. Even in natural stones, sapphires have been found to contain significant amount of beryllium impurities.ave
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