A Guy Gave These Stones on a Train: Identifying Raw Gemstones

A Guy Gave These Stones on a Train: Identifying Raw Gemstones

While traveling through Tanzania last year, a lady named Diossina17 on Reddit had a unique encounter on a train. A man she met claimed to have a mining site and was bringing samples to a Chinese customer. Due to a train delay, he needed extra money for accommodation. In exchange for a few dollars, he handed her several raw stones, claiming they were ruby, moonstone, hematite, and citrine. This article explores these stones and helps identify their authenticity and characteristics.

Raw Ruby: Characteristics and Identification

A guy gave me these stones on a train
byu/Diossina17 inwhatsthisrock

Raw ruby, a variety of corundum, is known for its striking red color. A raw ruby typically exhibits a deep red to pinkish-red color, which is one of its most distinguishing features. The transparency of rubies can range from opaque to transparent, with high-quality rubies being more transparent and allowing light to pass through them beautifully. Rubies are also very hard, rating 9 on the Mohs scale, making them durable and resistant to scratches, second only to diamonds. The luster of a ruby is glassy to adamantine, giving it a shiny, reflective surface that adds to its allure. These characteristics are essential in identifying a raw ruby and distinguishing it from other red gemstones.

Moonstone: The Mystical Gem

Moonstone is renowned for its ethereal adularescence, a glowing light that appears to move within the stone. Moonstones are typically milky white with a blue sheen, a unique play of color caused by light scattering within the layers of the stone. This shimmering effect is enhanced by the stone’s structure, as moonstone is a type of feldspar with layers that create its mystical appearance. Moonstone has a pearly and opalescent luster, adding to its magical look. Often, moonstones have cracks or inclusions, which can enhance their mystical appearance rather than detract from it. These features make moonstone a fascinating and easily recognizable gem.

Hematite or Garnet? Understanding the Difference

The stone identified as hematite by Diossina17 might actually be a garnet, a common mix-up due to their similar appearances. Hematite typically appears metallic silver to black and leaves a reddish-brown streak when rubbed on unglazed porcelain. It has a metallic luster, giving it a shiny, reflective surface. In contrast, garnets come in a variety of colors, most commonly deep red, but also orange, yellow, green, purple, brown, blue, black, pink, and colorless. Garnets are often transparent to translucent and have a glassy luster. If the stone is transparent when held to light, it’s more likely to be a garnet. These differences are key in distinguishing between hematite and garnet.

Citrine or Heliodor Beryl? Analyzing the Yellow Stone

The yellow stone identified as citrine by the man on the train might actually be heliodor beryl. Citrine ranges in color from pale yellow to yellow-brown and has a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale, making it relatively durable. Citrine has a glassy luster, adding to its attractiveness. Heliodor beryl, on the other hand, is yellow to greenish-yellow and has a hardness of 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale, making it slightly harder than citrine. Heliodor beryl also has a vitreous (glassy) luster. The saturation and hue of the yellow stone can help in identifying whether it is citrine or heliodor beryl. These distinctions are important for accurate gemstone identification.

Authenticating Gemstones at Home

There are several methods to test gemstones at home to get an initial sense of their authenticity. One can use the Mohs scale to test the hardness of a gemstone by scratching it with a reference material of known hardness. The streak test involves rubbing the stone on unglazed porcelain to observe the color of the streak it leaves behind. Examining the luster involves observing the reflection of light on the stone’s surface. Checking how light passes through the stone to gauge its transparency can also be helpful. These tests can provide initial insights, but consulting a professional gemologist is recommended for precise identification.

The stones given to Diossina17 on a Tanzanian train have sparked curiosity and learning about gemstones. Identifying and authenticating these gems requires understanding their physical and optical properties. Whether you are a gemstone enthusiast or a curious traveler, knowing how to identify these stones can be an exciting and rewarding experience.

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