Gemstones come in many shapes and sizes.

While gemstones are beautiful in their appearance, their purity can sometimes be hard to tell.

The value of the gemstone depends on a few particular characteristics that take a bit of practice and experience to distinguish. 

If you’re a collector, knowing how to identify a real gemstone properly is important. The more you know about this, the better you’ll be able to tell the difference between gemstones.

Let’s take a look at how to properly identify a gemstone.

Using a Stone Identification Chart

You can identify a genuine gemstone by looking at a few basic characteristics it will have. However, if you want to go into more detail with your gemstone, you’ll want to pick up a few basic tools to do so.

A stone identification chart is a printed chart that gives a variety of different information relating to popular and common gemstones.

Using a refractive index chart is recommended. The refractive index of a gemstone is one of the most important aspects to consider when determining authenticity.

Measuring the refractive index of a gemstone is also one of the first steps to identifying it properly. However, it’s important to remember that some gemstones have similar refractive measurements. They will then require further testing.

RI is the difference between the speed of light in the gemstone compared to the speed of light in a vacuum. Because a gemstone holds a higher density than air, the light will slow down as it passes through it.

Refraction is the bending of light as it travels through the gemstone. The refraction angle determines its RI measurement. The higher the RI measurement, the more brilliant the gemstone. If you haven’t got an RI chart, a refractometer can be used to measure the RI of your gemstone successfully.

How to Make Basic Observations

Once you’ve learned how to read an identification chart properly, you can make basic observations that can tell you a lot about whether a gemstone is real and what type it is.

Berkeley explains that looking at the color of the gemstone can tell you a lot about what kind of gemstone it is. You can also look at its ‘luster’ and determine whether the intensity of its color is warm or cool.

Heft and gravity can also be easily identified with a couple of quick, simple tests. You can measure the specific gravity by comparing the weight of the gem in the air with its suspension in water.

This test can also reveal a lot about your gemstone’s density.

The Crystal Morphology, or cut, is also a physical observation that will reveal a lot about a gemstone. Simply observing the shape of the gemstone can tell you what kind it is.

This is done by looking at the external crystal shape and any crystal symmetry that might exist.

Identifying the Stone by its Detail

Making basic observations is a great way to identify a gemstone correctly. Taking these observations a step further by looking at your gemstone in detail can expose even more characteristics.

Damage tests can be beneficial for identifying aspects of your stone like hardness and cleavage.

Wikihow explains that some gemstones are physically harder than others. This is typically measured using the Moh’s scale. You can measure the hardness of your gemstone by purchasing a hardness kit.

With the tools that you are provided, scratch the surface of your gemstone. If you can make a scratch, your gemstone is softer than the material you used to scratch it.

Cleavage is in reference to the way your crystal breaks. If you can find chips along the surface of your gemstone, look at the insides of these chips in detail. Identify whether these edges are rounded, straight, splintery, or uneven.

You can also check for optical phenomena. This only occurs with particular gemstones. This will include observing bands of moving light and color change.

You can check for these things by passing a pen light along the surface of the stone. Out of all these optical phenomena characteristics, the most important to observe is the color change.

Properly Identifying your Gemstones

There is a lot of detail to look for when identifying individual characteristics of gemstones.

Each kind of gemstone has unique qualities, based on its value and purity. While there are simple ways to identify these gemstone characteristics properly, some require a little more effort.

Finding tools like a stone identification chart online is a great place to start when identifying a stone.

From here, use practical tools like basic observations and looking at the detail of the stone to further your knowledge with your particular kind.