How to Identify Raw Gems

About Raw Gems

Some gems in their raw state, such as diamonds and pearls, are just as attractive as a finely cut and polished stone. For other gems, it takes a keen eye to spot and identify them as a gem at all. Often times you will walk right past a raw gem, unless you know how to identify it.

Learn How to Identify Raw Gems

Visit a local science museum. Many science museums have hands-on displays or short lectures on rocks, minerals and gemstones. While basic in nature, the specimens provided as examples will help you better identify raw gems when you are in the field.

Pick up a copy of "Gemstones (Smithsonian Handbook)," by Cally Hall, for pictures of gems in their raw and cut state. You can find the book at Amazon.com (see Resources below).

Study rocks, looking at as many images of them in their natural habitat as possible. Many beautiful gems are hidden inside perfectly ordinary looking rocks.

Consider taking a tour or group hunt through a nearby mine. You will earn a bit of experience finding raw gems in a natural setting. After the "hunt," your guide will help you sort through your finds, giving you information on possible gems.

Identify Raw Gems in the Field

Look for stones with color. While these stones may turn out to be nothing, finding colored rocks is a good place to start when gem hunting.

Keep your eye out for glass. Raw diamonds, among other gems, often look like nothing more than a hunk of glass.

Pick up anything unusual. If something strikes you as being unique or especially attractive, it very well maybe something worth investigating further.

Make the gift store or exhibit room (sometimes one and the same) of a state park your first stop. There will be a collection of raw gemstones on display to help you get a better idea of what might be found in the area.

Crack the rock carefully to see if it hides a gem beneath its surface. Usually a mining pick can be used to crack open or chip a rock to see if it is actually a raw gemstone.


Very rarely do raw gems look anything like the final product. Do not expect to have an easy time trying finding valuable gems.


Raw gems tend to be significantly less valuable than a finished stone.

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