How Is Turquoise Treated
The trend towards gemstone treatments has been steady, an increasingly large number of gems are today treated. There are a few reasons for treating gems but, the final purpose is always the same - to increase the value of the gemstone. When you talk of turquoise treatment, there are a few types of gem treatments that are applied to turquoise. Let us first briefly list the objectives of turquoise treatments, we will get into the details as we move ahead in this report.
When it comes to turquoise gems, there are two physical properties of the gem that need to be addressed. This is because the presence of these properties, makes the gem less durable. The first property is porosity, this implies the presence of fine pores in turquoise. Do not confuse these pores with the clear pits and holes that might exist in rough turquoise gemstones. The porosity of turquoise might not be visible to the naked eye, the pores are very fine but enough, to lower the toughness of the stone. When a liquid comes into contact with natural untreated turquoise gems, it gets absorbed by the gem. This would affect the gem and the degree of damage caused would be determined, by the type of liquid. The porosity of turquoise makes it inadvisable to soak the gem even in plain water. As you might expect, some turquoise treatments would attempt to reduce the porosity of the stone. Hardness or rather the lack, of sufficient hardness is another property that prevents turquoise from being rated as a tough and sturdy gemstone. Any turquoise treatment that effectively addresses the hardness or porosity issue related to the stone, would indeed be welcome. This is because, it would make caring for the gemstone much easier.
We will not talk about the various gem treatments that are used on turquoise gemstones. We will begin with the most widely accepted form of turquoise treatment which is 'stabilization'.
Stabilization: This turquoise treatment is widely practised and well accepted. The benefits of the treatment are also stable and it works to positively enhance the toughness of the stone. We already mentioned that porosity and low hardness are a characteristic of natural turquoise. In the stabilization process used to treat turqoise, the stone is soaked in heated resins or plastics. The heated material seeps right through the pores and seals them. What is important to understand is that, the pores are sealed right through and not, just at the opening on the surface.
Dyeing: This is a gemstone treatment applied to enhance the color of a gemstone. An interesting thing about the dye turquoise gem treatment is that, some manufacturers use some fancy colors like red, people and even brown. In most cases, turquoise is dye treated to make it a better shade of blue. What you will note is that, this form of turquoise gemstone treatment does not in any way improve the durability of the gemstone. It is not uncommon for dyed turquoise gems to change color after a while. Since the dyes do not follow any quality standard, the resulted treated turquoise is not very reliable.
Waxing: This is an interesting type of turquoise treatment as it is performed, after the gem is cut, shaped and polished. Wax is applied as a fine layer on the surface of the cut turquoise gemstone. This does enhance the appearance of the turquoise by giving it a surface gloss. This turquoise treatment will not last for long, it does not enhance the toughness of the gem. Keep in mind that the closure of pores in the turquoise by the wax treatment is only superficial. It is just a temporary closure and happens only on the surface of the pores. Turquoise gems by nature are affected by heat, the waxing treatment makes them even more sensitive to heart sources.
So what about untreated turquoise. Well technically you could find untreated turquoise gems but, the care and attention that such gems would require is unlikely to keep you satisfied. Much of the turquoise that is treated especially by the stabilization treatment is processed on the rough stone itself. We have heard reports that some (very little) of the turquoise mined in Nevada, is dense enough to keep porosity away. It is not clear how much of this material is hitting the gem markets, so it would largely be a guess work. Our honest suggestion is to choose stabilized turquoise - you will have more time to enjoy the gem.
Is it possible to get a laboratory certification for turuqoise treatment check from the gem seller. Yes technically nothing can stop you from requesting for a recognized lab report for the turquoise gems that you buy. Just remember that the seller will expect you to pay for the report, testing for opaque gems is quite expensive. You could end up paying in the range fo 75 U.S$ to 125 U.S$ (per stone) for such a report. This is presuming that you want complete details of the test including treatment, gem authenticity etc. Since this might in many cases be more than the cost of the gem, we would suggest that you shop from a reputed source and get all details from the seller.
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