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 Post subject: Toxicity of Beryllium Treated Sapphires
PostPosted: Fri Oct 12, 2018 9:04 pm 
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Hi,

I have concerns on beryllium treated sapphires. Back in October 2004 I started buying heat treated sapphires from ebay from Thailand. On and off I purchased quite a lot of them through 2009. Back in the days no one specify if beryllium was used in heating process. Even now there's no information specified by the vendors. The large lot I purchased in Oct 2004 had all kinds of colors and had some smell.
Last year my mother was diagnosed with non-smoker lung cancer and she passed away this year. It was devastating and so unexpected. I realized I have to be really careful with my lungs since mine may be susceptible to irritations. I also read some article about beryllium may cause lung cancer. Luckily I have not been handling the stone too often.

I'd like to know when did people start treating with Be....all the way around 2004? Is my lot safe?
Are beryllium treated sapphires toxic to handle and wear? I decorate them on silver clay and fire them in a kiln at 1650 F.

Your response is greatly appreciated!

Jeannie


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 Post subject: Re: Toxicity of Beryllium Treated Sapphires
PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2018 3:33 am 
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The sapphires contain only tiny tiny amounts and it isn't really free to get in your lungs. No worries there. But the people actually doing the treatment are exposed to pretty enormous risks if there isn't exceptionally good ppe used.

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 Post subject: Re: Toxicity of Beryllium Treated Sapphires
PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2018 12:22 am 
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Hi Stephen,

Thank you so much for your reply!! Do you think beryllium is safe when I heat it up to 1650F? What kind of PPE should I have just to be cautious?

The vendor told me beryllium is used for green, yellow, orange, and red sapphire. For white, pink, and blue ones they are not beryllium enhanced. Is this true?

Thank you very much!

Jeannie


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 Post subject: Re: Toxicity of Beryllium Treated Sapphires
PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2018 7:58 pm 
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Unfortunately not, Be is used on blues for sure (apparently it can help lighten some overdark blues?), and I think also on some rubies. The most typical reaction is the addition of a yellow or orange color component but Be apparently does some other things in sapphires too that have other effects on the color.
I would think heating treated stones would be relatively safe, but there wouldn't be any good reason to do so. Heating pure beryllium, I wouldn't. Heating powdered beryllium, or being within 100 feet of powdered beryllium at any temperature, I also wouldn't.

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 Post subject: Re: Toxicity of Beryllium Treated Sapphires
PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2018 2:03 pm 
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Hi Stephen,

Thank you so much for the information. I feel safe now! I only heat up the stones when they are set in silver clay to cure the clay.

Best regards!

Jeannie


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 Post subject: Re: Toxicity of Beryllium Treated Sapphires
PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2018 2:42 pm 
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JYKY123 wrote:
For white, pink, and blue ones they are not beryllium enhanced. Is this true?


It might be true for white sapphires. Because I wouldn't see the interest of enhancing corundums to make them more colorless than colorless ! :)


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 Post subject: Re: Toxicity of Beryllium Treated Sapphires
PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2018 8:36 pm 
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Review:
Beryllium in Blue Sapphires, Both Natural and Diffusion-Treated


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 Post subject: Re: Toxicity of Beryllium Treated Sapphires
PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2018 1:15 am 
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Isi and Barbra,

Thank you very much for your input! !! I agree white sapphires don't seem to need enhancement anymore. The blue ones are interestingly complicated. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Toxicity of Beryllium Treated Sapphires
PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2018 2:18 am 
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Barbra Voltaire wrote:

I love this sentence in particular:
"Microscopic examination of these beryllium-treated sapphires indicated that the treatment took place at extreme temperatures (J.L. Emmett et al., “Beryllium diffusion of ruby and sapphire,” Summer 2003 G&G, pp. 84–135). The only diagnostic evidence using standard gemological equipment was."
It just stops there--I know it's a typo but it's not exactly wrong either.

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 Post subject: Re: Toxicity of Beryllium Treated Sapphires
PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2018 12:54 pm 
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How about faceting these treated stones turning them back into powder? Would the swarf be dangerous when or if allowed to dry?


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 Post subject: Re: Toxicity of Beryllium Treated Sapphires
PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2018 3:57 pm 
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Sidebar: The percentage of Be in diffused sapphires clocks in (as Stephen wrote) in ppm.

Analyses have indicated that the beryllium concentration in the diffused region is only about 10 to 35 parts per million atomic (ppma) or 4.4 to15.5 ppmw*

*The more commonly used units for trace-element analyses are ppmw (parts per million by weight), usually written as ppm. One ppm means that there is one microgram of impurity in one gram of crystal.

Compare that to the beryllium content of beryl, which can typically contain up to 5 weight percent beryllium.


Point being, if one is cautious with Be treated sapphire you best not be thinking of cutting aquamarine, morganite, heliodor, emeralds.... :wink:


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 Post subject: Re: Toxicity of Beryllium Treated Sapphires
PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2018 9:04 pm 
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Hi Barbara,

I love numbers! Thank you very much for the quantified info!

I got another question - What is "Natural heating"? Is it just plain heating?

Thank you very much!

Jeannie


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 Post subject: Re: Toxicity of Beryllium Treated Sapphires
PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2018 10:35 pm 
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I think the definition of "natural heating" is a function of the context in which it is used and who is claiming it.


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 Post subject: Re: Toxicity of Beryllium Treated Sapphires
PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 2:11 pm 
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Thank you, Barbra!

Jeannie


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