First of all, the word “genuine” means different things to different people, and changes according to the situation. Generally gemstones are divided into three categories:
For example, a ruby that comes out of the ground and is faceted and polished in preparation for sale (or simply left in its rough form) is considered natural.
Laboratory grown (aka synthetic)
Rubies are also grown in laboratories, often employing methods that closely simulate the natural process that occurs when rubies form in the earth. Chemically, optically, and structurally, these laboratory-grown gems very closely resemble their natural counterpart.
Additionally, red glass or other materials that bear no gemological or chemical resemblance to ruby can be used to simulate ruby.
Thus the three categories: Natural, laboratory grown, and simulated. The three categories noted above also exist for sapphires, emeralds, diamonds (though laboratory grown diamonds have yet to break into the jewelry market in a meaningful way), and a variety of other gemstones. All of that said, the best way to determine whether or not your gemstone is “genuine,” (to determine whether it is natural, laboratory grown, or simulated) is to have a qualified gemologist examine it.
Most gems are readily identified with standard gemological testing. Those that prove more challenging can be submitted to highly sophisticated gemological laboratories for identification and in many cases, determination of the country of origin. Country of origin can be a significant value factor in certain categories, such as Burmese ruby, Kashmir sapphire, and Colombian emerald.
We are always happy to provide an opinion on individual stones based on visual inspection. However, visual inspection alone does not always provide an accurate identification. We are also able to provide (at a cost of $15.00 per stone) the results of a refractive index reading. This reading may allow us to identify the stone, but not in all cases. There are lab created stones which have the same refractive index as naturals. If we are unable to make a determination which we know to be accurate we may provide a referral to a reputable gemological laboratory for identification and evaluation. We are sometimes able to make a quick determination without charge to the customer, but multiple stones are evaluated based on an hourly basis with an estimate provided prior to providing service.
Posted in: Authenticity and Disclosure