The gemological identification of emeralds and blue sapphires.

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 91, No. 1025, 1998

J.E. Shigley, Gemological Institute of America, Carlsbad, California, United States

The gemological properties that allow natural emeralds and blue sapphires to be distinguished from other gemstones are summarized int this paper. A variety of synthetic and laboratory-treated emeralds and blue sapphires are also encountered in the jewelry industry today. Gemologists distinguish these latter materials from their natural counterparts based primarily upon features seen with magnification, such as inclusions and/or growth zoning. In some cases, however, these observations and standard gem-testing methods are insufficient, and the use of non-destructive analytical methods, such as optical spectroscopy and chemical analysis, are required for positive identification. The commercial value of synthetic and treated gems are much less, and can be insignificant in comparison to that of an important untreated natural gemstone. Identification of synthetic and treated gem material is essential to maintaining integrity in the jewelry industry. Loss of consumer confidence in the gemstones sold at the jewelry counter could have a negative impact on the exploration and mining of natural emerald an