Gem enhancement is nothing new; it has been an ongoing process for centuries. It could involve something as simple as boiling a rough gem in oil to “infuse” the oil into the very grain of the gem (such as emerald, ruby and most topaz, to name a few) to enhance and bring out the gem’s true colors.
Fast forward to the 20th and 21st centuries; gem and diamond enhancement technology can now involve micro-drills, lasers, and even Gamma rays from nuclear reactors.
Those of you who love the gem blue topaz may be interested to know that it is not a natural color created by Mother Nature, but in fact a nuke reactor that bombards the gems with harmless Gamma rays. The process can create many shades of blue and recently nearly every color of the rainbow. Positively fascinating stuff! It’s not rocket science… Oh! Wait a second, actually it is! I won’t get into the weird science of it all, for it will be extremely boring for many of you. Even I feel asleep while delving deep into it!I may have touched on glass infusion techniques on precious gems in the past, which can be a GOOD thing if the process is disclosed to the buyer for it makes the gem very affordable. If not disclosed (the BAD) the unsuspecting buyer can pay thousands for what should only cost hundreds. The advent of enhancing diamonds began in the late ‘60s to the early ‘70s by a young, Israeli diamond pioneer, Zvi Yehuda. Yehuda perfected laser drilling, “bleaching” out black imperfections, and perfecting a fracture filling process. He was instrumental in the innovation of coloring diamonds and other treatments to enhance diamond colors.
The NICE thing is I have personally sold clarity-enhanced diamonds for over 35 years. The product has become an integral part of my business here on the island. And once the process is correctly explained to my customers, the choice to buy enhanced unenhanced diamonds becomes for many a “no brainer.” Like many things in life, not all people can get their head wrapped around the diamond enhancement process. In the past decade the diamond industry has had its ups and downs, nationally and worldwide. Meanwhile, here on Marco Island my diamond sales stayed very steady and even increased. Why? Because the majority of my diamond sales were of the enhanced variety. It’s always about the money. Even when I’m told money is no object, it always is. Hmm… I can own the largest, whitest, and now enhanced clean diamond for 30% to 40% less money than a smaller, less white and more flawed diamond? Gee, let me ponder on that.
See it’s no brainer, I often show my more expensive non-enhanced or traditional diamonds side by side with the enhanced diamonds. Most choose the enhanced, and if they choose the non- enhanced (which they rarely do), the sticker shock often puts a damper on purchasing it. I have sold many a two-carat plus clarity enhanced diamond engagement ring for well under $18,000 that would blow your mind. Sounds expensive? Go price a nonenhanced high color, clarity 2.50-carat diamond at a fancy jewelry store and hold onto your cap – $25,000 to $35,000 would not be out of the question.
Then there is the UGLY… Gemstones that have been overly enhanced can in fact be dreadful to look at. The color process went all wrong, turning the gems into the jewelry industry’s black sheep. Less than scrupulous merchants will pick them up for short money and then try to pass them off to the public at a big profit.
There is nothing wrong with a properly enhanced diamond, it’s not a manmade synthetic thing created by a mad scientist in a lab last month. It is a natural, mined diamond, millions of years old that has had imperfections removed by a laser bleaching process. A slightly ugly duckling transformed into a beautiful swan, so to speak.
Seeing is believing! I always have plenty of enhanced goods on display for your personal inspection in earrings, rings and even tennis bracelets.
Don’t confuse enhancement with the new synthetic diamonds that are now being pitched and sold especially on the World Wide Web, they are not natural diamonds. I personally call them “Frankensteins,” totally manmade in a lab. They are also expensive, and as far as I know, have zero resale value. They scare me because they are next to impossible to detect from au-natural diamonds. If you want a fake diamond, buy a cubic zirconia for a fraction of the cost for Pete’s sake!
Another form of diamond enhancement is HPHT, which stands for high pressure high heat. This is an effective tool to change the color of diamonds to pink, blue and green, and yellow to colorless. It’s an effective process and very difficult to detect. I have two bright Caribbean blue diamonds, one a pear shape and the other a marquise cut that are HPHT treated, the colors are breathtaking, where natural blues are rare and very expensive.
Bottom line…Treated diamonds are beautiful and affordable and can hold their own to diamonds costing tens of thousands of dollars more. Disclosure is paramount during your purchase, so if you desire, only you and your jeweler will know for sure.
BAD is non-disclosure, it is considered unethical and frowned upon in the jewelry industry. All enhancement or heat-treated processes should be in writing on your sales receipt or in-store appraisal. “I don’t exercise, if God wanted me to bend over, he would have put diamonds on the floor!” ~ Joan Rivers
Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and a purveyor of fine diamonds and gemstones for the better part of forty years, and owner of The Harbor Goldsmith at the Island Plaza on Marco Island. He welcomes your questions and comments by phone 239-394-9275 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit his website @www.harborgoldsmith.com.