How To Tell If an Emerald Is Real

How To Tell If an Emerald Is Real

Curious about the authenticity of the emerald you possess?

Rest assured, you’ve landed in the perfect spot.

Within this informative guide, we shall explore diverse methods to discern the genuineness of an emerald. Furthermore, we shall provide elucidation to inquiries such as:

  • What constitutes the composition of an imitation emerald?
  • Do synthetic emeralds qualify as counterfeit variants?
  • Can a manipulated emerald be classified as spurious?

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What Is an Emerald?

Emerald, an immensely popular green gemstone within the realm of jewelry, has adorned ancient civilizations throughout the annals of time, extending its allure into the fabric of contemporary society.

Emeralds manifest as the verdant or greenish-blue variations of the mineral known as beryl. Beryl, in its diverse manifestations, encompasses an array of colors, including colorless gemstones, alongside its brethren, morganite and aquamarine.

Every emerald possesses its unique characteristics and distinctive worth. As gemstones imbued with captivating hues, emeralds derive their utmost value from their coloration. Should a stone exhibit tones that are either excessively light or excessively dark, its value can significantly diminish.

Among emerald localities, Colombian emeralds and Zambian emeralds reign supreme in terms of desirability and value, surpassing their counterparts in allure.

As with numerous precious gemstones, the market is replete with counterfeit emeralds. These imitations can assume the guise of alternative gemstones, glass replicas, or even composites comprising genuine emerald alongside other materials. The intricacy deepens, particularly when one lacks a precise description of the gemstone.

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Fortunately, there exist techniques to distinguish between genuine emeralds and their counterfeit counterparts, devoid of reliance on sophisticated laboratory apparatus or specialized instruments. The naked eye alone is sufficient for this task, although a jeweler’s loupe could prove advantageous, though not imperative.

Without further ado, let us delve into the matter at hand.

What Are Fake Emeralds?

An imitative emerald encompasses any substance or entity that falsely asserts its emerald nature, contrarily lacking identical chemical composition, physical attributes, and optical qualities found in genuine emeralds.

Glass stands as the most prevalent sham emerald encountered, where natural glass can be skillfully shaped by gem artisans to mimic various precious stones. Locating green glass is effortless, yet its worth is insubstantial.

Additional green gemstones may be classified as simulated or counterfeit emeralds, possessing akin shades but distinct compositions and worth. Common emerald substitutes include green cubic zirconia, synthetic green spinel, and green garnet.

Apprehensions regarding encountering counterfeit emeralds in prominent online platforms, fortified with numerous reviews, are unnecessary. The likelihood of encountering fake emeralds or emerald imitations escalates on websites like Etsy, Facebook Marketplace, and Amazon.

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When venturing into a foreign gem market to procure emeralds from another nation, it is crucial to exercise caution due to the potential presence of fraudulent practices. It is not to suggest that all gem markets are unscrupulous, but rather they have been known to exploit unsuspecting tourists.

Certain online listings may employ gemological jargon that could perplex individuals unfamiliar with emerald shopping. Hence, it is imperative to thoroughly scrutinize the item description. Some vendors may employ the phrase “real emerald” in the title while disclosing its simulated nature within the description.

Although deceitful, such practices do not violate any laws. The utilization of “real emerald” in the title is merely a tactic to enhance visibility and ranking. Since most buyers are not actively seeking imitation emeralds, sellers resort to measures to ensure their counterfeit gemstones achieve superior visibility and garner attention.

Differences Between Real Emeralds and Fake Emeralds

It is common knowledge that counterfeit emeralds are substances that do not possess true emerald properties. However, within the realm of authentic emeralds, there exists a hierarchy of value, causing confusion among customers regarding what qualifies as counterfeit.

Synthetic and Natural Emeralds

For many first-time buyers of emeralds, the primary source of confusion lies in distinguishing between natural and synthetic variations. Synthetic emeralds, also known as lab-created emeralds, are a distinct category of real emeralds. These lab-grown emeralds possess the same gemological composition as their naturally occurring counterparts.

The controlled laboratory conditions facilitate the growth of synthetic emeralds with fewer inclusions compared to natural stones. Nonetheless, it is possible to intentionally introduce inclusions to synthetic emeralds, aiming to mimic the appearance of their natural counterparts. Additionally, the color of the stone can be enhanced in the lab.

Check the emeralds below of different colors:




The green hues of emeralds are derived from the presence of chromium and vanadium. The quantity of these impurities determines the intensity of the bluish green color, ultimately dictating whether the stone appears more green or blue. Synthetic emeralds, benefiting from their controlled environment, can exhibit stronger coloration as well.

However, it is important to note that synthetic gems primarily showcase green tones rather than bluish nuances. Synthetic gemstones often struggle to replicate the exact color variations found in other natural gems.

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In summary, when it comes to emeralds, both lab-created and synthetic varieties are considered genuine. While they offer a more budget-friendly alternative to natural emeralds, they still tend to be pricier than many other synthetic gemstones.

Interestingly, the process of synthesizing emeralds is particularly challenging. It demands heightened focus and the utilization of costly equipment to achieve successful production.

Natural Emeralds and Treated Emeralds

The realm of gemstones can be perplexing for novices, particularly when it comes to natural and enhanced stones. It should be noted that a treated emerald possesses genuine emerald properties. It is a common misconception that only natural emeralds are authentic, while other types are counterfeit. In reality, both natural and treated emeralds hold the title of being genuine emeralds.

Many valuable gemstones, whether precious or semi-precious, undergo treatment procedures primarily aimed at enhancing their color. Some treatments address issues like crack filling or inclusion removal. The application of such treatments can significantly affect the price and value of gemstones. On the other hand, certain treatments are so widespread that they do not have a substantial impact on the cost or value.

The most valuable emerald is an untreated one exhibiting robust coloration and transparency. However, it is important to acknowledge that the majority of emeralds undergo treatments. Despite this fact, not all treatments are permanent in nature. Some require regular maintenance, while others may be altered when exposed to ultraviolet light sources.

At times, colorless beryl or green beryl are subjected to treatments in order to achieve a vibrant emerald hue. Such treatments can be regarded as somewhat misleading, considering the considerable difference in price between the various color variations.

Treatments are commonly employed in the processing of emeralds, which consequently reduces their price when compared to untreated counterparts. Nonetheless, a treated emerald still retains its value and holds precious status. Untreated emeralds, on the other hand, are rare and their price significantly escalates based on additional value factors such as carat weight and clarity.

Should you find yourself in the market for untreated natural emeralds, it is advisable to obtain one accompanied by a reputable gem certificate to ensure its untreated status.

Natura Emeralds vs Constructed Emeralds

There exist two distinct categories of fabricated emeralds: composite emeralds and amalgamated emeralds. Solely within one category lies genuine emerald.

Composite gemstones, comprising doublets and triplets, find utility in jewelry settings that pose challenges for their installation. Furthermore, these gemstones incorporate reduced amounts of authentic emerald material, resulting in diminished worth and decreased expenses. Additionally, composite emeralds are occasionally employed for opals as well.

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Doublets and triplets should not be equated with assembled emeralds, despite the fact that they can be considered “assembled” in a technical sense.

I understand that it might be perplexing, but please bear with me.

Assembled emeralds possess distinct characteristics. In this case, two transparent stones are affixed together using an adhesive tinted with a green hue. Frequently, the process involves layering the stones two or three times to construct the desired gem. Occasionally, a minute and insignificant fragment of genuine emerald is incorporated to deceive specialists. These types of emeralds are also commonly known as emerald imitations or emerald replicas.

Can You Verify the Authenticity of Your Emerald?

To ascertain the genuineness of an emerald, direct observation is crucial. Several tests can be conducted within the comfort of your own home. However, for the most accurate determination of an authentic emerald, it is recommended to consult a reputable gemstone dealer or submit it to a recognized laboratory.

Examine Your Emerald Gem at Home

Determining the presence of treatments on an emerald becomes challenging when assessed outside professional settings. However, certain characteristics can provide indications by observing the gemstone.

An authentic emerald typically exhibits medium to dark green hues, while the presence of yellow or brown tones may suggest its lack of authenticity. To analyze this aspect, place your stone above a source of light. Utilizing your phone’s camera to illuminate the stone from beneath should reveal these tonal variations.

gemstone scale

The identical illumination can also serve as an indicator to distinguish between a cubic zirconia and a genuine emerald. Cubic zirconia, a low-cost laboratory-manufactured gem, possesses the ability to imitate various colored gemstones. Its exceptional refractive index results in a profound radiance. Conversely, emeralds exhibit a more subdued radiance when exposed to light.

Should your emerald exhibit shimmering rainbow flashes, it is highly probable that it is a cubic zirconia gem. Emeralds are renowned for their splendid sheen, distinct from the rainbow flashes seen in moissanite, cubic zirconia stones and diamonds.

Read Also: Green Garnet vs Emerald

The belt encircling your precious emerald possesses the potential to serve as another telltale sign of a counterfeit gem. Should the periphery exhibit signs of wear and appear delicate, it is highly probable that the stone in question is composed of glass rather than an authentic gemstone. Authentic emeralds bear well-defined borders, devoid of frayed edges.

Furthermore, the presence of inclusions can shed light on the authenticity of your emerald. As previously mentioned, inclusions are perfectly natural occurrences within genuine emeralds. They are often referred to as the “jardin,” borrowing from the French term for “garden.” This metaphorical reference is apt since the inclusions within emeralds resemble minuscule, threadlike tendrils of vines meandering through the gemstone.

Additionally, one might observe gas bubbles, minute deep lines, and even a phenomenon known as a three-phase inclusion. It is crucial to note that this specific type of inclusion exclusively manifests in mined emeralds and is absent in synthetic counterparts.

Determining the Authenticity of Emerald Jewelry

Determining the authenticity of an emerald requires a comprehensive approach rather than relying solely on one indicator. It is crucial to consider a range of different factors. However, when it comes to identifying a genuine emerald, obtaining a gem certificate emerges as the most reliable test.

To acquire a gem certificate, you can submit the emerald to a reputable grading laboratory. The Global Gemological Institute (GIA) is highly recommended as it serves as the foremost authority in the realm of gemology. They possess the expertise to authenticate emeralds and ascertain the presence of any detectable treatments.

Numerous online vendors already furnish gem certificates alongside their emerald offerings. It is reasonable to assume that the majority of these emeralds have undergone treatments or are lab-grown. Among the notable establishments that offer emeralds, James Allen and Brilliant Earth stand out as our preferred choices.

If you seek natural and untreated emeralds, Leibish & Co. is an exceptional option worth considering.

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