Sapphires have been enjoying an increasing demand because it is now one of the most valuable and highly coveted stone out of all colored gemstones in the market right now. When buying sapphire, you have surely encountered terms such as imitations, synthetic, and natural. As expected, out of these three, natural sapphires have the highest value and are the most desirable.
Although there is nothing wrong with purchasing synthetic or imitation sapphire, the one thing that matters the most is that you should be informed of its origin and charged with the right price for the gemstone.
Most importantly, it pays to learn some tricks on how to tell if a sapphire is real so you don’t become a victim of fakes, synthetics, and imitations:
Consult a Reputable Jeweler
A trustworthy jeweler must be able to provide you details regarding the stone in terms of color, treatment, and cut. Almost all sapphires go through heat treatment for improving their brilliance. However, a real sapphire must never look like a translucent glass. The jeweler must also be able to inform you if the stone is lab-created or natural. Lab-created sapphires are authentic stones made in laboratories.
Perform the Breath Test
The breath test may sound basic but this can give you a good idea about the integrity of a sapphire. Get your sapphire then breathe on it deeply and slowly. Check to see the length of time it takes before the fog evaporates.
The fog must disappear really fast in just one to two seconds if you have a real sapphire. It is because sapphires have a natural ability of conducting heat well. Fog on fake sapphire will take up to 5 seconds or even more before it evaporates.
Watch Out for Scratches
Sapphires are durable and hard stone by nature. If you notice some nicks or scratches on the stone, there is a chance that it is only made of glass.
Sapphire is among the most durable gemstones in the market that are used for different jewelry pieces just second to diamonds. Its hardness rating on the Mohs scale is 9. It means that substances with lower or equal hardness rating can never cause a scratch on a sapphire. Cubic zirconia is 8, spinel is 7.5 to 8, and glass is just 5.5.
If your sapphire stone shows nicks or scratches, there is a high chance that it is fake. You can use a coin or key to scratch the stone’s surface. If it leaves some scratch marks behind, your stone is possibly glass. Real sapphires would never be scratched this way.
Line and Bubble Inclusions
It is highly likely that your stone is composite or glass sapphire if there are small air bubbles trapped inside the stone. See to it that you check the stone from every angle since there are air bubbles that are only visible from specific angles.
You also need to look closely to check if there are thready interconnecting white lines in the stone as this indicates that what you have is a composite sapphire.
The sapphire’s color must be examined as well. Even though there is a tendency for lab-created stones to be much brighter compared to natural ones, they don’t look as shiny as the fake glass ones. The highest quality of genuine blue sapphire has a deep blue color and doesn’t reflect other colors if moved in light. You can do a similar test on all sapphire colors. The light that gets reflected from the sapphire must match its color.
Search for Flaws
In general, natural gemstones have the tendency to have inclusions. While the gemstone is forming in nature, minute traces of foreign matters can get inside the stone. It is one distinct feature between synthetic and natural sapphires.
A jeweler’s loupe or a magnifying glass can be used for checking for flaws and impurities inside your sapphire. Examine for small specks or flaws in the stone. All of these indicate that you have a real sapphire.
Lab-created sapphires often have flawless composition. It is not possible to replicate these inclusions in a lab. This means that if you have a flawless stone, chances are it is only synthetic.
The most important thing you can do if you want to know how to tell if a sapphire is real is to take it to a licensed gemologist. A gemologist can conduct tests using specialized tools to identify the quality of the stone and give you a certificate of authenticity.
Why is It Hard to Spot Fake Sapphires?
Fake sapphires are often filled with lead glass that is known for its uncanny resemblance to real sapphire. The mere fact that they are glass makes it a bit easier. However, fake sapphires are very vulnerable to different cleaning chemicals. This is why fake ones tend to crack easily and break completely.
How and Where to Shop for Real Sapphire
It doesn’t matter if you have decided to buy at a physical shop or an online store. Always make sure that you shop only from a registered and reputable retailer.
If you want to shop online, make sure you check for the images or videos of the product. Inquire about treatments that the stone might have gone through. A reliable vendor will be more than willing to disclose such details to you.
Many vendors also make sure that their gemstones come with a certificate of authenticity. There are vendors that offer easy access to this certificate, listed together with the sapphire’s images.
When Prince Charles presented Princess Diana with several choices for her engagement ring, the princes chose the gorgeous blue sapphire ring. Next to diamonds, sapphires are the hardest stones in the world and come in various colors. These gems have an impressive beauty that there are lots of fakes and imitations out there. Always be a wise consumer. Make sure you learn how to tell if a sapphire is real by being familiar with the tips mentioned above.