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Gemstone Enhancements and Treatments
At Two Skies we are very passionate about telling the full story of our gems from the mine direct to finished product. We hope that this information is as transparent as possible, but if you have any more questions in relation to an item or purchase we are more than happy to answer them for you.
Adam 'Two Skies' McIntosh
Miner, Creator, and Founder of Two Skies
History of Gem Enhancements
The enhancement of gemstones is not a new process or idea - treatments have been used for thousands of years. Enhancement of a gem is not a bad thing. It means we can use a lot more of the material that has been mined and found by making it usable, meaning less wastage. It can also make softer stones harder so they are less susceptible to breaking or chipping. Any stone that has been enhanced should always be clearly marked to the buyer as it can affect the price dramatically (however most sellers choose not to declare this.) A natural, non-heat-treated 1 carat sapphire could sell for as much as $1500 but a stone which looks exactly the same, but has achieved its colour through heat treatment, could sell for as little as $200.
Stones that are naturally very soft or porous tend to be stabilised for jewellery. Modern methods involve injecting epoxy resin into the stone in a high pressure oven, which seals all the cracks and pores. Its also stops the gem from changing over time - non-stabilised Turquoise often darkens and goes green over time (this is due to natural body oils of the wearer reacting with the minerals, causing the colour to change.) Some stabilised stones are chemically dyed at the same time, however colour enhancements are never made by Two Skies, in line with gem industry standards - you can be assured the colours displayed in our items are 100% natural. Our stabilised collections include: Turquoise, Blue John, Bumble-bee Jasper and Chrysocolla.
Some stones are naturally very dark or contain great fire/colour that can be enriched by some basic techniques. By placing a black or white film on the back side of a stone/direct onto the silver mount, light bounces from the stone back to the wearer, creating a lot more depth to the piece of jewellery. Gems that we colour-back include: Blue John and Moonstone.
Some stones have a naturally pitted surface that can be smoothed over by utilising molten glass, a popular professional method. By selecting a glass the same colour of the gemstone to be treated, these small natural pockets on the surface are filled to create a much smoother surface.
Heating Or Baking
The heating of gems is a very common practice, with 90% of all Sapphires being heat treated. Sapphires are naturally very dull, as it takes a lot of heat and pressure within the earths crust to change the light shades of blues and pinks to the darker colours which are popular on the market. When light coloured stones are found today they are “baked” to speed up the process of what would have taken nature thousands of years to achieve. Traditionally, stones were heat treated using a coal fire and blow pipe, which takes a couple of days. Modern methods use digitally controlled machines which accurately tweak the pressure and heat to transform gems into the desired shade. Some Two Skies heat-treated gems include: Rubies, Sapphire, Topaz & Citrine.
Backing And Doublets
As gem-quality stones are becoming rarer and rarer to source, it has become common practice to make a “doublet". This involves taking a thin slice of a precious material, such as Turquoise or Opal, and glueing it to the surface of a harder stone, like Ironstone or Quartz . A doublet or backed stone should always be disclosed as such to the buyer and is always cheaper than the same grade of material in solid form (an unbacked stone.) Two Skies backed-stones/doublets include our high-quality Australian Opals.