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Article: How to differentiate an emerald from other minerals


How to differentiate an emerald from other minerals

Learning to differentiate natural emeralds from other minerals can take a good time and requires knowledge about the characteristics or properties of some gems. Despite this, after acquiring expertise, noticing irregularities and differentiating between the properties of some minerals or others is becoming easier.

However, many seek to learn to differentiate minerals much faster, as they need it for their work or seek to buy or sell without failing to choose the right mineral.

For situations like these, we've created this article to make things easier for you if you need to differentiate emeralds from other minerals as soon as possible.

How to distinguish an emerald

  1. Tone or color: the inexperienced eye does not reach a very good distinction of the different tones of emeralds, and it is certainly a process of years to identify where an emerald comes from for its tone.

This is why a measure of intense, medium and clear tones was created to classify them. The intense and strong tones are the most valued (those found in our country) crystallines can be easier to get and are usually not as appetizing.

  1. Size: verifies the size, this indicates the way the stone was carved, there is the cut or emerald carving that is characterized by being rectangular, the Colombian emeralds are almost always carved rectangular and the African oval ones.

Remember that the size can change the quality of the stone, often the stones are carved on inclusions, to disguise them, which can make the gem much more fragile and with a tendency to cracks.

  1. Purity: Almost all emeralds tend to have internal inclusions, the less inclusions the emerald the most valuable it will be. Emeralds without inclusions are called oil drops.

However, you should be careful, as many emeralds - oil drops - are often in many cases synthetic emeralds with better properties than natural ones and even become almost perfect.

  1. Crystal: emeralds are crystals and are classified as transparent, translucent and opaque, the more transparent the more expensive, as it highlights the more its beauty.

The fewer impurities have an emerald, the greater its value. In the emerald you can find inclusions (natural cracks) , gags, coals, among other minerals and impurities.

Tips to differentiate minerals

You can already get an idea of what emeralds should look like when it comes to acquiring them. It's time to learn how to identify the rest of the minerals, for this, follow the following tips. Let's go.

  1. Choose your minerals: The first thing you should do is observe and test the minerals. Use the largest piece you can find to be able to distinguish it well, and if you have several pieces, make sure they are all from the same mineral.
  2. Check hardness: Hardness is the ability of a mineral to resist scratching. Minerals that don't scratch easily are hard.

The hardness of a mineral is tested by scraping its surface with a known hardness mineral. This image can help you know what materials you can test the hardness of a mineral.

  1. Mineral brightness: Brightness describes how light is reflected on the mineral surface. The brightness is divided into metallic and non-metallic brightness. Minerals such as pyrite, which are opaque and shiny, have a metallic glow.
  2. Color: Colour is probably the easiest property to watch in a mineral. Unfortunately, you can rarely identify a mineral just for its color. Color is one of the main diagnostic properties of natural compounds of a mineral.

According to their color, there are three main groups of minerals: idiosychromatics, alloch and pseudo-chromatic.

  • Languages are "self colored," because of their composition. Examples include blue azur, red cinabarium and the juicy green.
  • Alocroma are of another color due to impurities in their composition or defects in their structure. Examples are blue in the Amazon, yellow in Heliodoro and pink pink.
  • The pseudo-chromatics have false colors due to tricks in the light diffraction. Examples are the colors produced by the opal and bright reflections of the labradorite.
  1. Magnetism: Magnetism is a distinctive property in some minerals. Use a strong magnet when comparing your gems or minerals with others. If you don't have a magnet you can use a compass or analog clock to test magnetism when you see if the sample attracts the needle from a compass or watch.
  2. The flavor: this is, as you read, the flavor is definitive to identify some minerals with rock salt, of course you won't start trying the minerals to differentiate them, but some feeling of salinity to taste and even smell can denote that it is a specific mineral.
  3. Fizz: This means the effervescent reaction of certain minerals to the acid test. For this test, the vinegar will serve.

Weight: for this tip you can look at how heavy a mineral feels in the hand, specifically in the density sensation. Most minerals are about three times more dense than water, i.e. they have a specific gravity. Take note of a mineral that is remarkably light or heavy for its size.

Paula A. Bonilla 

Social communicator and journalist from Sergio Arboleda University in Colombia. She is also a jeweler and is passionate about constantly learning about precious gems and national high jewelry.

Currently, she is working for one of Bogotá's most important jewelry stores, Emerald by Love. This jewelry store has over 40 years of experience and has 2 physical branches in the capital city of Colombia, located in the city center.


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