About "Treated" Turquoise

 Note: There is very little hard, "natural" gem quality turquoise on the market. Hence, in most cases, some sort of hardening treatment of this ancient, relatively soft mineral is needed ... especially for strung beads to help prevent breakage during the drilling and tumble polishing processes.




"Stabilized" refers to an old method of pressure baking hot resin into the stone to improve it's hardness and depth of color. Stabilized turquoise leaves a slightly waxy surface. There are many formulas and techniques for stabilizing, many of them considered a trade secret of individual processors.
In most cases, tints or dyes are routinely added to the stabilizing resin to enrich the color of the lower grades of turquoise. Since many of these color treatments are difficult or impractical to prove definitively, the approach that should be taken is, unless otherwise indicated, to assume that a dye may have been applied to that particular stone.


"Zachery Process" The late 1980's brought about a new stabilizing treatment known as the "Zachery Process." It was invented by an electrical engineer and lifetime turquoise dealer named James E. Zachery. This treatment can improve the color/appearance of some types of turquoise, reduce it's porosity and to date shows no sign of discoloring with age. The treatment is virtually impossible to detect with standard gemological tools.
This process involves a bath of minerals identical to those found in natural turquoise along with a charge of electrical current.  Our cousin, Sterling Foutz, now owns the exclusive patent for this new process.
Read: Gems & Gemology magazine. Spring 1999 - The quarterly journal of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).
Click: http://www.gia.edu/gemsandgemology/wd_18578ar_2070aris_585_back_issue_article_detail.cfm

"Enhanced" This term was at first used to describe the Zachery Process (above) but the term "Enhanced" been abused and is used now by some to describe any of the older 'treatments' given to turquoise.
The word "treated" and "enhanced" now can mean anything.
The "Zachery Process" is patented, exclusive to Sterling Foutz's production, and this term should only be used for turquoise that has been 'treated' or 'enhanced'  with the "Zachery Process". The Zachery Process is classed by the GIA as "impregnated natural turquoise"


The "Eljen Process"  is another new hardening technique and was just recently classed by the GIA as "impregnated natural turquoise" ... "showing no evidence of dye". It leaves only a small amount of polymer and reacts only very slightly to a hot needle test.
Ref: Gems & Gemology magazine. Summer 1009 - The quarterly journal of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).
http://www.gia.edu/research-resources/gems-gemology/issues/summer2009-contents/summer2009-labnotes.html

The Eljen Process' is currently being used exclusively by Elven Jennings, developer of this treatment, and owner of the old No. 8 Mine in Nevada, famous for its spider web turquoise ore.




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