New Emerald Treatment at the Source

April 1999

Gemstones & Pearls:Gemology

New Emerald Treatment at the Source

A Colombian company tackles the problem of filler durability with PermaSafe

Not everyone accepts the gloom enveloping the emerald business. In Bogotá, Colombia, the world's most important emerald source, C.I. Gemtech Ltd. has taken a proactive approach. "PermaSafe," a new durable emerald enhancement, is the product of a partnership Gemtech forged with a gemological laboratory, the Center for Gemological Studies of Emerald, Bogotá. The lab's director, Rodrigo Giraldo, a graduate gemologist, says PermaSafe offers durability and safety. "And that goes to the heart of the problem with emeralds," says Gemtech President Jaime Rotlewicz Cohen.

Many gem dealers agree with Rotlewicz. They say improving the durability of emerald enhancements and explaining to buyers what exactly is in an emerald will go a long way toward reestablishing market confidence.

What Is It?
PermaSafe is an epoxy resin, similar in some ways to the secret material used in the Arthur Groom-Gematrat enhancement (Professional Jeweler,April 1998, p. 50), Giraldo says. Both treatments are durable and can withstand ultrasonic cleaners and the heat of a cutting wheel, he says. PermaSafe reportedly can be removed from the emerald and fluoresces a pale blue in longwave ultraviolet light for easy identification.

PermaSafe is touted to be transparent and closer to emerald's refractive index, thereby concealing fissures more effectively. "It is also less viscous and can permeate emeralds with a minimum of heat and pressure," says Giraldo. Arthur Groom of Arthur Groom-Gematrat, New York City, says there probably are more differences than similarities with his product. Nevertheless, Groom welcomes the development of PermaSafe. "It is a positive development because in Colombia, they are beginning to understand the importance of durability in emerald enhancements," he says. Another U.S. emerald dealer agrees. "It seems to be pretty stable," says Ray Zajicek of Equatorian Imports, Dallas, TX. "I've run several durability experiments on emeralds treated with PermaSafe and am positive about the results." Gemtech and its lab say they've sent samples of the new treatment to all of the world's major laboratories. In the U.S., the Gemological Institute of America Gem Trade Laboratory in Carlsbad, CA, and the American Gem Trade Association Laboratory, New York City, confirmed having received samples for study. (GIA expects to release the first part of a report about a wide variety of emerald fillers in an upcoming issue of Gems & Gemology, its quarterly journal).

– by Robert Weldon, G.G.

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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