Destructive Gemstone Tests: Acid Testing
Step 3: Practical Gemology
In some cases, a hot point test will not distinguish plastic simulants or imitations from natural gems. Some plastics release a protein smell when hot point tested, just like their natural counterparts. Natural coral, shell, and pearl release a protein smell. These organic gem materials are carbonates, just like malachite and rhodochrosite. You can make a positive identification of these gem specimens through acid testing, examining how they react to acid.
Acid Testing Warnings
This is a potentially dangerous procedure for both the tester and the stone. Exercise great care.
Always Add Acid To Water
AAA – Always Add Acid to water! Never the other way around. If you pour water in acid, it will boil and splash out of the container. The acid will burn metal, wood, skin, etc. Memorize the AAA rule.
Since there are nondestructive ways to separate natural pearls from their imitations, acid testing is not recommended for pearls.
When acid testing a strand of beads, make sure you don’t get any fluid on the cord. The acids used for identification will damage cords.