A natural high quality emerald with no treatment enhancements is among the rarest of gems owned only by gem collectors. For this reason, virtually all emeralds in the world today have clarity enhancements before they are put in the market. Due to the necessity to clean the emerald with acids and others chemical substances after the cutting process, this enhances the emerald’s appearance, but lowers its real quality.
Emeralds from all sources generally contain internal tiny fissures, imperfections considered as a part of the flaws, and emerald mining processes, such as the use of explosives and heavy machinery excavation, plus jewelry manufacturing and fashioning can cause additional fractures as well. The filling of such surface-reaching features to make them less visible has been practiced for centuries, but if it weren’t for these enhancements, we wouldn’t know our gemstones as we do today, but would wear them as amulets and rocks like the Incas or Colombian aborigines before Christopher Columbus’ time.
Emeralds are always treated with oils and other fillers to enhance their beauty like sapphires, rubies and even diamonds. This process ‘softens’ the visible defects. These treatments require special care. If anyone is offering you an untreated emerald, request the GIA or AGL (gemological laboratories) treatment certification. This will ensure that you know the emerald’s origin, because oftentimes the seller doesn't.
Emeralds may lose the oils or fillers after a few years of wear. This is quite normal. In this condition, the stones become quite brittle and are more fragile and susceptible to cracking and breaking.
Oil Filling Fissures in Emeralds … An Ancient Practice
Hundreds of years ago, gemstone cutters discovered and pioneered the practice of bathing emerald gemstones in natural oils. This is referred to as the process of oil treatment for emeralds and was done to fill the fissures and enhance the appearance of the emerald gemstones. The oils seep into the natural cracks and fissures in the gemstone and ‘soften’ the appearance of these natural flaws.
Today, a few hundred years later, man has developed many other types of synthetic permanent filler that are used in the process. Some of these have a longer life than those of the natural oils used in the days gone by and these treatments do not affect the value of emeralds. On the contrary, the emerald never will change. Be careful, however, to remember that only if the emeralds have not been refilled do serious visible fractures or cracks appear and threaten the gemstone’s integrity. This is why the 10x magnifying loupe is so important to spot concealed hairline fractures. See photos below.
Important Questions Today:
Is a permanent treatment with synthetic fillings better than using natural oils? Yes because a synthetic permanent substance eliminates the traditional re-oiling of emeralds without diminishing its quality and value. We use both treatments, depending on each individual gemstone and the preference of our customers. There is no difference at a simple glance, but only under microscopic examination.