Identifying the gemstone in an old ring can be an exciting process. Gemstones differ in rarity and value, so identifying a gemstone can help establish the value of the ring. However, many stones look similar to the untrained eye. In order to tell what stone is in an old ring, you will need to carefully study the characteristics of various gemstones or hire a professional.
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Identify the color of the stone in the ring. This will give you a good place to start. However, keep in mind that some stones, such as sapphires, come in shades of blue, yellow and pink.
Look for distinguishing features by shining a light on the stone. Some gems, such as alexandrite, change color in the light, while others, such as chrysoberyl, have cat's-eyes.
Consult a gem guide. These can be found for free online at sites such as the Gemological Institute of America. On the first page, under "How to Buy a Gemstone" click on the "Learn More" link and then "Gem Library."
Have your ring appraised by a professional for the most accurate determination. Appraisers in the United States can be found at the American Gem Society by state or zipcode.
Choose a credentialed appraiser. Ask to see certifications and ask how much experience the appraiser has identifying stones in old rings.