Where to StartThe two crucial aspects of testing gemstones are education and practice. You don’t have to have a Ph.D. in Gemology to get an eye for identifying gems, as long as you have the knowledge and practice.
Get EducatedThe most reputable courses come from the Gemological Institute of America, notably their Gemstone Identification Lab course. Courses are offered both in-person and online with their Distance Education program. A typical course will cost about $250. Although no one compares to GIA, there are some more affordable alternatives. The International Gem Society (IGS) has a comparable reputation to GIA and offers mini-courses in different gemstones that are about $25 each. And of course, you’ll find an assortment of resources and knowledge here on the Chroma Gems & Co Blog.
Have A Reference BookUnlike the many college textbooks we never touch again, a gemstone reference book is one you’ll come back to over and over. In fact, we’d recommend it as one of your first tools for gemstone testing. To save you some time, we’ve rounded up the best three options below.
- Tables of Gemstone Identification by Roger Dedeyne and Ivo Quintens
- Internal World of Gemstones by Eduard Josef Gübelin
Best Tools For Gemstone Testing
LoupeThe first step in identifying a gemstone is getting a closer look at it. The best tool for this is a loupe. A loupe is a pocket-sized magnifier that allows you to see details more closely. Why not use a magnifying glass instead? Well, a loupe is more portable and it has a protective cover to prevent any particles from obstructing the view. Most importantly, a smaller magnifier like a loupe gives a sharper, closer, and more accurate view. But are all loupes made the same? Types of Loupes
- Singlet or Simple: The singlet loupe is essentially a small magnifying glass. It’s inexpensive, but the image is a bit more distorted.
- Doublet or Compound: The doublet loupe has two lenses attached together to create a bigger, sharper image.
- Triplet or Prismatic: The triplet loupe is the industry standard. It has a whopping three lenses attached together for the very sharpest view. This is the only type that corrects color, too, making it crucial for identifying a gem correctly.