How Can You Tell If Gemstones Are Fake?

By | October 9, 2023

Ever been curious about whether the gemstone in your jewelry is the real deal or just a counterfeit? We’ve all been there. With the booming market for gemstones, it’s becoming increasingly important to be able to distinguish between genuine gems and imitations. But fear not! In this article, we’ll provide you with a handy guide to help you identify the telltale signs of fake gemstones, so you can confidently flaunt your genuine treasures.

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Physical Characteristics


One way to determine if a gemstone is real or fake is by examining its hardness. Gemstones are classified on the Mohs scale of hardness, which ranges from 1 (softest) to 10 (hardest). real gemstones, such as diamonds and sapphires, will have a high level of hardness and will not easily scratch. On the other hand, fake gemstones, like glass or plastic imitations, will have a lower hardness and can easily be scratched by other materials.


Color is another important physical characteristic to consider when identifying gemstones. genuine gemstones often display vibrant and rich colors, while fake gemstones may appear dull or artificial. It is important to note that some gemstones, like diamonds, can come in various colors, so it is essential to compare the color of a gemstone to its known authentic counterparts.


The clarity of a gemstone refers to the presence or absence of any visible flaws or inclusions within the stone. Real gemstones, particularly those of high-quality, often have excellent clarity with minimal or no visible imperfections. Fake gemstones, on the other hand, may have noticeable flaws or bubbles that can be seen with the naked eye.


The weight of a gemstone, also known as carat weight, can be an indicator of its authenticity. Real gemstones will have a specific weight based on their mineral composition, while fake gemstones may feel lighter due to the materials used to imitate them. It is important to note that the weight alone is not enough to determine if a gemstone is genuine, but it can be considered along with other physical characteristics.


The transparency of a gemstone refers to how much light can pass through it. Real gemstones often have high transparency, allowing light to pass through and creating a sparkling effect. On the other hand, fake gemstones may have lower transparency and may appear cloudy or lack the brilliance observed in authentic gemstones.

Visual Examination

Scratch Test

Conducting a scratch test is a commonly used method to determine the hardness of a gemstone. You can perform this test by using another material of known hardness, such as a steel file or a piece of quartz, and scratching the gemstone’s surface. If the gemstone is real, it should not show any signs of scratching, as gemstones are generally harder than most other materials.

Light Test

A light test can help identify certain characteristics of gemstones. Hold the gemstone up to a light source and examine how it interacts with light. Genuine gemstones will often exhibit a sparkle and brilliance due to their refractive properties. Fake gemstones may lack this characteristic shine and instead appear flat or dull when exposed to light.


Using a magnifying tool, such as a jeweler’s loupe, can greatly aid in identifying genuine gemstones. Examine the gemstone closely under magnification and look for any telltale signs of authenticity, such as the presence of natural inclusions or the clarity of the stone. Fake gemstones may show uniform patterns or irregularities that are not present in real gemstones.

Bubble Test

The bubble test can be particularly useful for identifying certain types of fake gemstones, such as glass imitations. Fill a glass with water and carefully drop the gemstone into it. Real gemstones will sink to the bottom due to their density, while fake gemstones, like glass, may float or exhibit bubbles trapped within them.

Transparency Test

To assess the transparency of a gemstone, you can place it on a piece of white paper with a printed text underneath. Real gemstones should allow you to read the text through the stone with clarity, while fake gemstones may appear hazy or hinder the readability of the text.

Color Change

Some gemstones, such as alexandrite, exhibit a phenomenon known as “color change” where the color of the stone changes depending on the lighting conditions. It is important to research and understand the specific color-changing characteristics of different gemstones to determine their authenticity.

How Can You Tell If Gemstones Are Fake?

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Specialized Tools


Loupes are handheld magnifying tools commonly used by gemologists and jewelers to examine gemstones up close. They provide a magnified view of the gemstone, allowing for a detailed inspection of its characteristics, such as clarity, inclusions, and color. When using a loupe, it is essential to hold the gemstone in good lighting to unveil any subtle features that may indicate its authenticity.

UV Light

UV light, also known as blacklight, can be used to identify certain characteristics of gemstones. Some gemstones, like diamonds and many colored gemstones, may exhibit fluorescence when exposed to UV light. A genuine gemstone will display a specific fluorescence pattern, while a fake gemstone may show little to no fluorescence or an unusual fluorescence that does not match known authentic gemstones.


A refractometer is a specialized tool that measures the refractive index of gemstones. Gemstones have unique refractive properties based on their composition, and a refractometer can measure this information, aiding in the identification of genuine gemstones. By comparing the refractive index of a gemstone to known authentic gemstones, it becomes possible to ascertain its authenticity.


A polariscope is a tool used to examine the optical properties of gemstones. It can help identify gemstones with double refraction or birefringence, which is a characteristic found in some genuine gemstones. By observing how light behaves when passing through the gemstone, a polariscope can provide valuable insights into its authenticity.

Specific Gravity Test

The specific gravity test involves determining the density of a gemstone by comparing its weight to the weight of an equal volume of water. Genuine gemstones have specific gravity values that are consistent with their known characteristics, while fake gemstones may have significantly different specific gravity readings. This test can provide valuable information when verifying the authenticity of a gemstone.

Expert Opinion

Seeking Professional Gemologist

If you are unsure about the authenticity of a gemstone, it is advisable to seek the opinion of a professional gemologist. Gemologists have extensive knowledge and experience in identifying gemstones and can use their expertise to provide an accurate assessment. They can perform in-depth examinations using specialized equipment and techniques, giving you confidence in the authenticity of your gemstone.

Certification and Appraisal

To ensure the authenticity and value of a gemstone, obtaining a certification and appraisal from a reputable gemological laboratory or appraiser is highly recommended. These official documents will provide detailed information about the gemstone’s characteristics, including its authenticity, weight, color, clarity, and any treatments or enhancements. Having a certified and appraised gemstone adds credibility and peace of mind to your purchase.

How Can You Tell If Gemstones Are Fake?

Gemstone Knowledge

Researching Authentic Characteristics

Building knowledge about the authentic characteristics of different gemstones is crucial in identifying fakes. Take the time to research and familiarize yourself with the specific characteristics, such as color, clarity, inclusion types, and optical properties, of the gemstones you are interested in. Comparing these characteristics to the gemstone in question can help you determine if it is genuine or fake.

Gemstone Identification Guides

Using gemstone identification guides can be immensely helpful in distinguishing real gemstones from imitations. These guides provide detailed information about various gemstones, including their physical properties, visual characteristics, and typical treatments and enhancements. They often include images and descriptions that can assist in the identification process.

Price and Source

Too Good to Be True

If a gemstone’s price seems too good to be true, it is essential to exercise caution. While it is possible to find reasonably priced gemstones, especially if sourced directly from reputable suppliers, excessively low prices may indicate a fake or low-quality gemstone. Compare prices from multiple sources and familiarize yourself with market values to avoid falling for suspiciously cheap offers.

Suspicious Sellers

Untrustworthy sellers or unethical jewelry stores can sell fake gemstones, misrepresent genuine gemstones, or engage in fraudulent practices. Be wary of sellers who pressure you to make a quick purchase, provide limited information about the gemstone’s origin or characteristics, or lack proper certifications or documentation. It is advisable to buy gemstones from reputable sources with a trusted reputation.

Unethical Mining Practices

Considering the ethical aspect of gemstone sourcing is crucial. Some gemstones may be associated with unethical mining practices, such as environmental damage or human rights abuses. Research the mining practices and sources of gemstones to ensure they align with your ethical values. Choosing gemstones from sustainable and responsible sources helps support positive industry practices.

Gemstone-Specific Identification


Diamonds are one of the most highly valued gemstones, and their identification is crucial due to their significant monetary worth. Some key characteristics to look for include exceptional hardness, colorless to near-colorless color, high brilliance and sparkle, and the presence of natural inclusions. Professional gemological testing, such as diamond certification, can provide conclusive results in determining the authenticity of a diamond.


Authentic emeralds display a vivid green color and unique clarity characteristics, such as natural inclusions known as “jardin.” They have a hardness suitable for daily wear and exhibit a moderate level of brilliance. Identifying the authenticity of emeralds can be challenging due to the presence of synthetic and treated stones. A combination of visual examination, gemological testing, and seeking expert opinion can help determine an emerald’s authenticity.


Rubies are known for their rich red color, excellent hardness, and exceptional brilliance. Genuine rubies often display natural inclusions and possess the same refractive properties as other corundum gemstones, such as sapphires. Synthetic rubies and treatments can be used to enhance or imitate the characteristics of natural rubies, making it necessary to employ gemological testing and expert evaluation to confirm authenticity.


Blue sapphires are highly prized gemstones and can be identified by their intense blue color, excellent hardness, and strong brilliance. Natural sapphires often contain inclusions, known as “silk,” which can create a silky appearance when viewed under magnification. Conducting visual examinations, comparing with known authentic sapphires, and seeking gemological expertise can help distinguish real sapphires from synthetic or treated alternatives.


Amber is a fossilized tree resin that often contains prehistoric insects or plant material. It is identified by its warm golden to orange-brown color, lightweight, and organic composition. To authenticate amber, visual examination for the presence of unique inclusions, such as trapped insects or natural debris, is crucial. Care should be taken to avoid synthetic or counterfeit imitations, which can closely resemble genuine amber.

Enhancements and Synthetics

Knowing Common Enhancements

Many gemstones undergo treatments or enhancements to improve their appearance or durability. Some common enhancements include heat treatment, which can enhance color or clarity, and filling fractures or cavities with a substance like resin or glass, which improves overall appearance. Acquiring knowledge about these enhancements can help evaluate the authenticity and value of a gemstone.

Differentiating Synthetic from Natural Gems

Synthetic gemstones are laboratory-grown versions of their natural counterparts and can closely resemble them in appearance. To differentiate between natural and synthetic gemstones, specific characteristics can give clues. Natural gemstones often display unique inclusions, while synthetic gemstones may exhibit more uniform patterns. Advanced gemological testing techniques, such as spectroscopy or advanced microscopy, can provide definitive results.

Origin and Certification

Country of Origin

The country of origin can significantly impact the value and desirability of a gemstone. Certain countries, like Myanmar for rubies or Colombia for emeralds, have established reputations for producing high-quality gemstones. Understanding the significance of the origin and considering this information alongside other characteristics can contribute to the determination of a gemstone’s authenticity and value.

Gemstone Certificates

Gemstone certificates are official documents issued by reputable gemological laboratories that provide detailed information about a gemstone’s characteristics. These certificates typically include information about the gemstone’s authenticity, weight, color, clarity, treatments, and any identifying features. Obtaining a gemstone certificate from a reliable laboratory adds credibility to the gemstone’s authenticity and serves as a valuable record for future reference.

Comparative Analysis

Gemstone Characteristics

Comparing the characteristics of a gemstone with those of known authentic gemstones is a valuable technique for identification. By carefully examining aspects such as color, clarity, inclusions, and optical properties, you can observe similarities or differences that may indicate authenticity or raise suspicions. Utilize gemstone identification guides, expert opinion, and gemological testing to establish accurate comparative analyses.

Comparing with Authentic Gems

If you have access to authentic gemstones, comparing them side by side with a gemstone of questionable authenticity can highlight discrepancies or similarities. Observe the color, clarity, brilliance, and overall appearance of both gemstones, looking for any discernible variations. Professional gemologists can provide valuable insights and assist with accurate comparisons to identify the authenticity of a gemstone.

In conclusion, determining the authenticity of gemstones requires a combination of careful observations, gemological testing, and seeking expert opinion. Understanding the physical characteristics, utilizing specialized tools, and researching authentic gemstone knowledge are essential steps in the identification process. Considering factors such as price, source, enhancements, and origin can provide additional insights. By employing these techniques and acquiring the necessary information, you can confidently recognize and distinguish between genuine gemstones and their imitations.

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Author: marklsmithms1

Hi, I'm Mark, the author of Maura Gems and Jewellery. As a team of qualified gemmologists and goldsmiths, we bring you world-class jewellery at Bangkok prices. With offices in both Bangkok and the UK, we ethically source the finest gemstones directly, eliminating any middlemen. We offer a wide range of stunning ready-made jewellery items in our new online store, available for retail or wholesale. Additionally, we specialize in custom-made jewellery where we can bring any design to life. Whether you're a trade professional or an individual customer, we cater to all. Feel free to email me at or call/WhatsApp me at 07470547636 or +66949355718. Discover our incredible collection by visiting our online store. I guarantee you'll love what you find there!

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