Say I traveled back in time to 1800 and took a bag of synthetic rubies with me. Could a jeweler of the time period tell that the stones are "fake", even though at that time synthetic gems aren't yet possible/invented.

Thank you

  • 1
    Similar question (and possible dup): history.stackexchange.com/questions/39232/… -- one difference with your question would be that they'd have access to better magnifying tools. Still, I suspect the answer would be no, they wouldn't be able to make the difference, in part because it wouldn't occur to a jeweler then that too pure a stone might be a sign that it's synthetic rather than the "real" natural thing. Side note: a synthetic stone is every bit as real as a natural one; it just has less defects. May 28 '19 at 2:54
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    Synthetic gems are NOT fake.
    – jamesqf
    May 28 '19 at 18:03
  • I had "fake" in quotation marks...
    – rclev
    May 28 '19 at 20:31

The first synthetic rubies were created (or rather the first published creation of them) in 1837 (not long after your 1800AD timeframe).

So it's possible that earlier attempts were made and unsatisfactory, and if you turned up with a bag of identical looking rubies people might become suspicious about what you're carrying.

But more likely they'd be suspicious whether they're rubies at all and not spinels or red garnets, as both can be cut and are regularly offered for sale as if they were rubies. You'd then face the possibility of being treated like a scam artist, not a good thing in those days probably.

Another thing to consider is the exact colour and shape of the stones you're taking with you. Different sources of natural ruby have sometimes subtle differences in the colour of the stones coming out of their deposits (and possibly size of the crystals as well). If your synthetics don't match what the audience expect a ruby to look like they may become highly suspicious and suspect you of trying to market something else (like a garnet) as a ruby.

Apart from that, there's no real way to determine whether a stone is real or artificial using the technology at the time. Under a microscope an artificial ruby may seem "too perfect to be true" but if you only market one at a time at widely spaced locations you could probably get away with it as perfect stones, especially small ones, do exist. The dopes added to many artificial rubies to allow specialists to distinguish them require things like lasers to detect and those didn't exist back in the 1800s.

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