While all gemstones used in Iconic jewelry are naturally formed in the earth, certain gemstones have been enhanced to improve their appearance. Treatments to enhance gemstone color, clarity, and durability have been practiced for centuries. Common enhancement methods include heating, filling, irradiation, waxing, dyeing, and bleaching.
Bleaching is the use of chemicals or other elements (such as light) to lighten a gemstone’s color or fade dark spots. Both pearls and jade are very often bleached.
Coating is the application of lacquer or some other type of coloring agent to a gemstone’s surface in order to improve its appearance or add color.
Dyeing involves the use of coloring agents to alter the color of a gemstone. The surface must be porous or fractured in order for the color to permeate. Chalcedony is one mineral that has been dyed since ancient times, producing colored onyx.
Filling is the use of glass, plastic or other materials to fill cavities or fractures in a gemstone’s surface. Filling is generally used to reduce the visibility of imperfections, but can sometimes be used to add weight to the gemstone. Oil is often used to fill fissures found in emeralds and enhance clarity.
Perhaps the most common treatment, heating is the use of extreme heat to enhance the color and clarity of a gemstone. This permanent treatment is often used with gemstones such as sapphire, ruby, aquamarine, and topaz.
Irradiation is the exposure of a gemstone to artificial radiation in order to permanently alter its color. Irradiation is sometimes followed by heating, as in the case of blue topaz.