For Your Staff:Selling Treated Gems
Most aquamarines are enhanced by heat to produce the vivid blues your
customers love. Here's how to tell them about it
This is the fifth in a series of articles in Professional
Jewelershowing how to explain gemstone enhancements honestly and positively.
The series began with emerald in June, followed by ruby in July, sapphire
in August and cultured pearls in September.
Aquamarine derives its name from the sea. Early gem enthusiasts were
entranced with the gem's subtly greenish-blue similarity to the ocean. Later,
when they learned slightly greenish aquamarines lose their greenish component
when heat-treated, market demand for this purer blue soared.
Today, blue is the preferred hue, though who knows what the future holds.
Some localities produce unenhanced blue gems. But it's difficult to determine
gemologically whether aquamarine was heated &150 and much of it is &150 so
it's widely assumed most blue aquamarines are so treated.
Remember that aquamarines are heated to fulfill a market preference for
color, not to correct flaws &150 much different from many other
Most aquamarines are relatively devoid of inclusions so they respond
effectively to heat enhancement. (Inclusions in gems that are heated often
expand and create disk-like fractures or other anomalies. Generally speaking,
aquamarine, which forms as purer gem crystals, does not face this problem.)
Because most blue aquamarines are heated and the market prefers blue,
these gems generally are more expensive than their untreated, greener counterparts.
Special Care Warnings
With a hardness rating of 7.5-8 on the Mohs scale, aquamarines are among
nature's most resilient gemstones, amply ready for wear in rings or pendants.
The color change induced by heating is not subject to change over time
and requires no special attention.
Most aquamarines can be placed in an ultrasonic cleaner unless they have
fractures or inclusions. If so, a toothbrush and warm, sudsy water will
work just as well.
Advice for Sales Associates
Learn your store's policy on discussing gemstone enhancements and on merchandise
Gemstone Enhancement by Dr. Kurt Nassau, Butterworths, London,
Emerald and Other Beryls by John Sinkankas, Chilton Book Co.,
Gem Identification Made Easy by Antoinette Matlins, Gemstone
Press, Woodstock, VT.
GIA's Gem Reference Guide, published by the Gemological Institute
of America, Carlsbad, CA.
AGTA Source Directory, 1997/1998 Edition, [contains Gem Enhancement
Manual] American Gem Trade Association, Dallas, TX.
AGTA Gemstone Enhancements, What You Should Know, American Gem
Trade Association, Dallas, TX.
by Robert Weldon, G.G.
can occur in a multitude of hues and tones that capture the colors of the
ocean. Most aquamarines sold today are heated, which causes the greenish
component of the greenish-blue gem to disappear permanently.
The trade considers heat-treatment of aquamarines to be permanent, and
the enhancement itself does not pose special care considerations other than
However, it's wise to disclose any gemstone treatment or enhancement
to your customers.
You also must take into account that state consumer laws allow customers
to sue (regardless of what the FTC guidelines say) if they feel you did
not disclose properly or advise them about proper care and protection. Telling
customers how a gem was enhanced can avert complaints or lawsuits later.
Here is what the FTC Guides say: "It is unfair or deceptive to fail
to disclose that a gemstone has been treated in any manner that is not permanent
or that creates special care requirements, and to fail to disclose that
the treatment is not permanent, if such is the case. The following are examples
of treatments that should be disclosed because they usually are not permanent
or create special care requirements: coating, impregnation, irradiating,
heating, use of nuclear bombardment, application of colored or colorless
oil or epoxy-like resins, wax, plastic, or glass, surface diffusion, or
dyeing. This disclosure may be made at the point of sale, except that disclosure
should be made in any solicitation where the product can be purchased without
viewing (e.g., direct mail catalogs, on-line services), and in the case
of televised shopping programs, on the air. If special care requirements
for a gemstone arise because the gemstone has been treated, it is recommended
that the seller disclose the special care requirements to the purchaser."
Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.