Feature Gems & Gemology, Spring 1999, Volume 35, No. 1

Some Diagnostic Features of Russian Hydrothermal Synthetic Rubies and Sapphires

Most Russian hydrothermal synthetic rubies and pink, orange, green, blue, and violet sapphires—colored by chromium and/or nickel—reveal diagnostic zigzag or mosaic-like growth structures associated with color zoning. When the samples are properly oriented, these internal patterns are easily recognized using a standard gemological microscope in conjunction with immersion or fiber-optic illumination. Pleochroism is also useful to separate chromium-free blue-to-green synthetic sapphires from their natural counterparts. Samples colored by a combination of chromium, nickel, and iron are also described.