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Gemstone Enhancements

Organizations such as the Gemological Institute of America and the American Gem Society? have on staff independent evaluators that are able to certify various aspects of a particular gemstones characteristics, including any enhancements that are used. These enhancements can be divided into temporary or semi-permanent, and more permanent varieties. Some common enhancements include:

Temporary or Semi-Permanent Enhancements
  • Bleaches used to lighten and/or whiten gemstones or pearls
  • Coating with a surface enhancement by enameling, inking, foiling, lacquering, sputtering, or vapor deposition
  • Applying a dye that is used to enhance the color and uniformity of gemstones or pearls
  • Filling surface cavities or fissures with colorless glass, plastic or resin
  • Impregnating the gems with oil, wax, or resin to improve clarity & appearance
  • Impregnating the gem with colorless wax, paraffin or oil

Permanent Enhancements
  • Flux Healing, which is a heat enhancement used to heal fissures and fractures
  • Fracture Filling, the injection of plastics or glass into fractures
  • Heat Treatments used to lighten, darken, or alter color
  • Irradiation, used to add color intensity to diamonds, gemstones, or pearls
  • Lattice Diffusion, a high-temperature heat treatment to produce color and/or asterism
  • Laser and chemical treatment to remove inclusions

Temporary enhancements are generally reversible, either by means of solvents or other chemicals, or by utilizing tools such as an ultrasonic cleaner?, however care should be taken whenever more extreme methods of cleaning are involved. It is important to know what enhancements have been applied to a gemstone and the Federal Trade Commission addresses this in 16 CFR Part 23, Section 23.22 requiring retailers to indicate all enhancements known to have been applied to any gemstone being sold.

Permanent enhancements generally require very specialized equipment and by their nature are often more difficult to detect.


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