Feature Gems & Gemology, Summer 1981, Vol 17, No. 2

Color In Gems: The New Technologies

Advances in technology have brought great advances in our ability to impart color to natural gemstones as well as to create synthetics. Simultaneously, technologies are also being developed to distinguish natural from artificial colors as well as natural from synthetic materials. This article discusses some of the work being done to enhance color in gemstones today and some of the techniques used by the laboratories at the California Institute of Technology to determine whether a color originates naturally or in the laboratory. Dyed jade, synthetic turquoise, heat-treated beryl and zircon, irradiated spodumene, and topaz that has been irradiated and heat treated to produce a pleasing blue color are some of the specific examples included.