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How to Tell if a Sapphire Is Real

November 14, 2022

When it comes to what sapphires represent, it’s no wonder they’re so popular. Sapphires are some of the rarest stones in the world, but the market for modern sapphire jewellery has unfortunately led to the widespread creation of fakes. Thankfully, there are many features in sapphires that can help you identify a real sapphire from an imitation. 

Visible Flaws in Sapphire

Both fake and real sapphires have flaws. However, too many flaws—such as cavities, seams, and damage—can be a tell-tale sign that you’re being conned. On the other hand, an original sapphire should contain impurities that appear as thin lines to the naked eye and tiny needles when magnified.

Odd Colour Concentrations

A fake sapphire is usually filled with lead that wears off over time. Moreover, some parts will have more colour than others. An original sapphire will have equal colour distribution throughout the stone.

Visible Damage

Sapphire is one of the hardest stones on the planet and scores a nine on the Mohs hardness scale, second only to diamond. If someone is selling you a sapphire with a lot of visible scratches, it’s most likely fake. Moreover, you’re likely to observe damage along the weak facets of the stone if it’s a fake, as well.

Reflection of the Sapphire

A sapphire’s reflection is determined by the impurities found in the stone. These impurities also create the stone’s various hues—different impurities produce different reflections. One of the ways to determine if a stone is fake is that it will refract light into all colours of the rainbow as opposed to only one.

Flash Effect

A real sapphire will create a blue colour flash effect that can be observed using a jeweller’s microscope. The lead filling in fake sapphire results in what is called a blue to violet colour flash.

Reaction to Cleaning Liquids

Some cleaning agents will damage the glass filling found in fake sapphires; a real sapphire won’t change its appearance when exposed to cleaning liquids.

Air Bubbles and Reflective Black Spots

When you consider where sapphires come from, it’s clear that real sapphires wouldn’t have air bubbles inside them. In some cases, the bubbles found in fakes can be accompanied by reflective black spots. These imperfections can be seen with the naked eye or under a microscope.

Fog Test

This is a do-it-yourself test whereby you breathe on the sapphire until it’s completely fogged. On a real sapphire, the fog should clear almost immediately. The surface of a fake sapphire will take time for the fog to dissipate.


Sapphires are one of the most expensive stones in the world, and as such, you need to be sure that you’re paying for the real thing. There are several tests you can do to identify a fake sapphire, but if you’re still unsure, you should consider seeking the help of an experienced jeweller, like those at Holloway Diamonds.

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