identifying inclusions - blue gemstoneidentifying inclusions - blue gemstone

Identifying Inclusions of Specific Gems

Some natural as well as synthetic gems have specific, characteristic inclusions. Learn the identifying inclusions of some of the most popular gems.

13 Minute Read

Beryl and Tourmaline

Both beryl and tourmaline develop hollow or “growth” tubes. Gem cutters see many more of these than gemologists do, since they cut away most of these inclusions. While these tubes begin hollow, they may be filled with opaque, white minerals later, as the crystal develops.

You can easily distinguish growth tubes from other inclusions. They have even sides and run straight for considerable distances. When present, you can assume these inclusions indicate a gem is most likely a beryl, tourmaline, or possibly spodumene. A refractive index (RI) reading can then distinguish these minerals.


Rubies and sapphires, both corundum gemstones, are some of the easiest gems to identify by their inclusions.

Silk in Hexagonal Patterns

Silk is the most distinctive of corundum’s inclusions. What gemologists call “silk” consists of very fine threads (crystals) of another mineral, rutile. If you can see enough of these inclusions, you’ll note they form a hexagonal pattern. If you can only see part of the threads, they meet at 60° or 120° angles.

Garnet gems contain similar but coarser inclusions. They meet at 70° or 110°. On the other hand, needle-like inclusions occur in quartz with hexagonal patterns as in…

Donald Clark, CSM IMG

The late Donald Clark, CSM founded the International Gem Society in 1998. Donald started in the gem and jewelry industry in 1976. He received his formal gemology training from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the American Society of Gemcutters (ASG). The letters “CSM” after his name stood for Certified Supreme Master Gemcutter, a designation of Wykoff’s ASG which has often been referred to as the doctorate of gem cutting. The American Society of Gemcutters only had 54 people reach this level. Along with dozens of articles for leading trade magazines, Donald authored the book “Modern Faceting, the Easy Way.”

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