Back to IGS | FAQ | Contact

Help with identification of tsavorite garnet or emerald

Is there a website where I can find high-quality images of inclusions of both natural and synthetic gemstones? I have a few stones I am looking at and am concerned that they may not be what I purchased. I recently purchased it from a retired gem dealer.

I put it under my refractometer and it gave me a reading of 1.56. I am concerned that he mislabeled his gemstones and sold me an emerald instead. I’m not sure if it is a synthetic or natural stone either,

I just purchased a polariscope and dichroscope but am still learning how to use them. My microscope arrives next week and I need to look at some sample images to be able to tell if what I am looking at is a synthetic or a natural stone. I was wondering if anyone would be able to point me in the right direction for the images.

Below is a very quick picture of the tsavorite in question.

Good afternoon,
I use Hyperion Lotus for inclusion images. Give it a try by typing that into your search engine and maybe you will find some excellent images. Have a nice day.


1 Like

I found some other websites with inclusion databases. Here is the list that I found:

Your R.I. is way too low for Tsavorite…garnet, which is around 1.80… your value of 1.56 is much closer to that of an emerald around 1.58. Natural emerald have “lots” of inclusions, whereas most synthetics are inclusion free… and your image appears to be very clean… making me guess that it is a synthetic emerald. Green glass usually has an index down about 1.45… so I doubt that it is glass.

Oops … hit reply too quickly. Green glass is isotropic, so it will be dark in all positions under crossed polarizers, whereas emerald is uniaxial (hexagonal crystal) and will show a weak birefringence and pass light every 90-degrees of rotation under crossed polarizers. Thus, whenyour polariscope arrives, hopefully it will quickly eliminate the glass.

These are all great suggestions to help determine what you have, but I always start with what I consider to be the most basic, and easiest test to begin narrowing things down. I’m talking about a simple specific gravity test. You should be able to tell the difference between glass at about 2.4, and emerald at 2.76, but you can easily distinguish between glass/emerald, and Tsavorite, because Tsavorite is considerably more dense at 3.49 specific gravity. It’s a simple, easy, quick and cheap test that can tell you a lot.


You might try a uv light. Many synthetic emeralds will fluoresce red under uv. I carry a uv laser pointer in my kit for that reason.

IDK what your shipping costs would be to Phillipines, but a pocket carat scale to weight up to 50 cts to a tolerance of 0.01 cts shouldn’t cost you over $25 on ebay, maybe less. Use a small plastic cup of water and tare out to zero with the cup on the scale. Tie the gem on some string or use a very fine wire basket to support it. Weigh the gem lying on the bottom of the water cup…this is the weight in air. Suspend the gem in the water, this is the weight in water. Divide as necessary and get SG.

You have some good sources of gem inclusions. One of the most comprehensive I have found is:, a French site. Good luck! -royjohn

I have three of those pocket scales and they never give you the same reading on different surfaces because they are never really level. I’ve just ordered an analytical balance that has adjustable feet with a three decimal tolerance with a max weight of 300g, that should be more than enough for 99% of all stones anyone will ever see.

The analytical balance also comes with a plexiglass enclosure so that air pressure will not affect the scale as it can change the weight of a stone by as much as .15 ct.

I don’t know where you are getting info about air pressure affecting the readings as this makes no sense to me. Analytical balances are in an enclosure to guard against wind currents, the air pressure is the same inside the enclosure as outside…maybe you are talking about air currents? As far as this being an issue with weight tolerances of 0.01 ct indoors, I haven’t seen it. I have two small pocket scales which I bought for ~$20 each and they both read to 0.01ct with an accuracy of about 0.02 ct. I weighed a parcel of 23 stones individually about two weeks ago and checked the weights last night and they were all the same down to 0.01 ct. These scales are nice as you can put them in your pocket and take them anywhere on buying and selling trips, etc.

If you are dealing in high end goods at $1000/ct, you might want an analytical balance or expensive legal-for-trade electronic, but for every day use, I can’t see it. To actually get to 0.001 ct, you have to clean every last bit of lint off the stone, make sure your balance is dusted, put the stone on the pan and add weights (which also need to be clean and handled with a tweezer) and then balance the pans with the chain or whatever fine adjustment and wait for the balance to stabilize. And the balance has to be leveled to be accurate and free of vibration…I doubt it would be at its best in my living room with the floor sitting on floor joists.

Pardon me for saying it, but I think this is impractical overkill. You can certainly get lousy pocket digitals (they start at $7), but I have two that work fine, so decent ones are out there. I set mine on a dining room table that is approximately level and it seems to work fine. Calibrate it with the calibration weight that comes with it. -royjohn

I do see analytical balances for ~$175 on line, which is a lot cheaper than in the past…and they are electronic, so no double pans like I was thinking of from my college days 50 years ago…IDK how well these live up to their claims of accuracy. I think you will find that few in the gem field use this kind of accuracy. Even with your $1000/ct emeralds, you are talking about ten bucks either way…OK, $100 bucks if you find a $10,000/ct ruby. If you are going to take the GIA course and set up selling high end stuff, you will need some “window dressing” in the form of a nice stereo microscope and pretty scale, etc. to impress clients. Since I’m a gem dealer selling on line, I don’t need such.

So I do get where you are coming from with an accurate scale. However, your biggest problem at this point is dealing with distinguishing heat treatments, where possible, and scoping out dyes and glass fillings, diffusion treatments and synthetics masquerading as naturals. However, if you are selling high end goods, you’ll be needing lab reports on most things anyway, so you just need to know that you need them. That and a good social network to help you decide who is reliable and who isn’t. Among the pros in the gem trade reputation is everything and no one would refuse to take back a stone which turned out to NOT be what it was supposed to be…and the best of us can get fooled. Good luck, it sounds like a fascinating journey. -royjohn

The “network” pattern of inclusions in the pictured emeralds is not something I have seen before. I looked all over the internet and didn’t find anything quite like it. A dealer in such emeralds should be able to tell you where these came from and rather than fly off somewhere, you could merely send an image to GIA or another premium lab. The inclusions are so distinctive and the stones so large that they might very well know about them. I would also expect that the Sultan required a lab report on the stones he purchased, so at the very least, there ought to be a report on the similar stones that the Sultan purchased. If not, I would be suspicious. It isn’t often that emeralds of this size appear and you seem to be talking about your three plus some larger ones that went to the Sultan. And there’s no news report of the find?

Further, my price guide only goes to 15 ct stones, but they would be a minimum of $8,000/ct. So your emeralds, if natural, would be valued at about a million or more each. Forgive me if I’m a bit skeptical at this point. You should be, too.

Very interesting and way beyond my league! You are fortunate to be in a position to know these folks. Yes, if genuine, I would say US$1.2M each would not be too much.

I know what jardin is…I would be interested to know where these come from, as I have not seen this kind of jardin before, nor was I able to find anything like it anywhere in the photos available on line.

I guess I need to move to Brunei so I can get my bills paid by the Sultan…LOL… -royjohn

If I were you, I would make contact with GIA and send them the picture of the emeralds…the “soap bubble” [that’s all I can think to call it] pattern of the inclusions is distinctive and if, as I think, it is rare, GIA might tell you that and offer an opinion about whether it would make sense to send the emeralds for testing. GIA is always interested in important stones, and three large natural emeralds with great color like that would certainly interest them, I would think. Now that you’ve returned them, I’m always going to wonder! -royjohn

I just want to say that you have done the right thing. Both buying yourself a good reliable scale and has returned those “emeralds”. I have seen this type of emeralds before and has been offered them for 50-60$ for 9-10 carat stone, often with a suspicious “certificate”. They are most likley synthetics. NO ONE would sell a big emerald for that price. So, i think that the emeralds you hade was in the best case synthetics.

Best regards.

I send some examples of synthetic emeralds labeled as natural. The twisting patterns or “jardins” are actually unmelted flux. These are sold on Ebay for 20$.

Stat safe and dont trust anyone.


Cool, keep us updated.

I certainly will. But first I need to get vaccinated otherwise I won’t be allowed into Thailand and side effects of the vaccine are a bitch.

The damn thing barely fits on my refractometer

I bought some exactly like that on ebay knowing full well they couldn’t be emeralds for $20. They tested out as Quartz. Specific gravity and RI