Nitty Gritty of Stone Enhancement
sometimes have customers ask for stones that haven't been
"treated." With trends like simplifying your life,
feng shui, and "going organic" gaining mainstream
approval, it's no wonder this concept would find a place in
the jewelry world. The idea that something comes straight
out of the ground and into a ring has a certain pristine appeal.
years of dealing with jewelry and gems from all over the world,
I have discovered that there is no such thing as an unaltered
gemstone. I can already hear cries of "foul" coming
to me through the ether, so let me explain why I believe this
and why I think this actually a good thing.
sake of this discussion, we are referring to what is commonly
called "commercial grade" gemstones: semiprecious
stones that are moderately priced and used in large quantities.
Rainbow moonstone, labradorite, all the agates (like onyx,
etc.), jasper, jade, peridot,
quartz, some topaz and a handful of other stones that we carry
are all used by the jewelry trade in vast quantities.
that stone in your ring still has the dirt on it from the
mine, has not been polished, tumbled or cabbed, it has been
enhanced. For thousands of years, man has made gemstones more
attractive by carving, drilling, cutting and setting them
in jewelry. Just polishing a stone is a form of enhancement.
Gemstone enhancement is in fact what we have come to expect.
technology, the procurement and processing of gemstones has
undergone change over time. Mining techniques have improved
to increase productivity and quality. Likewise, techniques
used to improve the appearance of gemstones have also become
more sophisticated. Enhancing stones is nothing new, and enhancements
are market driven. Most people wouldn't be happy with un-enhanced
be thinking about a certain stone dealer or jewelry vendor
you have bought from in the past that offers a promise or
guarantee regarding his or her stones. Consider that the vast
majority of the stones used in commercial jewelry making come
from places like Brazil, China, India or Russia, where there
is a huge economy of scale happening. There is no "provenance"
as antique dealers call it. Police refer to it as a chain
of custody. Whatever name you give it, there is no telling
exactly what has happened to a particular piece of rock once
it enters the vast confluence of the commercial gemstone system.
is no way to trace exactly what has happened to the stone
between when it was plucked from earth to when it was set
in jewelry. You can perform tests that will tell you if it
is dyed or irradiated, but even then you can't be sure because
many of the treatments are not 100% detectable.
consider the price involved in most of these pieces: $2 to
$20 for items on our
wholesale site. If we dealt in diamonds and sapphires,
we could possibly trace the path a particular stone took from
mine to market, but not for the lesser priced stones. Tests
for enhancement cost more than the stone itself!
the net result of enhancement? Nice looking stones that feed
the demand for good quality, appealing jewelry at an affordable
price. Technologies like heat treatment, irradiation, dying,
etc., are not deceptions. They are not meant to trick an unsuspecting
public into paying more for a lesser quality piece. Quite
the opposite, treated stones are inexpensive but often look
as nice as much more expensive specimens.
if a stone has been treated, we say that all stones are treated
in one way or another. Then we turn what is a potentially
negative conversation into a positive one by giving information
to the customer that reassures them, that is honest, and that
ultimately makes them feel empowered because they feel more
connected to the process.
I talked about selling with a story, and this concept of enhanced
stones is a perfect example of how you can use the power of
information to make a sale. In the end, the consumer is looking
for a good quality piece that is appealing to their personal
taste and that fits their price range.
article written by Mike McGinnis and published originally
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