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Almost All Gems Are Colored
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Authentic vs. Treated Gems
Almost All Gems Are Colored
Almost All Gems Are Colored

It's important to understand that today practically all of the colored gems you will encounter in the market have been color-treated in some way. Natural, untreated gems are so rare you have little to no chance of finding them without expert assistance and considerable, professional information on all the types out there. Sometimes it is possible to find older, untreated pieces in house-clearances or house auctions, but this is always a gamble and certainly not recommended for anyone who doesn't have a very good grasp on the gemstone gemstone jewelry world. Some permanent treatments are in no way illegal- faulty or treated gems are affordable and make wonderful gemstone gemstone jewelry if they are well-mounted.


As long as you are informed of the gem's history, and pay the appropriate price, this is a great solution for a lot of people who can't afford to look for many months and then pay tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars for extremely rare gems. But in the name of caution and good value, you should assume that any gem you see has been treated, and then consider the questions you have to pose to the jeweler to understand the manner of treatment and how it should affect price. There are a few gem-types that are usually free of any treatments or enhancements, such as: Zircon [normally the green and brown varieties are left untouched], Iolite, Peridot, Alexandrite, Chrysoberyl, Garnet, Hematite, Tanzanite, Spinel, Tourmaline [usually the cat's-eye variety is too difficult to change], Moonstone, Fire opals and Chrysoprase.


This also pertains to old gemstone jewelry, as not all these techniques have their origins in the 20 th century. Hundreds of years ago, many fraudulent techniques were practiced to sell gems and gemstone jewelry for much more then their real worth. Besides coloring and dying, many pieces were mounted in closed, foil-lined backing that reflected a particular color of a colorless stone. Composite gemstones or ‘doublets' were also common; - gemstones made up of two or more pieces, mounted and made to look like single-unit originals. ‘Bargain' prices or ‘wholesale' prices usually include this type of fraudulence to some degree, and since it's so difficult to discover a doublet in its mounting, this has become an even greater risk to gem-purchasers today. These gems are usually mounted with a wide rim at the girdle to disguise the joining-line.


Widely used in antique gemstone jewelry, ‘composite' basically meant that a glass pavilion was glued to a gem crown. The top of the gemstone was real; usually a relatively cheap gem like garnet or poor-grade emerald, and the bottom was glass. If you did it right, this could make for an astonishingly attractive and real-looking result. Pale yellow sapphire pavilions were glued to blue sapphire crowns to create the illusion of deeply colored gems, garnets were passed off as rubies, two pale emeralds were welded together to make dark emeralds and fabulously expensive black opals were fabricated by layering pale, regular opals with thin, almost translucent black tops. Today there are even ‘Triplets'- gems created out of three separate pieces-; for the most part poor-grade opals that have been topped with one layer, then capped with hard, transparent quartz for durability and finally mounted in bezel-settings that hide the rim, where the joining is visible. Some techniques didn't even require that small piece of real gem to create the illusion- two colorless pieces of pavilion and crown were glued together with colored glue, also creating the optical effect of color.






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