SURFACE ENHANCED DESIGNER GEMSTONES:
THE REST OF THE STORY 

 

Modern Jeweler published an article in the April 2007 edition titled a “new kind of blue.” The truth is, this “new kind of blue” has been around for years. Leslie and Company has produced and marketed blue and other diffused colors for several years. The only thing “new” is that Signity Gems has purchased Leslie and Company. Signity Gems is a subsidiary of Swarovski AG of Austria.


Background:

Azotic Coating Technology, Inc. of Rochester, MN was the first company to offer enhanced gemstones to the gemstone industry in VOLUME quantities. Azotic has supplied Mystic Topaz® for more than ten years to the FASHION jewelry manufacturing industry. The sales success of the Designer Gemstone Enhancements was a unique patented idea combining absorbent and reflective inorganic materials to the pavilion of the gemstone generating fantastic colors with minimal cost to the price of the jewelry. This Price Point Advantage and the Durability of the gemstone paved the way for future gemstone enhancements.

 

Azotic IS the pioneer manufacturer of durable permanent surface enhancements for gemstones. The enhancements produced by Azotic Coating Technology utilize precious and semi-precious metals, oxides and nitrides to obtain countless colors. Enhancements obtained by using these inorganic materials will not fade with ultraviolet light, whereas, dyes used to color agate or epoxy contain both inorganic and organic materials that are susceptible to light and will fade over time. The use of only inorganic non-fading materials in the manufacture of Mystic Topaz® enhancements is “Why” Azotic gemstones are the “Pinnacle” for use in jewelry manufacturing. Because the enhancements are a surface enhancement (bonded at the molecular level), training of how to handle the gemstones before and during the jewelry setting process is KEY to obtaining an acceptable finished product. The Mystic Topaz® enhancements are on the pavilion of the gemstone. Mystic Topaz  enhancements are shielded from normal wear once the gemstones are placed in the jewelry setting. If handled properly, gemstone enhancements will last the life expectancy of natural gemstone jewelry.

 

Creating the Market (1996)

Azotic created the market for “Surface Enhanced Designer Gemstones™” as the market was non-existent. Leslie and Company entered the market later with a diffused enhancement as an alternative to Surface Enhanced Gemstones. This was a direct result of customer ACCEPTANCE OF THE SURFACE COLOR-ENHANCED gemstones. The diffusion process requires very high heat which creates issues of yield for breakage and inclusions to the gemstones. From the customer’s perspective, this, in turn, affected the jewelry price point when compared to Mystic Topaz or the irradiated Blue Topaz.

 

The market expanded and in subsequent years, Azotic enhanced millions of carats in a multitudinous array of colors. The demand for the surface enhanced gemstones was so great that production equipment could not be expanded fast enough to meet the demands.

 

It was during this growth period, that authorized resellers provided information to the jewelry manufacturers to evaluate and train the staff to minimize problems in manufacturing. Considering the rapid rate of growth and the number of enhanced gemstone sold, the complaints relative to the surface enhanced gemstones was minimal. The public embraced the Fabulous and Exotic color enhancements produced by Azotic on topaz and other substrate materials. Azotic provided the industry bright and vibrant colors at minimum cost. From 2004-2005 Azotic produced more than 30 million carats of Topaz, CZ, and Quartz (colorless gemstone material) into enhancement colors that invigorated the Fashion industry.

 

After Creating the Market:

Recognizing the high market demand for enhanced gemstones, China, India and other foreign manufacturers began manufacturing enhanced gemstones to look like Azotic® enhanced gemstones. While these imitation stones had color and appeared to be Azotic® Patented gemstones, in many cases they were not durable or permanent. These illegal counterfeit knock-offs along with some manufacturers and jewelers not aware of the care of the new enhanced gemstones resulted in some confusion and problems in the market place. To counter this, Azotic provided a Gemstone Fact Sheet, Gemstone Care cards to all authorized resellers, publicized care instructions on the Azotic Web site and provided Gemstone Care cards with all gemstone enhancement orders. Azotic emphasizes that “Surface Enhanced Designer Gemstones” be treated like an Opal or Pearl when caring for the gemstone. By following these simple well known rules, the enhancement will maintain its vibrant colors for many years to come.

 

During this extensive growth period, the giant crystal producer Swarovski AG of Austria started to notice the demands of this new market. There was an interest in these new gemstone enhancements from the high-end market and the costume jewelry market. The costume jewelry market is mostly crystal and CZ gemstones and is dominated by Swarovski. Swarovski applied for a Patent, “Thermal Color Fusion,” entering the new market under the “Signity Gems” name (a Swarovski subsidiary) operating in the United States. The Swarovski Patent is not the same as the Leslie or Azotic Patents; however, the difference between the Swarovski Patent and the Leslie Patent was analogous. This may explain why in 2007 Swarovski purchased Leslie under the “Signity Gems” Company.

 

Swarovski is attempting to influence the Surface Enhanced Gemstone market to purchase the Thermal Color Fusion gemstones under the premise that these gemstones are more durable than the Azotic Mystic Topaz® and are more desirable than Blue Topaz because Thermal Color Fusion is not irradiated.

 

Signity would have you believe the “Leslie” Glacier Blue is more desirable than Blue Topaz for the same reason, and that the “Glacier Blue” topaz is more durable than the Azotic “Surface Enhanced Designer Gemstones™.” This is not true when compared to the similar blue colors manufactured by Azotic using the same base material (Cobalt). Azotic has numerous new blue variations in the “Mystopia™ Process” utilizing cobalt. The Mystopia™ Enhancements are as durable as the Signity “Glacier Blue.” Durability is more a function of the materials used to achieve certain colors rather than the process used to apply the enhancement (coating).

 

Cobalt is the desired element for obtaining blue colors, and is very durable when applied properly. The Azotic® Mystopia™ Process’s blue, green and teal enhancements are much brighter and clearer than Signity’s colors. Azotic® patented processes are smooth and more uniform than Signity’s processes which (according to the patents) utilize powders (making it very hard to maintain uniformity).

 

Signity and Swarovski fail to mention that the Pink and Yellow colors they produce are not as durable as the blue enhancements utilizing Cobalt. The materials utilized to obtain Pink (similar to the Azotic Pink color) are not as hard and durable as Cobalt.

 

Another small but pertinent fact that was inadvertently not mentioned is that Signity does limited smaller sizes only (Reason: breakage caused by high heat increases with the larger sizes of gemstones). The Patented processes manufactured by Azotic can enhance all cuts and sizes up to 30mm for approximately half the cost while maintaining less than half the breakage rate.

 

Lisa Poler of Wheeler Jewelry insinuates that she received an Azotic® Pink Topaz (without saying Azotic) and when heating the enhanced gemstone, the coating peeled off. Azotic testing has shown that the coating does not “peel” off due to heat. However, it will seem to disappear when the gemstone reaches approximately 955 degrees Centigrade or higher. This is because the thin film coating at this temperature will diffuse into the surface of the topaz. While the coating makes the gemstone appear pink in color (as a coating) once the coating is part of the bulk substrate material it has very little color, appearing clear or a slightly faded pink.

 

For several years, Azotic, the industry leader has pursued techniques to improve hardness and durability. Newer processes (Mystopia™, Mystvana™ etc.) result in colors that utilize various methods that improve the enhancement. This is accomplished by adding various seed layers for adhesion (or infusion) and utilizing elements like Zirconia, Zircon and Diamond like films for improved durability. This new realm of enhancements has created a spectrum of vivid colors that are extremely durable. The new colors manufactured by Azotic are Exotic, Enticing, Alluring and Mysterious. The motivation was to supply the Fashion Industry with dazzling colors to satisfy even the most discriminating taste. These new more durable enhancements are still cheaper than enhancements marketed by Signity. The new processes by Azotic (unlike the treated topaz or Thermal Color Fusion by Signity) are available on any custom shape or size gemstone (in any volume). This is a huge advantage over Signity.

 

Azotic continues to sell the Mystic Topaz® enhancements, treasured by many loyal followers, at a cost much less than any other surface gemstone enhancement. Azotic provides the manufacturer with many color options for very tight price point requirements. These enhancements are durable and permanent when handled correctly by the manufacturer. Mystic Topaz® has sold millions of carats and has devoted customers, who enjoy Mystic Topaz® with any fashion apparel. Like politics, there is always someone who is negative about anything or everything. However, the fact remains that Azotic has millions of customers who are satisfied and desire to buy more Reasonably Priced, Beautifully Enhanced Jewelry pieces. This is indicative of overwhelming customer satisfaction. Contrary to what some in the industry would like the manufacturer and the consumer to believe, returns through the years for Mystic Topaz® have been minimal and not statistically different than many other types of jewelry!

 

Azotic has a color pallet than encompasses hundreds of color combinations for “Surface Enhanced Designer Gemstones™.” Do Not Limit Your Possibilities to complete that New Designer Jewelry Line you have been creating and perfecting for months. Remember to consider Azotic Surface Enhanced Designer Gemstones and complete your masterpiece with a gemstone that will make friends and strangers alike stop and say “WOW.”

 

Consider the facts, the cost and the result. Judge for yourself. Do not be influenced by opinions or hearsay.

 

Contact an Azotic Authorized Reseller to experience the best of the old and the best of the new enhancements. Do not be fooled. NOW, you have the rest of the story.