A crystal fragment from deep within the earth, a raw natural creation...how did man's timeless desire to capture, to enhance and possess its beauty result in such rich, luxurious color? This is a natural gemstone's power; to draw from us our invention, to free its beauty from impurities that may dull the luster we believe lies within.
For thousands of years, man has fashioned uncut gem specimens into faceted and cabochon shapes, experimenting with cutting techniques, learning to enhance the play of light across their surfaces, to coax brilliance or fire from deep within. This art of cutting is the lapidary's craft. A fine cut gemstone offers the full array of nature's visual beauty, as released through the talents of the lapidary's art.
Majesty, mystery, allure, luxurious color and brilliance...these are among the qualities that draw us to natural gemstones. And over the many centuries we have learned countless methods to improve upon the natural properties of gemstones. These techniques are known as "enhancements." They represent our desire to draw from nature's bounty the truest and purest color and brilliance, to fashion her creations into our own fine jewelry, a gift of a lifetime and for generations to come.
Although gemstone cutting is the most basic enhancement method necessary to fully display the beauty of a gemstone, there are many fascinating methods by which man has demonstrated his ability to draw maximum color, luster, clarity, and brilliance from nature's earthbound treasures. A basic understanding of these enhancement techniques will add to your appreciation of the beauty, durability and value of the gemstone jewelry you already own, or purchase now and in the future.
Passion, excitement, luxurious opulence...these are just a few words that describe our fascination with this most precious of gems. For thousands of years, men have sought to own precious rubies as symbols of devotion and objects of desire. Imperfections and impurities may be removed by controlled heating of the gemstones. Some rubies have fissures or surface breaks that are filled with a glass-like byproduct of the heating of the process. Care should be observed when wearing fissure-filled rubies. This enhancement technique may wear over time if treated harshly or exposed to strong solvents or abrasives. Your jeweler will inform you of the best method to care for your natural gemstone treasures.
Soothing, sensuous blue; liquid blue; evening sky blue; cornflower blue...these are among the many shades of this lovely gemstone. And yet there are many colors and hues of sapphire from which to choose; the hot and soft pinks; the oranges, greens, purples, golds, yellows and whites...all for your pleasure.
Since ancient times, man has treasured sapphire. some thought the heavens crystallized to from a huge sapphire upon which the earth rested. All sought the pure colors of this gem variety as an expression of beauty and wealth. Yet the perfect sapphire is as rare as the finest work of art. And thus, we have evolved methods over the centuries to enhance the purest hues of sapphire. This is often achieved by controlled heating of the gemstones to improve their clarity and color. Heating sapphires is a permanent enhancement, as lasting as the gems themselves.
Emerald, to many, symbolizes rebirth and life abundant. The rich green hues bring to mind regeneration of life in spring, and hope of new possibility. Yet perfection in emerald, as in all things, is among the most rare of nature's treasures. When they are mined from the earth, almost all emeralds have unique birthmarks that distinguish them as truly natural gemstones.
Early gem merchants in India sought to purify the color of their emeralds by immersing them in clear oils or paraffin. They found that clear oils and waxes rendered surface fissures nearly invisible to the naked eye. Today, we have sophisticated technologies with which to clarity enhance emeralds. In addition to the oils and waxes of ancient method, we now use clear resins to penetrate the open fissures surfacing in the stones. "Hardeners" are often added to solidify these liquids. This step prevents the resin from evaporating from the stones, thus making the clarity enhancement more permanent than oiling or waxing the gem. Ask your jeweler for information regarding your emerald selection and care. To understand the journey your emerald has traveled from the earth to you is to gain special insight into its magic.
The very name, Aquamarine, brings to mind the limpid, clear blue tint of the sea. Many Aquamarines are greenish when mined and cut. For those who prefer the purer blue, these stones are heated to enhance their blue color permanently. Yet many Aquamarine fanciers prefer the greenish hues, saying the greener tones remind them more of the sea. The color tones of Aquamarine are subtle and varied. Their luster is a wonderful addition to any natural colored gemstone jewelry collection.
Tanzanite is renowned for the exquisite combination of purple and blue hues of this loveliest of gems discovered in modern times. Mined in Tanzania, at the feet of the majestic Mount Kilamanjaro, virtually every tanzanite is heated to permanently change its color from orange-brown to the spectacular violet-blue color for which this precious gemstone variety is known.
Nature rarely produces in the blue variety, although some examples have been found. Challenged by this rare occurrence of nature, man has discovered an enhancement method to "excite" blue color from a clear brownish Topaz variety. After the raw Topaz is mixed, it is irradiated to brown and then heated to a rich sky blue. This enhancement process is permanent.
Amethyst and citrine are gemstone varieties of quartz. Artifacts from ancient cultures the world over attest to Amethyst' and Citrine's place in our collective cultural heritage. The royal purples of Amethyst and the occasional bright, golden hues of Citrine were treasured possessions of emperors, kings and queens throughout recorded history. No jewelry collection will be complete without these fine treasures of nature.
Darker hues of Amethyst are rarely enhanced to perfect their color, although some varieties do respond well to heat enhancement. Brownish varieties, when heated, magically turn into the bright yellow or orange colors known as citrine. This enhancement method is permanent and will last for the life of the gemstones.
Tourmalines are found in an abundant array of colors. They offer a wide variety of choice for the discerning gemstone jewelry enthusiast. A complete collection of all the colors represents a fascinating quest for the knowledgeable seeker of nature's bounty. Dark blue, blue-green and green tourmalines are often heated to lighten their color. Red tourmalines (also known a rubellites) and pink varieties are often heated and/or irradiated to improve their colors. Heat and irradiation color enhancement of tourmalines are permanent.
Occasionally, some tourmalines may have surface breaking fissures that are filled with resins and/or hardeners. Care must be observed with these gems. Avoid exposing them to harsh abrasives and strong chemical solvents.
Pearls have been treasured for their lustrous, creamy textures and their subtle iridescent reflections since the dawn of humankind. Because they are so very rare and so very difficult to recover from the ocean's depths, man invented the technique of "culturing" salt and freshwater Pearls from oysters carefully seeded with irritants similar to those produced by nature. This painstaking effort of "culturing" is one of the most dramatic examples of man's quest to coax beauty from nature.
One of the earliest known methods to enhance a pearl's color and luster required that a chicken swallow the pearl. The belief at the time (400 AD) was that the chicken's digestive system would soften the pearl's blemishes and even the color. Today cultured, fresh and saltwater pearls are often bleached to achieve a uniform color. They may also be polished in tumblers to make them round and lustrous.
Naturally colored pearls are in short supply. Some pearls are dyed and/or irradiated to achieve the rich blacks, grayish blues, pink and golden hues that are now so much in demand. To care for your cultured pearls, avoid using nail polish, abrasives, solvents and polish removers while wearing them. Ask your jeweler for further instructions regarding their care.
Unique in the world of gemstones, diamond is the hardest of all materials. Perhaps it is because of this durability that diamonds are treasured as symbols of devotion and purity.
And yet within the structure of diamonds we often find impurities, or "inclusions," that trap light, distracting our eye from the radiance we so value. Sometimes these tiny imperfections are removed by cutting them away. Often we employ methods that do not sacrifice precious diamond in the process. Today we have perfected a fascinating enhancement technique that focuses tiny beams of laser light at imperfections and vaporizes them. The minute passageways created by the laser beam may be filled with clear resins or glass-hard substances, rendering them nearly invisible to the naked eye. Only extreme heat or specifically formulated chemicals removes the filling from the laser passageways. This method is also utilized to fill fissures that reach the stone's surface, thereby rendering them less visible to the naked eye.
Diamonds may also be colored in a variety of hues. Extreme heat and/or irradiation permanently enhances certain innate color properties, allowing them to display their hues in more brilliant array. Whether irradiated, lasered or cut from the most perfect raw state, your jeweler will inform you of the magical journey your diamond has followed, from deep within earth's mantle to the fine, finished gemstone you see before you.