Pantone Spring 2017

“Reminiscent of the hues that surround us in nature, our Spring 2017 Fashion Color Report evokes a spectrum of emotion and feeling. From the warmth of sunny days with PANTONE 13-0755 Primrose Yellow to the invigorating feeling of breathing fresh mountain air with PANTONE 18-0107 Kale and the desire to escape to pristine waters with PANTONE 14-4620 Island Paradise, designers applied color in playful, yet thoughtful and precise combinations to fully capture the promises, hope and transformation that we yearn for each Spring.” - Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute

Pantone12017

PANTONE 17-4123 Niagara
"Comfortable and dependable, Niagara leads the PANTONE Fashion Color Report as the most prevalent color for spring 2017. Niagara is a classic denim-like blue that speaks to our desire for ease and relaxation." 
Labradorite
Labradorite is a member of the plagioclase feldspar group. The stone was named after its place of discovery in Labrador, Canada. It has since been found in other places, including Finland, Norway, Madagascar, and Australia. The official term for the iridescent optical effect exhibited by labradorite, is "labradorescence". 

PANTONE 13-0755 Primrose Yellow
"By contrast, Primrose Yellow sparkles with heat and vitality. Inviting us into its instant warmth, this joyful yellow shade takes us to a destination marked by enthusiasm, good cheer and sunny days."
Yellow Apatite
This Golden Yellow Apatite originates from Madagascar. Apatite is a very common mineral however transparent gemstone-quality apatite is extremely rare and is not often found in jewelry stores. Apatite occurs in such a wide variety of attractive colors and forms, and has become a favorite among gemstone collectors. 

PANTONE 19-4045 Lapis Blue
"Conveying even more energy is Lapis Blue. Strong and confident, this intense blue shade is imbued with an inner radiance."
Lapis Lazuli
Lapis lazuli has been used as a gemstone for thousands of years. It has been mined from Afghanistan since the early 7th millennium BC. Lapis is technically defined as a rock rather than a mineral. It is primarily composed of lazurite with varying amounts of sodalite, calcite, pyrite and other various minor constituents. This variation causes the color variations in lapis. 

PANTONE 17-1462 Flame
"A red-based orange, Flame, is gregarious and fun loving. Flamboyant and vivacious, this wonderfully theatrical shade adds fiery heat to the spring 2017 palette."
Fire Opal
This Orange Fire Opal originates from Mexico. Fire opal is a gem-quality form of amorphous hydrated silicon dioxide with no crystalline structure. Like other opal, three to ten percent of the weight of fire opal is water. The name 'fire opal' is derived from its 'fiery' orange color, though it can also be white or brown. Fire opal that exhibits no play of color is sometimes referred to as jelly opal.

PANTONE 14-4620 Island Paradise
"Island Paradise is a refreshing aqua that calls to mind a change of scenery. A cool blue green shade that speaks to our dream of the great escape, Island Paradise is emblematic of tropical settings and our desire to unwind."
Aquamarine
This Light Blue Aquamarine originates from Mozambique. Aquamarine is a blue to green-blue variety of precious beryl. (The beryl group of minerals is most famous for green emerald.) Aquamarine is one of the official birthstones for those born in March. aquamarine can be light-blue, dark-blue, blue-green and green-blue. The more saturated the color, the higher the value, although almost all aquamarine is typically a lighter blue tone.

PANTONE 13-1404 Pale Dogwood
"Continuing the tranquil mood, Pale Dogwood is a quiet and peaceful pink shade that engenders an aura of innocence and purity. The unobtrusive Pale Dogwood is a subtle pink whose soft touch infuses a healthy glow."
Morganite
This Light Pink Morganite originates from Afghanistan. Morganite is the light pink to violet-pink variety of beryl. Morganite was first identified in Madagascar, in 1910. It's name was bestowed by George D. Kunz, a famous American gemologist and buyer for Tiffany & Company who named it in honor of John Pierpont (J.P.) Morgan, an American banker and avid gemstone collector.

PANTONE 15-0343 Greenery
"Bringing forth a refreshing take, Greenery is a tangy yellow-green that speaks to our need to explore, experiment and reinvent. Illustrative of flourishing foliage, the fertile attributes of Greenery signals one to take a deep breath, oxygenate and reinvigorate."
Peridot
This Green Peridot originates from China. Peridot is a gem-quality variety of the mineral olivine and you may see it referred to as "olivine" in older texts or in reference to vintage jewelry pieces. Peridot is one of the few gemstones that comes in a single color, green. The green may vary from yellow-green to olive to brownish green. The depth of the green color is dependent on the level of iron content in the stone's chemistry.

PANTONE 17-2034 Pink Yarrow
"Tropical and festive, Pink Yarrow is a whimsical, unignorable hue that tempts and tantalizes. Bold, attention getting and tempestuous, the lively Pink Yarrow is a captivating and stimulating color that lifts spirits and gets the adrenaline going."
Pink Tourmaline
This Pink Tourmaline originates from Mozambique. Tourmaline gemstones is found in all colors of the rainbow. The name tourmaline comes from the word toramalli, which means “mixed gems” in Sinhalese (a language of Sri Lanka). For more on tourmaline please click here.

PANTONE 18-0107 Kale
"Evocative of the great outdoors and a healthy lifestyle, Kale is another foliage-based green that conjures up our desire to connect to nature, similar to the more vivacious Greenery. And, just as we see in nature, this lush and fertile natural green shade provides the perfect complementary background to the more vibrant tones in the palette."
Serpentine
This Green Serpentine originates from Afghanistan. Serpentine's name is thought to be derived from its serpent-like green colors. The stone is usually green, yellowish-green, or brownish-green in color. 

PANTONE 14-1315 Hazelnut
"Rounding out the spring 2017 colors is Hazelnut, a key neutral for spring. This shade brings to mind a natural earthiness. Unpretentious and with an inherent warmth, Hazelnut is a transitional color that effortlessly connects the seasons."
Rutilated Quartz
This Rutile Quartz originates from India. Rutilated quartz is clear or smoky quartz with inclusions of rutile crystals. Rutile is the mineral name for natural crystals of titanium dioxide.

 

For more information on the color palette please visit https://www.pantone.com
For more information on the gemstones shown or to purchase them please visit http://www.gemselect.com

Pearls and Pools: Olympic Swimmer Kathleen Baker

Olypmic silver medalist Kathleen Baker in her signature pearl earrings

Lost earring found

Lost earring found

On Sunday, August 7th during the preliminaries for the 100m women’s backstroke, American swimmer (silver medalist) Kathleen Baker lost one of her signature pearl earrings to Rio’s Olympic pool, the depths of which reach almost ten feet. Thankfully, a diver went down to search for the earrings, and ultimately recovered it from Baker’s lane around the 15 meter mark. 

The story has a happy ending, but it does bring up a few cautions for anyone who wears their jewelry swimming or who may be thinking of adopting some good luck swimming pearls of their own.  

The most obvious thing to consider is that jewelry can and will fall off. Earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and rings all have ways of finding themselves falling to the bottom of pools, lakes, rivers, and oceans all over the world. If you're lucky you will find them again, but more often the pieces are gone for good. 

Now you may say "but I can lose my jewelry on dry land as well!" I would agree with you, but there is a less obvious but possibly even more serious concern when it comes to swimming in jewelry. 

pearl crosssection

Pearls
Both natural and cultured pearls are covered in a luminous substance called nacre. In natural pearls this layer has built up over an immense amount of time and is incredibly thick (hence their high cost and relative rarity), in the more common cultured pearl the nacre present on the surface of the seed material (see image). The nacre contains some organic proteins and also calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate dissolves when it comes into contact with acid. Even mild acids (perfumes, lotions, hairspray, and makeup) can weaken the structure of the pearl’s nacre and eventually dissolve its beautiful shine. 

The chlorine used to purify water is actually sodium hypochlorite, the same stuff you find in household bleach. This particular type of chlorine is highly oxidizing, and has a tendency to destroy a pearl’s luster on contact. Over time the pearl's nacre will come off, leaving a cloudy surface; it may even peal off in layers while the inside continues to disintegrate (it's not pretty, trust me).

Precious Metals
So while all that is happening to your pearls, your metal is going through an equal amount of hardship. 
Chlorine can react with precious metals, including gold and silver. If you’re in the pool every day or cleaning with bleach products it can cause pits in the gold’s surface that look like little dents. Chlorine can actually break down gold jewelry to the point of disintegration. A gold ring, placed in undiluted bleach, can disintegrate within minutes of exposure. Stress corrosion cracking can also occur in any weak joints of the jewelry or areas where it has been repaired. In general, platinum doesn’t react with chlorinated pool water, but some platinum rings contain gold solder that can. 

But I have to wear it!
If you absolutely must wear jewelry in the pool then the best metallic material to wear is stainless steel, specifically type 316 stainless steel, which is resistant to chloride attacks from sweat and sea water. Titanium alloys also stand up well. If you are firmly on board the pearls-in-the-pool train then I suggest imitation pearls. There are various types of imitation pearls from plastic, to glass, or shell. The relative inexpensive nature of the imitations means your heart and your wallet wont break when an earring is lost or dissolved in the pool. 

No matter what your jewelry’s made of, one thing is certain: all of that sweat and chlorine will dull its brilliance, so make sure to clean it. Most colored gems can be cleaned in warm water with mild soap and a soft brush. Precious metals should be cleaned similarly. When in doubt about cleaning jewelry make sure you ask! Gemologists are here to help. 

Enjoy your gemstones and metals out of the pool. (Olympic Silver Medalist Kathleen Baker)

Enjoy your gemstones and metals out of the pool. (Olympic Silver Medalist Kathleen Baker)

Announcement: Youtube

Hi everyone! 
I some exciting news. I have started a YouTube channel. I already have a video review of a really exciting photo product up and ready for you to check out!

You can also read more about the triple d photo kit by clicking here

Embracing The Blues

December lays claim to three beautiful birthstones; Zircon, Tanzanite and Turquoise. Each of these gemstones are available in various unique blue tones. So embracing the December blues might not be such a bad thing when it comes to gemstones!

Sensational Zircon

Zircon Diamond Gold Dangle Earrings, OFFERED BY SIXTH AVENUE FINE JEWELERS

Retro 8 Carat Intense Blue Zircon Platinum Ring, Offered By Rive Gauche Jewelry

Matched Blue Zircon Gold Princess Dangle Earrings, OFFERED BY SZOR COLLECTIONS

Tantalizing Tanzanite

Dangling Tanzanite Tear Drop Diamond Gold Earrings, OFFERED BY TAKAT

Beaudry Diamond Tanzanite Platinum Enagement Ring, OFFERED BY DOVER JEWELRY

Barbara Heinrich Tanzanite Gold Necklace, OFFERED BY SZOR COLLECTIONS

Terrific Turquoise

Late Victorian Era Turquoise Old Diamond Halo Ring, OFFERED BY ERAGEM

Turquoise Diamond gold Ear Clips, OFFERED BY JACOB'S DIAMOND & ESTATE JEWELRY

French Turquoise Diamond Gold Locket, OFFERED BY BELL AND BIRD

Cuddle up To Fall Gemstones

Autumn is a time for fall leaves, and (if you're into them) pumpkin spice lattes. It is also a time to cuddle up on cold gray rainy days. The change in temperatures bring a change in fashion. Darker neutrals appear, soft grays and blacks keep us warm on the darkening days. Punches of color that match the changing leaves are obvious choices to spice up a wardrobe; less obvious are the colors that match those rainy days and evoke the "cuddle up" feeling.

Teal stones can add subtle color without overpowering a neutral outfit. Apatite is relatively unused in most mainstream jewelry. It can have a unique teal color that ranges from a bluer to greener tone. With a Mohs hardness, of 5 it is not the best choice for a ring, but it is well suited for other jewelry that takes less daily abuse. 
Matched sets of apatite can be difficult to find; however, this leaves a great opportunity for necklaces or unique accent stones in earrings. 

If you like a stronger blue with a moody edge "London blue" topaz might be your stone. Unlike Apatite its hardness of 8 makes it an excellent choice for any type of jewelry. It is also a very affordable stone, even in larger sizes. Larger stones can make for wonderful statement rings. 

 

Blue zircon can have a teal-like hue in darker colors that sometimes exhibits a greenish hue when viewed at certain angles. Blue zircon is the most popular zircon color.
Zircon has another distinction that can make it stand apart from other stones, it has an extremely high refractive index, which gives it great fire and brilliance. This makes it similar to a diamond and a great alternative to a diamond of the same color. Irradiated blue diamond can also come in a teal color, but are generally available (and affordable) only in small sizes. 

Gray Spinel

Gray Spinel

Gray gemstones are often very overlooked. This is perhaps because there are not many faceted gray gemstones that are popular in mainstream jewelry, but gray stones have much to offer. In particular, cabochons and beads in these unique and often affordable stones can make you stand out from the crowd. 
Starting off the list of faceted gray gemstones is spinel. Spinel can often have a grayish, grayish-violet, grayish-blue or grayish-pink color. The are also usually untreated and affordable gems in these colors. The hardness of 7.5-8 makes these excellent stones for all jewelry types.

Natural gray sapphire from Deliqa Gems

Natural gray sapphire from Deliqa Gems


One of my personal favorites when it comes to gray stones is gray sapphires, which often have an appealing violet undertone. They are however, rare and rarely used in jewelry. If you can manage to find one, they are wonderful stones. With a hardness of 9 they are excellent for use in all jewelry and because gray is considered an ‘undesirable’ color in sapphires the prices can be relatively low.

Many of the grey cabochon cut stones are also available in bead form and offer a lot in the way of variety of looks. Hematite cabochons have a striking gun-metal gray color, with a metallic luster. They are also available in almost every shape and size at an affordable cost. This can be a beautiful choice for the transition from the warmer months. Another well known cabochon choice is Labradorite. It has a lighter gray body color with a beautiful iridescence, known as "labradorescence". Colors of blue, violet and gold dance on the surface of the gem adding a subtle hint of color. 
Moonstone is yet another beautiful choice. Moonstone can range from a milky white, to peach, to clear with a flash of blue, to gray. The soft colors evoke the look of cozy sweaters and soft cashmere scarves. 

Other choices include the swirling grays of Botswanna agate, snowflake obsidian, and gray veined howlite.  If you are adventurous there are gray cabochons that are not as well known such as pietersite, which can have a gray to midnight blue body color with silky luster. Seraphinite is also a relative unknown to the general public. The stone, which tends to be greenish-gray, has soft, feathery silver fibers. 

A natural gray pearl necklace sold for a record $5.1 Million at a Christie's auction

A natural gray pearl necklace sold for a record $5.1 Million at a Christie's auction

Pearls are a popular choice for gray jewelry. They are available in various price ranges as well as many shades of gray, from pale to dark, bluish- or greenish-gray South Sea pearls. Smooth, blemish-free, symmetrical pearls with sharp, bright reflections are the most highly-prized.
Misshapen (called "baroque") pearls can offer the wearer more unique looks and designs than standard spherical pearls.


It wouldn't be right to not mention the stunning gemstones that are October's birthstones in this list as well. Tourmaline comes in a rainbow of colors to fit the wearer's desires, including moody teal-ish blues like indicolite as well as a darker steely gray. 
Likewise opal comes in a variety of body colors with various other colors dancing on the surface. Both of these stones come in a variety of price ranges and could be the perfect accent to a fall wardrobe. 

This list is by no means exhaustive. There are so many gemstones that it would be nearly impossible to list them all, but I do hope that this has inspired you to take time to explore off the "beaten path" of gemstones. Happy fall!

Kathleen Marino MA, GG, AJP, NAJA

Photos courtesy of Gemselect, Rio Grande, Blue Nile and Scientific Explorer, Artfire, Gem Line Inc, and GIA

The Diamond Plant

diamond plant

The "Diamond Plant"

The secrets that the earth holds are slowly being revealed to us day by day. One of the more recent discoveries is a rare African plant that can indicate the presence of diamonds beneath the soil. Pandanus candelabrum seems to only grow on kimberlite pipes. This has geologists and mining companies interested because the presence of kimberlite can indicate the presence of diamonds. 

Columns of volcanic rock hundreds of meters across that extend deep into earth. The pipes are left by ancient eruptions that typically drag diamonds and other gemstones up from the mantle. (simplified image courtesy of  Kansas State Geological Survey )

Columns of volcanic rock hundreds of meters across that extend deep into earth. The pipes are left by ancient eruptions that typically drag diamonds and other gemstones up from the mantle. (simplified image courtesy of Kansas State Geological Survey)

 

The thorny, palmlike plant was recently discovered in Liberia by geologists. The plant, Pendanus candelabrum, has a “marked affinity for kimberlite pipes,” writes Stephen E. Haggerty, a research professor in geosciences at Florida International University, in the June–July edition of the journal Economic Geology. 

Traditionally a variety of indicator minerals are used to find kimberlite pipes. Those minerals then have to be tested by labs. But if the plant is as choosy as it seems to be, explorers could possibly track a plant from the air and diamond hunters in West Africa might have an indicator that can eventually lead to easier, less expensive diamond exploration. 

Using plants as indicators is not a unique or even modern tactic, as Haggerty’s paper notes, plants have been used since medieval times. For example, Lychnis alpina, a small pink-flowering plant in Scandinavia, and Haumaniastrum katangense, a white-flowered shrub in central Africa, are both associated with copper. That’s because the plants are especially tolerant to copper that has eroded into soil.

One major caveat to the idea of the "diamond plant" is that Pendanus candelabrum is only found in tropical areas, and diamonds are not. Indeed a world-class mines have been discovered in bitter-cold regions in Siberia and Canada. However Haggerty can also see that the new discovery might pave the way toward finding new botanical indicators for kimberlites. “Because of the depths at which kimberlites originate, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that their chemistry has to be different from the surrounding rocks,” he says.

“So let us take a look at the vegetation, particularly in Arctic terrains. There is flowering in the spring and during the summer... Kimberlite has very high potassium, sodium, magnesium, and phosphorous. Because of those nutrients, plants growing in kimberlites will be on steroids, whereas those on sandstone will be stunted or barren. So enhanced growth of surrounding vegetation may be a characteristic.”
 

On a final note, while this discovery is influential it should also be said that just because one might find a kimberlite pipe, it does not mean there will be a diamond mine. Only 1 percent of kimberlite pipe discoveries result in economically viable diamond mines.

Kathleen Marino M.A, G.G., AJP, NAJA

Sparkling Times at Crater Of Diamonds

It's safe to say that at lease a couple visitors to the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, Arkansas are having a pretty good year so far. The park has been making headlines as visitors continue to "strike it rich" in the world’s only diamond-producing site that is open to the public. The park also has a unique finder's keeper's policy allowing the visitor to keep anything and everything they find. 

The latest find to be announced was made by Susie Clark. She and her and her husband had spent days hunting diamonds at Crater of Diamonds, and on the last day she found a 3.69ct diamond. She has named the teardrop-shaped rock “the Hallelujah Diamond”.
As to the potential value of Clark’s diamond, Bill Henderson, the park’s assistant superintendent, said the woman would need to take the stone for independent appraisal.
While Clark’s find is the largest of this year, other park-goers have found 121 other diamonds. In fact over the years the park has produced some very impressive stones. 

Lamporite Image courtesy of The Western Australian Museum

Lamporite Image courtesy of The Western Australian Museum

The Geology
The Crater of Diamonds is situated over a 95-million-year-old eroded lamproite volcanic pipe. At the tremendous pressures and temperatures some 60 to 100 miles below the earth’s surface, diamond crystallized from carbon, and under those conditions it remained stable. The deeply sourced lamproite magma, from the upper mantle, eventually brought the diamonds to the surface. 
The lamproite diamond source is unusual, as almost all diamonds are mined from kimberlite and from alluvial deposits of diamonds weathered from kimberlite. The most prominent lamproite diamond source is the Argyle diamond mine in Australia.

Photo by Doug Wertman from Rogers, AR, USA

Photo by Doug Wertman from Rogers, AR, USA

The History
Diamonds have continuously been discovered at the park site since 1906 when John Wesley Huddleston bought the farm for homestead. 
Huddleston later sold his diamond-bearing land for $36,000. After 1906, several attempts at commercial diamond mining failed. The only significant yields came from the original surface layer, where erosion over a long period of time had concentrated diamonds. 
In the early period, 1907–1932, yields from the surface material often exceeded thirty carats per hundred loads. The highest yields coming from the undisturbed subsurface material.  The equipment used during this early period mainly consisted of screens that had mesh larger than 1/16 inch. This meant that thousands of small diamonds were passing through the screens every day, flooding into the surrounding field and through the natural drains. It is mind boggling to think of all the diamonds that ran right past those early miners.

A supplement to the Nashville News of nearby Nashville, Arkansas, advertising diamonds mining in the early 1900s

A supplement to the Nashville News of nearby Nashville, Arkansas, advertising diamonds mining in the early 1900s

After the first diamonds were found Murfreesboro experienced a "diamond rush".  Anecdotes and legends tell of hotels in Murfreesboro turned away 10,000 people in the space of a year. Supposedly, miners formed a tent city named "Kimberly" in honor of the famous Kimberley diamond district in South Africa. However, historical evidence indicates that the Town of Kimberly was actually a development venture in 1909, initiated by Mallard M. Mauney and his oldest son, Walter, on their land immediately south of Murfreesboro. The project failed as the speculative boom generated by the diamond discovery collapsed. Today, the Kimberly area is almost all cow pasture, owned by Mauney's descendants.

During the Second World War, the U.S. government took over the mine. Although diamonds were obtained, it was not successful as a venture due to the large costs involved with U.S. labor. After the war, the property was returned to the previous owners.
From 1951 to 1972, the crater was operated as a private tourist attraction by several companies. The first, The Diamond Preserve of the United States, lasted only about one year. In late 1951, Howard A. Millar took over the property and in April 1952, Millar and his wife, Modean, launched their Crater of Diamonds attraction. In March 1956, a visitor found the Star of Arkansas on the cleared surface. The spectacular find weighed 15.33 carats.
Later, a rival tourist attraction called the Arkansas Diamond Mine, was opened by Roscoe Johnston on the main part of the diamond field hoping to capitalize on the excitement. 

Site marker for the Star of Arkansas find

Site marker for the Star of Arkansas find

The rivalry between the two tourist operations left both in a weakened state and in 1970, the entire area was consolidated by a private partnership, which then reassigned the property to General Earth Minerals (GEM) of Dallas, Texas. GEM expected to turn the property over for a profit, but ended up heavily indebted. The property was taken over by GF Industries (GFI) in July 1971.  GFI continued the attraction until it sold the 80-acre formation and 800 surrounding acres to the State of Arkansas in March 1972 for $750,000. The tourist operation continues to be the major draw for the of Crater of Diamonds State Park.

Notable Diamonds
Below is a list of some of the notable diamonds that have been discovered at the Crater of Diamonds Park.

This list of notable diamonds from the Crater of Diamonds includes several diamonds weighing six carats or more, and the much publicized 3.03-carat Strawn-Wagner Diamond. (photo from Crater of Diamonds State Park)

The park has  also previously stated the value of some stones found including: the canary yellow stone that 14-year-old Tana Clymer found in 2013. That diamond was sold for $20,000. 
One of the most famous stones uncovered at the park was a 3.09 ct stone found at the park in 1990. It was eventually cut into a 1.09-carat brilliant shape and graded Ideal cut/ D color/ Flawless by AGS. That stone, named Strawn-Wagner Diamond, was mounted in a gold and platinum ring and sold to the state of Arkansas. A continually updated list of the most recent recorded finds may be found here.

If you are interested in visiting the Crater of Diamonds State Park here are some things to know:
Fees to search for Diamonds
Adults:   $8
Children (ages 6-12):    $5
Children under 6 years old:    FREE
 Admission is good for the entire day. You may come and go throughout the day on the same admission fee.
Tools
Tools are not necessary for diamond seeking, and a good way to search is to walk up and down the rows looking for diamonds lying on top of the ground. However, most diamond hunters like to dig in the soil. Therefore, you have the options of bringing your own tools from home, or you may purchase or rent tools here at the park. You may use anything that is not battery or motor operated for transporting equipment in and out of the search area. For a list of rentable equipment and prices click here. (I also found water filled spray bottles handy!)
It's Finder's Keeper's!
f you find a diamond or any other stone it is yours to take home!  In addition to diamonds, you might find one of the many colorful gemstones that occur naturally there. These include: amethyst, agate, jasper, garnet, peridot, hematite and many others. 

I myself tried my hand at finding diamonds at the park around 2005. Traveling south with my mother and sister our excitement over the prospect of finding even the smallest of diamonds overshadowed the fact that we would be camping and we hadn't checked the weather. We arrived in late in the evening after getting lost. We couldn't see anything of the park and set up our tent in the dark, so it goes without saying that we had no idea what to expect the next day. 
Summer in Arkansas is muggy to say the least. Add to that light rain and you have a "diamond field" of mud. Actually mud feels far too light a word, it was like walking in wet cement.
According to the park, rainfall combined with park staffers’ plowing the 37.5-acre search field can erode the surface of a diamond-bearing deposit, helping to bring more of the stones to the surface and increasing visitors’ chances of finding them. 
Unfortunately for us that was not the case and all I was left with was a burning desire for a hot shower after that long day seated in mud; luckily Hot Springs and a real shower were not all that far away! So if you are headed down that way definitely check it out. Bring good shoes, whatever you want for digging, and a lot of optimism!

HPHT Treatment of Diamonds

                                                       ©Suncrest Diamonds. Formerly brown diamonds now pink after HPHT treatment.  

                                                      ©Suncrest Diamonds. Formerly brown diamonds now pink after HPHT treatment. 

The majority of the questions that I have had from clients over the years have been about diamonds. I have received emails, calls, personal appointment all asking the same “How do I buy a diamond, what am I looking for, where can I compromise?”
But, I think the questions that most stick with me are the ones regarding treatments. Most often I get a question like “The salesperson offered me a diamond and then slipped in the word HPHT/clarity enhancement/irradiation/CVD. I didn’t know what that was so I decided to wait.” I generally commended them on waiting, because being informed is the best course a consumer can follow!
Diamond treatments are perhaps the most confusing topic for consumers. Today I want to cover just one HPHT treatment. I am going to break it down by definition, impact on the industry and then what it means to you as the consumer. So without further ado let's dive in!

 ©Suncrest Diamonds The HPHT  machine at the Suncrest facility in Provo, Utah

 ©Suncrest Diamonds The HPHT machine at the Suncrest facility in Provo, Utah

What is HPHT treatment?

Type IIa diamonds are the most chemically “pure” diamonds on earth containing few to know impurities. They make up approximately 1-2% of all diamonds and the majority are colorless. However as these diamonds are being pushed towards the surface of the earth they may pick up impurities that color the diamond, the most common color is brown.
HPHT is a permanent treatment used specifically on brown type IIa diamonds subjecting them to enormous amounts of pressure and heat replicating the natural forces that create diamonds. By doing so a near-colorless to colorless color may be achieved, as well as fancy colors such as yellow and green. Furthermore if radiation is combined with the process pink colored diamonds can also be produced.  

                                            ©   GIA

                                            © GIA


How has this affected the jewelry industry?

HPHT treatment of diamonds first went public in 1999 and it has been a source of anxiety in the gem industry ever since. This trepidation increased after GIA (which has included HPHT testing in their grading since about 2006) released a pivotal statement in 2010 revealing that they had been receiving large numbers of HPHT treated diamonds ranging from 3 to 20 carats in size. The mining industry has also seen a surge in the sales of type IIA brown diamonds with prices steadily escalating as buyers attempt to estimate gains from treatment. The most concerning area has become the increasing number of treated and CVD (lab created diamonds) melee stones (melee is a term to describe small diamonds that range from 0.18 carats down to 0.001 carats) being sold in parcels with natural diamonds. Their small size indicates an increased need for testing of smaller diamonds, as well as the necessity for non-laboratory testing becoming available and affordable for gemologists as an additional line of defense for the consumer. 

© The Practical Gemologist

© The Practical Gemologist


What is the overall opinion of the HPHT treated diamonds and what does this mean for you?

Consumers must be aware that sellers of these stones are required by law to inform them of this treatment as well as any other treatment performed on diamonds (and any other gemstones as well). On the side of the producers of this product they see no difference in the treated and the natural diamond. As mentioned it is a permanent treatment that mimics the natural forces that create a diamond in the earth, however the gemstone and jewelry industry views this quite differently.
Natural stones, those that exist without treatments of any kind have always fetched a higher premium. Why? The simple answer is rarity. HPHT treated stones are considered to null and void the rarity aspect.
There are a few major issues that face the consumer: first generally the price of HPHT treated diamonds is lower than untreated diamonds, however this may differ from dealer to dealer as there is currently little regulation. Second, when it comes to appraising HPHT treated diamonds this must be taken into account. Since the stone is no longer in it’s natural form and we have no way of knowing it’s previous form many appraisers will have to look the the market for comparables to provide an accurate insurance or fair market value. Larger stones 0.75 carat and up)  should be evaluated by a gemological laboratory to confirm that the stone has not been treated. Third, if the consumer is considering a diamond as an investment, or even as an heirloom they must realize that over time a natural untreated diamond will continue to hold and in my personal estimation will gain value over time the same way that natural colored stones have. 

The Take Away:

Overall I do not think that HPHT treatment is inherently bad. In fact in some cases it can make it possible for some consumers to find their dream colored diamond without the higher price tag. To sum up there are just a few simple things to keep in mind:

          ©   GIA A diamond before and after HPHT treatment. 

          © GIA A diamond before and after HPHT treatment. 

  • HPHT treated stones may not hold their value as well as natural diamonds over time.
  • Disclosure on the part of the seller is required by law. If there's any question you have the right to have the stone examined by a gemological laboratory like GIA.
  • HPHT treated stones frequently have a lesser selling point. This can work to your advantage as a bargaining tool. The savvy consumer could bargain their way to a sizable discount (possibly 20-35%). Think of it kind of like a car dealership and do not be afraid to ask or walk away if it isn’t what you want. (I’ll be writing more on what the guy behind the  counter doesn’t want you to know later!)
  • If you have questions ask an independent gemologist! Independent gemologists have  no ties to a jewelry stores and are not selling gemstones or jewelry. We are here to help advise you and educate you. 

- Kathleen Marino MA, GG (GIA Carlsbad), AJP, NAJA