The Talk Vault

Gem Talk

Gem TalkHow Gemstones Get Their Color

The color that a gemstone displays is largely determined by the unique way that its individual crystalline structure interacts with light. White light is made up of the spectral colors of the rainbow, some of which are “preferentially absorbed” as they enter the gem. Those that are not absorbed either pass through or are reflected back to give the gem its color. Each gem has a unique color fingerprint (known as its “absorption spectrum”) that is visible only when viewed through an instrument known as a spectroscope. While many gems appear to be the same color to the naked eye, jewelers can distinguish between similar-looking gems by using the spectroscope to reveal their absorption spectrums.

P.S. The exact identity of colored gemstones in heirloom jewelry may be difficult to correctly discern without an absorption spectrum analysis performed by a reputable jeweler.

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