How to Identify Emerald Gems

Written by kyle w. bell
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How to Identify Emerald Gems
Emeralds have a green colour and a glassy lustre. (emerald ring image by studio vision 1 from

Emeralds are popular gems that commonly are used in jewellery and ornaments. It is the traditional birthstone of May. The emerald, a variety of the mineral known as beryl, can be identified through a few simple observations. The most common and easiest characteristics to identify are colour, lustre, streak, and hardness.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Gem sample
  • Steel knife
  • Emery cloth
  • Streak plate

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  1. 1

    Look at your sample to see what colour it is. Emeralds are green, although the hue may vary.

  2. 2

    Examine to see if your sample has a vitreous lustre. Light should reflect off the surface of the mineral to give it a glassy look.

  3. 3

    Rub the mineral firmly across a porcelain streak plate. It is recommended that you choose a dark-coloured streak plate. An emerald will leave a white streak.

  4. 4

    Test the hardness by carefully attempting to scratch it with a steel knife and an emery cloth. According to the book, "Rock and Gem", Emeralds have a hardness of 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs' hardness scale, meaning that they are relatively resistant to scratches. A steel knife will not scratch an emerald, but an emery cloth will.

Tips and warnings

  • Testing your gem may cause damage. Be careful!

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