For Your Staff:Selling Treated Gemstones
Treated Blue Topaz
Blue topaz rarely exists in nature. But a few decades ago human ingenuity
turned colorless topaz into desirable shades of blue
|This is the eighth in a series of articles in Professional Jeweler
showing how to explain gemstone enhancements honestly and positively. The
series began with emerald in June 1998 and continues with treated blue topaz|
|Below: Irradiated and heated topazes exhibit a range of color.
Gems courtesy of A.F. Greenwood Co., New York, NY.|
Blue topaz is one of the most popular colored gemstones in jewelry today,
especially fashion-forward pieces and production lines.
What most sales associates don't know but should is that
blue topaz's colors almost always are induced by humans, not nature. Blue
topaz found in nature is very rare and tends to be very pale.
The vibrant shades are created through irradiation and are uniformly
repeatable in the manufacturing process. This makes them ideal for use in
large jewelry lines or in individual pieces of jewelry that call for several
Irradiation in blue topaz is permanent. But it's in everyone's best interest
that you explain the source of the color to customers so they understand
it's induced, not natural.
Introduce your customers to topaz color enhancement as a factual, straightforward
part of your sales presentation. You might show them a topaz with no color,
if you have any in stock, and appeal to their sense of wonder about the
degree of color achieved in a formerly transparent crystal.
Some customers want to buy topaz as a birthstone, so you might also show
them other varieties of topaz. These include the pinkish-orange "imperial"
topaz or yellow or pink topaz. Though sometimes heat-treated, these varieties
are not irradiated.
For customers who love blue, however, point out the change from colorless
to brownish to blue is initiated with safe, high-tech irradiation systems
and then completed with heating. To quell any concern about radiation, explain
that all blue topaz sold commercially in the United States is treated this
way. The federal government has strict regulations and guidelines for the
irradiation of gemstones to ensure they are safe for use in jewelry. Also
remind customers irradiation has become a common practice for any number
of consumer products, including food.
Also consider the following selling point: colorless topaz is very receptive
to color enhancement because it tends to be exceptionally clean and free
Special Care Warnings
Blue topaz is quite a resilient gemstone, and irradiation and heat enhancements
do not affect its durability. The combination of irradiation and annealing
is considered stable. Topaz has a hardness of 8 on the Mohs hardness scale
and is considered tough and durable.
Advice for Sales Associates
Learn your store's disclosure and return policies regarding blue topaz.
Your store may want to adopt a written policy for gemstones of this kind
that a customer can read, understand and sign. Check with your store manager
and/or gem buyer and ascertain they understand the importance of buying
topaz that complies with U.S. regulations on irradiation.
Gemstone Enhancementby Dr. Kurt Nassau, Butterworths, London,
Gem Identification Made Easy by Antoinette Matlins, Gemstone
Press, Woodstock, VT.
AGTA Source Directory 1997/1998[contains the Gem Enhancement
Manual] American Gem Trade Association, Dallas, TX.
AGTA Gemstone Enhancements, What You Should Know,American Gem
Trade Association, Dallas, TX.
The Guide,Reference Manual, Gemworld International Inc., Northbrook,
Even though the trade considers topaz enhancement to be permanent, it's
still wise for you to disclose any treatment or enhancement process that
alters the original color of the gemstone.
Remember all blue topaz sold commercially in the United States has been
treated. Disclosure in topaz's case, therefore, becomes important because
state consumer laws allow customers to sue if they feel you did not disclose
properly or advise them about the gem, its proper care and protection. Letting
them know how the gemstone was treated before they buy it can help to avert
unpleasant surprises including lawsuits later.
Disclosure need not be a painful process if you weave it into your sales
presentation with candor and honesty. Here is what the FTC Guides say (please
note that heating and irradiating of blue topaz is considered permanent,
thus, the FTC would not require disclosure, even though the following statement
suggests that it would):
"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."
by Robert Weldon, G.G.
Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.