Treatments: Almost all sapphire gemstones are treated in labratories. Most sapphires, when they are taken from the earth have very poor clarity and tend to have dark dull colors. Sapphires that have not been exposed to any kind of treatment but still have good color and clarity are extremely rare (about 1% of sapphires) and can be very expensive.
Heat: The most common and widely accepted form of treatment is heat treatment. Heat treatments has been used to improve the appearance of sapphires for a long time.
Diffusion: Diffusion involves exposing the sapphire to chemicals and then very high heat. This treatment can dramatically improve the color of a sapphire. It is also used to artifically put a “star” into sapphire cabochons. Often, however, the color doesn’t penetrate into the entire stone. Diffusion treatment is not as widely accepted as simple heat treatment because it is seen as less stable. If there are two sapphires that look identical, one with heat treatment and the other with diffusion, the heat treated sapphire will be worth more.
Glass filled or flux: This is a treatment used on sapphires to improve their clarity. The inclusions inside the sapphire gemstone are burned or melted or drilled out and the holes are filled with various crystaline materials. This process is expensive and somewhat controversial because it is difficult to detect.
Synthetics: Synthetic sapphires are genuine, real sapphires. The difference is that these are made by humans instead of the earth. Sapphires are one of the most widely synthesized gemstones in the world. The reason is that natural sapphires are quite expensive and the process for creating sapphires in a labratory is fairly inexpensive. Usually jewelry sellers will disclose if a gem is labratory created. Otherwise, if you see a very high quality sapphire for too low of a price, you can bet that it is synthetic.
Imitations: Imitation sapphires are other substances, such as glass, blue cz, or synthetic spinel. Unlike synthetics, these things are not acutally sapphires. Selling another material as a “sapphire” is fraudulent. You can tell the difference in several ways.
|Fake: This “sapphire cz” is for sale on ebay for $.99 . Perfect clarity and homogenous bright color make it stand out from real sapphires. And, of course, no one will sell a real sapphire for $.99||Difusion treated:Such a well pronounced perfectly visible white star is usually the result of diffusion treatment.||Heat Treated:There is a wide range of qualities in heat treated sapphires. This one is a better quality sapphire.||Untreated: This sapphire is untreated. If it were to undergo some kind of treatment, its clarity and color would be improved. However, the lack of treatment provides us the opportunity to observe interesting natural inclusions.|