Rock Discoveries

Spotting Real vs Fake Garnets: Expert Tips for Gemstone Buyers

Introduction to Garnet and Fake Stones

Garnet is a semi-precious gemstone that comes in a variety of colors, including red, green, and blue. It has been used in jewelry for thousands of years and has been worn by people from all walks of life, including pharaohs and kings.

However, with its increasing popularity, it has become a target for fraudsters who sell fake stones, claiming them to be genuine garnets.

Differences between Real and Fake Garnets

It’s essential to know the differences between real and fake garnets to avoid getting scammed. Here are some of the key differences:

Inclusions: Genuine garnets are not perfect stones and have inclusions that can be seen under magnification.

If a stone appears flawless, it’s likely a fake. Glass: Fraudsters often use glass to mimic the appearance of garnets.

These fake stones are easily recognizable through their reflection, lack of transparency, and uniform color. Synthetics: Sometimes, synthetic garnets are passed off as natural stones.

These stones do not have inclusions and are often uniform in color. Pharaohs and Signet Rings: There are many imitations of ancient Egyptian pharaohs and signet rings that feature garnets.

These imitations are usually made of glass and are of poor quality. Commonly Faked Varieties: Currently, the most commonly faked varieties of garnet are Tsavorite and Demantoid.

These stones have a high market value, and fraudsters are looking to cash in on their popularity.

How to Tell if Garnet is Real

To determine whether a garnet is genuine or not, you can consult an expert, and you can use gemological equipment. Imperfections: As mentioned earlier, genuine garnets have inclusions and blemishes that can be seen under a loupe or microscope.

These imperfections are absent in fake garnets. Saturation: The color saturation of genuine garnets is more intense and consistent than fake stones.

If the color varies, it’s likely to be a fake. Hardness: Garnets are relatively hard, with a Mohs hardness scale rating between 6.5 and 7.5. If the stone is easily scratched, it’s likely a fake.

Knife Scratch: A knife can scratch a fake garnet, but not a genuine one. Therefore, you can try scratching the stone with a knife to test its authenticity.

Consultation with an Expert: If you’re unsure about the authenticity of your garnet, it’s always good to seek advice from an expert. They can use their experience and gemological equipment to tell you whether the stone is genuine.

Gemological Equipment: There are several tools that gemologists use to determine whether a stone is real or fake. These include a refractometer, spectroscope, and polariscope.

These tools help identify the optical properties of the stone and differentiate between natural and synthetic stones.


Identifying genuine garnets requires some basic knowledge, experience, and gemological equipment. Although there are several ways to differentiate genuine from fake garnets, it’s always best to seek the advice of an expert.

Always do your research before making a purchase and keep an eye out for the key differences between real and fake stones. By doing so, you can avoid getting scammed and enjoy the beauty and elegance of genuine garnets.

3) What Real Garnet Looks Like

Garnet is a group of minerals that share a similar crystal structure but can have different chemical compositions, leading to variations in color. The most common garnet colors are red, green, and brown.

However, garnets can also be found in shades of yellow, orange, purple, pink, and black. In this section, we’ll discuss what real garnet looks like and its crystal structure.

Color Palette: The color of a real garnet can vary depending on its chemical composition and the presence of impurities. Some of the common commercial varieties of garnet include Almandine, Pyrope, Spessartine, and Andradite.

Almandine and Pyrope are red to reddish-brown, Spessartine is orange to reddish-orange, and Andradite is green or yellow-green. Malaya garnets are a hybrid variety that can display a range of colors varying from pink, orange, and peachy tones.

Cubic Crystal System: Garnets are cubic minerals, which means that they form cube-like structures with four axes of equal length. This crystal system gives garnets their unique shape and can help identify them from other minerals.

However, it’s important to note that the crystal structure alone is not enough to authenticate a garnet; the other factors must also be taken into consideration. Crystal Inclusions: Garnets are known for their inclusions, which can be seen under magnification.

One of the most recognizable inclusions in demantoid garnets is the horsetail inclusion, which can resemble a golden plume. However, it’s important to note that not all garnets have inclusions like this.

Other types of inclusions found in garnet include needles, feathers, and particulates.

4) How to Identify Real Garnet Stones

In the previous section, we discussed what real garnet looks like. However, the appearance alone is not enough to authenticate a garnet stone.

In this section, we’ll discuss how to identify real garnet stones using gemological equipment. Use of Magnifying Glass: A magnifying glass or a loupe can reveal the internal structure of a garnet and any possible inclusions.

A real garnet will have a crystal structure with well-defined facets that reflect light in a particular manner. The saturation of color and its distribution throughout the stone can also be observed through magnification, leading towards a better understanding of the garnet.

Polariscope: A polariscope is a gemological tool used to determine whether a stone is isotropic or anisotropic. Isotropic stones have only one refractive index, while anisotropic stones have two.

Garnets are anisotropic, meaning they have two different refractive indices. By using a polariscope, one can determine whether the stone is genuine or not.

Horsetail Inclusions: The horsetail inclusion is only seen in demantoid garnets and is a reliable indicator of a genuine stone. This inclusion consists of asbestos fibers coated with iron oxide.

Under magnification, the horsetail inclusion in a demantoid garnet can be seen as slim golden shards. Hardness: Garnets rank between 6.5-7.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, which means they are relatively hard.

They are also resistant to abrasion making it more difficult to scratch or cut the stone. If the stone scratches easily, it may not be a real garnet.

Inclusions: Finally, as mentioned earlier, genuine garnets have inclusions that can easily be seen under magnification. However, it’s worth noting that not all real garnets have inclusions.

Therefore, relying solely on inclusions to identify real garnets is not a foolproof method.


In conclusion, identifying genuine garnets requires some knowledge, experience, and gemological equipment. Real garnets have well-defined crystal structures, inclusions, and uniform saturation of color, while fake garnets often lack these characteristics.

Using a magnifying glass, polariscope, and understanding the hardness and inclusions of the stone can help authenticate a garnet. It’s important to purchase garnets from reputable dealers and to do your research before making a purchase to avoid getting scammed.

5) How to Spot a Fake Garnet

Spotting a fake garnet can be tricky, given that there are many imitations in the market. However, there are some key differences to look out for that will help you identify fake garnets.

Below are some of the common signs to look for to spot a fake garnet. Color Saturation: The color of a genuine garnet is usually consistent, with high saturation of color.

However, fake garnets may have inconsistent coloration or look too bright or too dull. Hardness: Genuine garnets have a hardness of 6.5-7.5 on the Mohs scale, making them relatively hard.

If the stone is easily scratched or damaged, it may not be genuine. Specific Gravity: Genuine garnets have a specific gravity of 3.40-4.10.

However, fake stones may have a lower specific gravity since they are made of lighter materials. Birefringence: Garnets are considered anisotropic, which means light moves at different speeds through the crystal in different directions.

When viewed through a polariscope, a genuine garnet should display signs of birefringence. A lack of birefringence could indicate that the stone is not genuine.

Inclusions: Genuine garnets often have inclusions, but fake stones may have none at all or poorly replicated inclusions. Excessive inclusions or the use of inclusions not typically found in the particular garnet variety could be an indication of a fake garnet.

Additionally, the presence of glue can indicate the stone is a fake, as glue is often used to attach synthetic materials to the surface of the garnet to give the impression of inclusions. Glass and Plastic Fakes: Glass or plastic fakes are commonly used as imitations of garnets.

These materials can be made to look like real garnets, but they are easily detectable with a refractometer and spectroscope, which can identify the optical properties of the stone. Synthetic Analogs: Some synthetic analogs of garnet, such as YAG and YIG, can be easily mistaken for genuine garnets.

However, they can be identified by their specific gravity and birefringence.

6) How to Identify Synthetic Garnet

Identifying synthetic garnets requires a bit more knowledge and expertise than spotting fake garnets. Below are some types of synthetic garnets and the steps to identify them.

YAG – Yttrium aluminum garnet: YAG is often used as an imitation of garnet and can be identified by its lack of inclusions, anisotropy, and high birefringence. It can also have a higher specific gravity than genuine garnets.

YIG – Yttrium iron garnet: Like YAG, YIG also lacks inclusions and anisotropy. It can be identified by its saturation of color, bubble inclusions, and high specific gravity.

LuAG – Lutetium aluminum garnet: LuAG has a low specific gravity, lacks inclusions, and is isotropic, making it easily identifiable from genuine garnets. TGG – Terbium gallium garnet: TGG has a low specific gravity and isotropy, which can help identify it as a synthetic garnet.

It may also have bubbles or internal growth lines. GGG – Gadolinium gallium garnet: GGG is often used as a simulation of garnets and is synthetic.

Its high specific gravity and lack of birefringence can help identify it as not being genuine. The identification of synthetic garnets is usually done with the help of a microscope, under which the presence of bubbles and internal growth lines can be observed.

Specific gravity tests and polariscope tests can also help identify synthetic garnets.


In conclusion, there are several ways to spot fake and synthetic garnets. Genuine garnets have a consistent color, anisotropy, inclusions, and a specific gravity of 3.40-4.10.

Differentiating genuine and fake garnets can be done using gemological equipment like a refractometer, spectroscope, and loupe. Synthetic garnets like YAG, YIG, LuAG, TGG, and GGG need to be identified using a microscope, specific gravity tests, and polariscope tests.

Always seek advice from trusted experts, do your research, and understand the characteristics of genuine garnets to make an informed purchase. 7) Real vs.

Fake Garnet: The Main Differences

Garnets have been a popular gemstone for centuries due to their vibrant color and durability. However, with their popularity has come an influx of fake garnets flooding the market.

In this section, we’ll discuss the main differences between real and fake garnets. Color Saturation: Real garnets have consistent and rich color saturation, while fake garnets may have uneven or overly bright colors.

The color variation has different patterns, which can help distinguish real garnets from the fakes. Hardness: Genuine garnets are relatively hard, ranking between 6.5-7.5 on the Mohs scale.

On the other hand, the hardness of fake garnets can vary depending on the material used in the imitation. Specific Gravity: Real garnets have a specific gravity of around 3.40-4.10, while fake garnets may have specific gravity lower than this range since they are made of lighter materials than natural ones.

Birefringence: Garnets are generally anisotropic, meaning they have two refractive indices in different light directions. In contrast, fake garnets may be isotropic, which means light travels at the same speed in all directions.

Inclusions: Real garnets often have internal inclusions that are visible under magnification, while synthetic and fake garnets may not. However, a lack of inclusions does not necessarily mean a fake stone.

Some fake stones have imitated inclusions, while different kinds of genuine garnets can be found with or without inclusions. Glass and Polymer Fakes: Glass and polymer fakes resemble real garnets, but they are easily distinguishable from real garnets whose specific gravity and birefringence differ from synthetic materials.

Simulants: Synthetic materials can mimic real garnets to varying degrees of accuracy. Still, these simulants usually have characteristics that differ from the real gemstone due to differences in refractive indices, specific gravity, and internal structure.



Garnets are a diverse mineral group containing over a dozen recognized varieties. Their vibrant colors and characteristics have made them popular, with high market prices, leading to an increasing number of fakes.

Identifying genuine garnets requires knowledge, skills, and gemological equipment. It is also necessary to consider the characteristics of synthetic materials, including glass and polymer fakes and simulants.

In conclusion, consulting with an expert, doing research, and understanding the characteristics of genuine garnets are necessary for making an informed purchase. In conclusion, determining whether a garnet is real or fake requires knowledge and expertise.

Real garnets have a consistent color saturation, specific gravity, and birefringence, while fake garnets often have a lack of these essential characteristics. Synthetic and imitated garnets can also mimic the appearance of real ones, but their specific gravity, birefringence, and internal structure differ.

It is crucial to consult with an expert, research and understand the characteristics of genuine garnets, and use gemological equipment to authenticate your purchase fully.


Q: How can you detect a fake garnet?

A: Fake garnets often lack consistent color saturation, specific gravity, and birefringence. They may also resemble real garnet inclusions, or the presence of glue to give the impression of real inclusions.

Q: What are the commonly faked garnet varieties? A: Tsavorite and Demantoid garnets are currently the commonly faked varieties.

Q: How can specific gravity be used to identify genuine garnet? A: Specific gravity is the weight of the stone concerning an equal volume of water.

Genuine garnets have a specific gravity of around 3.40-4.10 and should fall within this range. Q: What are some tools used in gemology to identify genuine garnet?

A: Gemologists use refractometers, spectroscope, polariscope, and magnifying glass to determine whether a gemstone is genuine or not. Q: Can genuine garnets be sold without inclusions?

A: Yes, genuine garnets can be sold without inclusions, though they usually come with internal inclusions that can be seen under magnification.

Q: Can synthetic and fake garnets have internal inclusions?

A: Synthetic and fake garnets can have imitated inclusions, but they differ in refractive indices, specific gravity, and internal structure from genuine garnets.

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