Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Testing Gemstones

By Himanshu Shangari

When a person goes to purchase a gemstone or some gemstones after he has been prescribed those gemstones, and reaches the gemstone dealer and asks for his prescribed gemstones, the dealer displays so many varieties of every gemstone that it becomes difficult for the person to decide which gemstone is good to wear and which is not. And though a lab test is considered the final test for the genuineness of the gemstones, but this test is not very helpful in actual practice particularly in countries like India as they only tell whether a gemstone is original or not. But most of the times they are either unable or not willing to tell the quality of the gemstone. For example a report of genuineness is given for a Blue Sapphire worth USD 50 per carat and almost the same report of genuineness is given for the Blue Sapphire worth USD 500 per carat or even USD 1000 per carat. And where does it leave us. I guess nowhere. Because if a lab test can not tell you about the quality of a gemstone then what is the worth of that test report. I mean how can similar reports be given for the gemstones which are ten times different in price. So let's try to understand a few things that can help even an ordinary person who does not have much knowledge about gemstones at all, to choose a good gemstone for the price offered.

As the prices of gemstones are different in different parts of the world, so it is difficult to get an idea about the general price range for all the gemstones. But we shall look at some measures which can help us decide which of the gemstones among a variety of the same gemstone is suitable for us according to our price range. The first thing to look for in a gemstone is its colour and luster. For example, an Emerald which is a gemstone used to enhance the significances ruled by mercury should be green and bright. And though the colour may differ from light to deep green depending upon the price range of the gemstone, but the basic thing would remain the same. That is, it would be green if it is an Emerald. Same is true regarding all the other gemstones, and their colour ranges can be found in the article Gemstones and their Effects.

Second test for a gemstone which comes under the category of transparent gemstones like Ruby, Emerald, Yellow Sapphire, Blue Sapphire, White Sapphire, Hessonite and to some extent Cat's Eye also, is the percentage of transparency. This is a very important test in deciding the quality of all the gemstones that belong to the transparent family of gemstones and should be considered with great attention. Hold the gemstone against the light, that is hold it in front of your eyes where the background is having sufficient light and then try to look through it by holding it still and then moving it in a semi circular movement forward and backward alternately and then try to find out what are you seeing in or through the gemstone. If the gemstone is absolutely transparent, it passes the test but then it would become very costly. And if there are some blockages or blemishes in the gemstone irrespective of the colour, then the gemstone is not a 100% and we would have to check for the percentage of blockage. For example if you can not see at all through a gemstone belonging to the family of transparent gemstones, when seen with bright light present in the background, the gemstone is not going to work very much and however cheap it may be, you won't be able to get any significant results from it. Heavy blockages found in the gemstones are usually in the form of clouds which are present inside the gemstones and may block the transparency of the gemstones from 20% to 90%. The gemstones with a blockage of 90% would not be transparent at all and would be more like an opaque gemstone in spite of belonging to the transparent family of the gemstones. In this case you are usually able to see only the surface of the gemstone and nothing inside it and nothing can be seen through it. This gemstone is useless and should not be worn as it can only give about 10% of the effects belonging to the planet because the radiations received by the surface of this gemstone are blocked by the clouds present in it and so they are not transmitted into your body. And as the percentage of transparency increases, the quality and price of the gemstone also increase accordingly. But knowing about the concept of blockage in the gemstones, you can choose a good gemstone which is falling within your affordable price range. A medium range of gemstones is suitable for most of the people and this range would have a blockage of about 50% to 20% depending upon the little variations in prices and the little variations from gemstone to gemstone in the same price band.

Then there are some impurities found in the transparent gemstones which are in the form of spots and lines present inside the gemstones. The lines are usually white and the spots are usually black and are very likely to be found even in a costly gemstone particularly Emerald, because even the very costly Emeralds have black or white spots or lines in them. Anyways the blockage made by these lines and spots can again be checked by viewing the gemstones holding them against the background where bright light is present. Hold the gemstone and try to see inside and see through it, and then slowly rotate it in a forward and backward movement and see what you can find inside it. Then change the side of the gemstone and repeat the procedure again. You'll be able to find some things which would help you deciding the quality of the gemstone. However the impurities found in the form of lines and spots present inside a gemstone are not very serious impurities and they generally block about 5% to 20% of the gemstone provided the spots and lines are not present in great numbers inside a gemstone. This much amount of impurity is acceptable if you are willing to buy a gemstone in an upper medium price band.

The gemstones should also be checked for any types of cracks present in them which is not a very common thing but can still be there in case of some gemstones and so it should be attended carefully. If you are sure that a gemstone is having a crack inside it, never buy it as the cracked gemstones are not worth the investment at all. After that you can look for the shape of the gemstone suitable as per the wearer. And regarding the Opaque gemstones namely pearl and Red Coral, they are comparatively very cheap and accordingly the chances of them being genuine increase already. But these gemstones can be checked for their colour and luster in particular. For example a pearl with a mixing of yellow colour which makes it creamish is likely to be cheaper than the pearl with a mixing of blue colour in it. In the same way the dullness or attractiveness of a Pearl and Red Coral can help in deciding their quality.

And finally there are some quality measures attached to some particular gemstones which I would mention one by one. Let's start with the trickiest of the gemstones when it comes to identification. And kindly pay close attention because so many of the people purchasing this gemstone are tricked. This gemstone is White Sapphire and it should be checked very carefully for its colour. A real White Sapphire is absolutely colourless and is clear like a crystal. You can very clearly see through a White Sapphire. And the problem with choosing this gemstone is that most of the White Sapphires displayed by the dealers are not colourless though them may seem to be colourless at the first sight. But as you monitor them closely, you would find that there may be a hint of yellow, blue or pink in the gemstone, which makes it an incomplete white sapphire and it should not be bought. So be particular about the colour of a White Sapphire while purchasing it. And then come the gemstones like Emerald, Yellow Sapphire and Blue Sapphire which become more and more costly as their colour becomes deeper and deeper. So any of these gemstones with very light colours should be comparatively cheaper depending upon the other aspects of the gemstone like transparency and luster. While in case of a Hessonite, it should preferably be light honey colour instead of deep honey colour. And in case of Cat's Eye, the best colour in my opinion would be the greenish yellow. But the most important test for a Cat's Eye is the presence of a nearly white line across the gemstone which gives the effect of a Cat's Eye when this gemstone is held and the hand is moved in a semi circular motion going forward and backward alternately. And if this line is broken or not present or not moving when the gemstone is moved, the gemstone is not very good in quality and you should consider looking at some other one.

And though a person who does not know anything about identifying the gemstones is not likely to be an expert even after knowing all these facts about choosing the gemstones, but still this information can prove very helpful for a common man while choosing his gemstones. So whenever you go to purchase a gemstone or the gemstones for you, check for the above mentioned details properly to increase your chances of getting a good gemstone for the price offered.

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