Untreated Gems for Jewelry - Part II
In continuation of our quest to be provide our customers with the most comprehensive online library of gemstone and jewelry information, we wanted to further expand on the subject of buying untreated gems for jewelry. In our previous article we discussed a variety of popular colored stone options that are brought from the mines to the market completely natural and unenhanced, including aquamarine, cat's eye (chrysoberyl), moonstone and jade. We also brought forth some lesser-known untreated gemstone varieties, including alexandrite, labradorite and goshenite, as well as some wonderful members of the garnet family of gems. When shopping for untreated gemstones, many believe that the selection is very limited, but this is certainly not the case. In fact, for those who know where to look, untreated gemstones can be found in just about every cut, shape, size and color imaginable. Best of all, many untreated gems are extremely affordable, including exotic gems like apple-green prehnite, royal blue lapis lazuli and phenomenal gems such as hawk's eye, pietersite or tiger's eye, all of which are highly prized for their incredible and attractive exhibition of simple chatoyancy, one of the many forms of optical phenomena found in colored stones.
For those looking for something different, here are some more excellent options to consider when shopping for your next completely natural and untreated jewelry-gemstone:
Tourmaline, one of the largest gemstone families, is almost always untreated and happens to naturally occur in almost every color as well. Elongated crystals of tourmaline are often cut into long bars to maximize carat weight. Like other gems that form in many colors, tourmaline crystals can exhibit interesting color combinations. The popular color-zoned material known as watermelon tourmaline is often sold in gemstone slices and exhibits colors like the actual fruit. Sometimes it can be quite a challenge to find tourmaline that has been finished and worked into more traditional jewelry gemstone shapes and matching pairs and lots can be difficult to source.
Tourmaline is a wonderful jewelry gemstone and overall, it is generally very affordable, though some rarer varieties can be very expensive, especially top grade gems found with excellent color, clarity and cut. The rarer forms of tourmaline include green chrome tourmaline, blue-green Paraiba tourmaline, blue indicolite and pink-red rubellite. Tourmaline is a favorite for jewelers because it offers excellent value and can be found in just about every color. Very large tourmaline gems are fairly easy to source, and because they're so readily available, tourmaline has become one of the most frequently worn gems for fashion jewelry, especially for oversized jewelry such as cocktail rings and large pins and pendants. Today, tourmaline is one of the best-known colored stones available today and is superior to many of the other materials available because it is almost never treated or enhanced in any way.
Tourmaline gems also play an important role in the world of metaphysical and crystal healing. For those who believe in the energies and holistic powers that gemstones can possess, natural and untreated gemstones are preferred (which is one the many reasons why tourmaline is such an important gem). Since tourmaline is known to possess a pronounced piezoelectric effect, its therapeutic powers are believed to be much stronger than many other varieties of crystals. However, buyers should be aware that not all gemmy tourmaline is untreated. Beware of tourmaline that appears to be too vivid or neon-like, which is often an indication that it may have been heated. Gem analysis reports from reputable gemological labs can help alleviate concerns, but most colored stone reports only identify the gem type, so treatment verification should be specifically requested since it requires the use of advanced equipment.
Quartz and Spinel
Spinel is another important gemstone that is often used for jewelry. It is an ideal gem for those looking for durability combined with versatility. It is generally affordable, but unlike tourmaline or quartz, for example, spinel is not very well-known by most of the general public (even though it has been prized as a gemstone since times of antiquity). Spinel is one of the unsung wonders of the fascinating world of gems. Like diamond and a few other gemstone types, spinel is singly refractive, which can result in color that appears more pure than other gems with a similar color. Red spinel is most valuable and it is extremely rare, even rarer than ruby. Spinel is rarely found in large sizes, with faceted stones usually weighing no more than 1-2 carats. With excellent hardness and clarity, as well as exceptional fire and brilliance, fine spinel is one of the best value gems when it comes to untreated options. Many consider spinel to be one of the best investment gems, since fine spinel prices are rapidly increasing, month-after-month and year-after-year.
Spodumene, Topaz and More
When it comes to gemstones, topaz is perhaps one of the best-known varieties. Even those without any formal education in gems and jewelry have at least heard of the name. Although topaz is mostly known for its enhanced (irradiated) blue gemstone variety, topaz can indeed be found in a range of other, naturally occurring colors. These include the most precious and valuable topaz known as imperial topaz. Imperial topaz is yellow-golden to orange-red in color and although it can be enhanced through heating, the fiery color is usually completely natural. Natural pink topaz is also an untreated rarity. Colorless topaz and rutile topaz are both relatively inexpensive and are easily found in large sizes. Precious varieties of topaz, which include pink, yellow, golden, orange and red topaz, are all known to sell for very high premiums.
White topaz is a good alternative to diamond and is available in various shapes and sizes. Like diamond, topaz is hard but it can also be fragile due to its cleavage. Zircon is also another great option for use as a diamond substitute, though most white zircon gems have been heated to improve clarity. Untreated colorless stones are widely available and almost all of them are available at more affordable prices than lab-grown diamond or synthetic substitutes, such as moissanite and even cubic zirconia. With so many natural choices, it is curious as to why anyone would want to buy synthetic materials when beautiful white topaz, quartz, beryl and sapphire are all easily found, all of which are completely natural and mined from the earth.
Today, there are many specialty gem and jewelry stores that deal only in untreated gems. Most of these specialized suppliers are online dealers that boast a small handful of stock and usually carry no more than a few hundred sapphire or ruby pieces only. This could be why many people are unaware of the many other untreated gemstone options available today. At GemSelect, we have over 50 different untreated gemstone varieties available, with a total selection of more than 30,000 loose gemstones in stock. This means we carry more untreated colored gemstones than any other online gem and jewelry supplier that claims to specialize in untreated gems only. So, if you are looking for untreated colored gems, we're confident that you can find exactly what you need with us. If we don't have something you need, simply let us know and we'll be happy to help you in your search for something special.
- First Published: July-14-2015
- Last Updated: July-15-2015
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