Determining Authenticity in Gemstones and Pearls

Image of an emerald laid within set diamond jewelry necklace

Share This Post

When buying gemstones and pearls, it is important to know if they are genuine or an imitation.


Very similar to how diamonds are priced, colored gemstones with better clarity will cost more per carat. Having a gemstone with a better cut is often worth a bit more, and the bigger the stone, generally, the more it is worth per carat. Within each variety of gemstone, prices are calculated according to the four C’s: carat, color, cut, and clarity, with color being by far the most determining factor.

In general, there’re 7 Pearl Value factors that affect the pearl value: shape, size, color, luster, surface quality, nacre quality, and matching, similar to the 4Cs for colored gemstones and diamonds listed above.

Gemstones and pearls can be expensive; you wouldn’t want to end up paying for a genuine piece only to get the quality of an imitation. In most cases, imitations are synthetic, which means they were created in a laboratory to be a substitute for a real gemstone or pearl. This is one reason why it can be hard to distinguish them; synthetics are made to look just like the real ones.

While at-home methods can be effective in determining whether your gemstone or pearls are real, the most reliable way is to take the stone to your local jeweler for evaluation.

Do you want to determine the worth of your colored gemstone? Call us today for a free consultation.

However, if you still want to test at home and want to go a little further than just appearance and weight, here are some common tests for gemstones and pearls you can do to make sure you are getting an authentic item.

Looking for a guide on how to determine if your gold jewelry is real? Read more here.


One thing to remember is that real gemstones and pearls are natural and because of this, they are going to have flaws. Real items have been worn down through factors like time and the environment and often because of this, fake gemstones will sparkle and shine more than natural, authentic ones. For pearls, when examined closely or under magnification, you’ll notice tiny irregularities and ridges on each pearl’s surface.

Another thing to consider during the first evaluation is how much the item in question weighs. Normally, synthetic stones are going to be denser than real stones and therefore should be heavier. The difference should be noticeable by just holding the stone in your hand. Real pearls, on the other hand, will weigh more than their counterfeits.


One stone that is commonly replicated is the ruby. Real rubies glow with a deep, vivid red; fake gems are often dull. If the gem is more of a dark red, then it may be garnet instead of a ruby.

Another way to test a ruby is through a scratch method. Real rubies are extremely hard stones and will not scratch under most conditions. Rub a fingernail or a coin on the surface of the stone and see if you can scratch it. If the ruby shows a scratch, then there’s a good chance that it is not genuine. You can also gently scratch the stone against a hard surface like a porcelain tile or a piece of glass. If the stone is genuine, it will not leave a red mark on the surface where you scratched it, if it does it could be a sign that the gem is artificially colored.


Sapphires are typically blue but can also be red, yellow, orange, green, or other colors in between. Fake sapphires tend to be brighter than natural ones and shine more.

Sapphires come in right behind diamonds in terms of gemstone hardness. So, it can be easy to use the same type of tests for sapphires that you would use on rubies. You can also look for scratches on the sapphire.

Another common sign of an inauthentic sapphire are air bubbles in the stone; Since they are often made of glass, tiny air bubbles remain in them after they form. If you see any bubbles inside of the sapphire, then it is not real.

You can also perform a breath test on sapphires by counting how long it takes for the fog to clear. Natural gems should clear up in just one or two seconds, but lab-created sapphires may take five seconds or more to clear up.

Need more help determining if your rubies or sapphires are real? Call us today for a free consultation.


It can be difficult to determine the authenticity of Emeralds. Many “emeralds” are actually other green gems, green glass, or imitations built from several materials. 

With emeralds, one common way to look for a fake is to check for a “sparkling” effect. Real emeralds produce little or no “fire,” colorful flashes that appear under a light. If your gem produces a rainbow of flashes, it is not an emerald.

You can look at the color to help you determine whether an emerald is fake. The mineral beryl is only called emerald if it is dark green or blue-green. Yellow-green beryl is called heliodor, and light green beryl is just called green beryl. Most emeralds will be in the range of these mixes of colors and not pure green.

This is very different from fake emeralds which are produced to have a brilliantly deep green color. If the stone in question is more of a deep bright green, then it could have been created in a laboratory.

Need more help determining if your emeralds are real? Call us today for a free consultation.


You may have heard of the classically trusted method of determining whether a pearl is real – by putting the pearl in your mouth and scraping it against your teeth. Both natural and cultured pearls have a textured surface due to their layered structure. When you rub the pearls lightly against each other or on your front teeth, they feel a little gritty. Fake or imitation pearls, however, often feel smooth or glassy.

But what if you don’t know where the pearl has been and don’t want to put it in your mouth?  Running your fingernail across the pearl should give you the same results.

You can also check for any drill holes in the pearl- drill holes in genuine pearls are usually very small in comparison to those in imitation pearls. When magnified, the area around the drill holes of fake pearls will often have a very thin coating which looks like shiny paint. Good indicators fake pearls are flakes or chipped pieces of this coating around the drill holes.

Another way to tell if a pearl is genuine is to test the temperature of the pearl. After letting it sit away from the skin’s temperature for a while (store in a bag or on another surface), hold the pearls in your hand and see how they feel against your skin. Real pearls should feel cooler than your skin for a few seconds before they react to your body heat, like touching marble.


Many of these methods for testing colored gemstones and pearls at home have been used for decades and can often be a good indicator of whether the piece in question is authentic.

Ultimately, the safest way to be sure is to have a professional jeweler look at the gem. They can assist you in determining authenticity before making a large purchase. They can also tell you whether your stone is real without any damage to the piece.

Do you want to determine the worth of your colored gemstone? Call us today for a free consultation.

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

More To Explore

Lynne A.

left us a 5 star review


Met with Joel to see if the silver and gold coins I found were worth anything. He was very nice and only one coin was worth a few bucks. He suggested just...

Lynne A. September 29, 2023

Joel took time and patiently explained the value of my jewelry and how he calculated it. I believe I got a good, honest deal and I would highly recommend him.

Anne Andrews C. September 28, 2023

I could not have been more pleased and satisfied with Joel at Westlake Gold. If you have spare jewelry and gold that you want to get top dollar for, this is the only place that you need to go. Do not go to downtown LA. Do not go to any jewelry store and especially do not go to a pawn shop! Joel is the only man that you need to see. He is professional, kind, and as sincere and honest as they come. He has a low overhead for his business and he is without question going to give you the best possible price for your valuables. I didn’t even know that some pieces that I had were worth more than I had expected… but Joel being as honest and sincere as they come made sure that I had what I needed and did with a gracious understanding and very friendly demeanor. After leaving this place, I was both impressed and so happy to see that there are still people out there that do care about others. Do not waste your time and go anywhere else… this is the man to see!!!

Steve Benezra September 20, 2023

Very professional and detailed in their evaluation. I felt very comfortable.

Ali Farboud August 9, 2023

The team at Westlake Gold was both kind and professional. Joel is very knowledgeable and fair - and I really enjoyed working with him on the sale of some estate jewelry. I highly recommend!

Dana Barrett July 10, 2023

*Respectful, surprisingly great appraisal, very safe and honest.* Joel meets his customers in a clean and neat office inside of an office building, instead of many others in the area. This allows me to feel more comfortable to start with. He was very respectful, friendly, and courteous. The best part comes with the pricing. This was not my first time releasing old gold and jewelry, and I received way more than I thought I would have given my past experience with other jewelry buyers. Thank you, Joel. Wish I had met you in the past, but sure am happy I do now.

Birgitte Tan June 30, 2023

I was very happy with the transaction and the money that he offered to us when I sold gold jewelry. He was very knowledgeable and kind to me and my...

Mithila U. June 2, 2023

Great experience selling gold silver and jewelry. Joel is very skilled and explains the transaction.

Mike Kale May 19, 2023

What a hidden treasure, pun intended. Overwhelmed with a large collection that I wasn't sure was costume or the real deal. impressed with how each piece was tested even the ones marked for authentication. professional and honest.

janie ahlberg May 14, 2023

If you are looking for an honest appraisal and fair deal, this is the place to go! I walked in with what I thought was seven 1oz Canadian silver dollars worth $25 each, turns out they were 1oz Canadian platinum coins with worth $1,000+ each!! He operated with 100% integrity and patience with me. He took the time to educate me on coins. I will defiantly return!

John Strote May 12, 2023

Highly recommend Westlake Gold. I had a bunch of estate jewelry to liquidate and I feel like I got a very fair price for my items. I definitely will return. Thank you!

Rana Mohr May 12, 2023

I highly recommend Westlake Gold - Joel is very knowledgable about gold and diamonds and I loved his authenticity when giving me the information I needed. He’s very professional, and courteous. I’ll definitely be back in future!

hannah de boisblanc December 16, 2022

Joel, thank you for your help with the silver we brought into your shop. You were very helpful and pleasant to work with.

Robin Johnson December 5, 2022

Just met with Joel while taking care of selling my father's gold (after his passing). Joel was honest, fair, and professional. Highly recommend Westlake Gold.

Cathy Anderson August 2, 2022

I highly recommend Westlake Village Gold! I took my Jewelry to several places,I receive the best price from Joel his customer service, Attention extremely detail. I knew the first few minutes of meeting him that you can trust this man, Definitely will be back.

Rebecca de la Torre September 14, 2020

Joel always provide incredible customer service. Joel is very knowledgeable about gold and diamonds and is also very polite and I always enjoy my conversations with him when trying to sell him gold. I highly recommend working with Westlake Gold.

Patrick rohn September 10, 2020

I bought two rings from Joel and was blown away by the experience. He is extremely honest, professional, and knowledgeable. He normally doesn't make jewelry sales to walk in customers, but just so happened to have exactly what we were looking for. And he even arranged to have our rings resized and polished. They are beautiful and exactly what we wanted.

Stephanie Bland March 30, 2020

Very professional, knowledgeable and honest. More than fair, highly recommend.

Doug Weil January 9, 2020

Joel is great at what he does. He helped me with valuing some coins I needed. If you need to find the value on any jewelry you must go here. Thank you so much for your help!

Probate Services Inc. November 2, 2017

Joel was extremely knowledgable, professional, informative and expeditious in the overall process. I will be coming back if/when I have a need to sell silver, gold and/or jewelry!

Scott O'Malley July 14, 2016