How to Tell if a Gem is Real?

Posted on March 5th, 2024 05:41 PM

Real gemstones have been adorned for centuries for their beauty and benefits. Numerous gemstones like sapphire, ruby, emerald, and diamond are known to have a positive impact on the life of the wearer. But with the changing era and fast fashion synthetic and imitation gemstones have impacted the market. This does enhance beauty but the question is are they solving any real-life problems? While you are free to make your decision we bring you a guide on how to understand the difference between a real, synthetic, and imitation gemstone. This way when you buy original gemstones you stay assured that you have not been cheated. So let us look into how to tell if a gem is real and ways to differentiate clearly between the fake ones. 

Most Common types of fake gemstones

Natural gemstones are those found in nature. They are formed deep inside the earth and brought to the surface by an eruption of molten rock. Gemstones like aquamarine are formed when granitic magma cools down whereas others are formed under high temperatures and pressure like the beautiful red garnet. So, you can see real gemstones are formed under various environmental conditions that are nature-specific, and hence their beauty is indispensable. 

Read More: What are Natural Gemstones ?

In the market, you will also find fake gemstones with different names. Each of these has a different composition but is often sold as a genuine gemstone. Thus, it is important to know about these terms. 

Synthetic gemstones: These are called by various names such as artificial, lab-grown, lab-created gem, or man-made gems. They are grown in the lab with the same chemical composition as that of natural gemstones. Synthetic gems look like the original ones but these can't be termed as natural. 

Imitation stones: These are stones made of plastic, glass, or synthetic resin. Glass-filled ruby is a common example of fake gemstone where low-quality rubies are infused with colored glass. These are less valuable but are available in the market and sold as real rubies. Imitation stones look like the original ones but differ in chemical composition, physical properties, and crystal structure. They are cheaper than original gemstones. 

Read More: How To Differentiate Between Glass Filled Ruby vs Natural Ruby

Assembled stones: Assembled gems are the ones that are constructed out of two or more materials. These materials can be either a combination of natural or man-made or either of the two.  

Treated gemstones: Treated stones are not fake but they are also not 100% natural. Original gems come with imperfections or inclusions that hinder their color and clarity. To make them look more shiny and clear they are given various treatments such as irradiation, dyeing, stabilizing, gluing, and heat treatment. 

Popular original gems and their identification 

There is an unending list of original or genuine gemstones sourced directly from the earth's surface. These natural gemstones are defined by many factors such as their color, presence of inclusions, and hardness.

The original gems have more Inclusions compared to the fake ones

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The presence of inclusions affects the appearance of the stone but is one of the factors that determines whether it is natural or fake. Inclusions differ from gemstones to gemstones. For example, Emerald simulants called Soude emeralds are available in the market. This assembled stone is formed by joining three different layers of synthetic spinel, quartz beryl, and a coloring agent that acts as a bonding layer. These stones also look green and it is difficult to differentiate them from natural stones. It features a lush green color and is characterized by type 3 inclusions. 

These inclusions are eye-visible and are natural which means they are present during the extraction of the stone from the earth. Emerald inclusions are classified as severely, heavily, moderately, slightly included, and eye-clean. 

Read More: Inclusions In Emeralds

Fake and imitations are made of glass unlike the natural gemstones

The lab-created gemstones are made of glass. For example, Glass-filled rubies also known as “manufactured products” or “reconstructed rubies” are available in the market. These are sold at low prices and are difficult to distinguish from genuine gemstones. Observe the color of the ruby it should be deep red with high saturation and medium tone. These stones can be mistaken for other red stones such as red garnet and red spinel. Thus, differentiating between the glass-filled and original is the perfect way to understand if a gemstone is real. 

The genuine gemstones are higher priced because of their quality

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Color is one of the physical properties that you can get confused with. For instance, aquamarine is a beautiful gem with a seawater-like color and is often confused with blue stones like blue topaz or spinel. Synthetic light blue spinel is often marketed as a substitute for natural aquamarine stone. You can always look for different ways to find out the difference between fake and natural gems. Lab-created aquamarine is cheaper than its natural counterpart and you can thus make out the difference. 

Real gemstones have optical properties to consider

Pleochrism is one of the factors that helps in identifying the originality of the stone. It is the optical phenomenon that showcases different colors when observed at different angles. For instance, Alexandrite is a popular stone known for its color-changing properties and also exhibits pleochroism.  This is one of the optical phenomena where gemstones show various colors from red-orange to yellow-green. The pleochroism phenomenon is absent in synthetic alexandrites. Similarly, there are other optical properties of gemstones used by gemologists to know whether the gem is real. The best way to skip the chances of fake gemstones is by buying certified natural gemstones. The certification ensures that the gemstone is real and top quality.

Know More here: Must Know the difference between Alexandrite and Chrysoberyl

A genuine stone does not have gas bubbles as clear as that in fake ones

You can easily make out if the gemstone is real or not by looking for the gas bubbles. For instance, yellow sapphire showcases inclusions that are sometimes not seen clearly. Pukhraj without inclusions is very rare but look for gas bubbles inside the stone. Fake sapphires showcase tiny bubbles inside and this is one of the ways you can tell if pukhraj is real or not. 

Read Here: 7 Effective Tips To Identify A Real Yellow Sapphire

Understand the Difference in Sparkle 

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The glass refracts and disperses more light in comparison to natural gemstones. Even if you find a stone sparkling in different shades, it might be a glass. This is because there are exceptions in this case as moissanite sparkles in rainbow hues. Natural blue sapphires for instance feature a deep blue color with medium tone and high saturation. The color saturation blocks the dispersion of light. Hence, natural gemstones do not sparkle whereas glass does. 

Read More here: Different Ways to Tell If Sapphire Is Real

How to tell if a gem is real at home: 5 Tests You Should Run

Identifying a natural gemstone is a tricky task but one can easily perform initial tests at home. 

Test 1: Look for inclusions and pleochroism in the stone. These are natural within the gemstones found inside the earth's crust.

Test 2: Perform a scratch test. Natural gemstones are not easily scratched. 

Test 3: For denser gemstones like diamonds, sapphires, and rubies, real gemstones sink in a glass of water while fake ones float. 

Test 4: Perform a fog test. Breathe on the gem if it is real it doesn't fog up. In case it lasts longer it is a fake stone. 

Test 5: How to know if your gemstone is real just with the air?  Assess the temperature of the stone, if it's cold for a longer duration it is an original one. 

Other Tips to consider when Buying original Gemstones

Research for a reputed seller 

In this digital era, if you are planning to buy genuine gemstones online, you must research the entire platform. Make sure you find an authentic gemstone dealer. Check for the availability of certificates, and read cautions for return policy or exchange.

Opt for certified gemstones 

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If you are buying gemstones for astrology purposes it is considerable to ask for certifications from recognized institutes like GIA, GII, IGI, and GRS. A certification from such organizations provides authenticity that the gemstone you are buying is natural. The report generated by these labs specifies key factors such as treatment, color, hardness, origin, and more.  

Consult a gemologist

In a doubtful situation after buying the gemstone, you can always check with a reputed gemologist. The gemologists should be equipped with the tools used to identify the originality of the stone. Consulting gemologists rules out your doubt and ensures that you are not wrong with your choice. 

Read More: What are Certified Gemstones ?

To sum up, genuine gemstones have a high demand in the jewelry market. Along with diamonds precious colored gemstones like ruby, emerald, and sapphires are used to make precious jewelry. The explicit color of these gems is one aspect whereas their astrological benefit is another feature that highlights their importance. You can go for imitations and synthetic gems for affordable jewelry but original gemstones are preferred for astrological purposes. Hence it is important to be aware of the parameters that distinguish real from other affordable pieces available in the market.

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