Clarity treatment of tourmaline has become much more of an issue with the prices of tourmaline raising and the premium paid for flawless stones. A bit on what I feel about flaws in a tourmaline gem is useful here.
1, Using the diamond world as an example and grading with a 10 power loop is not particularly useful with tourmaline. And I never grade my tourmaline’s clarity this way.
2, Being a top grade tourmaline requires both an eye clean body and good crystal. By eye clean, I mean that upon close examination under a good light source, I do not see any inclusions. The brightness of a tourmaline gemstone can be effected by many things, including cut, quality of polish and even chemical composition, but in the case of grading tourmaline, I just look at how limpid the body is in determining its quality of crystal. Great crystal is a quality that can be seen and appreciated by eye.
3, Slightly included means in my book, that the inclusions in question are not obnoxious or easily seen face up. That include tilting and rotating the gemstone a reasonable amount.
4, Moderately included means that there are no obnoxious flashing flaws or areas of opacity in the gemstone. I have many tourmalines that are moderately included that I prize highly. And this is not only cuprian and other rare types of tourmaline.
5, Heavily included covers the rest of the want to be beautiful tourmaline in my collection. I don’t have many of this grade of tourmaline in my collection and when I cut them it is usually because they have something different or interesting about themselves.
I feel that only heavily included gemstones are genuine candidates for clarity enhancing and then with the proper disclosure of the treatment. I do not use any enhancement for clarity and since I have cut all the gemstones in my collection, I think I am clear of any issues. Still it has been reported that even rough has been treated prior to cutting, but I have never seen it.
Getting back to the new clarity treatment for tourmaline, its greatness promise is durability. A similar product has been used on emerald for years and proven itself and the tourmaline treatment is based on the same technology. The most interesting statement in the press release was that existing clarity enhancement is wide spread with tourmaline and therefore the new product would have little immediate impact on the commercial offerings of cut tourmaline. The fact that the process needs to be done only one time and will never change color, should help it replace the existing enhancements available. This could be a great addition to the world of commercial tourmaline as long as it is disclosed with an appropriate price consideration.