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How to tell if sapphires are real

Updated April 17, 2017

When presented with a variety of rings for her engagement to Prince Charles, Princess Diana chose a stunning blue sapphire ring. Sapphires are the second-hardest stone after diamonds and are available in variety of colours. Sapphires are impressively beautiful gems and knowing how to identify a real stone is crucial for anyone looking to buy one. Be a knowledgeable consumer: learn the characteristics of a genuine sapphire.

Go to a reputable jeweller. A reputable jeweller should be able to give you details about the stone in terms of the cut, colour and treatment. Almost all sapphires undergo heat treatment to increase their brilliance, but natural sapphires should never look like translucent glass. The jeweller should also tell you if the stone is natural or lab-created. A lab-created sapphire is an authentic stone made in a laboratory.

Examine the colour of the sapphire. Although lab-created stones tend to be brighter than natural ones, they are not as shiny as fake glass sapphires. Genuine blue sapphires of the highest quality are deep blue in colour and do not reflect other colours when moved in light. The same test can be applied to all colours of sapphires. The light reflected from the stone should match its colour.

Check for scratches and bubbles. Sapphires are a naturally hard and durable stone. If you can see scratches or nicks on the stone, then it is probably made of glass. Glass stones will also have small bubbles that are not found in natural sapphires.

Take your sapphire to a licensed gemologist. Gemologists perform tests with specialised tools to determine the quality of the stone and can provide you with a certificate of authenticity.

Tip

Always ask for a certificate of authenticity from a reputable source, like the American Gem Society, when buying a sapphire online. Examine several stones in a variety of cuts and sizes. The more stones you examine, the more likely you are to identify a fake sapphire from a real one. Although they are virtually identical in appearance, lab-created stones tend to be less valuable than natural ones.

Warning

Only a licensed gemologist can truly identify the authenticity of a sapphire. Have your stone appraised to ensure that you have purchase an authentic stone. Be especially critical when buying a large stone. Synthetic stones are commonly available in large sizes (one or more carats), whereas natural sapphires tend to be smaller.

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About the Author

Based in Colorado, Gisela Chavez has been writing and editing since 2004. Her editorial experience ranges from editing technical documents to editing for “The Bloomsbury Review.” She earned a professional writing certificate from the University of Colorado, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in English and Spanish.