Emerald Crack-Up

Emerald-enhancement laboratories in Colombia and Brazil have devised a way to increase rough-to-polished weight retention of emeralds by as much as 50 percent—but the practice may ultimately compromise the stones. The labs accomplish the feat by using so-called “Perma” fillers—accepted enhancements for finished emeralds, as long as they're disclosed—on rough emerald crystals and preformed gemstones. But some New York emerald merchants say the practice amounts to gluing together an otherwise fragile stone to keep it from falling apart during final cutting and polishing. They claim that some stones come away from the cutting wheel with large portions held together only by the filler. As for disclosure, the Colombian labs are disclosing the enhancement to emerald suppliers, but some suppliers sell the finished stones to retailers disclosing only that their goods are “enhance

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