The Gemstone Information Manual by the American Gem Trade Association

Industry Information Guide for Natural Gemstones, Enhanced Natural Gemstones and Man-Made Stones

The Federal Trade Commission Guides for the Jewelry Industry as revised April 10, 2001 are designed to prevent unfair or deceptive trade practices. The revised Guides contain new language as to gemstone enhancement disclosure requirements which apply equally to diamonds and all other natural materials.

This manual contains information necessary for minimal compliance with the revised FTC Guides and ethical jewelry trade practices. It also provides a useful method to communicate required gemstone treatment disclosure information within the trade.

FTC Disclosure Requirements

With the exception of the normal fashioning (cutting and polishing) of a gemstone, it is the seller's responsibility at all levels of commerce to clearly disclose to the buyer at the time of the sale:
  1. Whether the gemstone is natural or not;
  2. All information pertinent to any enhancement process done to a natural gemstone when:
    • the treatment is not permanent and its effects are lost over time when:
    • the treatment creates special care requirements for the gemstone to retain the benefit of the treatment; or
    • the treatment has a significant effect on the value of the gemstone
Minimal disclosure information would include whether the gemstone is natural or man-made; if natural, whether the gemstone has been treated in a manner where 2 (a), (b) or (c) above apply; in such cases, the nature of the treatment, its permanence and any special care requirements.

As to ''significant effect on the value,'' the position of the FTC is that treatment has a significant effect on the value of a gemstone whenever the effect of treatment on value is likely to affect a reasonable buyer's purchasing decision. Such is the case whenever there is a significant (more than slight) difference in the value between a treated gemstone and an untreated gemstone of the same type, size and appearance. The FTC's comments to the revised Guides state that ''the consumer's point-of-view is the relevant viewpoint from which to analyze the necessity for disclosure.'' Treatment must be disclosed whenever a buyer, without disclosure of treatment, would believe that two seemingly identical gemstones, one treated and one not, are identical or very comparable in value, when in fact, they are not.

Small gemstones, whether mounted or not, are not exempt from any disclosure requirements. However, when applying the ''significant value'' test in the case of jewelry products, the effect on the composite value of the mounted piece should be considered.

When it is not known with certainty whether or not a gemstone has been treated, but treatment is suspected (as in the case of gemstone types which are known to be routinely treated), the FTC states that, ''it is prudent and appropriate to disclose gemstone treatments rather than remain silent when there is a possibility that the stones have been treated.''

This minimum disclosure information is required by the FTC. Failure to disclose that a gemstone is not natural, or enhancement information as to a treated natural gemstone in compliance with the FTC Guides, subjects the violator to FTC enforcement action, civil penalties and trade sanctions.

Any seller who is uncertain as to these requirements may write the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, Inc., 25 West 4th Street, Suite 400, New York, NY 10036, or the American Gem Trade Association, 3030 LBJ Frwy., Ste. 840, Dallas, TX 75234.

These disclosure requirements are applicable to all sellers at each and every level of gemstone and jewelry commerce, including sellers of uncut gemstone material and cut and polished gemstones, manufacturers and wholesalers of jewelry containing natural or man-made gemstones, and retail sales to consumers. Disclosure must be made at the point of sale prior to sale; provided, however, that where a gemstone or a jewelry product which contains gemstones can be purchased without the buyer personally viewing the product (e.g., catalog sales, catalog showrooms, mail order houses, online services, televised shopping programs or other media sales programs, telephone sales, etc.), disclosure must be made in the solicitation for or description of the product.

Disclosure Methods within Trade

Gemstones have historically and traditionally been enhanced. The methods of the enhancement processes vary within each variety and change as new and better methods are developed.

The Federal Trade Commission, with the cooperation of the Jewelers Vigilance Commission and other industry associations, requires the jewelry industry to inform all buyers of gemstone enhancements. This manual provides a listing of traditional, historical and contemporary enhancements, as well as a convenient means of communicating treatment information within the trade.

The codes listed in this manual provide an easy-to-understand shorthand system of labeling to be used only within the trade. Each material that may require disclosure has been assigned a code consisting of one or more letters indicating the enhancement (or the possibility of enhancement) and identifying the pertinent process. Disclosure should be made within the trade on every tag, stone paper, container, invoice, memorandum or other commercial document each time a seller offers for sale or sells a gemstone or jewelry product containing gemstones to a buyer within the trade. Use of the disclosure codes provided herein gives the gem and jewelry industry a convenient means of complying with disclosure of gemstone treatment within the trades as required by the Federal Trade Commission Guides.

It should be remembered, however, that the use of the codes to accomplish disclosure within the trade is a matter of convenience and choice. A seller is free to use any language or method to disclose treatment that fulfills the FTC requirements. Use of the codes, however, is encouraged to promote a uniform and consistent communication language.

Consumer Disclosure Requirements

The information in this manual will assist retail sellers in meeting disclosure requirements by providing all necessary information that must be disclosed to consumers. However, when disclosing to retail consumers, all required disclosure must be made in plain language. Codes and/or abbreviations are not sufficient. Various trade associations publish a variety of consumer information products which are available to retail sellers as aids to communicate required disclosure information to retail consumers.

AGTA Member Requirements

The above requirements are applicable to all sellers at all levels of commerce within the trade. The disclosure requirements of the American Gem Trade Association are more stringent than the FTC minimal requirements, and all AGTA Firm and Affiliate Members are bound by and must disclose in accordance with the AGTA Code of Ethics which is not changed by the revision of the FTC Guides.

This edition of the Gemstone Information Manual was submitted to the Federal Trade Commission on behalf of the gem and jewelry industry for informational purposes.

Definitions

Enhancement Any traditional process other than cutting and polishing that improves the appearance (color/clarity/phenomena), durability or availability of a gemstone.

A gemstone enhancement is considered permanent as long as the effect of the enhancement does not change under normal wear, cutting, repair, cleaning or display conditions. If a gemstone enhancement is not permanent, appropriate disclosure is required.

All natural gemstones can be divided into three basic categories:
  1. Those which are not enhanced.
    • N
      The ''N'' symbol appears on the chart only for natural gemstones which are not currently known to be enhanced (Alexandrite, Garnet, etc.). However, the ''N'' symbol can also be used for other natural gemstones in the event that a gemstone has received no enhancement and the seller will provide a guarantee that there has been none. That gemstone must be accompanied by a commercial document, such as an invoice, memorandum and/or a laboratory report, to support the fact that the gemstone is not enhanced.
  2. Those which are normally enhanced.
    • E
      The ''E'' symbol indicates that the gemstone had undergone its traditional enhancement process. The type of enhancement process covered by this symbol is indicated in the chart notes section of this article below. For example: The ''E'' designation for Aquamarine means only that the enhancement that is described in the Gemstone Information Chart below, i.e. thermal enhancement. In the case of Emerald, the ''E'' designation refers only to the penetration of colorless oil, wax and/or resins into fissures.
    • Since many enhancements are difficult or impractical to prove definitively, the approach taken in this manual is, unless otherwise indicated, to assume that such traditional enhancement has been done to that particular gemstone. This assumption has been made in order to protect both the seller and the consumer.
    • The ''E'' symbol may be used for those gemstones and for those enhancements as prescribed on the chart. However, if the specific method of enhancement is known, the seller should use the specific enhancement code in place of the ''E'' symbol. (For example: ''H'' would be used for an Aquamarine in place of ''E'').
  3. Those treatment processes not covered under the ''N'' or ''E'' symbols are addressed in a specific manner as shown in the chart notes section of this article below.
    • For example, Ruby ''F.'' The surface cavities are filled with a foreign matter such as glass. Within the industry, this gemstone must be labeled with the letter ''F.'' This information must also be provided to the consuming public in writing using plain language. Abbreviations and codes are not sufficient.
Note: Multiple enhancement techniques are sometimes applied to the same material. All treatments must be listed. Example: Diamond ''LF'' (Lasering and Filling).

Defined below are the specific enhancement codes and designations to be used in the Gemstone Information Chart below.

Symbols for Specific Forms of Enhancements

B Bleaching: The use of heat, light and/or other agents to lighten or remove a gemstones color.
C Coating: The use of such surface enhancements as lacquering, enameling, inking, foiling or sputtering of films to improve appearance, provide color or add other special effects.
D Dyeing: The introduction of coloring matter into a gemstone to give it color, intensify present color or improve color uniformity.
F Filling: The filling of surface-breaking cavities or fissures with colorless glass, plastic, solidified borax or similar substances. This process may improve durability, appearance and/or add weight.
H Heating: The use of heat to effect desired alteration of color, clarity and/or phenomena. If residue of foreign substances in open fissures is visible under properly illuminated 10X magnification, H F should be used.
HP Heating and Pressure: The use of heat and pressure combined to effect desired altercations of color, clarity and/or phenomena.
I Impregnation: The impregnation of a porous gemstone with a colorless agent (usually plastic) to improve durability and appearance.
L Lasering: The use of a laser and chemicals to reach and alter inclusions in gemstones, usually diamonds.
O Oiling/Resin Infusion: The filling of surface breaking fissures with colorless oil, wax, resin or other colorless substances, except glass or plastic, to improve the gemstone's appearance.
R Irradiation: The use of neutrons, gamma rays or beta particles (high energy electrons) to alter a gemstone's color. Irradiation may be followed by a heating process.
U Diffusion: The use of chemicals in conjunction with high temperature to produce ARTIFICIAL color change and/or asterism-producing inclusions.

Note: It is a violation of the FTC Guides to fail to disclose diffusion on gemstones in advertising, promotional literature or commercial documents. Suggested methods of disclosure are:
  • ''(Gemstone): chemically colored (Color) by diffusion.''
  • Example: ''Sapphire: chemically colored blue by diffusion.''
If the color of the diffused gemstone does not permeate the entire gemstone, then the following statement must also appear:
  • ''Although the color induced in diffusion treated gemstones is permanent, it does not permeate the entire gemstone; therefore, recutting or repolishing is not recommended.''
W Waxing/Oiling: The impregnation of a colorless wax, paraffin or oil in porous opaque or translucent gemstones to improve appearance.

Designations

Designations are based on a consensus of opinion rather than any available documentation.
  • Enhancement Frequency Designations
    1. Rarely
    2. Occasionally
    3. Commonly
    4. Usually
    5. Always
    6. Unknown
  • Enhancement Stability Designations
    1. Excellent
    2. Very Good
    3. Good
    4. Fair
    5. Poor
    6. Variable
  • Care Designation
    1. Normal
    2. Special
    3. Extra Special

Introduction of the Gemstone Information Chart

Please keep in mind the following information when reading and interpreting the Gemstone Information Chart:
  • The column labeled FREQUENTLY USED represents a reasonable estimate of how commonly a particular enhancement process is utilized in the trade, based on a consensus of opinion.
  • The columns FREQUENTLY USED and STABILITY refer specifically to the enhancement process applied to the material.
  • The CARE REQUIRED and SPECIAL ADVICE columns reflect two basic concerns. The first relates to special care that may be necessary to preserve the effect of the enhancement applied to the material and the second issue addresses the need for any special care required by the specific gemstone variety, irrespective of enhancement.
Gemstone Information Chart
Gemstone Tag Code Enhancement Frequency Used Stability Care Required Special Advice
Alexandrite N None -- -- Normal --
 
E or W Impregnated with a colorless wax, paraffin or oil to improve appearance Usually Good to Fair Special Avoid heat, chemicals and ultrasonic
  I Impregnated with plastic and other hardened resins to improve appearance Usually Very Good Special Avoid chemicals and ultrasonic.
Amber
E or H Heated to improve appearance and ''sun spangles,'' or deepen color Usually Very Good to Good Special Avoid chemicals and ultrasonic.
  D Dyed or surface treated to add color Rarely Variable Special Avoid repolishing surface, chemicals and ultrasonic
Amethyst E or H Heated to lighten color and/or to remove ''smokey'' components Occasionally Excellent Special Some unheated material may fade in long exposure to sunlight
Ametrine N None -- -- Normal --
Ammolite I Impregnated with colorless hardened substances to increase stability Usually Good to Fair Special Avoid heat, household chemicals and ultrasonic
Andalusite N None -- -- Normal --
Aquamarine E or H Heated to remove yellow component, thereby producing a pure blue color Usually Excellent Normal --
Beryl, Blue (''Maxixe'' Type) R Irradiated blue from pale pink to colorless Always Poor Extra Special Color fades, avoid light and heat
Beryl, Pink E or H Heated to remove yellow component, thereby producing a purer pink color Commonly Excellent Normal --
Beryl, Yellow-Green N None -- -- Normal --
Beryl, Red E or O The penetration of colorless oil and resins into fissures to improve appearance Commonly Very Good to Fair Special Avoid high temperatures, steam cleaning, chemicals and ultrasonic
Beryl, Yellow R Produced by irradiation Usually Variable Normal/Special depending on method Certain stones may fade in light or heat
Chalcedony, Agate D Dyed Usually Excellent to Good Normal --
Chalcedony, Black (Onyx) D Dyed Always Excellent to Good Normal --
Chalcedony, Banded D Dyed Usually Excellent Normal --
Chalcedony, Blue D Dyed Commonly Good to Fair Special Certain stones may fade in light or heat
Chalcedony, Green D Dyed Usually Good to Fair Special Certain stones may fade in light or heat
Chalcedony, Carnelian
E or H Heated to produce color Usually Excellent Normal --
  D Dyed to produce color Occasionally Excellent to Good Special Certain stones may fade in light or heat
Chalcedony, Jasper D Sometimes dyed to imitate other stones Occasionally Excellent Normal --
Chalcedony, Chrysoprase N None -- -- Normal --
Chrysoberyl, Cat's Eye R Irradiated to change color Occasionally Excellent Normal For safety requirements, if neutron irradiated, refer to the AGTA website provided in the resources section of this article.
Chrysoberyl, Yellow (Transparent) N None -- -- Normal --
Chrysoberyl, Brown (Transparent) N None -- -- Normal --
Chrysoberyl, Green (Transparent) N None -- -- Normal --
Citrine E or H Produced by heating various types of quartz Usually Excellent Normal --
Coral, Black N None -- -- Special Avoid chemicals, cosmetics and ultrasonic
Coral, White E or B Bleached Commonly Good Special Avoid chemicals, cosmetics and ultrasonic, material may discolor in time
Coral, Pink E or W Impregnated with colorless wax Commonly Good Special Avoid chemical and ultrasonic
Coral, Orange I Stabilized with plastic to improve color and durability Commonly Good Special Avoid chemical and ultrasonic
Coral, ''Gold'' B Bleached from black coral Usually Very Good Special Avoid chemical and ultrasonic
Coral, Red D Dyed Occasionally Variable Special to Extra Special depending on type of dye Certain materials may face in light or heat. Avoid chemicals, cosmetics and ultrasonic
Diamond, Colorless to Faint Yellow
L Laser drilled to improve appearance Occasionally to Commonly Very Good Normal --
 
C Coated to disguise off-color Rarely Very Good to Poor Depending on Method Variable Recutting, steam cleaning, ultrasonic and occasionally alcohol may adversely affect color and appearance
 
F Filling of surface cavities or fractures with a hardened substance Occasionally Very Good Special Recutting or extreme heat may remove filling material
  HP Use of heat with pressure to alter color and/or clarity Rarely Unknown Normal --
Diamond, Colored
L Laser drilled to improve appearance Occasionally Very Good Normal --
 
F Filling of surface cavities or fractures with a hardened substance Rarely Very Good Special Recutting or extreme heat may remove filling material
 
R Irradiated and/or heated to induce ''fancy'' colors Occasionally Excellent to Very Good Normal except green Avoid heating treated green stones as the color may change. Some green stones have been radium irradiated for safety requirements; refer to the NRC
 
C Coated to ''fancy'' colors Rarely Fair to Poor Special Recutting, steaming and ultrasonic may adversely affect color and appearance
  H Use of heat to alter color Rarely Unknown Normal --
Diopside (Chrome) N None -- -- Special Avoid sudden temperature changes and harsh chemicals
Emerald
E or O The penetration of colorless oil, wax and resins into fissures to improve appearance Usually Very Good to Fair Special Avoid sudden temperature changes, steaming, chemicals and ultrasonic
  D Dyed with color agents Occasionally Variable Special Avoid sudden temperature changes, steaming, chemicals and ultrasonic
Garnet, Alamandite N None -- -- Normal Avoid sudden temperature change
Garnet, Demantoid N None -- -- Normal Avoid sudden temperature change
Garnet, Grossularite N None -- -- Normal Avoid sudden temperature change
Garnet, Pyrope N None -- -- Normal Avoid sudden temperature change
Garnet, Rhodolite N None -- -- Normal Avoid sudden temperature change
Garnet, Spessartite N None -- -- Normal Avoid sudden temperature change
Garnet, Tsavorite N None -- -- Normal Avoid sudden temperature change
Hematite N None -- -- Normal --
Iolite N None -- -- Normal --
Ivory and Bone
E or B Bleached to whiten and remove discoloration Commonly Good Special Avoid chemicals and ultrasonic, may discolor in time
 
D Dyed for artistic purposes Occasionally Good Special Avoid chemicals and ultrasonic, may discolor in time
  W Impregnated with colorless paraffin wax Occasionally Good Special Avoid chemicals and ultrasonic, may discolor in time
Mammoth (Ivory) I Impregnated with colorless hardened substances to increase stability Commonly Good Normal --
Jade, Jadeite
E or W Coated with colorless wax Commonly Fair Normal to Special Avoid ultrasonic
  B or W Two-step bleaching and wax impregnation Rarely Poor Special Avoid heat, chemicals and ultrasonic
Jade; Green, White and Purple
B and S Two-step bleaching and polymer impregnation Commonly Very Good to Good Special Avoid heat, chemicals and ultrasonic
  D Dyed to imitate natural colors Occasionally Variable Special Avoid strong light, chemicals and ultrasonic, may discolor in time
Jade, Nephrite D Dyed selectively to alter color for artistic purposes in carvings Rarely Unknown Special Avoid chemicals, ultrasonic and strong light
Kunzite
E or H Heated to improve color from certain locations Commonly Fair Special Natural and/or treated materials may fade--avoid strong light, ultrasonic
  R Irradiated and heated to darken color Commonly Fair Special Natural and/or treated materials may fade--avoid strong light, ultrasonic
Lapis Lazuli
E or W Coated with colorless wax or oil to improve appearance Commonly Fair Normal to Special Avoid chemicals and ultrasonic
  D Dyed to provide color and/or uniformity Commonly Variable Special Avoid chemicals and ultrasonic
Malachite
W Coated with colorless wax Occasionally Fair Special Avoid chemicals and ultrasonic
  I Impregnated with plastic and/or other hardened agents to improve durability and appearance Rarely Good Special Avoid chemicals and ultrasonic
Moonstone N None -- -- Normal --
Opal; White, Black and Semi-Black
O Impregnated with colorless oil, wax and resins Rarely Fair Special Avoid ultrasonic, heat and solvents
  I Impregnated with colorless plastic to increase durability and improve appearance Rarely Good Special Avoid heat and solvents
Opal, Matrix D Sugar solution infilling in acid bath to darken background and enhance color play and intensity Commonly Good Special Avoid solvents and repolishing
Opal, Boulder O Infusion of unhardened essentially colorless substances into voids to improve appearance Occasionally Fair Special Avoid heat, chemicals, ultrasonic and repolishing
Opal, Fire Opal N None -- -- Special Avoid heat
Opal, Cat's Eye I Impregnated with colorless resins to give durability and improve appearance Usually Good Special Avoid heat, chemicals and ultrasonic
Opal, Hydrophane
O Impregnated with colorless oil, wax and resins to hide crazing Commonly Fair Special Avoid heat, solvents and ultrasonic
 
D Impregnated with hardened agents to improve appearance and increase durability Commonly Good Special Avoid heat and solvents
  I Impregnated with colorless plastic to improve appearance and increase durability Commonly Good Special Avoid heat and solvents
Pearl, Natural
E or B Bleached to improve color and appearance Usually Very Good Special Avoid cosmetics and household chemicals
  D Dyed with or without chemical treatment combined with heat to produce gray to black Rarely Very Good to Good Special Avoid chemicals, cosmetics and ultrasonic
Pearl, Cultured
E or B Bleached to improve color and uniformity of white color only Usually Excellent Special Avoid chemicals, cosmetics and ultrasonic
 
D Dyed to give rose, blue or golden overtones Usually Good Special Avoid chemicals, cosmetics and ultrasonic
 
D Dyed blue, black and other colors includes use of colored nuclei Occasionally Variable Special Avoid chemicals, cosmetics and ultrasonic
 
D Dyed all colors (freshwater) Usually Very Good Special Avoid chemicals, cosmetics and ultrasonic
  R Irradiated to produce blue, gray, black and bronze colors Occasionally Very Good Special Avoid chemicals, cosmetics and ultrasonic
  D Chemical treatment combined with heat to produce gray to black Commonly Very Good to Good Special Avoid chemicals, cosmetics and ultrasonic
Pearl, Mabe ''Pearl'' -- For more information, please refer to the AGTA website provided in the resources section of this article. -- -- Extra Special Avoid household chemicals, cosmetics, abrasives and sudden shock
Peridot
E or O Penetration of colorless oil, wax and resins into voids to improve appearance Rarely Good to Fair Special Avoid sudden temperature changes, harsh chemicals and ultrasonic
  F Filling of surface fractures with a colorless hardened substance Rarely Good Special Avoid sudden temperature changes, harsh chemicals and ultrasonic
Rhodonite D Dyed to ''even out color'' Occasionally Poor Special Avoid chemicals and ultrasonic
Ruby
H Heated to improve color and appearance. (residue of foreign substance is not visible under 10X magnification) Usually Excellent Normal --
 
D Dyed with colored oil to improve appearance Rarely Poor Special Avoid household chemicals and ultrasonic
 
F Intentional filling of surface cavities and fractures with a foreign material, including glass, which is visible under 10X magnification Commonly Very Good to Fair Special Fracture filling in Rubies may be fragile and may fall out under extreme pressure. Avoid heat and ultrasonic
 
R Irradiated to change color Rarely Unknown Normal For safety requirements, if neutron irradiated, refer to the AGTA website provided in the resources section of this article.
 
U
Diffusion of an element or elements (with the exception of hydrogen) into the lattice of a stone during the application of heat to create artificial color or asterism. Occasionally Excellent or Good when effect is not near surface (I) Normal --
    Effects may be throughout the stone or at or near the surface (I). For more information, please refer to the AGTA website provided in the resources section of this article. -- Normal or Special when effect is near surface Special Avoid repolishing or recutting when effect is near surface (I)
Sapphire
H Heated to produce, intensify or lighten color and/or improve color uniformity and appearance Usually Excellent Normal --
 
U
Diffusion with an element or elements (with the exception of hydrogen) into the lattice of a stone during the application of heat to create artificial color or asterism. Commonly Good when effect is not near surface Normal --
 
  Effects may be throughout the stone or at or near the surface (I). Most colors may be produced. For more information, please refer to the AGTA website provided in the resources section of this article. -- Normal or Special when effect is near surface Special Avoid repolishing or recutting when effect is near surface
  R Irradiation to provide temporary intense yellow or orange color Occasionally Very Poor Extra Special Fades quickly in light or heat
Serpentine
D Dyed various colors Commonly Good to Fair Special Dye may fade
  E or W Impregnated with colorless wax Commonly Very Good to Good Special Avoid ultrasonic
Sodalite D Dyed Rarely Fair Special Dye may fade
Spinel N None -- -- Normal --
Spodumene, Green R Irradiated to produce yellow color Rarely Poor Extra Special Color fades in light or heat
Spodumene, Yellow R Irradiated to produce green color Rarely Poor Extra Special Color fades in light or heat
Sugilite N None -- -- Normal --
Tanzanite E or H Heated to produce violet-blue color Usually Excellent Special Avoid sudden temperature changes
Topaz, Blue R Irradiated brown and often heated to produce blue color Usually Excellent Normal For safety requirements, if neutron irradiated, refer to the AGTA website provided in the resources section of this article.
Topaz, Yellow/Orange R Irradiated to intensify color Occasionally Variable Special Avoid heat and strong light
Topaz, Pink/Red E or H Heated chromium-bearing pinkish-brown to orange stones Usually Excellent Normal --
Topaz, Brown N None -- -- Special May fade in exposure to sunlight
Topaz, Green R Irradiated to produce a green color Occasionally Poor Extra Special Color fades in exposure to sunlight
Topaz, Green U Diffusion of color at or near surface. For more information, please refer to the AGTA website provided in the resources section of this article. Usually Good Special Avoid repolishing or recutting
Topaz, All Colors C Any substance applied to the surface of the gemstone to artificially modify color and/or appearance Commonly Poor Special Avoid repolishing or recutting, steaming, chemicals or ultrasonic
Tourmaline, Chrome Vanadium N None -- -- Normal --
Tourmaline, Cat's Eye N None -- -- Normal --
Tourmaline, Yellow/Orange
E or H Heated to improve color Rarely Excellent Normal --
  R Irradiated to improve color Rarely Very Good Normal --
Tourmaline; Green, Blue
E or H Heated to improve color Commonly Excellent Normal --
  O The penetration of colorless oil or resins into voids to improve appearance Occasionally Good to Fair Special Avoid temperature changes, steaming, chemicals and ultrasonic
Tourmaline; Pink, Red, Purple
E or H Heated to improve color Occasionally Excellent Normal --
 
R Irradiated to intensify color Commonly Good Normal --
 
O Penetration of colorless oil or unhardened resins into voids to improve appearance Occasionally Good to Fair Special Avoid temperature changes, steaming, chemicals and ultrasonic
  D Penetration of coloring agents into voids to improve appearance Occasionally Fair to Poor Special Avoid temperature changes, steaming, chemicals and ultrasonic
Turquoise
I Impregnated with plastic to create or improve color and increase durability Commonly Good Special Avoid hot water and household chemicals
 
W Impregnated with colorless oil or wax to enhance or create color Commonly Fair to Poor Special Avoid hot water and household chemicals
  D Dyed to improve color Rarely Poor Extra Special Avoid hot water and household chemicals
Zircon; Green, Brown N None -- -- Special Avoid harsh abrasives
Zircon, Yellow E or H Heated to improve color Rarely Good Special Avoid harsh abrasives
Zircon, Blue and Colorless E or H Brownish crystals are heated to these colors Always Fair to Poor Special Avoid harsh abrasives and strong light
Zircon, Red E or H Heated to change brownish crystals to red Commonly Fair to Poor Special Avoid harsh abrasives and strong light

Chart Notes

The N symbol may be used for any gemstone that the seller guarantees has not been enhanced.

The E symbol indicates a gemstone that is routinely enhanced. It can only be used for enhancements for specific gemstones as prescribed on the above chart.

All other Tag Codes are defined at the bottom of this article.

Information Requirements for Man-Made Materials that Resemble Natural Gemstones

This manual sets forth proper methods to comply with FTC Guides regarding synthetic, simulated and imitation stones. Historically, materials have been produced to duplicate or imitate the appearance of natural gemstones. When non-natural materials or other gemstone substitutes are offered for sale, it is the seller's responsibility to inform buyers that these ''man-made materials'' are not ''natural gemstones.'' This information is required by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Such information is required at each and all levels of gem and jewelry commerce. Those specifically responsible to inform buyers include sellers of the uncut and cut/polished non-natural materials; manufacturers and wholesalers of jewelry containing non-natural materials; retailers, including sales over the counter, catalog, catalog showrooms, mail order firms, internet, television or other media sales programs; and advertisers.

Anyone who is uncertain about these requirements may write the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, 25 West 4th Street, Suite 400, New York, NY 10036, or the American Gem Trade Association, 3030 LBJ Frwy., Ste. 840, Dallas, TX 75234.

Purpose

This manual provides an easy-to-understand shorthand system for labeling. Each of the broad non-natural material categories has been assigned a code consisting of two or more letters. Each code identifies the nature of material from which it was made.

The appropriate code is to be used within the trade on every tag, stone paper, container, invoice, memorandum or other commercial document each time a seller offers for sale or sells one of these materials to a buyer within the trade.

However, codes and abbreviations are not sufficient when dealing with the consuming public. In order to clearly disclose the nature of these products, and to make it perfectly clear that they are not natural gemstones, plain language, not codes or abbreviations, must be used in all advertising and promotion, stone papers, containers, sales slips, invoices, memoranda or other commercial documents. For example, the word(s) ''Synthetic'' or ''Laboratory Grown,'' ''Imitation,'' ''Assembled,'' or some other word or phrase of like meaning must be used in place of, or in addition to, abbreviations or code symbols.

Trade names used to promote various products must be accompanied by a specific reference to the actual composition of the material(s) the product contains.

Synthetic Stones

The term ''synthetic'' is scientifically correct and is appropriate for use within the trade. When communicating to the consumer, retail jewelers have the option to call these materials either synthetic or by some other word or phrase of like meaning so as to clearly disclose the nature of such product and the fact that it is not a natural gemstone, such as ''man-made'' or ''laboratory grown.''

SYN The tag code may be used to describe ''synthetic'' materials that have essentially the same optical, physical and chemical properties as a naturally occurring counterpart. The code name may not be used as a noun; thus a stone must not be referred to as a ''synthetic.'' In all cases, the name of the stone must also be used; thus, a stone must be referred to as ''synthetic emerald,'' ''synthetic ruby,'' etc.

Examples: SYN Emerald, Ruby, Sapphire (various colors and colorless), Spinel, Alexandrite, Cat's Eye Alexandrite, Amethyst, etc.

The Tag Code may not be used with the consuming public; only plain language is acceptable.

Synthetic stones are as stable in color and composition as their natural untreated counterpart.

Imitation Products - Simulants (Substitutes)

IMIT ''IMIT'' is the tag code used for a manufactured product fabricated in such materials as glass, ceramic or plastic designed to imitate or resemble the appearance, but not duplicates the characteristic properties of a natural gemstone.

These materials may require special care; avoid household chemicals, abrasives and sudden shocks.

''IMIT'' is also the tag code for a simulant, which is defined as a man-made single crystal product that is used to simulate the appearance, but not duplicate the characteristic properties of the natural gemstone it imitates.

Examples are: synthetic Spinel, synthetic Sapphire, synthetic Quartz, YAG, GGG, strontium titanate and synthetic Cubic Zirconia produced in various colors to imitate gemstones in different species.

This category also includes non-single crystal materials such as imitation Lapis Lazuli and imitation Coral.

NOTE: Trade names used to promote various simulant products in these categories must be accompanied by a specific reference to the actual composition of the simulant crystal material.

Assembled Materials (Composite)

ASBL ''ASBL'' is the tag code for products made of multiple layers or combinations of manufactured and/or natural material fused, bonded or otherwise joined together to increase stability and/or imitate the appearance of a natural gemstone, create a unique design or generate unusual color combinations.

Examples:
ASBL Opals--(Various Combinations) Doublets and Triplets
ASBL Garnet--Glass Doublets
ASBL Sapphire--Synthetic Sapphire Doublets
ASBL Colorless Beryl--joined by green bonding (Triplets)
ASBL Mabe ''Pearls'' color coated, dyed, bleached, filled with hardened substances and a Mother of Pearl back. Sometimes coating can be plastic or polymer to protect the thin nacre.
ASBL Bonded materials such as Turquoise, Lapis, etc.

The ''ASBL'' coded stones require special care; avoid household chemicals, cosmetics, abrasives and sudden shocks.

Additional Resources


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