Pretty much all the gemstones that are in use today have been mined, they are natural gemstones, but since not all of them came out of the ground perfect, they have to be improved, or should I say enhanced, which is the term that professional gemologists use. Such gemstones that have been altered are marked with letters and if you’re in the market looking to buy gemstone jewelry it can be a prudent thing to know what letters that can be found on these enhanced gemstones actually mean. That way you’ll avoid being scammed by unethical sellers, you won’t have to spend time worrying if what the sellers have told you is true or not, and if that’s not important to you, there’s the added bonus of knowing something useful about jewelry, which is always a good thing if you are a jewelry buff. We’ll start from the less serious alternations and make our way up.
The letter S
This one should be obvious to pretty much everyone, it signifies that the gemstone is synthetic, not a natural gemstone. I’ve set this one to be first, well, because technically it’s not an invasive procedure, it’s a creation of a gemstone from scratch, now that I think about it it’s probably the most invasive. By all counts it should go in it’s own group, but considering how advanced production techniques of synthetic gemstones have become, they are rarely divided up into their own groups and some jewelers can’t even tell apart between moissanite and real diamonds without the use of aids, and even then it can be very difficult to detect the real thing from synthetic stones. For this reason the letter S has been introduced, in order to make things easier for the buyers and even for jewelers, who no longer have to worry about a stone being natural or synthetic when buying from suppliers, reputable suppliers that is.
The letter O
If you see a gemstone and it has letter O declared somewhere on it that means that it has been oiled, waxed or tree resin has been used in order to conceal small cracks and cavities which are a common problem, especially on gemstones which are softer, more susceptible to being damaged. An example of such a stone would be emeralds, gemstones who even though are considered to be precious, are frequently found with a lot of scratches alongside it’s surface and not just surface, on the inside it is also very much so included, in other words it has a lot streaks. This letter on a gemstone means that it has been slightly modified, nothing to drastic and the only danger for gemstones with the letter O on them is that the top layer of polish gets damaged somehow, which would cause the scratched to come out, but even them it’s not that big of a deal and all that you have to do is have a visit to a jeweler to have it rewaxed and it’ll be good as new.
The letter D
Changing the color of a gemstone is something that has been done for quite some time now, and the letter D tells us that the stone has undergone a treatment where its color has been permanently changed. Some types of gemstones who’s color is changed on a regular basis would be rose quartz, turquoise, agate and onyx. There’s no dangers to this type of a thing and it shouldn’t make the gemstone any more fragile or cause any kind of problems with the quality. Gemstones which only come in a certain color or a certain shade of a color are a lot more valued by the customers when they come in a bit different color or the same color only more vivid and expressed like it is the case with blue topaz. Blue color for topaz is very rare or should say deep blue color is rare, and majority of deep blue colored topaz are light blue stones who’s color has been enhanced and permanently changed to deep blue.
The letter R
Now this is an interesting type of a gemstone because it has the potential to change you into a mutant, just kidding, it can’t, at least not the modern versions of gemstones rated R. These are gemstones which have been irradiated in order to improve the color. In the past when the process of gemstone radiation was first started being used gemstones which were treated were left with some radiation which could be harmful to the people, but the federal regulatory bodies have figured out what was going on and all the gemstones that could be dangerous have been gathered up and they no longer pose a threat. Modern radiation techniques leave no traces of radiation and gemstones which are being treated with radiation today are in no way harmful for people to wear, so that you don’t run away from all the gemstones which have the letter R on them, don’t worry they can’t harm you. Their quality is also not bad at all, since radiation is not overly invasive, it’s not causing instability in any way and the gemstone quality is the same as when they were removed from the ground.
We are still left with a couple of letters that need to be explained but I’ll leave them for another time because they are the two which are most invasive, and I’ve already babbled long enough with the ones that I mentioned here. The important thing that you should keep in mind is that even though these stones weren’t created perfect, so to say, by mother Nature and even though they were improved that doesn’t mean that they are in any way shape or form of lesser quality. Soon you’ll be able to read an article where I’ll explain the rest of the markings that can be found on gemstone jewelry, and an explanation on how they might potentially be important for you as a buyer of gemstone jewelery. Try to learn these things, if you can, even if it’s only for one time shopping.
Now we’ll focus on the remaining two groups of gemstones which had a little bit more invasive things done on them in order to give them different properties and in some cases even radically change their shape and appearance.
The letter H
We already mentioned this one in passing, if not in the previous article of this series, hehe, then definitely in one of the ones before when we were talking about changing the characteristics of diamonds and perhaps even moissanite. H stands for heath, it’s a situation where the gemstone is heated up in order to change it’s color, the intensity of it’s color. This is one of the methods that is used by when the gemstone is dyed, so it’s not that uncommon to find both letter D and letter H on a gemstone, or even R if the color change was done with the help of radiation which we discussed before.
The letter A
One of the more interesting ones is without a doubt the letter A. Sometimes, certain gemstones cannot be found large in size in nature and larger pieces are created from a bunch of smaller pieces which are melted down and fused together. Obviously this cannot be done to every type of jewelry, but there are some, like amber which can be manipulated this way. The “A” in the name of this group would be assembled, which seems fitting for this type of a process.
The letter A would be the last one that I’m gonna mention, it’s the most invasive operation that can be done on a natural gemstones, but it still isn’t causing it to lose a lot of points on quality, there is nothing wrong with gemstones which are created like this, after all that’s how they were created many millions of year ago, under extreme heath and pressures. There’s just one more letter that needs to be mentioned and that is the letter “N” which is used to indicate that the gemstone is natural, without any kind of enhancement, if you don’t count cutting as an enhancement. On this note, we conclude this series, I hope you found it useful.