Gemstone Examination Lesson
Learning how to conduct a gemstone examination takes practice. Follow an expert gemologist step-by-step through tests of five unknown samples.
7 Minute Read
Gemstone Examination: Example 1
This stone looks like a tourmaline.
I made that initial assessment based partly on its shape (tourmaline crystals are elongated, so rectangular gems are common) and partly on its color (green, but slightly grayish). It's certainly not an emerald or other chromium-colored gem.
The end facets are black. No light was passing through them. This is called a "closed C axis" and is common to tourmaline, but little else. For our purposes, we'll simply note that the stone has strong pleochroism.
Next I took a basic refractive index (RI) reading. On the long axis it measured 1.643. Turning it sideways, it read 1.641. I put the stone in the polariscope, which verified that it was doubly refractive. It didn't show any stress. Since I thought I had enough information to prove it was tourmaline, I didn't make much effort to find the optic figure and sign.
Reviewing the References
I reviewed my gemological references for stones with the following characteristics:
- Color: green
Donald Clark, CSM IMG
The late Donald Clark, CSM founded the International Gem Society in 1998. Donald started in the gem and jewelry industry in 1976. He received his formal gemology training from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the American Society of Gemcutters (ASG). The letters “CSM” after his name stood for Certified Supreme Master Gemcutter, a designation of Wykoff’s ASG which has often been referred to as the doctorate of gem cutting. The American Society of Gemcutters only had 54 people reach this level. Along with dozens of articles for leading trade magazines, Donald authored the book “Modern Faceting, the Easy Way.”
Tourmaline Value, Price, and Jewelry Information
Mint Tourmalines: Gemstones for Our Times
Tourmaline Engagement Ring Stones: the Ultimate Guide
How Do Tourmalines Form?
How Does Quartz Form?
Azurite Value, Price, and Jewelry Information
An Introduction to the Lapidary Arts
Crystalline Quartz Buying Guide
When you join the IGS community, you get trusted diamond & gemstone information when you need it.
Get started with the International Gem Society’s free guide to gemstone identification. Join our weekly newsletter & get a free copy of the Gem ID Checklist!