Yes, sapphires can undergo various treatments and enhancements to improve their appearance or color. These treatments are commonly accepted within the gemstone industry, as long as they are properly disclosed. Here are some of the common treatments for sapphires:
- Heat Treatment: Heat treatment is the most common and widely accepted treatment for sapphires. It involves heating the gemstone to high temperatures (usually around 1,800 to 2,000 degrees Celsius) to enhance its color and clarity. Heat treatment can lighten or intensify the color of the sapphire, remove or reduce the visibility of certain inclusions, and improve overall transparency. The majority of sapphires on the market have undergone heat treatment.
- Diffusion: Diffusion treatment involves the introduction of certain elements, such as titanium or beryllium, into the surface of a sapphire and then subjecting it to high temperatures. This treatment alters the color of the sapphire, resulting in vibrant hues that penetrate deeper into the gemstone. Diffusion-treated sapphires can exhibit striking colors, such as vibrant blues or vivid yellows.
- Beryllium Treatment: Beryllium treatment is a specific type of diffusion treatment that uses beryllium as the diffusing element. It can produce a range of colors, including orange, yellow, and pink. Beryllium-treated sapphires may exhibit a color change phenomenon under different lighting conditions.
- Irradiation: Irradiation involves exposing the sapphire to controlled radiation to alter its color. This treatment can transform colorless or pale sapphires into vibrant blue or fancy-colored sapphires. Irradiated sapphires are often accompanied by a subsequent heat treatment to stabilize the color.
- Surface Coating: Surface coating is a temporary treatment where a thin layer of colored material, such as titanium dioxide or lacquer, is applied to the surface of the sapphire to enhance its color or provide a special effect. This treatment is not durable and may wear off over time, so it is typically used for low-cost jewelry or temporary fashion purposes.
It's important to note that disclosure of any treatments or enhancements is crucial in the gemstone trade. Reputable sellers and gemstone laboratories provide certificates or reports that disclose the treatments undergone by a sapphire, allowing buyers to make informed decisions about their purchase. Treated sapphires can still be valuable and attractive, as long as the treatment is accurately disclosed and the price reflects the treatment's impact on the stone.