Buying Jewelry is a double-edged sword. On one hand, the purchase of gem-studded metal is a status symbol, a lovely addition to any wardrobe, and a conversation piece. On the other, it’s incredibly hard to detect whether a gem is real or fake. For items that routinely cost upwards of thousands of dollars, discovering a fake can be devastating. Fortunately, there are many ways to tell whether or not a gem is a genuine gemstone, or a well-crafted phony.
Many “fake” gems are not fake at all. Instead, they are simply re-branded as a more expensive gem. For example, a low-quality gem passed off as a higher-quality gem is neither glass nor plastic, so it can be difficult to detect by anyone except an experienced jeweler. One commonly up-branded gem is an “Oriental Emerald.” This is not an emerald at all, but a green sapphire, much less rare. Another is an “American Ruby,” which is just a garnet, a semi-precious stone. These names are misleading and may trick any inexperienced jewelry buyer into paying too much for treated quartz.
Find a jeweler you trust. If there are no jewelers you trust, find one with a sterling reputation, and do your research. Look up the jeweler online and see if you can find any other instances of the jeweler selling fakes–if not, this may be a reputable one. Have any pieces you’re not sure about inspected before (if possible) or very soon after purchase. Any good jeweler can spot the difference between a real gem and glass, plastic, or non-precious stones. If you must have genuine jewels and cannot afford to buy them for a specific event, consider jewelry rental. This will ensue your jewels are real, while keeping your bank account protected.
Stabilized gems are real gems that have been technologically manipulated. For example, turquoise is a real gem, but often appears in low-quality form as a soft or chalky gem. During stabilization, a bonding agent is forced into a low-quality gem, and the gem is stabilized for use in settings for which it would otherwise be unsuited.
Reconstitution is a kind of jewel manipulation similar to stabilization. However, in stabilization the only materials are the original gem and the bonding agent. In reconstitution, powders made from a true gem are mixed into a binding agent, forming a new gemstone from the powder of an old one. Most importantly, these gemstones include many ingredients that may not be part of the original gem. Fakers often use artificial coloring agents to make a stabilized or enhanced gem more appealing.
One of the hardest fakes to catch is a real gemstone. Because the stone is true, sometimes it’s a surprise to discover that a real gemstone can also be a fake. If there are flaws in the gem, special backings like solid-back and foil-lined backings, can change the color of a gem or make it look more brilliant.