natural radiation and gemstone color - carved amethystnatural radiation and gemstone color - carved amethyst

Natural Radiation and Gemstone Color

Natural radiation can create beautiful colors in many gemstones. Learn how natural radiation works and the gems most commonly affected by it.

10 Minute Read

HomeLearning CenterGemologyAdvanced Gemology TopicsNatural Radiation and Gemstone Color
natural radiation and gemstone color - carved amethyst
Natural radiation plays a role in the expression of color in many gemstones, such as the beautiful purple of this amethyst, custom-carved by Tom Munsteiner. 5.54 cts, 14 mm, Brazil. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.

Causes of Color in Gemstones

Many factors can contribute to a gemstone’s natural color. The elements in a gem’s chemical makeup can affect its color. Sometimes, a gemstone absorbs traces of light-absorbing elements that determine its color. This is the case with rubies, sapphires, and many other gemstones. Sometimes, rather than traces, the elements essential to a gem’s formation determine its color. This is the case with malachite and turquoise. Environmental factors after a gem forms can also affect its color. Heat is one example of an environmental influence on gem color. Natural radiation is another.

What is Radiation and Radioactivity?

Although radiation is just one of many possible factors that can affect gemstone colors, it’s the one most feared and misunderstood by consumers. The Nuclear Age in the Twentieth Century led to a heightened awareness of the dangers of radiation poisoning. Not surprisingly, most people are reluctant to come into close contact with sources of radiation. Nevertheless, we should keep

Emily Frontiere

Emily Frontiere is a GIA Graduate Gemologist. She is particularly experienced working with estate/antique jewelry.

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