How To Identify Raw Gems

While polished gems are highly prized in society, there is a certain thrill in locating gems in the rough outdoors. The challenge of identifying these raw beauties requires careful attention and a willingness to venture forth in unfamiliar terrain.

Here are some ways to identify raw gems:

  • Look for glass-like fragments in stony terrain. Most raw gems look like glass bits encrusted with rocks and soil. Over time, the larger fragments would have been collected by passers-by, but smaller fragment can still be found in accessible environments. You may also find larger gems in less-accessible terrain or under large rocks and other natural obstructions.
  • Bring a geology reference book. This pictorial book will have images of many raw gems as well as their descriptions. They can also be contrasted with similarly-looking gems so you can identify them with a greater degree of certainty. You can also bring an e-book version stored in a digital tablet to lighten your outdoor load, but expect them to run our of battery power within a day and no way to charge them in the field. Both book and tablet can get dirtied up and ruined in rough terrain.
  • Explore a science museum. Visit the rock section of the museum for a beginner’s guide to identifying raw gems. The officer-in-charge would most likely have selected good examples of different types of gems so that visitors will have a clear comprehension of the visual properties. Look closely for the way the light strikes the surface as well as how the surrounding rock crusts around it. Consult an attending researcher or the tour guide if you need clarifications.
  • Consult with the geology department of your local university. They have the expertise and equipment to positively identify most gems. Befriend the staff there as you will most likely see them again and again.
  • Use online resources. The Web has allowed a vast collection of gem facts to be read by anyone, as well as the establishment of forums where a community of gem enthusiasts can interact with one another. Take several images of your collection, upload it to the forum and have several hobbyists make an attempt to identify it. These amateurs can also inform you of several excellent websites where you can gather more information. These amateurs may have also posted their own collections online, giving you thousands of reference images to compare with your own set.
  • Join a mine expedition. Many mines have been closed off because their mineral content have been exhausted and can no longer be extracted profitably. However, many of them still contain bits of gems in their raw state. Some rock aficionados group up and explore these abandoned underground halls with the proper equipment. Locate those near you and ask to join them on their next trip.

While some raw gems possess inherent value, they are not as valuable as their polished counterparts. Prepare a box to categorize the gems you find outdoors and mark down the date, location and remarks for each entry.


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