Melting vs. Dissolving: A Question of Flux

A recent article by sapphire expert and geologist Richard Hughes of Pala International, Fallbrook, Calif., notes that in the heating of sapphires and rubies, flux is used to melt the sides of the fissures, which then helps heal the two sides back together. The article, titled "All Fluxed Up," appeared in Gemworld International's Market News . However, like most gemologists—JCK's gemstone editor included—Hughes used the word "melt" incorrectly. "I think 'All Fluxed Up' is a good piece and is a subject that needs to be discussed," writes John Emmett, noted sapphire expert at Crystal Chemistry in Brush Prairie, Ore. But Emmett notes that the article makes no clear distinction between melting and dissolving. "Melting is a definite property of a crystal and occurs at a definite temperature. If you heat an ice crystal, the temperature increases until it reaches 0°C. Even if you contin
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