How Can I Identify a Real Gem?

A man inspecting a gem.
An eternity ring with what appear to be real diamonds.
Article Details
  • Written By: Harriette Halepis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 11 April 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
Annual microwave sales in the US are down about 40% since 2004.  more...

April 20 ,  1864 :  Louis Pasteur performed his first pasteurization tests.  more...

There are various ways to identify a real gem from a fake one. While professional jewelers may be able to tell whether or not a gemstone is real by putting the stone through various laboratory tests, there are ways to test gemstones without resorting to sophisticated methods. The first thing to look for is whether or not a gem creates a rainbow of colors when held up to the light.

In order to see the many colors that a gem can produce, hold a stone up to any kind of light. By placing the stone close to your eye and tilting it, you should be able to see a variety of colors. A real gem will produce a rainbow of colors; stones that do not produce color are frequently fake. If a stone does not create small bits of color, put it through another test.

Another way to test a real gem is to conduct a bit of research. If you believe that you have a genuine ruby, take the time to find out about the qualities of a genuine ruby. If your stone does not have the same qualities and details as real rubies do, you may not have a gem. When shopping for a real gem, ask about the origin of a stone. Certain stones only come from specific geographical locations, so stones that seem to come from unusual places may not be real.


It is also important to ask a jeweler or gemologist whether or not any treatments have been done to a gem in question. Since many different treatments can turn a regular stone into a shiny gem impostor, purchasing a stone that has been treated with a laser or heat is not a wise idea. Real gemstones are often cut and polished, but most gems have not gone through any other process.

If you are shopping for an expensive gemstone, ask a seller whether or not you can view the stone's certificate of authenticity. All gems of worth, within most countries, are accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. If the stone you are considering purchasing does not have a certificate, find out if you can have the stone appraised prior to purchase. Any reputable jeweler will have a stone appraised without argument.

Always take your time when shopping for gemstones. Far too many people rush into purchasing a stone that has a good price without considering the aforementioned factors. Real gems may be hard to spot, but with a bit of knowledge, you should be able to distinguish the perfect gem you have been looking for from a synthetic rock.


Discuss this Article

Post 11

To check if a gemstone is genuine, wrap a strand of hair around it. With a lighter/match, try to burn the hair. if it doesn't burn, it's genuine. If it does burn, it's fake. I tried it on my carnelian and my mum tried it on her agate, both were genuine. and both strands of hair burnt and stunk the place when burnt afterwards.

Post 10

Is there such a thing as smooth, sky blue diamonds?

Post 8

When it says it's genuine topaz, is it real or fake?

Post 6

How can I check real gems or semi gems at home?

Post 4

a fake gemstone will not scratch corundum (ruby and sapphire). You can buy non-gem quality rough stones at rock and mineral shops from $5 to $15 if you want test. Look up the Mohs hardness scale. Diamond is a 10 (hardest) and will scratch anything below it, including corundum (9). Corundum will scratch everything except a diamond.

Post 3

If you are planning on purchasing an expensive gem ring or other piece of jewelry, I would advise buying something that is certified by an independent gem lab like the GIA, AGL, or EGL. These gem labs will give consistent grades and will detect fakes or altered stones. Getting a certified stone will also protect the resale value of the stone, but be aware; these grading reports are never appraisals. They only verify the characteristics of a stone. What you pay will depend on the market, and the rarity of a certain type of stone. You can find similar stones for very different prices depending on if you purchase form a wholesaler or a brick and mortar chain.

Any certificate of authenticity from a store is virtually meaningless because it is biased by nature. The only thing that the store should be able to provide would be a Kimberley Scheme certificate. If you need an appraisal, see an independent appraiser who will give you an unbiased appraisal of the stone.

Post 2

@ Anon132416- Most diamond fakes are actually synthetic stones, not diamonds. Sometimes people try to pass moissonite (not sure if my spelling is right) as genuine high quality diamonds, and it can be very hard to tell the difference. A glass gem will not likely cut glass because they are of the same hardness, but certain types of glass can be softer than others leaving scratches. Most fakes however will cut glass so this is not a valid test to see if a diamond is real.

Most jewelers you go to will have a small laser like machine that can tell most real diamonds from fakes. They do not, however, tell if a diamond has been treated or filled. There is plenty of technology available that can make an inferior gem look precious.

Post 1

will a fake glass diamond still cut glass?

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?