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

Heat treatment has created more salable gems than Mother Nature ever created on her own. But heat treatment can also reduce the value of gemstones. When color origin cannot be determined, prices for many colored gemstones usually sink to the lowest common denominator, as they have for aquamarine, one of a dozen popular gems whose color can only rarely be identified as natural vs. heat-derived. Unfortunately, the list of gems with unidentifiable color origins is growing, and two of the big three—rubies and sapphires—are in danger of joining the list. (Emeralds, which have not yet been enhanced through heat, have their own unique problems with filler identification.) Add to that list the difficult, if not impossible, identification of diamonds treated with high pressure and high temperature (HPHT), and it becomes obvious why so many gemologists in the industry are concerned. Curiousl
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