gem identification tools

Top 3 Jewellery Appraisal Questions

Part 3:

So, what gemstone is this?

Did you know that there are hundreds of natural gemstones that can be found all over the world? With that information, I am sure you can understand how challenging it can be to separate the various varieties. I regularly see pictures of jewellery being posting online with the question “what gemstone is this?” or “is this stone real?”.

As a GIA Graduate Gemologist, I have a variety of tools that help me identify gemstones based on their optical properties.  A gem’s physical appearance, such as colour can be used to rule out some options (ex. a ring with a green stone, I can confidently say it is not a ruby).  The process of gem identification is much more complex.  Gemologists employ several tests to help rule out as many options as possible.  There are gemstones that have a distinct appearance, but with synthetic and imitation gems being so prevalent, a thorough analysis is required.    It is unlikely that a gemologist would put their name on a visual identification without performing any identification tests.  

Gemstone identification tools.
Gemological tools used to identify gemstones. Photo Credit: @acgemlab

Posting a picture and asking for guidance may start your research, but it should not be used as the final determination.  Keep in mind that the people that answer your call for help online may or may not be trained professionals.  Would you send a picture of your car to the mechanic and ask “what’s wrong and how much is it going to cost to fix”?  Perhaps you can, but I bet the mechanic is going to do a full inspection before issuing an official quote to make sure there aren’t any other underlying issues that they could become liable for.

If you are going to post pictures and ask for help online, let me help you help others.  I know that jewellery is sparkly and it can be challenging to focus on the item, but here are a few tips that will help you capture better photos. 

  1. Use a simple light coloured background; a piece of paper is sufficient.
  2. Use good lighting, near a window with natural daylight is best. 
  3. Clean the item first, warm soapy water works for most gems*. 
  4. Prevent blurry photos by stabilizing the item and your camera, place the item on a flat surface or use a camera stand.  
  5. Remember that having a trained gemologist assess your items is the best way to determine what you have. 

The most important tip from that list is #5, having a trained professional asses your items.  Pictures are great and definitely help start the conversation, but there are so many minute details that a photo cannot communicate.  Nothing beats the knowledge of a trained professional.  

With so many questions that need answers, the internet has become the go to resource for many.  Whether you are trying to find out how much your item is worth, where you can sell it, or what gemstone it is, having the assistance of an experienced professional is paramount.   If you have questions about your jewellery, please contact AC Appraisals at  

*For more information on how to safely clean your jewellery, please contact me. I can provide guidance specific to the jewellery item and gemstones you have.

Written By: Alanna Campbell March 27, 2021

Opinions and experiences are my own.  Photos are credited to @acgemlab.