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how to tell if a gemstone is synthetic? I am so confused!

Posted by Fira Shay  
Fira Shay February 01, 2008 04:06AM
Hello everyone!

I admit I am not a gemstone expert but I can in most cases tell by looking, what exactly I am looking at. I have watched many jewelry/gemstone home-shopping channels. One of them is JTV. I watched it for almost two months. I have seen them sell synthetic Alexandrite, which I'm not interested in even if it were real because I know this stone is said to posess a very dark aura. It's been labeled as the "gem of widows" meaning that if I was to own it I'd likely lose a husband or never get married at all. Some supersticious crap, which I'm sure doesn't matter to gemologists. But just in case, I stay as far away from it as possible.
Anyway it is interesting to hear presenters go on and on about this stone from an educational point. But one thing that really got me thinking is what one presenter stated about these synthetic gems. Acording to him if you take it to a gemologist, and have the stone tested, the results will be that this is Alexandrite...not a synthetic. So, they are practically claiming that as long as the only person who knows that it didn't come from the ground is you, you can sell it as a natural stone and NO ONE will be able to tell the difference.
HOW ON EARTH do you tell that it's a synthetic then? If all the properties are EXACTLY the same, even under close and extensive examinations, what makes it different from the real? Is there something they are just not mentioning? Does it really test out to be a natural Alexandrite gemstone?

And another question I have is about the gemstone jewelry sold on Gems TV, another jewelry shopping network. They claim that all of their gemstones are natural but I've been reading some nasty comments online from UK customers (where this network originally started) some claming that their gemstones tested out to be synthetic. And once tested, the customers weren't able to return because the third party, a gemologist, got involved. Which implies that a gemologist may have switched the stone while examining it, and said it was fake or something along those lines. And again, I ask myself, how can I tell if the gemstones are real or not? Can anyone really tell a difference between a good synthetic and the real deal? And how do I know if the ring with a ruby I bought (which appears genuine to me just not of best quality) has a real ruby?

In fact it doesn't matter where I go to buy my jewelry, I wouldn't know a way of telling. I could walk into Bvlgary and walk out with a synthetic gemstone ring, having paid thousands of dollars for it, then take it to a gemologist or an appraiser and if it tests genuine I'd be satisfied. And it's supposed to test as genuine according to JTV presenters.

I am SOOOOO confused now! I don't think I believe in gemstones being genuine anymore, unless I am the one who mines them straight out of the earth, cuts them, and sets them in jewelry myself.

Is everything sold on the market today, labeled as "genuine", good fakes/lab grown synthetics? And the ones labled as "fake" just bad lab experiments which didn't turn out right and don't imitate the stones enough?

Any thoughts and comments will be appreciated.
Fira Shay February 01, 2008 09:36AM
I think I'd just answered my own question. I'd been breaking my head about this for a very long time now. "If the gemstone sold by someone like JTV is natural, why does it cost so much less then the one sold by someone like let's say, Dior?" I now know the exact answer to that question.

I recently bought a 3 carat emerald that cost me $300.00 per carat. It was advertised as natural "comming from the earth" but if it honestly were, I would have gone broke trying to pay for it. It would have been worth ten times more. The reason?

It's more then likely synthetic, lab created. Sure it has the exact physical and visual properties and will test exactly as an Emerald until they find the better equipment to distinguish a man made clone from the one that came from the ground, but for now it's an Emerald. The thing to keep in mind however, the more of them get created, the lesser the value will be years from now where as the one that comes from the ground will continue to go up in price.

What I don't understand however is how these home shopping tv networks even dare advertise it as comming from the earth and keep telling tales of mining these stones when the only mines they use is a lab around the corner. The price of the stone does go well with the prices for lab created, synthetics, so why put on a show? Just tell people straight out "these stones are lab created which doesn't make them worse then natural but does make them less expensive. Not like we charge a lot for them anyway, just the price of a true synthetic." It would make everything much more clear and people could make a well informed decision!

I have found this article online and I'll post a link if you want to read about lab created, synthetic diamonds. Here is where JTV and all those others come in. Are any of their diamonds actually formed in nature? OH PLEASE!!! If they were, they'd cost thousands upon thousands even for the smallest insignificant specks! In fact any "gemstone" you see selling for 10% or less of what it would cost, is 99% of times a synthetic, lab created stone. If it weren't you wouldn't be able to afford it.


I used to be facinated by a gemstone world now I am just disapointed and disgusted because of mislabling and lies. Someone needs to start telling the truth.

Would I still buy a 3 carat Emerald if I knew that it was an exact clone to a nature's Emerald only I wouldn't be able to afford the one from nature and here I was getting quite a deal? I probably still would but at least I'd know right away that it was not a nature's creation. Which means that nothing's rare about it.

Which brings me to storngly question the nature of Tanzanite now. Maybe the Tiffany's really did find 100 or so pieces of Tanzanite in the earth originally and priced it accordingly but what if the Tanzanite that all these companies sell nowdays, is actually produced around the corner in a lab? Why am I paying a $1,000 per carat for something that was likely grown in a lab?
And I doubt that Tanzania would to this day be such a poor country if their earth was stuffed with all these natural, rare and exotic gemstones.

So, it's all a myth. Real gemstones are a thing of the past. If you're lucky enough to inherit a piece of jewelry with gemstones from your great grandmother, which has been in the family for ages, then and only then, do you have the real, exotic and priceless gemstone peice. Back in those days, they didn't have the technology to create synthetics.

Having said all that, please be careful with your money. Invest wisely.
steven garza February 01, 2008 03:05PM
Dear Fira;
Your guidelines, under regular circumstances of the average buyer, are good; but, if you go to a show, you'll find that the REAL stones ARE only a pitance, in comparison to the jewelry stores, which would make you think ALL the stones are fake, which they aren't! You'll find MUCH better quality & better SERVICE at shows than ANY "kiss-your-butt-to-make-a-sale" store will do, which tends to be "soothing" more than truly informative. You should hear the carp I hear, when I'm in the mood to have fun, at their expense.
Next, why would you WANT to buy something from people who refuse to allow an appraisal? Using the same excuse for refusing a return, over & over again? Unless they can PROVE a stone was switched, (underline this) 20 TIMES IN A ROW, they MUST take it back; the goods are sold under fraudulent grounds & ANY district attorney would LOVE such a case! The JTV would fall over BACKWARDS to settle, just to kill possible bad PR, which this case would surely bring.
Hope this helps.
Your friend, Steve
Mike Salotti February 01, 2008 04:25PM
Most the time, natural stones are identified by having some inclusions. Even if they are microscopic. Most stones are considered VSS if they have no inclusions under 10X magnification. Try using 100X to look for inclusions if the stone is clean at 10X. This isn't a sure thing. They have begun making lab created stones with inclusions to appear like they are the real thing. I have seen more and more glass "stones" on ebay lately. They sell them as topaz, beryl, ect. when actually it is colored glass cut into a stone. Glass has a hardness of 5.5 - 6.5. These people get away with this because most people do not want to scratch their stones. Some things that will scratch glass are a sharp piece of amethyst or schorl. Since the stone you bought was labeled emerald, I'd first check it for inclusions under a high powered lens. If you see no inclusions, my guess would be lab created. I doubt they would be selling glass, but you can also try the scratch test with a piece of amethyst. If it scratches, it is not beryl at all. Amethyst cannot scratch beryl (emerald).
Steven Thomas February 04, 2008 01:54PM
Hi, I hear what all of you are saying,there are a lot of disreputable gem dealers out there.Lets face it these are the ones in it just to make a quick buck and fly by night. Once someone has studied gemstones for a while and get to know what inclusions are in what stone,most of which 40x microscope can reveal.Take Emerald or (Beryl) this is classed as a type 3 gemstone ,meaning what the inclusions are made up of or how they are formed in natural crystal. My self I have been studing gemstones and minerals for 8 years,and no I'm not a gemologist yet ,rather a student. First lets speak of hardness, there is a scale used called the Mohs scale of hardness.This numericaly ranges fron #1 to 10.#1 is talc the mineral used in powder years ago and 10 being Diamond. Now to be breif,glass has inclusions when it's heated but they are very different than the inclusions found in Emerald.Synthetics have been around for a long time,and some of them now have very impressive inclusions that are Man made,but are not exactly like the true inclusions found in mined faceted material.If you buy an ermerald that with the naked eye you cannot see any imperfections you may have bought whats called "flux fusion" or synthetic.Now not to be devils advocate synthetics are formed in big furnaces sometimes with high pressure and electricity,but they have the same chemical composition as natural material, one was formed in the earth and the other in the furnace,which will be almost near inclusion free- the one from the mine will be included.Now as price goes I peronally have paid 150.00 to 300.00 /carat for natural mined emeralds. Many gemstone prices are subject to supply and demand. The best advice I could give is possibly take a purchased stone to be evaluated by a few Gemologists until you find one that you are comfortable with. I would never buy anything without a return policy or a GIA (Gemological Institute of America Appraisal and certification).If someone sells you a stone that is synthetic and writes it up as mined and natural,that's a big time fraudulent transaction.Take photos if you can or find someone who can take microscopic photos of your stone,I do it all the time,then when you get it back. Again if I was spending big bucks on a stone ,I would have them do this certification.
One more note there are a lot of books available ,I have spent quite a lot of cash on mine, many are cheap but with accurate photo's and information. to learn these things,there worth it if this is a hobby or business someone wishes to persue, I sincerely hope this may shed some light on the confusion,If I can help send me an E-mail.
Ps. I can always send sa some photos of inclusions in any stone for you compiled from a da base of these inclusions in natural and synthetic.Steve
Ray Ladbury February 04, 2008 03:58PM
As long as there have been objects of desire, there have been those who were willing counterfeit said objects. In the gemstone world, you have two types of artificial stones--simulants, which are not even the same mineral as the stone they imitate--and synthetics, which are at least chemically the same mineral, but man-made. Actually, the world of simulants and synthetics is fascinating in its own right, but most people want a "natural" gemstone. Even here, you run into gemstones that have been "treated" to improve their appearance: Tourmalines, imperial topaz, sapphires and many other gems are heated are routinely heated; some sapphires have light, small elements like beryllium diffused into their crystalline structure to give beautiful colors; topaz is often irradiated; emeralds often are treated with resins or fillers to hide cracks and so on.
All I can say is that all of these treatments leave marks and can be detected by very good, knowledgeable gemologists--or by you if you have sufficient knowledge, familiarity with gems and their treatment and at least some gemological instruments. Likewise, natural gems can almost always be distinguished from simulants and synthetics--usually by looking at their microscopic inclusions. Gobelin had this down to an art, literally. He had a wonderful book of photographs of gemstone inclusions that was a work of art in and of itself.

What it all comes down to is that either you need to buy from a knowledgeable and trusted source or you yourself need to become knowledgeable. I have often noticed that as soon as I start asking questions, the frauds start to steer clear of me. And yes, sometimes you will get taken. Learn from it and don't make the same mistake twice. Gemstones represent an amazing world of beauty. Don't let yourself be put off by the bad apples. Just learn to protect yourself--and this website is a good place to start learning.
zada February 22, 2008 02:53PM
I have a pear shaped necklace my husband bought me back in 1964 while he was in the military in Viet Nam, I still don't know if it's real and affraid to leave it with a jeweler for at least it is precios to me, how could we tell if it's fake?
Curtis Wilbur February 24, 2008 07:19AM
First of all, I can assure you that there is plenty of natural stone out there. Miners are still finding them and natural material is still finding its way into the market. A lot of very good points made, and many of the fears are justified. But difficulty in separating legitimate from fake aside, there is one other point to mention. Real stones have a pedigree. The retailer got it from a wholesaler, the wholesaler from the cutter, and the cutter from the miner. If the retailer takes pride in his business, and is interested in the material he sells, they will know who cut the stone, as well as where it came from. Someone interested in turning a quick profit will know nothing about the stone itself. A few simple questions should weed these characters out, and you don't have to do business with them.

Another tact is to buy material direct from the miner, (which is possible in many places in the world.) I happen to be in San Diego, which is close to some of the most productive tourmaline, beryl, kunzite, and gem garnet producing areas in the world. There are a number of people that the miners can recommend to cut your stone, and it makes the ownership of a gem so much more interesting when you know exactly where it came from.

And although I hesitate to cut some of these beautiful natural stones, I did have a 3.5 carat rubellite cut and mounted for my wife.

P.S. Another thought on this subject. When people are in a hurry to make money, they make mistakes. One of the most common mistakes is a bad cutting job, which manifests itself with facets of different sizes and uneven brilliance. I've seen natural aquamarine displayed on a cruise (naturally I took my loupe with me, and you should have seen the people crowd around when I took it out to look at these stones) which was so badly cut, that I couldn't recommend the stones to anyone.

Contrary to being disappointed, I find this aspect of human nature to add a fascinating complication to the challenge of finding a great stone. Do not despair!
Claire Scheepers March 11, 2008 10:07AM
Hi there. -I am an accredited jewelry professional (GIA) with a degree in Geology and mineralogy and have been doing research on (and selling) gemstones from Tanzania for several years. Just in the last stages of completing my Graduate Gemologist Diploma. - One CAN distinguish between natural and synthetic stones - even diamonds. The way in which synthetic stones are "grown" is different and there are microscopic differences that any good gemologist should be able to see. - Laboratory grown stones are worth a fraction of natural gems, but the microscope will reveal the difference!
Ray Hill March 19, 2008 12:22PM
End run, get a reputable appraiser {FGA or GG/GIA> to test any stone or stones in jewellery or out, that you need confirmation on. The industry is vainly trying its best to keep up with all the treatments on Natural stones, let alone the synthetics that are grown in pressure bombs that have 3 phase inclusions. Testing is the answer, believe me. Don't let yourself worry unnecessarily when a reasonable investment in a good appraiser with up to date equipment and training will give you relief and confidence in your purchases.
Connie April 19, 2008 11:57PM
Could a ring from the 1950's be lab created?
David Von Bargen April 20, 2008 12:44AM
It depends on the stone, diamond wouldn't be, sapphire and ruby could be.
Dianna June 15, 2008 04:15AM
When did they start lab creating alexandrites?
Ray Ladbury June 15, 2008 04:52AM
Dianna, I believe that the hydrothermal alexandrites date from the 70s. However, there were synthetic corundum simulants with color change (albeit different from that of good alexandrite) going way back--I think to the 40s or even the 30s.
Grace Webster July 10, 2008 09:13PM
Ray Hill Wrote:
> End run, get a reputable appraiser {FGA or GG/GIA>
> to test any stone or stones in jewellery or out,
> that you need confirmation on. The industry is
> vainly trying its best to keep up with all the
> treatments on Natural stones, let alone the
> synthetics that are grown in pressure bombs that
> have 3 phase inclusions. Testing is the answer,
> believe me. Don't let yourself worry unnecessarily
> when a reasonable investment in a good appraiser
> with up to date equipment and training will give
> you relief and confidence in your purchases.

GIA does not appraise diamonds they only grade them.
Terri Goselin May 17, 2009 04:23PM
what would an alexandrite lab produced in the 1960s look like? I have one that I bought in Mexico in about 1964. It is very purple or dark red, but changes to a bluish purple, with a little green
Jamey Swisher May 29, 2009 05:26AM
First off, GemsTV most certainly does sell treated gemstones, and heavily treated ones at that too, i.e. Andesine for a perfect example!

These TV shows often sell stones under the wrong ID and or heavily treated as non-treated gemstones. JTV even sells glass filled topaz for crying out loud, got one in a parcel I bought to test(and of course sent right back, lol). Much of it is glass filled, resin filled, epoxy filled, etc.

A properly trained gemologist can ID a synthetic from a natural with nothing more then a microscope, and possibly a Spectroscope included in there for some stones. The only synthetic that can not be ID'ed under good magnification and key inclusions or growth structures is Quartz. They have so well perfected hydrothermal quartz, that is very few cases, can one tell the difference between natural and synthetic without the use of expensive lab equipment, like a RAMAN. You have to be lucky and hope that if natural, it has a natural inclusion in it or if synthetic that it just happens to have either a seed plate or a tell tale trail of breadcrumbs, otherwise no go without the heavy tools.

But syn. corundum(rubies & sapphires), emeralds and other beryls, spinels, etc. All have tell tale inclusions and/or growth patterns to look for if the person knows what they are looking for!!

Many of these TV shows are selling mined from the earth gemstones. They are just heavily treated, which is what brings the costs down so far. In most instances, where people think they are getting a deal, they are actually getting robbed blind, because the stone being sold is not worth anywhere near what the TV show is even selling it for! We just tested an Emerald for a client the other week, Columbian... no treatments mentioned... natural gemstone... top quality.... the stone was more epoxy(read GLUE) then it was beryl!!!! That is a newer treatment in Emeralds now, they are using epoxies and super glues to fill the cavities, fissures, etc. These glass filled/fissure filled rubies are actually more glass then anything! They should actually be no longer called natural stones, but instead, be classified as a composite stone! I just saw a test where they took true glass filled rubies(the good ones) and many of these TV show and Ebay sellers fissure filled/glass filled rubies and put them in acid to dissolve the glass. The TV shows and Ebay sellers stones where lots of little pieces of material that had been "glued" back together to form one stone using the majority of glass! The true, properly done, glass filled rubies just had cavities where the glass dissolved still leaving one solid stone for the most part, which is the proper use of this treatment.

The cookers in Thailand are even getting so good they are finding ways to introduce natural looking inclusions into synthetic rubies and sapphires to fool the untrained eye! Some of them are quite convincing too!

On another forum two different people got synthetic stones in the supposed all natural no synthetics JTV gemstone parcels! One of which was nothing more then glass, or Zandrite as they call it, but in reality it is nothing more then a type of glass.

Your best bet is to shop with legitimate stores/dealers. Shopping off of TV and/or Ebay is like playing Russian Roulette to be honest. Or as suggested by someone earlier in the thread, buy direct from a miner that is close to you or something. If shopping on Ebay, avoid the Chinese and almost all the Thai sellers, just for starters. There is an ongoing and growing list over at http://www.gemaddicts.com of bad sellers and good sellers and those somewhere in between. It would be a good starting point to find some legit vendors, or at the very least, finding some to stay clear of!

FYI, it would be a huge help for anyone/everyone to submit Vendors over there as well for Review for good ones and bad ones. There is a form to do so. It would greatly help the entire gemstone/mineral/gemological/geological communities as a whole to get the lists growing! :).

But have no worries, there are real and completely natural gemstones out there, just don;t expect to pay .99 cents for them, hehe. Seriously though, they are out there. Also, don;t be afraid of some treatments, especially those actually accepted by the Industry, i.e. heating of corundum, heating of tourmaline, glass filing of rubies(the proper way), flux healing, stabilization of turquoise, Andamooka opal, Tanzanite, citrine, prasiolite, etc. Just remember that in most cases a treated stone should always be cheaper then its untreated counterpart, but that is not always the case with like tourmaline heated vs. non-heated typically no difference in price. As long as the treatment is permanent and relatively(meaning glass filled) to permanently stable, no need to worry.

lastly, don;t fool for the synthetic diamond BS many are trying to pull now!!! There are synthetic diamonds being grown now using HPHT and CVD methods by 5 different companies, but they are all just as expensive as their natural counterparts for the most part!! What you are seeing being sold cheaply as man-made diamonds are nothing more then cheap commercially produced CZs. Like nexus Labs, who sells nothing more the Signity branded CZs, or at least that is what they were doing last year, but they are at least selling them as simulants now instead of synthetics!
Peter Lyckberg June 02, 2009 08:35PM
Get a set of Gems and Gemology for the last 20 years or more and you have a good start.
Then the three books on inclusions in gemstones by Gubelin, Koivola are great!
Tim Jokela Jr June 11, 2009 08:25PM
1) Find a local jeweler that you trust and respect. Look for a family-owned business that's been around for 20 or 40 years. Ask about his schooling and experience in the trade. Ask how he identifies his merchandise. Expect a guarantee of authenticity.

Any sort of treatment of gemstones must be disclosed by the seller, this is a law in the US and Canada at least.

2) DO NOT buy gems advertised on television.

3) Do not assume that gems you bought at the mine actually came from that mine.

4) Educate yourself. It's fun, and at cocktail parties you'll be able to tell people that in fact all emeralds are oiled, sapphires are all heat treated, tanzanite and alexandrite are in fact not even proper mineral names, and that garnet is actually a group of over a dozen different minerals, found in every color of the rainbow, not just red. Buy books. Read them. Take a GIA course even. Mineralogy is a fascinating subject... look into it and you'll have a hobby that will last you a lifetime.

5) Remain healthily skeptical. When you buy a nice stone for $900, try not to worry about whether you've been scammed; try to enjoy it's beauty. Bearing in mind that there's a billion people out there living on a dollar a day will help distract you from your worries.
Jamey Swisher June 13, 2009 01:51AM
"4) Educate yourself. It's fun, and at cocktail parties you'll be able to tell people that in fact all emeralds are oiled, sapphires are all heat treated"

This is just NOT correct. All emeralds are not oiled, although many are, but not all. Also not all sapphires are heat treated. Not sure where you got this information but it is entirely incorrect. There are many lab reports out there proving that those statements are just not correct.

While the majority of all emeralds sold currently are oiled and most all sapphires are either heat treated or diffusion treated, they are not all treated and there are plenty of untreated ones out there, but expect to pay a premium price for them.
Tim Jokela Jr June 18, 2009 08:37PM
My bad!

99% of emeralds are oiled, and 99% of sapphires are treated.

Sorry for exaggerating.
Jamey Swisher June 19, 2009 04:56AM
That is better. ;). Because, I have around 40 or so unheated sapphires of varying colors(including a color change) sitting here in front of me right now from various locations around the world but mainly from Africa, Burma, and Australia(although you could consider ALL sapphires from Australia heated under their current weather conditions..lol), hehe. ;).
blondie December 06, 2009 05:12AM
I don't think the anonlogy is a good one regarding looking at a country's wealth as determining a natural gemstone or not All you have to do is look no further then Burma and ruby mining. They are real rubies the the people of Burma are very POOR
Anonymous User January 31, 2010 08:49AM

You can tell in Aquas because they are replaced on the market with Spinell and the spec. gravity (density) if far smaller than that of Spinell.Just take the dimensiuns and keeping in mind how the stone is cut (there are a few sites were you can aprox. compute a stones volume based on cut and dimensions) you can calculate the spec. gravity and than compare it to that of the supposed aqua.:)
Alejandro G. Aragón February 11, 2010 01:12PM
Hello Steve,

I've always been interested in gemology and I'd like to know more about distinguishing fake from real gemstones since I've become a potential buyer. Could you please recommend me some trustworthy and useful literature/bibliography on this issue? Thank you very much from Spain

Alejandro (nimrod_brandnew@hotmail.com)
Alexandra Catalina Seclaman March 02, 2010 05:08PM
Books and kits didn't made anyone a good mineralogist. It takes years of study and experience to do that. Telling someone that if you buy a X book, go to that 1 week/month course you will be fine, it is just a lie.
If you want to make the difference between a real crystal, made by a geological process and a lab made one you will have to understand that mineral.

Understanding not knowing makes a good scientist.

Ups almost forgot... and a keen eye... and passion.

PS: Didn't want to offend anyone, just stating my point of view.
Miya June 23, 2010 07:59PM
Dear Steven Thomas,
hello! I am currently traveling the Middle East. I recently bought a Topaz here, from what seemed to be a very reputable jewelry store. The old man seemed very wise and assured me that the Topaz is real. Hence, I got it made into a ring. The topaz is cut into a traditional "diamond shape"..it is VERY brilliant, sparkles like crazy and the cuts are are sharp and perfect. I cannot see any imperfections in it (although I have just looked with the naked eye)...it is a gold-orange-slightly brownish color..I believe its an Imperial Topaz. Now, I took the seller's word that it was real, but I am now having serious doubts! What if it is glass??? How can I tell if it is heat treated, or even a topaz at all?! (What if it is citrine?!)
Please, I really need your help. I actually bought this for myself as an early birthday present. My birthday is in November and Topaz is my birthstone. I'm going to be 20 this year!
Really hope to hear from you...thank you so much for reading!
PS: if there is anyone else here who can help I will be forever grateful!!
Rob Woodside June 23, 2010 08:49PM
Take it to a reputable dealer who can determine the refractive index. It is probably real.
Jamey Swisher June 24, 2010 06:19AM
Have it checked out by a reputable Gemologist. The topaz could be real, but even if it is, it is treated via Irradiation most likely, as most is currently from there, you will need to check into this because Irradiation of Topaz to make it looks like precious Topaz is often not stable and will revert/fade back to original color if exposed to sunlight too long.

Right now in the Middle East there are thousands upon thousands of fakes being pushed everywhere to part unsuspecting and unknowing soldiers and the like from their hard earned $$$$$, so you most definitely should have it checked out ASAP.

Registered Gemologist
Research Gemologist
Club President/Owner
Miya June 24, 2010 06:13PM
Dear Rob and Jamie,
Thank you so much for your fast responses!!! Yes I will have the topaz checked immediately....just have to find a reliable gemologist. The whole reason I bought the stone is because its (hopefully!) real. ((Hahah I guess you can say I sort of *do* believe in its metaphysical properties.)) I believed the jewelers' claims it was real, but......umm...you never know.

Rob, thankyou for informing me about the RI index...that can definitely tell whether or not it actually is topaz...and Jamie thanks so much for letting me know about the vast number of fakes on the market...I'm going to be a lot more cautious in the future.

Lastly, the thing that heightens my suspicions is the fact that the jeweler didn't sell me the topaz for a very high price...it was in fact very inexpensive! He said that Topaz (here, at least) is not a precious stone AT ALL and is almost always found very easily. He said the Topazes here come straight from Pakistan and Afghanistan, and there is not a very high demand for them....so, basically put, its a "cheap stone."
What do you think? :S eeep..
Jamey Swisher June 26, 2010 04:50AM
Also, the RI will not be a good enough method to ID the stone as Topaz. They are now making all sorts of glass, fused glass, borosilicate glass, fused quartz glass, laser glass, and all sorts of glass for the gemstone industry and they range in RI all the way from like RI 1.53 all the way up to RI 2.1 and almost everything in between as well. Makes it easier to fake the stones their color resembles.

Last I checked any kind of Imperial or Precious Topaz has a pretty good demand, especially the pinks from Katalang(sp). So I am not so sure I "buy" that line from him.

Registered Gemologist
Research Gemologist
Club President/Owner
Paolo Malesci July 26, 2010 10:12PM
Topaz may be a very cheap stone, once I have payed a stock of little and not clear xls R$20 (11-12 US$ !). Obviously gem quality imperial topaz is more expensive but prices are not very high in mining countries.
Jamey Swisher July 28, 2010 03:40AM
Paolo Malesci Wrote:
> Topaz may be a very cheap stone, once I have payed
> a stock of little and not clear xls R$20 (11-12
> US$ !). Obviously gem quality imperial topaz is
> more expensive but prices are not very high in
> mining countries.
Normal topaz, no, prices are not high, but imperial and precious topaz carries a hefty price tag in most any case, especially the ones in Pakistan from the aforementioned mine.

Registered Gemologist
Research Gemologist
Club President/Owner
RuthAnne Hiott January 23, 2011 09:18PM
hello all, today is my 1st day on this site,stumbled upon it from trying to come up with a get rich quick dream,was checking out Alaska and how to find gold; and some how(?) landed here,So I made an account name and have been reading all your posts and checking out auctioning articles~ALL your posts have been fascinating and enjoyable reading; and for that I say thank you!!! Am thinking instead of heading off to "porcupine creek,Alaska" to strike it rich maybe just maybe I should go searching for rocks,gems,fossels instead, and try to find my fortune this way~OR maybe hubby and I may as well face the fact that tomorrow is Monday which means returning back to our boring, barely "making it in life" jobs and pray that I someday inherrit my mom's big diamond rock :)
Adam Kelly January 23, 2011 09:31PM
Treasure hunting is fun, but most minimum wage jobs pay better than collecting.
But finding something yourself is worth more than any amount of money, at least for me.
Anonymous User January 27, 2011 10:52PM
Everything Jamey said is spot on and I agree 100% with him. Nowadays syn. are getting harder and harder to detect with standard run-of-the-mill gemmo tools and require more sophisticated lab equipment. It hasn't gotten that bad yet but will soon. Remember just because you see someone with a G.G. behind their name doesn't mean they know what they are talking about or they know what to look for with certain treatments and syn. material. The problem with many GG's is they never see the inside of a classroom or a lab after they graduate. Now thats not critical but they at least need to keep up to date on all the new treatments and syn. that come out. If they are in the gem biz then usually they do. I have known many a G.G. that graduated 15 years ago and hadn't kept up on the market or furthered his/her education in that long.

If you spend over a certian amount on any given stone I would always get a lab report. If it's a CS stone I would recommend AGL if a diamond then GIA
Jamey Swisher February 09, 2011 04:18AM
Jason is right. Just because someone has the GG, RG, RGA, Fgaa, PG, etc. does NOT mean they know wth they are doing! I find this especially true of many GG's actually! Basically due to in part that the GG teaches more about "selling" then anything else, lol. The problem is, initials behind their name or not, a Gemologist is only as good as his/her "level" of education and especially experience. If they do not keep up on an almost daily level of continuing education and research of current and new treatments and synthetics, they are not worth a doodoo, regardless of which school they attended! So don't be fooled just by the initials behind the name(s)! Same goes for most appraisers too! I, almost daily, see appraisals written by people who must not have a flipping clue about much! Just saw one today where an Fgaa did a report and an appraisal on one paper, flag right off the bat there, on a Ruby and stated treatment as Heat Only and appraised the stone at over $17K!! The 8-9ct stone was a total hunk of garbage and was quite obviously, just looking at the close up pictures anyone keeping up on things could easily tell the stone was actually a lead glass composite stone and NOT a heated only ruby! The stone, at best, would have a full retail replacement value of about $25/ct tops if even that!

Another good lab to use, if you do not have the money to send to a big full blown one, for colored gemstones, would be Stone Group Labs. They do an excellent job and are not quite as expensive as the bigger labs.

Registered Gemologist
Research Gemologist
Club President/Owner
Anonymous User February 09, 2011 05:08AM
Don't even get me started on appraisers...LOL
Stone Group Labs? Will have to look into them. Thanks for the reference
Jamey Swisher February 09, 2011 05:17AM
Not a prob. It is Bear Williams and his Wife I believe. Great folks.

Registered Gemologist
Research Gemologist
Club President/Owner
Justin Mayet April 04, 2011 07:58PM
Claire Scheepers Wrote:
> Hi there. -I am an accredited jewelry
> professional (GIA) with a degree in Geology and
> mineralogy and have been doing research on (and
> selling) gemstones from Tanzania for several
> years. Just in the last stages of completing my
> Graduate Gemologist Diploma. - One CAN distinguish
> between natural and synthetic stones - even
> diamonds. The way in which synthetic stones are
> "grown" is different and there are microscopic
> differences that any good gemologist should be
> able to see. - Laboratory grown stones are worth a
> fraction of natural gems, but the microscope will
> reveal the difference!

could you please e-mail me and let me know where you get your authentic stones from. oldschoolblue89@yahoo.com

Thank You,
Dave Hall, Out of Creation Jewelry May 20, 2011 03:35PM
Thank you for your article, Steve. I have a growing business and work with an established jeweler as well. I'm wondering if are some simple, basic tools for testing gems, esp. emerald, ruby, sapphire, aqua, tanzanite. I don't have a big budget. Can you help me?

Thank you, Steve,

Dave Hall
Jolyon & Katya Ralph May 20, 2011 04:03PM
There are tools, and some of them are inexpensive, but unless you have the training to use them and to know what to look for, it's not a worthwhile investment. There is no simple path to accurately identifying gemstones, and particularly to trying to identify synthetic stones. People might give you a few tips and there are some things to look out for, but unless you are really prepared to study hard to learn how to do it right, your advice to people about their stones isn't going to be worth much.

Look at gemmology training from the likes of the GemA (The FGA courses) or the GIA. Courses and examinations are not cheap, but then this is your profession and to be honest, it's kind of an absolute minimum for the trade these days.

Jamey Swisher May 21, 2011 05:28AM
Another option would be to use Barbra Smigel's free online Gemology course, you could learn from it and learn to use the equipment from The Gemology Project's website. Wouldn't be as good as a formal education, but better then none at all!

Registered Gemologist
Research Gemologist
Club President/Owner
Yoanna July 25, 2012 11:27PM
I am about to make a purchase in eBay, of an amethyst stone ring. I am no expert and I am so confused of everything everyone said. Since you are a professional I was wondering if you can tell me if this is a good purchase and if it is a real gem.
Reiner Mielke July 26, 2012 02:01AM
There is no way of knowing if any of it is genuine just by looking at it. Could be or not, some of it may be, some not.
Anonymous User July 26, 2012 08:33AM
hi Yoanna . i think i dont know someone able to identify a mounted and cutted gemstone just by a picture. it's nearly impossible. my advice is dont buy it on net.You can find this kind of ring in any jewellery in all city . going there in person and ask many questions.ask about the provenance, the cutter or if you bring someone with you for appraisal of stone . no need to be for real. just check the reaction of the seller.you will probably be able to know if he say the thruth or if he know a lot about his stone. personally i dont buy cut stone on ebay .it's to easy to be scam.You cannot see micro inclusions in a picture. the best way to indentify a minerals without matrix on picture it's by the shape of this mineral but it's impossible with a cutted gem.but amethyst is cheap material.this stone can be real .the question is do you really want to take a chance. bye and sorry for my bad english
Marcel Schwedler July 26, 2012 09:41AM
Hi Yoanna, the fact that there are 7 on stock says enough. I think.

good luck
Owen Lewis (2) July 26, 2012 12:09PM

To begin at the beginning.....

Synthetic gems crystals are real. They have the same chemistry in the same crystal lattice as the same compounds that crystalise in the Earth. The more obvious differences are that:
- Naturally formed crystals form over very long periods - and, often, formed a very long time ago. On the other hand, depending on the process, synthesising a coloured gem crystal in the lab takes somewhere between a few hours and about a year, depending on the process used and the size of the crystal grown
- Chemical and physical processes occurring in the Earth are not only slow, they are chaotic in occurrence and haphazard in production. Formation in a laboratory is not only quicker but it is cleaner.

So why are 'natural' gems prized (priced) so much higher than synthetic gems of the same type. The answer is history. Because of the the Earth's dirty, chaotic lab, the vast majority of crystals are not fit (are not beautiful enough) to be considered as gems and worn or carried as beauteous symbols of wealth. Those that are, are rare and have throughout human history been sought after and traded as items of value. Synthetic gemstones can be just as beauteous and with all the physical properties of the naturally formed gemstone - but they can never be rare (though some are collector's pieces in themselves). Synthetic gemstones can be made according to demand and in unlimited quantity.

It is never easy to tell with certainty a synthetic from a natural once the stone has been cut but, with experience and the right instruments, it can be done to a high level of assurance. Few gem owners and even small jewellers are trained and equipped to do this. with a high degree of certainty. The instruments required are expensive - more so than most gems - and themselves require skill to use.

For the average buyer of low-medium priced gemstones, the guideline should be 'caution' - if it looks much too good for the money being asked then, if its not a fake (a simulant) then it's probably wise not to buy it (if you care about it having formed in the Earth). Buyers of high-priced gems have the option to have the the stones certified by a gemmologist before purchasing. N.B. A simple certification of a stone's natural origin does not assure its value. Valuation/appraisal is a separate exercise, requiring additional knowledge of the gem market.

All the main gem varieties are commonly produced synthetically, including, Diamond, Ruby, Emerald, Sapphire, Amethyst, Citrine, Alexandrite - and so list goes on. Not all gem varieties are synthesised but the limits are commercial rather then scientific. The commercial production of synthetic gems has sometimes been carried along on the back of their synthesisation for industrial use e.g. Diamond and Quartz (Amethyst, Citrine etc). Other synthetics, in particular Ruby, which was first produced synthetically over 110 years ago, were iaimed at the gemstone market from the very outset. The very first synthetic rubies were sold simple as particularly fine quality Ruby from an undisclosed location for some while.

Synthetics and simulants are so important in the gem world that I think that a study of them should be made by every serious gem collector or trader. They are a fascination in themselves and it is a real pleasure to develop the skills to be able to distinguish them from gemstones formed in the Earth. This can be done only at the most basic level by studying books. One then needs also to spend many hours examining as many synthetic gem types and specimens as one can to build a little collection of them for reference, learning how to tease a confession out of them.

A point worth remembering, I think, is that it is often relatively simple to conclude with certainty that a stone has a natural origin. It is frequently harder to be quite certain that a specimen is of synthetic origin. The more perfect the specimen, the more care is needed.
Rock Currier July 26, 2012 12:53PM
The stone is not very large. Ask the supplier how many carats the stone is. It sounds like you would be paying a lot more for the ring than the stone. What metal is the ring made from? and how much metal is in the ring? There is a lot of amethyst in the world and stones like that are fairly cheap. There is no way to know if it is a natural stone or not without testing, which will cost you the better part of $100, probably more than the stone is worth. When the testing cost more than a natural stone is worth, no one cares if it is real or not because it cost more to find out that what the stone is worth. Ask the supplier if he will also refund the cost of your getting it tested if it turns out to be man made.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
Anonymous User July 26, 2012 02:26PM
Just my 2 cents worth
Do they make synthetic amethyst?
Alfredo Petrov July 26, 2012 03:37PM
Yes, there is synthetic amethyst from Russia. Since natural amethyst is cheap and abundant, I wonder why anyone would bother synthesizing it, but they do.
Spencer Ivan Mather July 26, 2012 04:30PM
As a Gemmologist I can tell you that all fake or man made gemstones have different inclusions in them than the real gemstones, but you have to have a binocular microscope to see a lot of them, and aslo a spectroscope, and some of them even have different refractive indices to the real thing, but it is best not to buy gemstones or jewellery from the TV, always go to a reputable jeweler.
Owen Lewis (2) July 26, 2012 05:16PM
Alfredo Petrov Wrote:
> Yes, there is synthetic amethyst from Russia.
> Since natural amethyst is cheap and abundant, I
> wonder why anyone would bother synthesizing it,
> but they do.

From China too. Some pieces are very attractive. I suspect that the synthetic Amethyst and Citrine production got started on the back of the synthetic Quartz industry which got started in the early 1940's and increased to become a major industry in support of the spread of electronics using crystal controlled oscillators as an accurate time source. If you've mega-investment in the industrial plant to provide oscillator crystals, then the doping of some Quartz to be Amethyst (etc) is nearly cost-free.

Top quality synthetic Amethyst can actually be more expensive than much of the natural stuff.
Owen Lewis (2) July 26, 2012 05:49PM
Jamey Swisher Wrote:
> That is better. ;). Because, I have around 40 or
> so unheated sapphires of varying colors(including
> a color change) sitting here in front of me right
> now from various locations around the world but
> mainly from Africa, Burma, and Australia(although
> you could consider ALL sapphires from Australia
> heated under their current weather
> conditions..lol), hehe. ;).

Quite right Jamey. I have some untreated Emeralds and Sapphires (all sourced pre-1980's). It may depend on the way (and when) the stones entered the selling chain. I know of one gem trader in Brazil who is on the record as saying that he has only been offered one untreated Emerald in the last three years.

Heating lower grade Sapphire to improve its clarity and colour is so old a practice (2,000 years?) it is hard to object to it. Rather, one should just know enough to know that this is this and that is that - and the market values the two differently. Have you ever seen a cut and finished Montana Sapphire that has not been heat treated? Tanzanite is another lovely stone where virtually all the output is heat-treated. Those few who have seen an untreated cut and faceted Tanzanite will know why (only very rarely do such pieces look other then sad).

The trade accepts oiled Emeralds - and so do customers - without penalty except in the very top grades.This again is a practice at least as old as the Spanish exploitation of the Columbialn mines and domination of the world trade for a while. I think there is a fair distinction between this and the resin resin filling of Emerald which is otherwise so structurally flawed as to likely fall apart if subjected to the stresses of cutting without this prior treatment. Only in the very top grades are there Emeralds of that very rare quality where their appearance could not be improved by oiling. Those who get to see low-medium grade untreated Emeralds can attest to this - and the wonder that judicious oiling can work.
Alfredo Petrov July 26, 2012 06:35PM
Forgive my gemmological ignorance, Jamey, Owen and Spencer, but just asking as a geologist here: If I see a cut gem with a liquid+gas inclusion, I would assume it has not been heat-treated, as I imagine any severe heating would cause it to expand and crack (although I don't know whether this is really the case or not - might only be true for large bubbles?). However, if a corundum or a tanzanite or other gem does not include such bubbles, how could one tell whether they've been heated or not? I would assume that all have been heated, unless there was proof to the contrary, and I don't know what physical tests could prove that. (i would require something more substantial than just the word of a seller, regardless of that person's public reputation, because I doubt any sellers have been present for the entire production chain from mine to show floor.)
Spencer Ivan Mather July 26, 2012 08:30PM
Hi Alfredo, You are right, if a gemstone that contains a gas bubble and a liquid inclusion in it, then heat treatment will cause them to expand, and the result would be a flawed (probably broken) gemstone, but not all inclusions will cause this problem, I have an burnt citrine that I heated myself, it originally was an amethyst, and it is full of veils and crystal inclusions, but it stayed whole throughout the heating proccess (380c).
Paul Siegel July 26, 2012 09:01PM
Oftentimes when there is a mineral crystal included in material that has been heated it will create what is commonly referred to a as Saturn inclusion, due the differences in the rate of expansion between the host mineral and the inclusion. Saturn inclusions are quite common in sapphires. Regarding the comment about unheated Montana sapphires. Back in the mid eighties the gem world was in a tizzy because the Yogo sapphires were being marketed as unheated sapphires. This caused a greater awareness in the consumer markets that led to greater amounts of disclosure about treatments and treatment processes to the consumer. The AGTA (American Gem Trade Association) actually required its members to disclose treatment on sales invoices. In 1987, at the Tucson show and at same time some Montana miners were promoting their stones as unheated, there were other Montana miners running around Tucson with bags of sapphire rough saying that half of the material would respond to heating. I also remember my boss experimenting with the heating of Umba River sapphires which up to that point had not responded to heating. Since he was getting to bottom of the barrels of his Umba material he was looking for ways to enhance the rough that he had left.

Rock Currier July 26, 2012 09:35PM
I think that much of the man made amethyst made today is mostly free of inclusions that you can see with most binocular microscopes.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
Owen Lewis (2) July 27, 2012 01:36PM
Alfredo Petrov Wrote:
> .... If I
> see a cut gem with a liquid+gas inclusion, I would
> assume it has not been heat-treated, as I imagine
> any severe heating would cause it to expand and
> crack (although I don't know whether this is
> really the case or not - might only be true for
> large bubbles?). However, if a corundum or a
> tanzanite or other gem does not include such
> bubbles, how could one tell whether they've been
> heated or not? I would assume that all have been
> heated, unless there was proof to the contrary,
> and I don't know what physical tests could prove
> that. (i would require something more substantial
> than just the word of a seller, regardless of that
> person's public reputation, because I doubt any
> sellers have been present for the entire
> production chain from mine to show floor.)

We can start from the fact that all crystals have been heated. Crystal formation is a hot process. Some crystal have, as a freak of nature, been heated more than once. So what an examiner is looking for is subtle signs that the effects being observed result from very brief heating as opposed to heating and cooling applied on a geologically significant time scale. In such cases, there is most often a partial healing process that follows on from the damage. Where this healing can be identified, it's good evidence that the damage had a geological rather than anthropogenic cause. This can sometimes be done with just a loupe and a directed light source but a good microscope is really the tool for the job.

Here's a set of pics to illustrate what I mean. The stone is a light-yellow Danburite which, unusually, has been cut and faceted into a 9mm round, making an attractive feature of some non-surface reaching tubes within it. If the first shot is zoomed, then close to the girdle at one 'oclock can be seen light spots on a dark backround surrounding a large inclusion. This is the partially healed fracture looked at in detail in the third shot, The axial alignment of the unhealed damage remnants (small liquid inclusions) can be clearly seen if the pic is zoomed a litle.

The second shot is a detailed closeup of the growth tubes as viewed through the pavilion (back of the stone). No heating damage... likelu that the tubes were formed after the last heating occurred?

The last shot shows clearly the partially healed fracture indicated in the first shot, probably caused by the differential expansion of the Danburite and some differently coloured inclusion as seen. This is a near textbook example of 'fingerprint' healing. However there is a second fracture here also, likely caused by the same inclusion (and in a later heating of the crystal?) running at close to a right angle to the healing plane. This appears to have dislocated slightly the pre-existing fingerprint but itself also then to have healed. The dislocation on the fingerprint suggests strongly that it was caused after the fingerprint had formed (also requiring time on a geological scale) and, having itself healed, it can't result from heating on a gem-cooker's time-scale in recent days.

There is no evidence in this well-included stone of unhealed damage associated with any of the other inclusions, so one concludes that this crystal was not cooked by Man. Or, as I would prefer to put it, 'No sign of treatment'. One has looked (carefully) and found nothing. A negative here is not (IMHO) a proof absolute - so one just states one's negative finding. A good seller will always take back a stone that a customer is unhappy with. IMO, sellers that won't are to be avoided - other than at the level of street-trading - for which a gem customer should either be quite knowledgeable or leave strictly alone :-)
open | download - Danburite 002 IMG_1312a.jpg (785 KB)
open | download - Danburite 002 IMG_1317a.jpg (256.8 KB)
open | download - Danburite 1-01a.JPG (527.9 KB)
Topaz November 12, 2012 11:08AM
Topaz November 12, 2012 12:00PM
Dear all,

I have bought a Green Topaz for a pretty unexpensive price (about 10 USD), and now I am starting to doubt if that is a natural stone or not. I am attaching a picture of one of the parts of the ring that made me doubt. The stone is well cut but the straight sides that are next to the silver are like shown in the pictures. Is that look of the normal non cut part? Or that is ...glass??

I would appreciate your opinions.

Best regards

open | download - 20121112_125716.jpg (701.4 KB)
Owen Lewis (2) November 12, 2012 02:23PM
Sorry Topaz but the photo is useless. If you looked in the mirror and saw that lack of detail in your image, how would you know that it was *you* you were looking at?

But all is not lost. As a matter of fact, there is *no* synthetic Topaz in the market as it can't be sold for the cost of making it. However, there is other stuff sold as 'Topaz' and I suspect that this us what you have. What else should you expect of a stone of more that one carat weight and mounted on a silver ring and all for 10 bucks? If I were looking at it I'd start with the proposition that it is most likely glass and try to prove it isn't. To identify correctly what it is, you need to buy the necessary tools and study and practice a bit to learn how to use them effectively - or give the ring to a friendly gemologist to identify the stone for you.

N.B. Real Topaz is quite commonly treated to change it's colour - but that's another story.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/12/2012 05:14PM by Owen Lewis (2).
Topaz November 12, 2012 03:51PM
Dear Owen,

Thank you very much.

Yes, this is because it is not allowed to post pictures with more than 1000KB and I had to reduce it. I am trying to post another picture . Let´see if that is better.
open | download - 20121112_164745.jpg (843.3 KB)
Topaz November 12, 2012 03:55PM
And another.

The point now is trying to see if you think that this is a Topaz or not...
open | download - 20121112_164713.jpg (689.8 KB)
Topaz November 12, 2012 04:00PM
This picture is just for you to view the diamond shape cutted part.
open | download - 20121112_165501.jpg (725.4 KB)
Owen Lewis (2) November 12, 2012 05:17PM

Experienced mineralogists can sometimes guess correctly a mineral species from just a photo of its crystal form colour, matrix etc. - and their personal store of knowledge. With only very occasional exceptions, it is just a silly game to try do the same the same with cut stones. The best one can do is to reel off a list of species that the stone is *not^. E.g. I'll promise you that your stone is neither Schorl nor Diamond:-D To be sure of what it *is*, you will need to have it tested competently.

That said, I do think it's most probably glass and not worth the postage of sending it to anyone not local to you. Do you have a friendly local jeweller?.
Fria Shay June 28, 2013 07:38AM
I've wondered also how to tell if they are real gemstones or not....like the ones they sell on Gems TV, 'cause they will tell you to take it to your jeweler when you get it & have it appraised. If it doesn't appraise for what you paid or more, you have 30 days to send it back. Can a jeweler not tell the difference either? I've bought some of the jewelry from Gems TV's American show, Rocks TV, and it all looks real.....but now I don't know?? I haven't taken any to a jeweler yet. I have a piece or two I've been meaning to take, but I didn't pay an arm or a leg for them so I would still keep them, but I would like to know now if they are real or not after reading everything I've read. The ones made with real gold are at least worth something from that, aren't they? 'Cause I have some really beautiful pieces & I would love to be able to pass them down to my granddaughters, but I would rather they were real in that case! On Rocks TV, they say they can sell them cheaper than a jewelry store because they buy directly from the mine & therefore cutting out the middle man. They cut & set them theirselves.....so the price the jewelry store marks it up to is cut out....made some sense. I have also heard that some jewelry stores will remove the stones if you're having a ring cut down & replace them with fakes.....so I guess if we want to make absolutely sure they are real, we do need to mine them ourselves, learn how to cut & polish & set them & never let anyone take it out of my sight! Sounds like a lot of work.....but I hate to think I'm getting duped everytime I buy something!! And thank you for posting this question....it will make me question myself more when buying jewelry! Thank you!!
Bob Harman June 28, 2013 12:33PM
Interesting! , VERRRRRY interesting! On Feb 1st 2008 FIRA SHAY submitted the first 2 posts on page 1 of this thread. That individual asked about telling real from manufactured gemstones as sold online and thru tv sales. Jump ahead thru this 4 page thread and 5+ years (!) to June 28, 2013. A FRIA SHAY resurrects the thread with virtually the same questions and concerns. I have no problems with the philosophy of asking the same questions over time, but I would have hoped that FIRA and/or FRIA had studied and learned about gemstone identification and gotten the questions answered. This whole sequence over 5 years is just verrrrrry interesting to me.

So my answer to you FRIA/FIRA is basically what all the others have said. Study and learn. Read the small print about guarantees and return policies before buying. And take all purchases to any local ethical and reputable jewelry stores for an objective, independent appraisal. And even after all of the above, be prepared for being scammed as some of what is sold on tv is overpriced and much is not truly "fine jewelry" CHEERS.........BOB

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/28/2013 12:47PM by BOB HARMAN.
Stephanie Martin June 28, 2013 04:09PM
With the price of gold these days usually the gold chain/setting is worth more than the stones on those shopping channels, and in many cases in jewellery stores as well.

Have you seen those gold advertisers that will buy your gold jewellery? They take out the stones and throw them in a pile. They sell them in mixed lots to get rid of them. Diamonds too. Tells you that if they were valuable they would make an effort.

stephanie :-)
Owen Lewis June 28, 2013 05:57PM
David Von Bargen Wrote:
> It depends on the stone, diamond wouldn't be,
> sapphire and ruby could be.

And so could emerald. Plus, there are look-alike imitations of many others that date back a couple of thousand years or more.The first synthetic diamonds (not gem grade) date to the 1950's. And then there are the treatments of gemstones.....

Re other comments:
- The presence of inclusions is no guarantee of geological origin. You need knowledge and much practice to reliably tell one from the other. A useful rule of thumb is that an experienced gemmologist, properly equipped should be able to differentiate almost all naturals from synthetics - and will veer to a conservative view when in doubt.
- The cost of advanced testing is around USD 100+ a go. This makes such testing uneconomic for stones worth less than XXXX. This makes extensive knowledge and real expertise in the use of standard gemmological tools more rather then less important.
- If an offer looks too good to be true, it probably is.
- Natural, untreated emeralds don't have to cost more than 300/ct - but the good ones do;-)

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/28/2013 06:05PM by Owen Lewis.
Tim Jokela Jr June 29, 2013 08:43PM
I buy the occasional gemstone, and never have any worries. It's really, really simple. I buy from about 3 guys, and I don't worry too much about the price. I buy the best I can afford. The guys I buy from have decades of experience, and I have enough experience of my own to know they aren't BS'ing.

If you want to buy from TV or online shysters and mindlessly accumulate cheap junk that looks pretty, go ahead. But don't worry about whether it's genuine or not. I recommend CZ; it wears well, comes in every color, looks awesome, and is cheap as chips. Life is too short to worry about whether a $10 topaz is real or not. Would you worry about whether a $10 car is real, or $10 heart surgery?

If you love to hunt for bargains, and hate the though of overpaying, or only have five dollars to spend, go shopping at the mall or hit the dollar store.

Gems are not for poor people.
I1992 April 09, 2014 05:34PM
I got told one method of checking if a gemstone is genuine or not, simple method:

Wrap a strand of hair around the stone. Use a lighter to, or try to, burn the hair. If it burns, the gemstone is a fake. If it doesn't burn, the gemstone is genuine.

I was a bit uncertain at first to try this on my carnelian stone, but I done it nevertheless...and the hair didn't burn!! I done it again in front of my friends and they witnessed the same thing.

My mum also tried it on hers with the same result...

Try it!

PS I doubt you would be able to try this after walking into a jewelry store lol. Best bet is to buy a stone from ebay, and the user has set a return policy, so you can send it back to them if it's fake...
Rob Woodside April 09, 2014 05:47PM
Welcome to Mindat!!!
I have a burning question for you:
How on earth could the flammability of a hair depend on the history of a bunch of nearby atoms?
Spencer Ivan Mather April 09, 2014 07:36PM
Fira, you can contact the "Gemmological association Great Britain", they will let you study gemmology first year coarse by correspondence course, I did this in 1970, then in 1971 I went to London to study the second year courseand gain my gemmology diploma..

Rock Currier April 09, 2014 08:14PM
What a wonderful method to test if a stone is genuine. Sort of like hitting a diamond with a hammer. If it shatters you know it its a fake. I wonder if it is in Kunz's Curious Lore of Precious Stones.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/10/2014 12:31PM by Rock Currier.
Ronald J. Pellar April 09, 2014 08:44PM
This "test" is based on the heat conductivity of crystalline material and would work very well with synthetic gemstones. Synthetic gems equally as crystalline as natural gemstones. So this "test" is useless to differentiate between synthetic and natural and could be very dangerous to the value of stones be tested due to heat damage.

Dashrath International May 16, 2014 05:39AM
It depends on the stone, diamond wouldn't be, sapphire and ruby could be.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/16/2014 05:44AM by Debbie Woolf.
Anonymous User May 23, 2014 06:02AM
What are the synthetic diamond companies like Bellataire? They say they take natural diamonds and use their process to get rid of inclusions and change the color of the diamond, but it is in fact a "real" diamond, just processed? I looked into them when I was buying an engagement ring, but they only deal in high end stuff the isn't much cheaper than an unprocessed stone? They come with GIA certificates and everything? What's the deal?
Rock Currier May 23, 2014 10:11AM
The deal is that it is a diamond that has been treated. You have to make up your mind how much that matters to you if at all. Diamonds are not particularly rare and most people can't tell if they are real or not by looking at them. The jewelry industry is responsible for maintaining their price "A diamond is forever." "Diamonds are a girls best friend". Etc. What would the jewelry do without birth stones? They would have to invent them. And of course all the magical power the gift of a big diamond will exert on the lady who receives it. The market on diamonds is fairly well established. How much do you want to spend? Its up to you. Most diamond rings that ladies wear become chipped during normal ware. Even if they were not, it is unlikely that you will ever recover more than about half in terms of real purchasing power of what you pay for the thing. But is it makes your wife or girl friend feel that you love her it may be the best investment you will ever make.

Rock Currier
Crystals not pistols.
Anonymous User May 23, 2014 06:53PM
Thank you Rock, I was just confused as to what was up with these guys. I looked at a .77 carat, D, IF stone from them. They wanted $3.300 for it 3 years ago, which was about 25% less than a similar non treated stone. I passed and got a 1 carat, H, SI 1 all natural stone for a lot less. I really couldn't tell unless I put it under a loupe or set it next to a D color stone. She's happy, I didn't waste money. All good. Was just curious.

And I hear you on the perceived rarity, I had to go to Namibia for work in the "Forbidden" zone on the South African border. There are diamonds just lying literally lying around there. Don't try to take one though, part of the permit to go in, is you will be extensively, and I mean extensively searched. I bought the engagement stone before my current job gained me valuable contacts outside of DeBeers control. I just don't have the bankroll, desire, or the stupidity to risk my well being to buy/sell other than if I was in the market myself.

Thanks again,


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/23/2014 07:04PM by Mike Bilyeu.
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