If a gemstone has been heat treated, it simply means it has undergone some type of thermal process in order to alter or improve its appearance. In this modern era, nearly 95 percent of sapphire gemstones are heat-treated for several important reasons. Given this widespread practice and the number of questions we’ve received about it, Knox Jewelers has decided to write up a special report to educate our valued clients about the process of heat treating sapphires and how these processes can best be utilized for maximum effect and benefit. There exists a wide variety of heat treatments available on the market today, and these treatments – depending upon their quality levels – can affect the price and value of sapphires in different ways.
The Heat Treatment Process
A small percentage of sapphire crystals naturally occur in the deep, vibrant shades we most desire. Heating can take a lack-luster gemstone and transform it’s color into a beautiful rare hue. The gemstone industry utilizes heat treating in order to develop or intensify a given sapphire’s natural color and texture. It can also be used to improve the clarity of a particular sapphire by removing, or at the very least reducing, inclusions. The idea behind this process is to mimic the natural processes of the earth by simulating how a sapphire might have turned out if that particular specimen had been discovered near a thermal vent in the earth.
If you have safety concerns about the heat treatment process, you can put your fears to rest. The modern heat treatment systems used by the industry are completely safe and use no radiology or chemical based techniques. All in all, it’s one of the safest, most cost effective ways to improve the color and overall visual appearance of a particular sapphire stone.
The History Behind Heat Treating
For countless centuries, the human race has utilized heat treatment to improve the quality and appearance of gemstones. Although the techniques used in the past were generally unreliable and may not have always resulted in a good result, the past 100 years has seen a rapid growth in the development of these important techniques, and today they are entirely reliable and guarantee a fantastic visual result. Heating can lighten, darken, deepen or completely change a gemstone’s color. Treatments can vary from simple, like holding the gem over an open flame, to complicated processes involving furnaces controlled by computers.
Shopping for Sapphire Jewelry
There are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for sapphire jewelry. There can often be major price differences in two gemstones of the same carat weight and color if one of them has undergone a heat treatment process. There are two ways to look at the heat-treatment/stone value situation. Treatment could transform a cloudy sapphire into a much more desirable gemstone, dramatically increasing its appeal but remaining near the same value. On the flip side, the absence of treatment in naturally colored gemstones makes them much more valuable than treated stones. This is because fine colored, untreated stones are rare in comparison.
Creating Your Sapphire Heirloom
At Knox Jewelers, we’d love to share our experience and knowledge of sapphires with you. Let’s get started today with your very own sapphire heirloom or engagement ring! We’ll work closely with you to design and craft a unique, personalized piece of jewelry that truly embodies the special meaning you desire to imbue within it. We hope to hear from you soon!