Gemstone jewelry enhances your look, matches with the outfit and is also used to start a jewelry collection. You can even use it as an investment option. But how do you identify gemstones encrusted in your jewelry? Of course, a reputed jeweler like AËLRA JOIALLERIE will sell what is promised but you should have some basic knowledge about gemstones too. It will help you next time you are shopping for jewelry and make better choices. To help you with your gemstone queries, we have compiled a guide on how to identify gemstones. Let’s have a look at it below.
By Using Gemstone Identification Charts
To identify gems in gemstone jewelry, get a gemstone identification chart or reference manual preferably endorsed by Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and other reputed gemstone certification authorities. If unable to do so then a quick online search will get you access to gemstone identification charts. Some notable examples are:
- The Gem Select RI chart (use it if you are familiar with refractive index and birefringence)
- The Hiddenite Gems' identification chart (if you are familiar with color and hardness of gemstones)
- The American Federation of Mineralogical Societies (AFMS) provides the chart categorizing the hardness at Mohs Scale.
Through Simple Tactile Means
Do simple tactile tests to identify gems in gemstone jewelry. Feel the surface of the gemstone. A gemstone has a smooth structure. If a purported gemstone has a rough or sandy texture, then rest assured it is not a gemstone. You can also check the malleability of the specimen too. A malleable object will change shape through bending, crushing or hammering. If it does so, then the object is most likely a metallic ore than a gemstone. We don’t mean to say to destroy the stone for checking. Just a gentle pressure will suffice to determine whether the tested object is gemstone or not.
Differentiate between Natural and Synthetic Stones
Lab grown gemstones look the same as the natural ones as they have the same chemical composition, structure and physical properties. But you can differentiate between them by observing the following points.
- A natural extracted stone will have angular growth patterns inside the stone, whereas the lab grown will have curved growth patterns.
- Gas bubbles with large strings can be found inside lab grown stones. Though these can be found in both natural and synthetic stones but happens more in lab grown ones.
- Along with the above inclusions other inclusions like nail-shaped inclusions, fingerprint-patterned inclusions, wispy veil like inclusions, V shaped growth patterns and interior columnar structures are commonly found inside synthetic gemstones.
Differentiate Between Imitation and Natural Gemstones
Some unscrupulous jewelers may replace natural stones with imitation pieces from gemstone jewelry they sell. The gemstone may look the same but maybe either a wholly different cheap treated gemstone or a synthetic one. This happens especially with Emeralds, Turquoise, Rubies, Lapis and Sapphires. But you can differentiate between them by observing the following points.
- The surface of the imitation piece will be pitted and uneven.
- Imitation stone will have gas bubble inclusions and have swirl marks.
- They will be lighter than the original stones.
Differentiate Between Assembled and Natural Stones
Gemstone jewelry may even have stones that are assembled together. Assembled stones are created through 2 or more materials. They may be natural stones or a mix of synthetic materials. You can differentiate between them by observing the following points.
- Use a penlight or bright and a fixed source of light to illuminate the stone to check for signs of joints or assembly. Look if colorless or colored cement is used to join 2 different stones.
- Check for differences in luster in the stone. If one part is different than the other, it is an assembled stone.
- Test the stone for red ring phenomenon. Put the stone face down. Observe closely and look out for a red ring on the outer part of the gemstone. If you find the red ring, then it is probably an assembled stone.
How to Identify the Gemstones through Observation
Here are some basic observations to identify stones from your gemstone jewelry.
- Check the color of the stone. You can categorize the stones through their color into basic categories. For e.g., emeralds and peridots have green color while rubies have red color. Color is further divided into Hue, Tone and Saturation.
- Hue means the overall color of the gemstone. You have to be specific when describing the color. A brownish red is different from light pink. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) specifies 31 different stone hues. Identify the stone by placing it alongside the GIA color wheel.
- Tone means the intensity of the color the stone has. It can be dark, medium or light and more. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) specifies 7 different tones. Identify the stone by placing it alongside the GIA color wheel.
- You can identify the stones in your gemstone jewelry through checking color saturation. Saturation means the intensity of color the stone has. Warm hues are orange, red and yellow. Cool hues are blue, green and purple. For warm colored stones, check for brown tints. For cool colored stones, check for grey tints. The more the brown or grey tint a particular hue stone has, the less saturated its color is considered to be.
- Check the clarity the stone possesses. It is defined as the amount of light filtered through the stone. The clarity can be categorized as transparent, translucent, and opaque. Transparent stones are clear. Light passes clearly through them and the stones are completely see- through, for e.g., diamonds. You can also see through translucent stones but color or haze present inside them will affect the image on the other side. For e.g., amethyst and aquamarines. Opaque stones do not let any light pass through them and cannot be seen through. For e.g., turquoise and opal.
- You can also check the heft or weight of the stone, but this method is used by experienced professionals. They will bounce the stones in their hands to check if it corresponds to the weight of its category. For e.g. diamond is lighter than lab grown cubic zirconia and aquamarine is lighter than blue topaz.
- Check optical phenomenon inside the stones. Use a focused bright source of light across the stone’s surface. Certain stones show asterism, color change and bands of moving light. Use color change to identify stones. Notice color changes between natural light, incandescent light, and fluorescent light.
- Check the luster of the stones. Luster means the shine of the stone i.e., the intensity and quality of the light reflected from the surface of the stone. Observe the stone under the bright light and turn it around. The luster can be dull, metallic, waxy, vitreous (glass like), silky, greasy or adamantine (like diamonds). You can identify the stones based on luster.
- To identify the stone in your gemstone jewelry, check its dispersion. Dispersion means the separation of white light into its spectral colors through the stone. A visible display of dispersion is known as “fire” of the stone. Identify the stone through its fire. A fire of the stone may be weak, moderate, strong or extreme.
With the help of the above information, you can identify the stones used in your gemstone jewelry. For detailed observation of valuable gems, you can take the help of an expert that will use instruments like spectroscope to accurately identify the stone.