If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Get Out of the Gem Business: Part III

When blue sapphires with unusual color distributions showed up in the market recently, gem labs shifted into overdrive to identify them. Tens of thousands of dollars were spent on secondary ion mass spectroscopy (SIMS) analysis and overseas expeditions, and gemologists spent a great deal of time and effort to determine if yet another troublesome enhancement had been set loose to bedevil the market. What they learned was that a lone treater in Sri Lanka was using a new furnace in a simple, ingenious, heat-only process. When a recent JCK Retail Panel questionnaire asked retailers if they cared whether a sapphire had received low-heat treatment vs. high-heat treatment, 95% said "no," it didn't make a difference. "A treatment is a treatment," say retailers. "It's still enhanced," whether it's "light heat" or "high heat." Why is there a disconnect between the labs' view of corundum treatmen

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