How to Examine a Gemstone


Buying your own gemstone and then designing and making an item of jewellery can be both fun and rewarding. Once you start looking at suitable gemstones ask yourself the following questions before making a closer examination :

  • Is this gemstone the colour I really like?
  • Is the shape of the gemstone important to me?
  • Is the gemstone lively and really appealing?
  • Do I feel excited about the prospect of owning it?
  • Can I afford to buy it?

If you are positive about the answers to these questions you are probably ready to examine the stone more carefully. Here are several important steps to help you do so:

  1. A loose gemstone can be examined more thoroughly than one that has been mounted in a piece of jewellery. Sometimes defects can be hidden when they are already set and so they are more difficult to see.
  2. A gemstone needs to be perfectly clean in order to examine it properly. If you aren’t able to dip it in a jewellery cleaning solution then at least breath onto it and then wipe it with a soft cloth to remove any surface dust or grease.
  3. When holding the stone make sure your fingers only touch the girdle of the stone ie. the outer edge where the top meets the bottom. It’s a good idea to use tweezers but only if you know how to use them. And always ask permission from the owner before picking the gemstone up.
  4. It’s important to view the gemstone in good lighting. Professionals normally use fluorescent lighting but this can adversely affect some coloured gemstones which look better under incandescent light. Try looking at your gem with both artificial and natural light. The light source should be above or behind you shining down onto the stone.
  5. Turn the gemstone and view it from several different angles.
  6. Practice using a jeweller’s loupe (magnifying glass). This must be held very close to your one eye whilst you bring the gemstone towards it using your other hand. In this way, by raising or lowering the gemstone, you are able to focus right into the centre and not just onto the surface of it.

Whilst it’s natural to rely on the professionalism of your jeweller for advice and guidance, you should know how to examine and judge a stone with some degree of confidence before making a purchase. It’s also a good idea to try to learn as much as you can about the gem you want to buy. In future blogs I will be looking at some tips you need to look out for with regard to buying specific gemstones.