What are enhancements?
Enhancements are various treatments used to improve the appearance or durability of a gemstone. Many enhancements are quite common and widely accepted. For example, merely polishing a gemstone is technically an enhancement, and industry experts estimate that over 95% of popular gemstones have undergone at least some form of treatment.
At Ben Bridge, we are quite discerning about the types of enhancements we allow to be used on our jewelry. We only allow treatments that are durable, permanent, and maintain the stone's integrity and value. We deeply value transparency, and so always make sure that our customers are aware when an enhancement has been used.
Ben Bridge enhancement disclosure policy
We clearly disclose any enhancements done to our gemstones. Our vendors also must follow strict guidelines which require them to only use enhancements and treatments that are widely accepted as standard practice throughout the jewelry industry.
We do not carry or sell any gemstones created in a lab or any diamonds that have been laser drilled or fracture filled to enhance their clarity. Our quality control department inspects every gemstone we sell to ensure that our exacting standards have been met and that you get the best gemstone available in each price range.
Most gemstones undergo at least some kind of enhancement processes: cutting, polishing, and sometimes treatments are essential to turning raw stones into fine jewelry. Below you can find examples of common treatments that may have been done to your gemstones from Ben Bridge. If any of these treatments are present, your sales receipt will include a treatment message. Some gems not listed may also have treatments--if so, these treatments will also be disclosed. Still other gemstones will have no treatments at all, and this may also be noted.
Sample treatment messages
Here are some messages that you could find on your Ben Bridge receipt: "The iolite and peridot are natural in color and required no enhancement except for cutting and polishing" "This onyx is dyed to produce its consistent color" "The tourmaline and sapphire are heated to improve their color" "This emerald has been treated with colorless oil or resin which penetrates its surface" "The tanzanite has been heated to permanently improve its color."
Common gemstone treatments
Amethyst and citrine
Amethyst and citrine are both types of quartz. Darker hues of amethyst are rarely enhanced, but can be heated to lighten their color. Brownish varieties of quartz are commonly heated and magically turn into the bright yellow or orange colors known as citrine. These enhancement methods are permanent and will last for the life of the gemstone.
Many aquamarines are greenish when mined and cut. While some aquamarines retain their original color, others are heated to permanently enhance their purer blue color.
Nature rarely produces topaz in blue, although some naturally blue topazes do exist. To bring blue out in clear or light brown topazes, the stone is irradiated (exposed to radiation) until it turns brown and is then heated to a rich sky blue. This enhancement process is permanent.
Entirely natural pearls are both incredibly rare and quite difficult to recover from the ocean's depths. Today, most pearls are cultured pearls, which means that they come from mollusks that have been carefully seeded with microscopic irritants like those produced by nature. Pearls are often also bleached to achieve a uniform color or can be dyed to turn a wide range of permanent colors.
Most diamonds have small impurities known as inclusions. Sometimes inclusions can be removed entirely by cutting the diamond so that they are not part of the final stone. In other cases, enhancements are used to hide or obscure the inclusion. These techniques include focusing laser beams at inclusions to vaporize them or filling gaps in the stone with a clear resin to make the inclusions less visible. These enhanced diamonds are called "clarity enhanced" or "fracture filled". These processes, however, can weaken the diamond, and so clarity-enhanced and fracture-filled diamonds are never sold by Ben Bridge.
Diamonds may also be enhanced to transform their color. Extreme heat or irradiation can permanently change a diamond's color properties, either changing the color entirely or bringing out a deeper shade of the diamond's natural hue. As with all enhancements, we will always disclose any color treatment your diamond has received.
When they are mined, almost all emeralds contain unique marks. Jewelers often use clear resins to fill these open fissures in the stones. These resins typically include hardeners which prevent the resin from evaporating and making the enhancement permanent.
Imperfections or impurities in natural rubies can be removed via controlled heating of the gemstone.
While sapphires are often associated with blue, they actually come in many colors ranging from pink and orange to green, purple, and gold. These natural hues can be permanently enhanced through controlled heating which improves both clarity and color.
When mined, tanzanite is an orange-brown color. Controlled heating permanently transforms the gemstone into the violet-blue color for which it is known.
Tourmalines are found in an array of colors. Dark blue, blue-green, and green tourmalines are occasionally heated to lighten their color. More frequently, red tourmalines (also known as rubellites) and pink tourmalines are heated and/or irradiated to permanently improve their colors.