We seem to have entered a time when many Americans all over the USA, as well as many Europeans throughout the continent have become extremely interested in all things “Vedic”. Not only in these continents, but also in Russia and other Balkan countries and even the Middle East interest in how gems may be used to enhance people’s lives in some way abounds.
With all the Vedic astrologers talking about their being able to affect karma to some degree, Ayurvedic doctors and practitioners naturally interested for their healing qualities and those just “jumping on the bandwagon” finding a means to do some business with them, it is a subject being more and more spoken about and debated.
As a person who has been in a family dealing in precious gemstones all my life and a graduate gemologist for 35 years now, besides my being a Vedic astrologer for almost as long, I have researched this subject, kept records of clients’ experiences wearing gems and their use in the Ayurvedic clinic now for decades.
For those of you wanting to know what the fuss is all about just look this subject up on the Internet. For those already knowing a bit about it from your astrologers, “jyotish gem sources” and others not really well versed in how that translates into gemological reality and the real gem market today I want to give some serious facts here about what a “jyotish” or “Vedic astrological” quality gem really is.
It is an irrevocable fact that 99% of all sapphires are heat treated today and with the newer diffusion heat treatment methods (coating the gem before the heating process that allows infused color to diffuse itself into the gemstone) the goalposts are changing drastically. It is also a fact that almost 100% of all rubies are heat treated (very, very few are obtainable with any desirable quality that are not of an exorbitant cost and value) and even dealers like our family are finding that they are so rare and so expensive that we don’t have the clients willing to pay the price when we do find them. So many sapphires are now being treated, as well, with more sophisticated diffusion heating processes that it’s getting to the point where only the top gem laboratories can afford the equipment to say 100% what treatments have been used. In the old days we gemologists could pretty easily tell the difference between a heat-treated gem and an unheated one using a microscope. Not any more!!
Since sapphires are the most widely used for jyotish, in their blue, yellow and white colors for Saturn, Jupiter and Venus respectively, clients buying a stone need to start asking for guarantees, besides being able to implicitly trust their sources. (If coming from Bangkok they’re all treated and if through a clearinghouse like Jaipur of Sri Lanka origin, you’d better know your source well).
What about emeralds? They’re also one of the most effective gems used in jyotish for strengthening Mercury’s influence in one’s life. No, they’re NOT heated, but emeralds of commercial quality have many fractures and fissures that have traditionally been filled with cedar oil. The oil has a refractive index (R.I. in gemological parlance) close to that of the emerald, so once the fractures are filled they almost disappear, as the light doesn’t bend enough to make them easily visible. It’s not that cedar oil in a very few small fractures would necessarily render an emerald useless for jyotish, it’s that generally they are very low quality with LOTS of fissures that are cleverly covered up using this process. If you saw the stone without it, you’d reject it immediately!
At the time of this writing, in February 2008, polymers (instead of oil) are being touted by companies that produce emeralds treated with this substance as a permanent treatment and enhancer. It is said by them to be a means of making emeralds affordable to the ever-dwindling population with any disposable income to afford precious gems at all. And the jewelry trade is accepting this for the sake of the business. For someone wishing a gem for “jyotish purposes” this is a travesty. It is a low quality, completely unsuitable emerald that is made to look good with a sophisticated polymer to fill all the cracks and crevices in the gem. Even worse are the new “assembled” emeralds being found that actually glue multiple stones together and polish them to look like one gemstone.
Red coral from the Mediterranean, which is the finest source, is increasingly in short supply. There’s more from the orient around, but again the great bulk of it is treated with glue, resins, and at the very least wax-impregnated. The majority of it is dyed white coral (or even another substance).
The old adage “you get what you pay for” is most appropriate for buying a “jyotish gem”. Does this mean that high quality “jyotish” gems are no longer a viable “remedial measure” or “upaya” for a lot of people? I’m afraid so. If you’re spending a few hundred dollars and need a ruby, sapphire or emerald you can know without question that you are going to be cheated. Those “jyotish gem dealers” that have cheap goods are selling such treated gems, as this is the law of economics. A rare and high quality gemstone is not a “cheap” item and if you insist on cheap, then by the law of “let the buyer beware” you will be cheated.
Still, a gem lasts a lifetime, so if one can afford a decent car the expense is still not necessarily anywhere near as high as that, and it never needs any servicing. It must be looked at as an investment in one’s present and future and worth what their value is. It’s a reality that precious gems are a rarity and not in abundance compared to some other natural products of our earth, and that they have been a commodity prized and valued by human civilizations from time immemorial.
What about the substitute gems? Well, many people recommend them, but we have really not seen any effects in people’s lives from their usage. Only the white sapphire in place of diamond seems to have powerful effects and the rest….? It is a fact that many, many people in clinical medical trials become “cured” in the group taking placebos (sugar pills). Even if you have faith in their efficacy even many of the semi-precious gems are heated and treated in many ways to make them more appealing to the eye.
In closing I want to say that what I am talking about here is using a natural gemstone, worn on the body in a ring, pendant or other talisman, to affect one’s life in accordance with Vedic jyotish, or astrological, principles. Quality is everything. If you obtain the right gem of natural and high quality “gemologically” you will most certainly gain an obvious effect in either gross or subtle areas of your life. It is my purpose in having written this article that buyers know the questions to ask and are not simply relying on those in the field not truly educated in the science of gemology, for all too often we have the unsavory duty to answer someone who just showed us their “jyotish” gemstone that they have just been cheated with something made to look like what they really wanted.