I came across an article around Valentine’s Day entitled, “Secrets of the Jewelry Industry: What Your Jeweler Won’t Tell You.” The article goes on to explain the plethora of treatments that are commonly used to enhance gemstones and make them more beautiful; treatments that aren’t always disclosed even by some of the most high-end jewelers worldwide. Though many of these treatments are routine in the industry, such as gentle heat in sapphires and rubies or fracture filling with colorless oils in emeralds, there are some treatments that alter the composition of the gemstone to the point that it can no longer be considered natural.
With the growing demand for colored stones, new treatments and synthetics have entered the marketplace. The article points to one of the latest treatments to rock the industry (no pun intended), the lead-glass filled or composite rubies. Essentially, low-quality corundum not suitable for gemstone fashioning is bonded by lead-glass to the extent that it becomes mostly glass instead of the mineral itself. These materials are sold as rubies though in reality are compositionally polar opposites of rubies and different species altogether. This treatment has been around for years, but with consumers now becoming more informed, the cat’s out of the bag in many situations. And if it’s not, it should be. Some treated gemstones need extra care in cleaning and polishing and unless their treatment is disclosed, general maintenance can severely damage the stone. For example, fracture filling in emeralds can seep out during cleaning and composite rubies can break apart.
Treatments themselves aren’t necessarily a bad thing. Basic heat treatment is permanent and stable, simply enhancing the color and clarity without compromising the durability of the stone. Different levels of treatments and synthetics occupy niches in the marketplace that provide consumers with beautiful gemstones historically unavailable to anyone but the elite. However, it is unacceptable when these treatments aren’t disclosed and consumers purchase a gemstone believing it to be something it’s not. The article points out several questions to ask when buying rubies all aimed at exposing the potential treatment that your jeweler is neglecting to tell you. The aim is to make you aware of these realities so that you don’t buy a composite ruby with an untreated Burmese ruby price tag. But where do you draw the line? Yes, 95% of the sapphires and rubies in the marketplace are enhanced by heat and the treatment is routine. Is that reason enough to not tell the consumer about it? It’s an ongoing debate in the industry and in my opinion, any method by which your gemstone was changed from its original state should be disclosed, routine or not.
At The Natural Sapphire Company, we specialize in untreated rubies and sapphires, the types of stones the article above deems to be “among the rarest of all gems” and “often priced in the 7-figures.” With the majority of rubies and sapphires in the marketplace enhanced by heat treatment, the stones with unaltered beauty carry a higher price tag (all other factors equal, of course). We also offer a selection of heated gemstones, like heated padparadscha sapphires and heated pink sapphires since these stones are exceptionally rare, heated or not. We believe in full disclosure of enhancements and what’s more, we provide an education section where our customers can learn more about common gemstone treatments
Our goal is to provide our customers with something they will value and cherish forever by being completely honest from the start. Our customers don’t need to worry about information we’re not sharing because it’s written in plain sight. And if there’s anything else you’re questioning and curious about, all you need to do is ask! We are more than happy to share our expertise to ensure that you are getting exactly what you paid for.\