Whether you are an experienced jewelry enthusiast or simply looking to add a bit of sparkle to your wardrobe, ruby treatments, and enhancements are key components in fine jewelry. Rubies provide durability and timeless elegance, making them one of the most desired gemstones for luxurious pieces. There are various ways where rubies can be treated or enhanced before being set into exquisite jewelry. From traditional heating treatment to synthetic color enhancement, each process is unique and ensures that your finished design will reflect a deep sense of individual style.
This blog post will explore these different ruby treatments and how they can bring even more life to these enduring gems.
Why Rubies are Treated
To be commercially viable, the majority of ruby stones must be treated before they can be extracted from the ground and sold to the end consumer. Treatments can enhance the color and purity of rubies, increasing their market value. In essence, “Treat Ruby Gemstones” refers to modifying the ruby to enhance its beauty.
Types of Treatments in Rubies
Read on to learn more about the common treatment in rubies.
Rubies undergo heat treatment to enhance both their clarity and color. Sri Lankan rubies become redder, Thai rubies lose their brownish hue, and Myanmar’s Mong Hsu rubies (not to be confused with Mogok rubies) shed their unattractive, dark centers. In addition, this is a stable and permanent treatment, so the results will not diminish with daily use or cleaning.
If a ruby has been treated with heat, it is also likely that it was heated in the presence of flux to aid in healing serious fractures. Different inclusions also burst at varying temperatures, causing the inside of some heated rubies to become white and fuzzy.
Unless otherwise noted, the jewelry industry assumes that rubies have been heat-treated. Gem Nation rubies, like most rubies of jewelry quality, are heat-treated (and solely heat-treated) to improve the gemstone’s color and brilliance.
This treatment is accepted by the Gemological Institute of America and other certification agencies; it is permanent and will not degrade with time.
Other treatments are accessible to the jewelry industry, such as fracture filling (glass infilling of cavities), surface diffusion (treatment for coloring the surface), and oiling, dying, or waxing of gemstones. These treatments are temporary and may require maintenance in the future.
In heating, a flux, such as borax, is added to the standard heating process to reduce the required higher temperature to obtain the desired heating outcomes. Most rubies are subjected to Flux heat treatment to increase the stones’ clarity by repairing cracks at a lower temperature. This treatment also boosts the durability of the stone by using flux to repair the fissures.
Glass filling is another type of treatment for rubies, especially those with an excessive number of fractures and inclusions. It is performed alongside heat treatment. Under this process, lead glass, which has a higher refractive index, is melted and introduced into the ruby stone’s fissures, fractures, and inclusions. Although this treatment is not stable nor permanent, it can significantly increase the clarity of crystals of substandard grade. It is typically performed on rough pieces that would not otherwise be appropriate for sale. You may usually see a blue and orange flashing effect in glass-filled rubies.
Since this is a treatment that involves filling the stone with molten glass or lead, these rubies are no longer considered completely natural, and the type and treatment of ruby should be disclosed prior to the sale so that those seeking natural and genuine rubies choose only natural ones from a certified gemstone dealer. However, many individuals prefer to purchase these composite rubies due to their lower cost.
Diffusion is the least popular and most controversial of the three most used treatments. When heat treatment is ineffective, sellers typically employ this procedure. At high temperatures, beryllium is added to the heated rubies. In essence, it is possible to transform a white sapphire into a ruby, depending on how and if the corundum would take the treatment.
This treatment is more typically used on sapphire rather than to treat ruby gemstones. Rubies are heated in a crucible while beryllium is added. Beryllium diffuses with ruby’s crystal lattice to produce a more vivid color.
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How Treatments Affect Ruby Value
Generally speaking, ruby treatments improve the color and clarity of rubies, making them more desirable and valuable. For example, heating has been used for centuries to enhance the ruby’s brightness and overall color vibrancy. This “heat treatment” does not harm the ruby; it simply helps reveal what was already there all along: a naturally beautiful gemstone with vibrant coloration! In fact, this process is so accepted that many dealers no longer mention it when describing a particular gemstone’s condition since it isn’t unusual (or unethical) at all these days!
Pro tip: Always consult with a professional jewelry appraiser to know the value of the gemstones you have.
Treated vs. Untreated Rubies
It is now common for rubies to undergo heat treatment. This is due to the fact that heat treatment enhances the color and clarity of rubies by eliminating impurities and making them less noticeable. This treatment rarely decreases the value of a ruby; nonetheless, different amounts of heat treatment at a very high temperature can range from mild to extreme.
Unheated Ruby is Natural Ruby that has not been treated with heat. Compared to unheated rubies, these natural rubies are considerably easier to recognize, as their natural inclusions are 10 times more obvious under a microscope. Inclusions in unheated ruby have the appearance of entire silk needles meeting at a 60-degree angle. Other inclusion characteristics include unmodified calcite and crystals with a prismatic appearance.
Whilst a lot of factors affect the price of a ruby corundum, unheated treated gemstones are generally more expensive and sought after. Take for example the Sunrise Ruby and Diamond Ring made by Cartier. The ruby corundum in this ring is a 25ct UNTREATED ruby that sold for a whopping $30M at auction way back in 2015!
The rule of thumb in the jewelry industry is: assume all gemstones underwent treatment. Whilst most of the treatments can be visually detected by an experienced licensed gemologist, there ARE treatments that can only be detected in a gem laboratory.
Related Reading: Tools Used to Identify Colored Stones
Reach out to Willyn Villarica Jewelry
Willyn Villarica is your trusted partner for jewelry appraisal services, catering to clients around the globe. Our expertise and commitment to excellence ensure accurate and reliable assessments of your precious gemstones. It’s important to note that while we offer our services worldwide, clients are responsible for covering all travel expenses. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to have your diamonds expertly graded by Willyn Villarica. If you need a jewelry appraisal, send me a message at email@example.com or through Facebook (Willyn Villarica Jewelry) or Instagram (@willynvillarica_jewelry)! As one of the few certified gemologists in the Philippines, a graduate of the GIA Graduate Gemologist® program, and the only NAJA-recognized Filipino appraiser, you know you and your jewelry are in good hands with Willyn Villarica Jewelry.