In our last blog post, we discussed dyed beads. We explained the allure of dyed beads and the process behind it. This time around, we'll be discussing some of the most popular gemstone beads that are dyed.
Among the most commonly dyed gemstones are: chalcedony, tiger eye, agate, howlite, lapis lazuli, amazonite, and turquoise.
Chalcedony is a compact and microcrystalline form of quartz. Chalcedony occurs in many different forms, patterns, and colors. Possible colors include white, blue, yellow, purple, red, green, orange, brown, pink, black, grey and banded. The most common colors are shades of grayish-blue, white to gray, and brown. Chalcedony is a popular choice for gem dyeing because of its porosity. The stone has significant void spaces, which allows for a vibrant version of the stone after the dyeing process. The dyeing process not only brings out the vibrant version of the stone’s saturation; it also enhances the stone’s overall appearance and makes it look semi-transparent - like glass.
Tiger Eye is commonly defined by its gorgeous yellow-golden bands that are noticeable in silky shimmers. Golden tiger eye is the most recognized color but it can also come in mid blue to dark blue colors. This variety is called the blue tiger eye (also referred to as Hawk’s Eye). Tiger Eye is a great candidate for gemstone dyeing because, as a member of the quartz crystal family, it has a high porosity that makes dyes/color-enhancing solutions penetrate it easily. Heat treatments can also affect the physical appearance of tiger eye. Tiger eye can assume a reddish-brown color after being gently heated.
Agate has traces of chalcedony and quartz, and is formed primarily within metamorphic and volcanic rocks. Agate is usually transparent, characterized with bands and patterns. However, agate is also widely known for its dull, milky appearance. Agate is a porous stone, and it is one of the most widely dyed gemstones. Agate does not look as appealing as many other stones due to its naturally dull saturation. This is a major reason why it is dyed - to enhance the stone’s beauty.
Howlite is a borate mineral. Howlite is widely known for its white (absorbent) color, with interesting brown, grey, or black veins and specks. Howlite is very porous, meaning it can easily absorb colored dye solutions. When howlite is dyed with blue it looks very similar to turquoise. Because turquoise is a valuable gemstone, some sellers will sell dyed howlite as turquoise - at a much lower price.
Lapis lazuli is a beautiful, deep-blue semi-precious gemstone that has been popular for centuries. Lapis Lazuli is often speckled with white streaks of calcite and brassy patches of pyrite. Even though the deep blue of lapis lazuli is already sublime, there is the desire for the stone’s blue color to be further enhanced. Hence, the reason for dyeing.
Amazonite has a soft green to blue green color with white streaks. While amazonite is naturally beautiful, some find it important to dye the stone to obtain a more brilliant and richer blue color. When amazonite is dyed, the stone will exhibit a more uniform and rich bluer color without the typical white streaks. The dyeing process also makes the stone become transparent.
Turquoise stones are probably among the most faked gemstones. This is due to the high price point of the natural stone. There are some varieties of turquoise that lack appeal and vibrancy. These varieties - the ones deemed to have poor qualities - are typically the ones that are dyed in order to improve their appeal.
Many different gemstones are dyed to improve their appeal. This was just a short list of the more commonly dyed gemstones. We hope you enjoyed this exploration into dyed gemstone beads.