LotusBuddhas understand you’ve come into possession of an aquamarine crystal and want to make sure it’s genuine. It’s sensible to validate something so precious! Authenticating an aquamarine takes patience and a keen eye, but it’s an interesting process.
When inspecting your stone, start with some simple visual tests – check that it has a smooth, glassy luster and transparent, blue-green color. Examine closely for any tiny flaws, which are expected in natural crystals like aquamarine. Synthetics tend to look perfect. Feel if the stone is cold to the touch, since real aquamarine conducts heat differently than fakes.
You can also use specialized tools like a UV light to check for fluorescence, or compare traits like the stone’s density and hardness against known aquamarine properties. If you want more details on how to authenticate whether your aquamarine crystal is real or fake, continue reading this article.
1. Check the luster
To check the luster of an aquamarine crystal, first, ensure you’re in a well-lit environment, preferably with natural light. Hold the crystal in your hand and rotate it slowly, allowing the light to reflect off its surface. You should observe the way the light interacts with the stone.
Genuine aquamarine typically exhibits a vitreous luster, which means it should look glassy and shiny. If the stone reflects light with a waxy, dull, or greasy appearance, it might not be genuine.
Remember, the quality of the luster can be affected by the finish or cut of the stone, so you have to compare it with known examples or consult an expert if you’re uncertain. Always ensure the surface of the crystal is clean and free from oils or dirt before making your assessment, as residues can alter the luster’s appearance.
2. Inspect transparency
Hold your stone up and shine a light through it. Quality aquamarine should let light pass through evenly, showcasing its beautiful clarity. Don’t worry if your crystal isn’t perfectly see-through – even high grade aquamarine can display some translucency.
If you find that the stone is entirely opaque or doesn’t allow any light to pass through, it might not be genuine or could be of a lower quality. In some cases, treatments or impurities might affect the stone’s transparency. Therefore, while inspecting, consider the evenness of the light passing through. Any uneven patches or areas that differ significantly in transparency might indicate treatments or inclusions.
3. Conduct a heat test
To conduct a heat test on an aquamarine crystal, begin by selecting a safe and controlled environment away from any flammable materials. Ensure the stone is clean and free of external dirt or oils.
Hold the aquamarine between your fingers for a minute to warm it up slightly with your body heat. Afterward, move it quickly to the palm of your other hand. Genuine aquamarine, being a good conductor of heat, will disperse the heat rapidly and feel cool against your skin. In contrast, imitations such as glass or plastic will retain the warmth for a longer duration, feeling warm or neutral against your skin.
It’s crucial to approach this test with caution. Extreme temperature changes can damage both genuine and imitation stones. While the heat test can provide some insights, it’s not definitive on its own.
4. Examine for flaws
To examine an aquamarine crystal for flaws, first ensure that the stone is clean and free from any external dirt or smudges. Hold the stone up to a light source or place it against a white background. As you closely observe the aquamarine, genuine stones may have natural inclusions or flaws, which might appear as tiny threads, feathery fractures, or minute bubbles.
If the aquamarine appears too perfect without any inclusions, approach with caution. A flawless appearance can indicate that the stone is either a high-quality synthetic or another type of imitation. Conversely, if you notice large bubbles or swirly patterns inside, it might suggest the stone is glass or plastic.
5. Use UV light
To use UV light to identify the authenticity of an aquamarine crystal, first procure a reliable ultraviolet (UV) light source, often referred to as a black light. Ensure you are in a dimly lit or dark environment for optimal observation.
Place the aquamarine crystal on a flat, non-reflective surface. Turn on the UV light and shine it directly onto the stone. As you illuminate the aquamarine, observe any fluorescence or glow it might exhibit. Some synthetic aquamarines, or those treated with certain processes, may display a stronger fluorescence compared to natural stones. However, it’s also possible for genuine aquamarines to show some fluorescence, but this is typically weaker and less distinct.
Keep in mind that while the reaction under UV light can provide insights into the stone’s nature, it is not a conclusive method on its own. Different batches of synthetic stones or treatments can yield varied reactions under UV light.
6. Compare specific gravity
To compare the specific gravity of an aquamarine crystal and determine its authenticity, you’ll need a hydrostatic balance or a similar device that can measure specific gravity. Specific gravity is the ratio of the density of a substance to the density of a reference substance, usually water for solids.
Start by weighing the aquamarine in air using a precise scale, noting its weight in grams. This is the dry weight. Next, suspend the aquamarine in distilled water, ensuring it’s fully submerged and not touching any sides. Note the weight while it’s submerged; this is the wet weight.
Subtract the wet weight from the dry weight. The difference between these two weights will be used to determine the specific gravity. The formula for specific gravity is:
Specific Gravity (SG) = Dry Weight / (Dry Weight – Wet Weight)
For genuine aquamarine, the specific gravity typically ranges between 2.68 and 2.74. If your calculated specific gravity falls within this range, it’s a positive indication for the stone being genuine aquamarine. However, if the specific gravity is notably outside this range, the stone might be another mineral or an imitation.
7. Test hardness
Evaluating an aquamarine’s hardness can be an exciting way to test its legitimacy. As a variety of beryl, real aquamarine ranks 7.5-8 on the Mohs hardness scale, making it scratch-resistant compared to softer minerals.
To check hardness, find a reference mineral like quartz which has a rating of 7. Hold the aquamarine firmly and attempt to scratch the quartz’s surface using the aquamarine’s sharp edges. If the aquamarine leaves visible scratches, it demonstrates appropriate hardness.
However, if the aquamarine itself gets scratched, it likely is not real or is a softer gemstone imposter. When performing this test, use care to avoid damaging the crystals. Scratch testing with reference minerals provides a hands-on method to gauge an aquamarine’s durability and authenticity. Combining these results with other examinations will give you confidence in conclusively identifying a genuine specimen.
8. Inspect facet edges
To inspect the facet edges of an aquamarine crystal, you’ll be examining the sharpness and wear of the edges where the facets meet. Genuine aquamarine, due to its hardness, will often have sharp and defined facet junctions when it’s newly cut.
Hold the aquamarine up to a light source, and with a jeweler’s loupe or magnifying glass, closely inspect where the facets intersect, known as the facet junctions. These edges should appear crisp and sharp in a genuine, well-cut aquamarine.
If you notice that the facet edges appear rounded, worn, or abraded, it could be an indication that the stone is not genuine aquamarine but rather a softer imitation like glass or plastic. Softer materials can’t maintain the sharp facet edges as effectively as harder materials, leading to a more rounded appearance over time or even when newly cut.
However, be aware that genuine aquamarines that have been subjected to wear over time or have been recut might also exhibit some rounding on their facet edges. Therefore, while inspecting the facet edges can be a valuable indicator, it shouldn’t be the sole determinant of the stone’s authenticity.
9. Check refractive index
To check the refractive index of an aquamarine crystal, you’ll be measuring the stone’s ability to bend and slow down light as it passes through. The refractive index (RI) is a unique number associated with different minerals and gemstones, and it can be a key indicator of a stone’s identity.
First, secure a gemological refractometer, a specialized instrument designed to measure the refractive index of gemstones. Ensure the instrument is calibrated and ready for use.
Clean the surface of the aquamarine thoroughly, ensuring there’s no residue or dirt. Apply a small drop of refractive index liquid, sometimes called contact liquid or immersion oil, onto the hemicylinder of the refractometer. This liquid ensures close contact between the stone and the instrument, eliminating any air gaps.
Place the flat facet of the aquamarine onto the liquid, ensuring it’s in full contact with the hemicylinder. Look through the eyepiece of the refractometer and align the stone so that you can observe the boundary line within the scale.
The boundary line you observe will indicate the refractive index of the stone. For genuine aquamarine, the refractive index typically falls between 1.57 and 1.58.
If the observed refractive index is significantly outside of this range, it’s a strong indication that the stone might not be genuine aquamarine. But you have to interpret the results with care. Some stones might have a refractive index close to aquamarine but are still different minerals.
10. Observe reaction to polarized light
To determine if an aquamarine exhibits pleochroism, one must observe the crystal’s reaction to polarized light. Pleochroism refers to a crystal’s ability to display different colors when viewed from various angles under polarized light. As a variety of beryl, aquamarine may demonstrate weak pleochroism, though it is often subtle.
First, secure a polarized light source, such as a gemological polariscope or polarized film. Lacking specialized equipment, polarized sunglasses can also suffice.
Situate the aquamarine between two polarized filters or lenses. When using sunglasses, place the gem on one lens and observe through the other, rotating the stone during examination.
Slowly turn the aquamarine crystal, noting any color or intensity variations from different vantage points. Genuine aquamarine may reveal faint hues of blue and green due to pleochroism.
However, many real aquamarines exhibit negligible or no pleochroism. Thus, lack of reaction does not necessarily signify a synthetic stone. Additionally, some treated or lab-created gems may demonstrate pleochroism. Observing pleochroism under polarized light serves as one of many tests. If uncertainty lingers after this observation, consultation with a gemological expert for further evaluation proves prudent.