Spotting the Difference: How to Tell Real Gemstones from Fake

Leigha is a writer and artist living in Toronto, Ontario. She loves to mix and match…

When you’re looking to buy a piece of jewelry, how do you know that you’re getting what you paid for? It’s definitely not always easy. But it’s important that you know how to identify real gemstones from fake.

Many people might be tempted to believe that all gemstones are precious and valuable. But the truth is that there are many types of gemstones on the market, some of which are rarer and more expensive than others.

If you’re looking to invest in a piece of jewelry, you should be able to tell the difference. Luckily, it’s not too hard if you know what to look for.

We’ll go over some tips for inspecting gemstones, as well as some telltale signs that a gemstone might be fake. 

So, whether you’re an experienced gemstone connoisseur or just starting out, you can shop for gemstones with confidence!

What are gemstones? 

The word “gemstone” comes from the Latin gemma, meaning “jewel.” When you think of gemstones, you might think of precious stones like diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. But several other kinds of “semi-precious” stones also exist.

Gemstones are a type of mineral, stone, or other organic material that have been cut and polished for use in jewelry or other decorative items. 

While gemstones can be found all over the world, some of the most famous gemstones come from India, Brazil, and South Africa.

With so many different types of gemstones out there, it can be hard to identify them all at just a glance, never mind tell the difference between real and fake. 

So, how can you be sure that a gemstone is authentic?

7 Ways to Identify Real Gemstones from Fake 

Identifying real and fake gemstones can save you expenses and peace of mind. Knowing how to tell the difference between a genuine diamond and cubic zirconia, for example, can save you a lot of money, and ensure that you’re getting the quality of jewelry you expect.

We’ve highlighted seven basic methods for identifying gemstones so that you can get the most out of your gemstone collection and spot real gems like a pro!

Use an Identification Chart

If you’re interested in gemstones, then you know that each type of stone has its own unique properties. 

However, it can be difficult to keep track of all the different characteristics of each gemstone. That’s where gemstone identification charts come in handy!

Gemstone identification charts are an easy and effective way to tell the difference between genuine gemstones and imitations. 

These charts provide information on their specific properties. For example, you can use a chart to look up the color, hardness, or refractive index of any gemstone. 

Another great thing about identification charts is that they can be found in many gemology books and on the internet, making them a valuable resource for gemologists and gemstone enthusiasts alike!

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is a great online resource for gemstone identification charts. Or you can purchase a chart online to have on hand whenever you need it!

With gemstone identification charts, you can be sure that you’re accurately identifying the gemstones you find. 

Look for Flaws

how to tell if diamonds are real

One thing to know when trying to identify real gemstones from fake ones is that real gemstones usually have flaws. 

These flaws can be in the form of tiny cracks or inclusions, and they are often what give gemstones their unique look and character.

However, some gemstone imitations can also have flaws, so this is not necessarily a foolproof way to tell the difference.

A great way to find flaws within any gemstone is by using a loupe. Under a loupe, genuine stones should have:

  • Flat, sharp edges
  • Angular growth patterns
  • Needle, cloud, fluid, or crystal inclusions

If you are using a loupe to find flaws in a gemstone, you may notice that:

  • The surface looks pitted or uneven
  • It contains swirl marks known as “flow lines”
  • Gas bubbles can be seen on the inside
  • The outer part of the stone has a reddish ring

These are all indications of imitation stones. 

Different types of fake gemstones, such as those made out of glass, plastic, or assembled stones may contain one or more of these flaws, so it is useful to have a loupe on hand to be sure your tests are accurate.

Check the Price

Real gemstones are more expensive than imitations. This is because they are rarer and more difficult to produce. 

There’s a well-known saying that if something seems too good to be true, it usually is. So if you see a gemstone sold for an incredibly low price, it’s likely that the stone is not real. 

However, there are some exceptions to this rule, so it’s important to do your research before making a purchase.

For instance, some gemstones are commonly reproduced in laboratories, and these lab-created stones can be just as beautiful as their natural counterparts. 

💡 Did You Know: Two commonly lab-produced gemstones are lab-grown diamonds and moissanite. Both of these gemstones are used as diamond alternatives, and while they are not natural diamonds, they are still considered genuine gemstones.

Certain types of gemstones are also relatively common compared to others, and their price reflects that. Gemstones that are slightly easier to find and produce are often cheaper than those that are limited and require effort to manufacture. 

For example, a semi-precious gemstone like aquamarine will be less expensive than a precious gemstone like green emerald, despite that they are both beryls because green emerald is much rarer.

If you’re thinking about buying a gemstone, do your research first and check common price ranges on reputable jewelry stores like Tiffany, James Allen, and Blue Nile. 

This way, you’ll know what to expect in terms of price and quality, and you can notice if or when a price seems unrealistic.

Compare Weight

One way to tell if a gemstone is real or fake is to check its weight. 

Generally, synthetic gemstones have a higher density than their natural counterparts, so fake stones tend to be heavier. 

Of course, this method is not foolproof, as there can be some variation in weight even among genuine gemstones. 

However, if a stone seems significantly heavier or lighter than you would expect, it’s likely not the real thing. 

This method is especially useful when comparing two stones that are identical in size, color, and shape. If one feels much different in weight than the other, at least one of them could be synthetic. 

Genuine pearls, for example, are about 20% heavier than synthetic pearls made from other materials like plastic.

Next time you’re looking at gemstones, pick them up and see how they feel in your hand. This should help if you’re questioning their authenticity.

Examine the Color

One of the key elements of a gemstone we consider when shopping for jewelry is color! Many gemstones are brightly colored, making them eye-catching and desirable. 

However, this color can also be used to identify whether a gemstone is real or fake. 

Counterfeiters often use dyes and other treatments to enhance the color of their stones, but these treatments can alter the overall hue. 

For example, treated sapphires may have an unnaturally deep blue color, while treated emeralds may have a green that is too bright.

Of course, treated stones are not always fake stones, and many genuine gems on the market have been treated in order to satisfy jewelry demand.

The difference is that certain treatments are more widely accepted in professional practice than others, and gemstones should be less expensive if they’ve been treated.

Heat treatments, laser-drilling, and fracture-filling are widely accepted treatments that are commonly used for gemstones on the market. In contrast, most reputable dealers won’t accept lattice diffusion or irradiation as a treatment for most real gemstones.

💡 Quick Tip: If you’re unsure about the quality of a stone, ask your seller about their policy on gemstone treatments, so you can be sure that what you’re getting has been treated within proper guidelines.

Familiarize Yourself with Reputable Sellers

When you’re shopping for gemstones, it’s important to familiarize yourself with reputable sellers. This way, you can be sure that you’re getting the real thing. 

There are a few things you can look for to help identify a reputable seller. 

  • Certifications: Check if a seller is certified by organizations like the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). This means that they have been trained to properly identify and grade gemstones. 
  • Warranty: Check to see if the seller offers a money-back guarantee. This shows that they are confident in the quality of their gemstones. 
  • Ratings and reviews: Take a look at the seller’s feedback rating. Reputable gemstone sellers should have positive reviews from happy customers.

Take the time to research gemstone sellers before making a purchase and you can be confident that you’re getting the real thing.

Ask for a Gemstone Report

Gemstones are often certified by independent gemological laboratories, which means that they have been thoroughly tested and evaluated by experts. 

Certified gemologists have access to a variety of gemstone identification tools, so they can usually tell you if a gemstone is real or not.

A report from a certified gemologist will help to identify the gemstone and provide information on its quality and value. 

To make things easier, there are resources online, like those given by the GIA and Jewellery Appraisers of the World (JAW), that provide the names of gemologists and jewelry appraisers across the U.S.

So, if you’re thinking about buying a gemstone, make sure to ask for a report from a certified gemologist. 

You’ll Never Be Fooled Again

We hope that by following these simple tips and using the tests we’ve outlined, you’ll become a little more confident in identifying the precious stones you come across. 

Remember that telling real from fake doesn’t need to be hard – with a little practice, anyone can do it! 

And if you still have any questions or concerns after reading this article, don’t hesitate to reach out to an expert. Go forth and shop with confidence!

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