How to Identify Emerald Gems

Written by kyle w. bell | 13/05/2017
How to Identify Emerald Gems
Emeralds have a green colour and a glassy lustre. (emerald ring image by studio vision 1 from Fotolia.com)

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.

Things you need

  • Gem sample

  • Steel knife

  • Emery cloth

  • Streak plate

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

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.

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.

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.

Warnings

  • Testing your gem may cause damage. Be careful!

Tips and Warnings

  • Testing your gem may cause damage. Be careful!

Things you need

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

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