Destructive Gemstone Tests: Scratch Testing

Step 3: Practical Gemology

Lesson 19

Apatite specimen - gem scratch testing
Apatite gemstones, like the fluorapatite variety shown here, are not commonly used for jewelry. However, the average person is likely carrying more of this mineral than other well-known jewelry stones. Apatite is one of the primary components of teeth and bones. A small specimen can also be used in a set of gem scratch testing tools. “Fluorapatite, calcite” by Géry Parent is licensed under CC By-ND 2.0

Scratch testing (or hardness testing) is one of the most destructive gemstone tests. Never perform a scratch test on a finished stone. This can fracture or shatter the gem, even if tested on an inconspicuous area.

Gem rough can be scratch tested, but caution is needed. Keep in mind that the rough may have incipient fractures that can’t be seen or internal stress that will open up easily to pressure. For these reasons, …

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