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Emerald spot inclusions

I am a new member and I joined IGS today to find some answers to some of my questions on Emeralds.

I have some cut green stones that look like emeralds and are from an old collection (I’m sure you have all heard that one before) and I would like to know if synthetic or lab created emeralds have dark inclusions and spots within them? Is that possible? I am not very tech savvy and have a USB microscope due to arrive next week and will supply images when I am able.

After spending time doing my own research I have found so far that lab created gems have very few inclusions as I understand they are trying to mimic the highest quality gems and any black spots are just reflective rather than actual mineral inclusions. Is this correct?

I might be asking a dumb question but I could not find a forum topic about this subject and my internet searches turn up a blank.

Many thanks, Mark

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Welcome Mark

A great deal depends on whether the synthetic emerald is grown with the flux or hydrothermal process and there are quite a few different brands of synthetic emeralds. I recall that Chatham lab gems were very clear and it was obvious to the naked eye they weren’t natural.
Synthetic emerald growth processes

These inclusion images are from a very reputable gemology school in Thailand. You’ll probably find this link very helpful also lab created/ synthetic
Inclusions in Emeralds

and an inclusion chart from GIA

GIA Chart: Inclusions in Natural, Synthetic, and Treated Emerald


Thanks very much for the links JCBell.

When I receive my microscope I’ll be able to have a much better indication now I have some images to compare to. I’ll try and post images of the stones and microscopic images when I do.

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Yes, thanks JC Bell, for the links to the great microphotos of emerald inclusions at AIGS. I wonder if you have any info on a fairly complete set of inclusions in synthetic gems. It seems to be hard to find all a comprehensive set of these in one place…


Hi Roy, that was part of what my question is about. I’d like to know that too.

The synthetic stone makers in various countries have gotten pretty good and I think we should all be more than one step ahead of them as it’s not good for the Industry and consumer trust.

However, I’m really going to enjoy looking through my microscope next week and compare my observations with the images in the links kindly supplied above by JC.

I’ve got some poor quality B and less grade stones that show dark spots and it will be exciting to be able to image them if the USB microscope I bought is good enough.

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Hey guys

~ this is a very good site Synthetic beryl/emerald inclusions

~If you really want to get serious, you can Google image search each common inclusion for both Flux and Hydrothermal.

Wavy, undulating growth zoning or chevron-shaped growth zoning
“Nailhead” spicule inclusions
Large or small 2-phase inclusions
Fingerprints & veils
Phenakite or chrysoberyl crystals
Gold rods & platelets
Randomly-scattered white particles, or forming “comet tails” or “stringers”

Triangular or hexagonal-shaped platinum platelets
Low-relief, colorless phenakite or chrysoberyl crystals
Flux fingerprints
“Venetian blind” uniform, parallel growth planes​

A helpful link about the processes and synthetic emerald companies

Best of luck


Thanks, JCBell. I am a gem cutter and don’t run into that many cut stones and most of the rough I buy is easily identified. It just bothers me that I don’t have an easily accessible library of images to go to if I wanted to seriously study an emerald, ruby or sapphire with a view to determining natural vs synthetic. I will cut and paste your excellent list of emerald characteristics for reference…thanks! In searching for a comprehensive set of photomicrographs of inclusions, I found some collections that are more easily accessible than last time I looked, but nothing as complete as I would like. I’ll have to consult my reference books again to see what they say about the various naturals vs synthetics.

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Thanks again for your help JCBell. I have found another link that may be helpful for the observation of inclusions for you Roy.

My microscope I was waiting on was actually delivered last week in plain packaging so I didn’t know I had it, I have had a play with it today and it’s very disappointing. The resolution is very poor and I’ll explain in another reply with an image.

So I found I had my microscope delivered last week in plain packaging and I’m pretty disappointed in it.

It was advertised as 12mp camera, 0 to 1200 zoom etc. It’s got a viewing screen on top which I found great as I don’t have good enough eyes to look down regular microscope eyepieces. On the little 7" screen things looked great but when I took the images from the memory card onto my computer…I realised that the images were distorted and not clear at all. The images changed from being crisp to being very pixely and they were shrunken with regard to width by about 1/4. Everything looks thin. At best it might be 2mp.

It was great to look at on the little screen but translated into embarrassing images however I can show the audience one of them.

After looking at the various links supplied kindly above I don’t really know what I am looking at except some bubbles on crystals that could be artificially created or not. I can’t tell you the actual field of view but it may be about 2mm as a guess.

I need a better microscope and I’m all ears with suggestions but I don’t have enough stones to spend any serious money.


I’m replying to my own post here as I received a Chelsea filter and have now also looked at the stone above with LW UV light. It didn’t fluoresce at all under these examinations. I also found a great article today showing inclusions that look somewhat like what I am seeing and I ad this below. I’m new to Emeralds and this is like trying to solve a murder mystery when one does not have the equipment the experts have.

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Your image is clearly showing some “blocky” two phase inclusions. These are commonly seen in both Brazilian and Zambian emeralds.
Another feature seen in Zambian and Brazilian emeralds are black grains of chromite (Brazil), or the dark/black skeletal-like ilmenite inclusions (Zambia).


Hi Beargems,

Your reply prompted me to have a look at one of the stones I have under my very poor microscope and I thank you for your reply,

What I think I have found is what you describe as ilmenite inclusions as described by you that pertain to Zambian stones and that may be why the stones I have don’t have any reaction to LW UV light or any reaction while looking at them with a Chelsea filter. Are these such inclusions of ilmenite in created emeralds at all? It is difficult to find any info regarding the possibility of this in synthetics or created stones.

I supply a couple of images below.

I’m enjoying looking with my microscope but I’m disappointed in it’s performance when it comes to the images it spits out but it’s good enough for now until I determine whether my stones are genuine or not.

Many thanks for your knowledge,


If you are getting images like these, don’t be disappointed with your microscope… these are great photos. And no, the inclusions we are seeing in your images are not those found in any synthetic. And correct again, you will not have a red Chelsea reaction to any Zambian stone, but you may very well get one with some synthetics.

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Hi BearGems,

Thanks for your kind observations and knowledge. I guess I shouldn’t complain about my microscope as it was only $109 and I did buy it just for basic observation.

Your words are encouraging with regard to the inclusions being genuine and not being found in any synthetic. I just bought myself a new microscope today that is nearly 3x the price so hopefully 3x better. Link below.

It’s quite exciting seeing these stones under high magnification and I look forward to perhaps being able to show much better images in the future.

Hi Again Beargems, This is a new subject for me and I apologise for asking what may be basic knowledge questions. May I ask, are the inclusions in the images that I have posted found in green Tourmaline?

Not entirely impossible, but it would be unusual. Though typically clean, tourmaline will have things like 2 phase inclusions, but they take on a different look. You can also get tourmaline inclusions within tourmaline.

Are you taking the IGS courses?

Thanks for the info Beargems and apologies for the late reply.
I’m not taking the courses yet as I’m trying to determine if the stones I have are genuine or not.

This will take some time as I’m new to the subject and I never realised how difficult it is to determine the genuineness of an Emerald.

If anyone has some quick tips I’m more than open for any suggestions not covered above. So far I think they may be Zambian of origin through basic tests but I see so much conflicting information on other websites.

Many thanks, Mark

Hi Beargems,

My new TOMLOV microscope came the other day and it is better than the last as the image quality is better and it translates correctly with regard to ratios. It would be a great scope for anyone wanting to look at stamps and coins and it does take quite decent images when taking images of a whole stone, however it’s magnification is not as described and I can only get a minimum field of view of about 2.5mm. The depth of field is quite disappointing but good enough for preliminary observations.

I supply some images taken with it below of the 1.3 ct stone that has the Ilmenite inclusions. It’s not a very pretty stone but a great stone to study.