Healing Gemstones

Crystal healing is an alternative medicine technique that employs gemstones and crystals. Believers of the technique claim that the crystal or gemstone has healing (metaphysical) properties that when placed on different parts of the body often corresponding to the chakras, or around the body to construct an energy grid, that will heal aliments.

Gemstone medicine has a very long history. Stated in Gemstones, Symbols of Power and Beauty by Eduard Gubelin and Franz-Xaver Erni, St. Hildegard von Bingen, born in 1098, “…always used whole gemstones. They were either placed in the mouth for a while or steeped in wine, which was then consumed -naturally without the gemstone!”

Gubelin and Erni also stated that “The Zurich polyhistorian, doctor, natural historian, and theologian Conrad Gesner (1516-1565) was of the opinion that each of the gems mentioned in The Revelations to John (chapter 21, verses 19 and 20) had a special arcanum (secret).”

Despite the popularity of crystal healing, this alternative medicine is not popular with most medical doctors and scientists. There is no evidence that crystal healing can be used to cure diseases because diseases have never been fond to be the result of a “energy flow” in the body. There have not been any scientific studies to show that crystals and gemstones can be differentiated by chemical composition or color to treat a particular ailment. Therefore crystal healing is believed to be pseudoscientific. Alleged successes of crystal healing can be attributed to the placebo effect.

In 1999, researchers French and Williams conducted a study to investigate the power of crystals compared with a placebo. Eighty volunteers were asked to meditate for five minutes while holding either a quartz crystal or a fake crystal they believed to be real. After meditating, many of the participants reported feeling a warm sensation in the hand holding the quartz crystal or the fake crystal while meditating as well as an increased feeling of overall well being. The researchers found that the effects were found by both those holding the quartz crystal and the fake crystal. The study was repeated in 2001 by French, O’Donnell, and Williams in order to add a double-blind component to the study design. Similar results were produced.

Some medical doctors will tolerate crystal healing to a very limited degree. They see it more as a therapy that can induce relaxation which is therapeutic for stress management. However crystal healing can be extremely dangerous or even fatal if it causes people with illnesses to avoid or delay seeking medical treatment.

Authors Note

This subject matter could be easily discussed in much more detail. I wanted to touch the subject without getting into the major depth of the science. I realize that there are people who believe that crystal healing does work. For myself, I look up metaphysical properties out of curiousity and fun. If it gives me another excuse to purchase a gemstone, all the better (Giggle)! In addition to Gubelin and Erni’s Gemstones, Symbols of Power and Beauty, material for this blog was found on Wikipedia and an article written by Elizabeth Palermo for “Live Science” dated January 20, 2015.

 

Identifying A Colored Gemstone

One of the more challenging assignments a gemologist may have is to correctly identify colored gemstones, usually for appraisal purposes. At first thought this may seem like an easy task. As a matter of fact, there are many people who have worked in the fine jewelry industry for years that cannot correctly identify colored gemstones, I have worked with many. Identification first starts with a clean stone under a 10x gemscope. The color(s) throughout the stone and the type of inclusions offer a hint of what the stone may be. Another test using a Refractometer, which tests the gemstones ability to slow down or bend light, also aids in the id. Without getting to technical, the amount of slowing down of light it does is referred to as the Refractive Index (RI). The RI along with what was found, and not found, in the gemscope can lead to an identification. There are several other tests that a gemstone could undergo in determining what it is, but again, to keep this from getting to technical, we will just stay with these two tests as they are the most important.

In order to complete the requirements for a Colored Gemstone Graduate degree from the Gemological Institute of America, the final exam is to correctly identify twenty gemstones. A very taunting task I assure you. Let’s have some fun and see if you can pass a three stone test.  From the three color groups below, pick out a Ruby, a Sapphire, and an Emerald.

Which is the Ruby?

1-rubypyrope-garnet

 

 

 

 

Which is the Sapphire?

blue-sapphireblue-spinel kyanite

 

 

 

 

Which is the Emerald?

chrome-diopside1-emeraldtsavorite-garnet

 

 

 

 

Left to Right:                                                                                                Red: Ruby, Pyrope Garnet, Red Diamond                                                  Blue: Sapphire, Blue Spinel, Kyanite                                                       Green: Chrome Diopside, Emerald, Tsavorite Garnet

So how did you do? Pyrope Garnet, Blue Spinel, Kyanite, and Tsavorite Garnets can be found in numerous pieces of fine jewelry, usually only found in specialty/designer fine jewelry stores. A Red Diamond is extremely rare and you will probably only see one in photos. Chrome Diopside is great for the look of an Emerald but at a much lower price, however it is not commonly used.

If you are looking for a particular piece of jewelry, unless you really want a specific stone, you may want to be open minded about what Mother Nature has to offer. After all, not all blue stones are Sapphires and not all Sapphires are blue!

Treatments for Colored Gemstones

In today’s technically advanced world, all of us should be aware of exactly what we are purchasing in the gemstone world. Treatments, synthetics, and imitations can easily look like the real thing! Consumers need to know about treatments because they can easily affect the price of the gemstone and would also determine how a jewelry piece would be repaired or re-sized. I am going to discuss the different treatments so you know about them, but at the same time keep the amount of science down to a minimum (for both of our sanities)!

A treatment in colored gemstones is defined as any human-controlled process beyond cutting and polishing, that improves the appearance, durability, or value of a gem grown by Mother Nature. A treated gemstone is not a synthetic or an imitation. Those are completely ‘grown’ by man in a lab, Mother Nature had nothing to do with it. There are those that say a synthetic could be defined as “real” because it has the same chemical structure as a real gemstone, but it all goes back to the fact that they were developed by man, therefore they are synthetics. So please be aware of this whenever you are shopping for colored gemstones and yes, thanks to new technology, now even diamonds.

Any reputable and ethical dealer should disclose this information to you willingly. However I would go under the assumption that the colored gemstone you are looking at is most likely treated in some form, which may or may not be known. I have heard (but could not verify) that the amount of treated colored gemstones in the marketplace today could be as high as 80% – 95%!  The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides the framework of industry ethics. If you are interested in reading the full description by the US FTC, you will find it in Section 23.22 entitled “Disclosure of Treatments to Gemstones”.

There are ten types of gemstone treatments:

1: Bleaching

A treatment that uses chemicals to lighten or remove color. Cultured pearls are commonly bleached to remove dark spots and produce a uniform color.

2: Cavity Filling

Treatment that fills and seals voids to improve appearance and add weight. This treatment is often found in rubies.

3: Colorless Impregnation

Filling of pores or other openings with melted wax, resin, polymer, or plastic to improve appearance, luster and stability. Commonly used in turquoise and jadeite. Dye could be added to the filler. This would be considered two treatments, impregnation and dyeing.

4: Dyeing

A treatment that adds color or affects color by deepening it, making it more-even, or changing it. Like bleaching, dyeing is done mostly to porous gems such as jadeite, coral, and cultured pearls.

5: Fracture (Fissure) Filling

Using a filler to conceal fractures and improve the apparent clarity of a gem. The fillers include plastic, glass, polymer resins, and oils (Canadian balsam, cedarwood, and palm oil). Emeralds almost always have fracture filling as well as rubies. Due to this type of treatment, whenever having a repair done to a piece of jewelry with an emerald or ruby, always insist on the jeweler using no heat. I would even go so far as to have “no heat” written on the repair ticket. Also if a jeweler offers to clean that piece of jewelry, again insist on no heat. Most ultrasonic cleaners that jewelers use are heated.

6: Heat Treatment

Heat treatment is one of the oldest and most common of treatments. Heat treated gems were found in the tombs of ancient Egyptian kings. Heat treatment is exposing a gem to rising temperatures for the purpose of changing it’s appearance, usually color.

7: Irradiation

Exposing a gem to radiation to change or improve the color of the gem, however it is possible for the new color to revert back to the original color. Sapphires and tourmalines are likely candidates for irradiation.

8: Lattice Diffusion

The penetration of certain elements into the atomic lattice of a gemstone during heat treatment, with the objective of changing or accentuating its color.

9: Sugar and Smoke Treatments

Used on opals to bring out the play-of-color (the multiple colors usually found inside opals), sugar treatment is soaking an opal in a hot sugar solution and then sulfuric acid to deepen the color of the opal. Smoke treatment is heating a wrapped opal until smoke or ash penetrates the surface to darken the color of the opal. Of these two processes, sugar treatment is the most common. (FYI, it is a good idea to soak your opals in distilled water every once-in-a-while so they do not lose their moisture which then leads to damage.)

10: Surface Modification

Altering a gem’s appearance by applying backings, coatings, or coloring agents. The three basic methods are backing, coating, and painting. Backings to gems include silver or gold foils, fabric, paper and even colored feathers. Backings have fallen from fashion and are not commonly seen in gemstones, but are often used in costume jewelry. One gemstone that we do commonly see today that has a backing is mystic topaz. Since heat can often melt the backing, mystic topaz should not be exposed to heat. Coatings include wax, varnish, plastic, ink, and metallic compounds. Painting gem materials is another ancient practice from the Renaissance period (1300’s – 1500’s). Painting was obviously done with paint, but also ink, and nail polish.

As I am sure you have noticed, treatments are used to improve the color, clarity, and durability of a gem. Treatments are not a bad thing. Because of treatments, lesser gems can be treated to become beautiful gems and at a more affordable price, making them available to more people. If it were not for treatments, the industry would be limited to the supply of naturally created gemstones beautiful and durable enough to use as gems. In that case, the mighty and the rich would be the only ones to own them.

Gem Lady Treasures proudly uses natural gemstones, but that is not to say that at times we would use a treated gem. For example, in my quest for locating turquoise, I am looking for a turquoise that has been treated for stabilization (but not color) because it is a notoriously unstable gemstone. Of course, we would disclose the treatment.

I hope that you found this article helpful, interesting, and maybe even eye-opening. If you are interested in even more detailed information on treatments, Click Here to access “An Introduction to Gem Treatments” from GIA. Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is a world renown institute known for its research, education, and ethics in the field of gemology.

*Information for this article was provided by “Colored Stone Essentials” by GIA (11/2008).

Gem Dogs Have Arrived at Gem Lady Treasures!

I am so very excited about our new handmade gemstone pendant necklaces ~ Gem Dogs! In case you haven’t noticed, Gem Lady Treasures logo was the very first Gem Dog. We now have a fabulous selection of ‘real’ Gem Dogs that are just waiting to be adopted!

Gem Dogs are made from a natural gemstone cabochon. The head, ears, eyes, nose, feet, and tail were created by hand manipulating wire. The eyes are accented with faceted Swarovski crystals and their noses each have a Swarovski black pearl. Each Gem Dog hangs from a black vegetable dyed leather cord.

These whimsical Gem Dog pendant necklaces are adorable and perfect for any dog lover. Gem Dogs are very well behaved, good on a leash, house broken, current on their shots, and rides well in a car. They are looking for good ‘furever’ homes ~ how about yours? We really loved creating them and just know they will make someone a wonderful friend!

Turquoise Gem Dog
Turquoise Gem Dog
Dalmatian Jasper Gem Dog
Dalmatian Jasper Gem Dog
Serpentine Gem Dog
Serpentine Gem Dog

 

 

 

 

 

Purple Creek Jasper Gem Dog
Purple Creek Jasper Gem Dog
Serpentine Gem Dog
Serpentine Gem Dog
Dragon's Blood Jasper Gem Dog
Dragon’s Blood Jasper Gem Dog