How to Determine if a Sapphire is Real

Three Methods:

Sapphires are typically thought of as blue but can also be red, yellow, orange, green or other colors in between. Natural sapphires are found in the ground or in the water. Synthetic sapphires are created in a lab. Look for flaws or inclusions in real sapphires, perform a breath test to judge authenticity, and get a sapphire certified. Look for air bubbles, try the scratch test, and shine a light through the gem to spot a fake sapphire. Always ask jewelers about the sapphires they are selling to find out what type of gem it is.


Looking for Signs of a Real Sapphire

  1. Look for flaws and inclusions.Use a jeweler’s magnifying glass, at least 10x magnification, to inspect the sapphire closely. Natural sapphires form with tiny bits of other matter in them, so look for small specks and blemishes. These flaws are a good indication that a sapphire is real.
    • Lab-created (fake) sapphires do not have inclusions of this nature, and some natural sapphires don’t have flaws either, but if you find flaws it is real.
  2. Perform the breath test.Take your sapphire and breathe on it to fog it up. Count how long it takes for the fog to start fading and how long until the fog is totally gone. Natural gems should clear up in just one or two seconds, but created sapphires may take closer to five seconds to clear up.
  3. Get your sapphire certified.Gemologists can examine a sapphire and determine what kind of gem it is. They will give you a report on what they decide about the sapphire once they have analyzed it. They can tell you if it is natural or synthetic, treated or not, as well as many other attributes.
    • Once the gemologists have fully examined the gem, they will give you an official statement. If you have an old family sapphire that you are sure is natural and valuable, it is good to have it certified to ensure that you get the best value if you sell it.
    • A certified sapphire will be easier to sell for a good price.

Spotting a Fake Sapphire

  1. Check the gem for air bubbles.Lab-created sapphires are essentially glass that is put through a process similar to the one that forms natural sapphires. Since they are glass, tiny air bubbles remain in them after they form. If you see any bubbles inside of the sapphire then it is not real.
    • Be sure to turn the sapphire over and inspect it from every angle. It’s possible that air bubbles will only be visible from one angle.
  2. Use the scratch test.If you have two sapphires and you know for sure one is real, use it to scratch the second one. Gems of equal hardness can’t scratch each other, so if both are real sapphires then nothing will happen. If the real sapphire leaves a scratch on the second sapphire, then the second one is not real, or is at least of lower quality.
    • This test can damage a synthetic sapphire, so be wary of ruining the inferior gem.
  3. Watch how light reflects from the sapphire.Turn the lights off in a room and shine a flashlight on the sapphire. If the sapphire is real, it will only reflect light that is the same color as the sapphire. If it is fake, meaning it is made of glass, it will reflect other colors besides the color of the gem.

Determining a Sapphire’s Quality

  1. Look for intersecting lines in the sapphire.Some natural sapphires are of such poor quality that they can’t be sold. One way that sellers make up for this is filling the sapphire with lead-glass which masks the poor quality of the sapphire. If you see criss-crossing lines, you may have a real sapphire but it is most likely of low quality.
  2. Ask the jeweler if the gem is natural.If you are considering buying a sapphire from a jeweler, you should always ask whether the gem is natural or synthetic. The FTC requires that jeweler’s disclose information about any gems that they sell.
    • Don’t be afraid that you will sound critical or uninformed if you ask about a sapphire. It’s your money to spend and you want to know for sure what kind of product you are buying.
  3. Ask the jeweler if a natural sapphire has been treated.There are various treatments that are done to sapphires to enhance their color or clarity. While this may make the sapphire look better, you may feel it reduces the natural quality.
    • Treatments are not permanent, so it is good to ask about treatments and how long they will last on the gem. Treatments can be removed to return the gem to its natural look.

Community Q&A

  • Question
    How do I remove the treatment to a Sapphire to take it to its natural look?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    You cannot. Treatments to stones are meant to be permanent, even if they fail over time. There is no way to remove a treatment.
  • Question
    Does the stone need to be removed to test if it is real?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Usually, the stone doesn't need to be removed for testing. If it does, ask a jeweler to do it unless you have the proper tools and know what to do.
  • Question
    How can I identify a crack on a sapphire?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    A crack on a sapphire will look like a small canyon, so it should be quite easy to spot.
Unanswered Questions
  • How can I tell if the sapphire was color treated?
  • How long does a blue sapphire stone shows its effects?
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Quick Summary

To determine if a sapphire is real, hold it up to your mouth and breathe onit so it fogs up. Then, count how long it takes for the fog to fade. If it takes longer than 1-2 seconds, the stone probably isn't a real sapphire. You can also tell if a sapphire is real by shining a light on it. If it reflects any color other than blue when you shine the light on it, the sapphire isn't real.

Success Stories

Sumit Saxena

Aug 21

"I tested my blue sapphire by the above information and found it to be real!"


Apr 17, 2019

"The page is well written, with sources, and organized. It gave a lot of good, complete information for all aspectsof finding out about natural and synthetic sapphires, as well as the quality of one."

Angela Smith

Apr 13

"The entire article was so well written and straight to the fact with no nonsense language, fantastic info! Manythanks!"


Sep 11, 2019

"I needed to know how to determine a sapphire is real, and it helped me find out!"

Terry Padgett

Jan 31

"Thanks for doing awesome research, very informative.


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