I was planning on writing an article about matching the PANTONE colours of the year with gemstones that never get any form of treatment; stones have no hidden surprises. Gems you could rely on to be 100% natural. I owned a Gem and Mineral gallery 20 years ago and constantly answered questions about treatments. So I had a good idea of the stones that should qualify. This should be easy.
But it is never that easy. As I researched, I realized it is now impossible to find a guaranteed unaltered gem. Today’s technology can enhance virtually any material. Many enhancements on formerly unenhanced stones are quite obvious, even to the untrained eye. Others are fairly easy to detect by someone with basic gemmological training and tools. Some require the advanced testing facilities offered by major gemmological laboratories. And there is always the chance of enhancements that the labs have not detected yet.
Even though there are still a few coloured gemstones are rarely enhanced, you always must be aware of the potential. They are usually common enough to be inexpensive and have little need for any improvement. Rose Quartz is PANTONE’S Colour of the Year 2016, and is one of the gemstones that are typically not enhanced. In cheap fashion jewellery it sometimes may be dyed but that is obvious to see. In very rare cases Rose Quartz has been irradiated for a deeper colour.
Morganite, a pink Beryl, fits the colour profile and in the past was rarely treated. Recent demand from online and television shoppers led to an irradiation process for better colour. Surface coated Morganite is in the market as well.
Spinel can be similar in colour to Rose Quartz and is usually thought of as a non-treated stone. But lately there are examples of diffusion or fracture filling to be seen in the market place. Spinel can also be used for PANTONE’ S complimentary colour of the year…Serenity, a greyish pastel blue. The same treatment caveats are needed for this colour as well.
Other stones that fit the Serenity colour profile are some Cuprian Tourmalines, (possible diffusion or surface coating), Aquamarine (typically heated), Blue Chalcedony (commonly dyed), and Blue Lace Agate (watch out for glass imitations).
The two stones least likely to be treated are Rose Quartz and Blue Lace Agate. They go beautifully together and fit the PANTONE colours perfectly.
Always remember that all of these treatments are perfectly acceptable as long as they are fully disclosed. To be sure, ask your supplier for treatment information in writing, consult with a qualified Gemmologist and don’t be afraid to send samples to a lab to be sure.
You can still offer natural, untreated stones but a bit of diligence is needed on your part to be sure.