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Emerald Transformation: Cleaning and Recutting a Natural Emerald

To meet the demand for fine emeralds with no clarity enhancements, dealers search for gems to clean and recut. Learn how this emerald transformation works.

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HomeLearning CenterJewelry and LapidaryRe-Cutting, Re-Polishing, and Repairing GemstonesEmerald Transformation: Cleaning and Recutting a Natural Emerald
The demand for extra-fine emeralds with no clarity enhancements has skyrocketed. This motivates dealers like me to search for stones suitable for cleaning and recutting, which may then qualify for lab reports with the elusive declaration: "no indications of clarity enhancement." This 11.22-ct, natural Shakiso emerald was a potential candidate.
  • emerald transformation - reflective fissure
    Reflective fissure revealed after cleaning the 11.22-ct emerald. Photo by Jeffery Bergman. © of Bangkok.
  • closeup fissure
    Closeup of the reflective fissure, before recutting. Photo by Jeffery Bergman. © of Bangkok.

    Emerald Transformation, Step 1: Cleaning

    This Shakiso, Ethiopian emerald with a minor clarity enhancement had only one major issue: a reflective fracture on its corner. This only came to light after a thorough cleaning. Fortunately, Colombian emerald cleaning and treating experts Consuelo "Connie" Infante Galindo and her husband, gemologist Darwin D Fortaleché (formerly of CDTEC Bogotá, now Guild Gemlab Bangkok), accomplished this tricky task. Thorough cleanings often require weeks of soaking in various solvents.

    Consuelo "Connie" Infante Galindo and Darwin D Fortaleché, from Bogotá, Colombia. Photo by Jeffery Bergman. © of Bangkok.

    Emerald Transformation, Step 2: Recutting

    Bangkok is also blessed to be the new home of one of the world's finest emerald cutters, Mª ︎"Mafe︎" Fernanda Argotty, a second-generation lapidary artisan also from Bogotá, Colombia. Not surprisingly, I chose Mafe to take on this difficult and important project. After several days carefully studying the emerald, she plotted out the stone and formulated a course of action with the goal of finishing over the pivotal, price-critical 10-ct marker.

    • emerald transformation - planning the recut
      Emerald cutter Mª ︎"Mafe︎" Fernanda Argotty, planning her work. Photo by Jeffery Bergman. © of Bangkok.
    • loupe inspection
      Mafe frequently inspecting her work with a loupe. Photo by Jeffery Bergman. © of Bangkok.

      Completely eliminating the reflective fissure meant removing one corner of the stone. Therefore, the entire emerald had to be recut in order to maintain a pleasant and well-balanced final shape. With skill and expertise, as well as specialized equipment imported from Israel, Mafe finished the stone at 10.17 cts. This was a loss of only 1.05 cts, or slightly less than 10%, so we celebrated with some freshly brewed Japanese green tea!

      recut gem - emerald transformation
      Finished at 10.17-ct. Photo by Mª ︎"Mafe︎" Fernanda Argotty.

      Getting the Lab Report

      Next came the challenge of obtaining a report with no indication of clarity enhancement from a respected lab. Not surprisingly, the first submission came back with an indication of insignificant residue in a surface-reaching fracture left over from the cutting process. This was unacceptable, so the stone went back to Connie and Darwin for re-cleaning.

      incidental residue in fissure
      Insignificant incidental residue from cutting process in a surface-reaching fissure. Photo by Darwin D Fortaleché.

      After another week of waiting patiently, Darwin issued a Guild Gemlab report stating the emerald was "laboratory clean." However, for buyers of exceptional no-oil emeralds, just one lab report never suffices. So, we were also relieved to receive two more "no clarity enhancement" reports, from Bellerophon Gemlab, signed by Martial Curti and emerald expert Dr. Dietmar Schwarz, as well as from ICA GemLab, signed by Kenneth Scarratt.

      emerald transformation - finished gem with no clarity enhancement
      The finished, exceptional 10.17-ct Shakiso, Ethiopian emerald with no clarity enhancement. Photo by Jeffery Bergman. © of Bangkok.

      Jeffery Bergman, SSEF SGC

      Jeffery Bergman, SSEF SGC, founder and director of 8th Dimension Gems in Thailand, is an American gem dealer with more than 40 years of experience in gemstone and fine jewelry mining, cutting, wholesaling and retailing. His career has taken him to more than 50 countries and every continent except Antarctica. He has appeared on the BBC, CNN, NBC, ABC and GEO; and has been featured in Time, USA Today, National Geographic, Gems & Gemology and Discovery Channel magazine. He is a regular guest speaker at gem lab seminars and gemological association conferences and universities.

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