Destructive Gemstone Tests: Dye Testing


Step 3: Practical Gemology

Lesson 23

Gemologists can perform dye tests to determine if a porous gemstone like turquoise has been dyed to darken its color. “Turquoise” by Katy Warner is licensed under CC By-SA 2.0
Dye testing can help gemologists determine if a porous gemstone like turquoise has been dyed to darken its color. “Turquoise” by Katy Warner is licensed under CC By-SA 2.0

Gems are frequently dyed to enhance their color. Distinguishing natural from enhanced stones is an essential skill for gemologists. The materials used for dye testing will vary with the gems you’re examining, but the procedures remain essentially the same.

Exhaust The Alternatives Before Dye Testing Gemstones

You can often distinguish dye in a gem with a microscope. See Identifying Inclusions Found in Enhanced Stones for more information on this. Remember, dye testing is a destructive test, so always examine your specimen with a microscope first. The testing procedure presented here is a last resort in cases where the microscope exam proves inconclusive.

Frequently Dyed Gemstones

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