I just finished my GIA continuing education program for the year…talk about waiting until the last screaming minute. The final assignment was about clarity enhancements in emeralds.
One of the well-respected researchers at GIA, Shane McClure, was showing examples of clarity enhancements and demonstrating how GIA judges the level of enhancement: Minor, Moderate, Significant or Manufactured Product.
I found the session to be very interesting. Shane mentioned that the majority of emeralds on the market would fall into the significantly enhanced category. However, at the GIA lab the majority of stones they see are moderately enhanced. This is likely because most people wouldn’t bother with the expense to get a report on a significantly enhanced stone.
Because emeralds are type III gemstones and are almost always included, most all emeralds are enhanced to improve aparent clarity. One thing to note, however, is clarity enhancement classification isn’t an overall clarity grade of a stone, but rather an indication of how much enhancement has changed the apparent clarity of a stone. So a heavily included emerald can still have a minor clarity enhancement grade if there’s not much fracture filler in the stone. Surface-reaching fractures are filled, fully contained inclusions are not…so if a stone is full of inclusions, but has few surface-reaching fractures that are filled, the enhancement will be minor.
One thing Shane kept stressing is that the enhancement report is based on the stone at the time it is submitted to the lab. That makes perfect sense. However, some dealers will send a stone to GIA with only minor clarity enhancements, then after the report is issued, fill more fractures in the stone. Shane suggested if you notice a difference in the stone’s appearance in the report photo vs. how it looks now, you should consider re-submitting the stone to GIA for another evaluation, as the stone may have been further enhanced after the report was issued.
As with everything, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. The emerald shown here is an extremely fine emerald. It’s incredibly rare to find an emerald of any size without eye-visible inclusions and an emerald of such clarity would command top dollar. If you get a great price on a natural emerald that looks really clean, it’s likely clarity enhanced. A reputable dealer should disclose this treatment to you.
The bottom line is, if you’re in the market for a natural emerald (or any other gemstone), talk to a reputable Graduate Gemologist to help you find the perfect stone for you.
Author: Michelle M. Rahm is a GIA-trained Graduate Gemologist and is President of Colorado’s Mile High Chapter of the GIA Alumni Association. She has been selling gemstones and jewelry online since 1997. Visit her websites JewelryImpressions.com and OurCustomWeddingRings.com