How to Tell If An Emerald is Real

emerald jewelry with diamonds in gold necklace

A clear and transparent real emerald is an incredible investment that adds glamor and sophistication to your jewelry box. However, many emeralds in jewelry today are imitations. So, if you are searching for an authentic emerald you must know if the gem you are buying is real or fake. In the following article, we will give you tools to help you determine if an emerald is real or fake. 

What are the Three Types of Emerald?

Emeralds are beautiful green-colored stones that capture all of the attention in a room. There are three types of emeralds that vary in appearance, value, and authenticity. 


Natural emeralds are one of the most precious stones. The green is very distinct and produces a soft, shimmery effect that photographs poorly. Natural emeralds are formed after hydrothermal fluids escape from magma deeper than the Earth’s crust. When the fluids contain certain elements, like beryllium, and cool off in deposit veins, emeralds begin to form. These emeralds can be worth more than $100,000. 


This is a man-made emerald. It has the same chemistry, scratch resistance, and color as a natural emerald, but it is made in a lab. They are meant to look like the real deal, but differ in cost. Synthetic emeralds range in cost, selling for between $100 and a few hundred dollars. 


An imitation emerald is not an emerald. It is any colored stone material that looks like a natural emerald. They are also made in a lab and cost under $100.

Ways to Tell If an Emerald is Real

close up of raw uncut emeralds

One way to tell if an emerald is real is to check the inclusions, which naturally form within the stone. They can be seen with the naked eye or with a 10x microscope. These include fissures, cavities, chips, growth tubes, spiral (twisting) inclusions, fingerprints, and color zoning. 

  • Fissures can look like lines or fractures within the emerald 
  • Cavities and chips outline the shape of a crystal 
  • Growth Tubes run parallel to each other inside the stone 
  • Spirals are formed when drops of water are trapped inside the emerald when it forms.
  • Fingerprints look like… a fingerprint! It is created by liquid-filled bubbles when the emerald is forming. 
  • Color zoning: An emerald is green, but it also has a little blue and yellow hue. Inclusions cause color zoning, which makes the colors uneven across the gem. 

If you do not see any of these inclusions, the emerald is likely an imitation or synthetic emerald.

Inspect the Stone’s Hue

Emeralds can vary in shade–ranging from pale to dark tones. The most desirable emerald colors are pure green, bluish-green, and highly transparent. The color is usually evenly distributed, with no eye-visible color zoning. 

See If It Sparkles

An authentic emerald does not sparkle with “fire,” as other gemstones do, If you hold an emerald up to a light, it should not show an intense variation of rainbow colors. The stone is likely fake if you see “fire” flashes or intense sparkles emitting from the gem. 

Shine a Blacklight onto the Emerald

Emerald black background and Reflected light

You can check an emerald for authenticity by checking what fluorescent colors can be seen through the gem with a blacklight. A natural emerald will show a pure green or blue-green hue. With the light, it will either not have any backlight or a weak orange-red or green color. Synthetic emeralds fluorescence will showcase a dark red color. An imitation stone will have a yellow or brown undertone color. 

Search for Wear and Tear on the Facets

The Mohs scale of mineral hardness is a qualitative ordinal scale. It ranges from one to 10, characterizing scratch resistance of minerals based on tougher materials and softer materials. On the scale, emeralds rank at 7.5 to 8. 

Real emeralds are tough gems! They can withstand exposure without being easily worn down. To check if your stone is real or fake, place it under a microscope. Look at the edges of the facets. If they are worn, chances are the emerald isn’t authentic. 

Try a Chelsea Filter

The Chelsea filter will help you identify a synthetic emerald. Its dichromatic optical filter allows for the transmission of only two colors in the light: deep red and yellow-green. The colors match an emerald’s emission. If you get a glowing red color, the stone is a fake. 

Check Out the Price Tag

hand picking up wedding emerald ring in a box

Natural emeralds sell for a high price between tens of thousands of dollars up to $100,000. Watch out for emeralds selling for low prices. Cheap emeralds are most likely fake. Always ask a trusted seller or shop for a certificate of authenticity from a recognized lab. 

Look for Layers

Opals create inexpensive doublets and triplets emeralds that look bigger and more valuable. A doublet is a gemstone with two pieces of the same or a different gem. It can also have one gem and a section of glass. A triplet is the same, except it has a crown of stone and a lower portion made of stone. The two stone layers sandwich a layer of foil or another material that gives the gem a desired color.   

Use a Dichroscope to Check the Emerald

Another way to help check for the authenticity of an emerald is to use a dichroscope. This is a pocket instrument that tests the transparency of gemstones. If you look at an emerald through the device, the gem will appear blue-green from one angle and a slightly yellow-green color from another angle. The strong dichroism is a sign of a natural, high-quality emerald.

Consult a Professional

an oval shaped emerald held on a tweezer isolated on white background

The best way to validate authenticity is to have a stone professionally appraised by a certified jeweler. Certified jewelers have specialized tools that can check the authenticity of your stone and confirm its origin. When you ever find yourself questioning the authenticity of your stone, get a second opinion from another shop or jeweler. 

Where to Buy an Emerald

When you are in the market to buy a genuine emerald, always purchase from trusted sellers. If you go in person, always ask for a certificate of authenticity, which will prove if it is genuine or fake. 

Also, check the store after-sales policy before you make a purchase. Each policy determines if you can return the stone and the conditions that are required for you to make a return.

If you plan to buy the stone online, choose a retailer that offers high-quality images and videos. You can also ask them for a certificate of authenticity and an after-sales policy. 

By using these tips, you will be able to make a fantastic jewelry investment!