For Your Staff:Selling Treated Gemstones
Orange and Pink Topaz
Deep orange, yellow and pink topazes are true rarities Gentle heat
can intensify or even change the color provided by nature
There was a time when orange, yellow and pink were the only colors that
came to mind when we thought about topaz. It wasn't until we learned to
harness irradiation that we could create the bright blues that most people
associate with topaz today. But the warm colors orange, yellow, pink
are still available and are now often called Imperial or precious
topaz, a description some feel adds value.
Even these warm colors are usually enhanced, but with heating, not irradiation.
Heating to about 450° F transforms a brown component in topaz that contains
chromium into orange, pink or, less often, subtle violet. Topaz from Ouro
Preto in Brazil is routinely heated to achieve pink in a process called
"pinking." In his book Gemstone Enhancement, Kurt Nassau
says the colors resulting from heating are considered stable.
While blue topaz has almost always been treated, orange, yellow and pink
topaz does exist in nature. But it's extremely difficult to tell whether
the intense warm colors are natural or the result of heating (unless inclusions
indicative of heating are present). As a result, valuable topaz gems should
be sent to qualified laboratories to determine the origin of color.
Try to show your customers an array of topaz colors because there should
be one to suit everyone's taste. But make sure you approach the matter of
enhancement in a straightforward and factual manner. Understand the difference
in treatments between warm-colored topaz (which is heated) and blue topaz
(which is irradiated and heated).
If your customer is concerned about heat treatment, explain that almost
all warm colors of topaz sold in the U.S. are enhanced this way. The treatment
produces a stable color and doesn't affect the gem's durability.
Special Care Warnings
Topaz registers 8 on the Mohs hardness scale and is considered quite tough.
This is the case even though topaz has perfect cleavage, which is a weakness
in one direction along its atomic structure. With any topaz, direct knocks
should be avoided. As we've already mentioned, heat treatment produces a
Advice for Sales Associates
Learn your store's disclosure and return policies regarding topaz. Your
store may want to adopt a written policy for gems of this kind that a customer
can read, understand and sign.
Gemstone Enhancement by Dr. Kurt Nassau, Butterworths,
Gem Identification Made Easy by Antoinette Matlins, Gemstone Press,
American Gem Trade Association Source Directory 1997/1998, 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,
Gemstone Buying Guide by Renée Newman, International Jewelry
Publications, Los Angeles, 1998.
by Robert Weldon, G.G.
| Legal Considerations
The trade considers topaz enhancement permanent, but it's still wise
for you to disclose any treatment or enhancement that alters a gem's color.
Almost all commercially sold topaz has been heat-enhanced.
If you and your manager simply don't know about a particular topaz, err
on the side of caution. (You may want to send costlier gems to a qualified
laboratory for an opinion.)
Full disclosure becomes important because state consumer laws allow people
to sue if they feel you did not disclose properly or advise them about proper
care and protection. Letting them know before they buy avoids unpleasant
surprises later. Weave disclosure into your sales presentation with candor
Here is what the FTC Guides say about gemstone treatments:
"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 © 1999 by Bond Communications.