Fake, Enhanced & Misidentified Crystals ❀
There is nothing worse than bringing home a brand new stone only to realise it isn’t what you think. Authentic crystals grow deep underground, for thousands or millions of years, gathering up the energy of Mother Earth. Synthetic or fake crystals often do not contain the same healing qualities as natural stones, especially if the energy instilled within them from their creation is to deceive & trick. This is why learning how to spot a fake crystal can be incredibly useful along your crystal journey. There is no harm in working with unnatural stones, but it is important to be given the knowledge & therefore the option to make a choice.
Before questioning the authenticity of any crystal, it is essential to assess the quality of your retailer. Suppliers who share almost no background information on their stones, label their stones under strange names & offer crystals at a price too good to be true, may be considered unreliable. A reliable seller should have the knowledge & the evidence to confirm a crystal’s authenticity.
Laboratory synthesised crystals can be chemically similar or identical, but aren’t classified as natural. While you may commonly see lab-created gemstones in the jewellery industry, these homemade crystals can also be used to trick collectors. Other fakes can be made from glass, resin or even plastic.
Modified crystals may be low-grade natural stones which have been coated, dyed or heated to enhance their appearance & quality. Many people enjoy buying these types of stones, so long as their alterations are clear & communicated.
Crystals can also be mislabelled, either intentionally or by mistake. This is a common tactic for sellers who seek to sell a more affordable crystal at a higher price. A good example of this is Blue Calcite, which is commonly sold as the more expensive sky-blue stone, Celestite.
You may even find reconstituted crystals, which are made using the crushed leftovers of a gemstone combined with dyes & resins.
❀ Utilise the Moh’s Hardness scale scratch test to determine the hardness of your stone.
❀ Observe the weight & colour, does it feel strangely light? Is the colour concentrated in the cracks of the stone?
❀ Look out for air bubbles or perfectly symmetrical patterns & lines.
❀ While not always accurate, if your stone doesn’t feel cool to the touch, it may be inauthentic.
While man-made or altered crystals are valued as healing tools by some, others prefer to avoid them all together. Whether or not they work is entirely based on personal preference & your beliefs surrounding how crystals truly function. If you admire stones for their perfect internal structure, then manufactured crystals like Opalite & Goldstone may not be for you. Enhanced crystals tend to be the most accepted, with heat, coating & crackle treatments still allowing the power of the natural stone to shine through. Lab-created stones often share the same chemical makeup as their natural counterparts, but lack the earthly connection most natural crystals hold. Whether you work with unnatural crystals or not, many of these stones can still be valued for their beauty & may be a great stepping stone for younger crystal collectors or beginners.
Let’s Look at Some Faked, Enhanced, Man-Made or Mislabelled Crystals
❀ Look for air bubbles inside, which is a clear sign it is glass & not true Quartz. Some real crystals may have water bubbles, but they are rare. Does it seem perfectly clear & transparent? Natural Clear Quartz will usually display inclusions like lines, waves or wispy imperfections within.
❀ Use a scratch test to determine whether it is the hardness of Quartz (7), Glass (5.5), or even something else (like Clear Calcite, which has the hardness of 3).
❀ Clear Quartz can also be lab-created. This can be best identified when in its cluster form rather than polished. Look for identical length crystal growth & flat, almost fuzzy, bases. They may also produce a strange, hollow sound when tapped. These hydrothermally grown, man-made replicas are often found coming out of China.
❀ Authentic Amethyst will have inconsistent colouring throughout the entire crystal & won’t be uniformly shaded. Known as colour zoning, you will find real Amethyst contains a mix of light & dark shades of purple. Keep an eye out for enhanced or dyed Amethyst which commonly displays an incredibly vibrant violet colour that seems to be distributed in one single brightness & hue.
❀ Genuine Turquoise is an uncommon & somewhat expensive gemstone. Because of this, it is commonly imitated by other stones, plastic or resin. Fake Turquoise is typically made out of dyed Howlite, or dyed Magnesite. They may refer to this imitation stone as Turqurenite.
❀ To identify Howlite or Magnesite imitations, look out for a super glossy appearance & concentrated dye along the cracks. Since Turquoise is a copper mineral, the real thing should also feel fairly heavy. Try a scratch test (Howlite & Magnesite fall between 3.5 - 4.5 & genuine Turquoise is 5 - 6.) You might also want to use a solvent like acetone to see if any dye seeps out.
❀ Another stone that may not quite meet the criteria for authentic Turquoise is known as reconstituted Turquoise. This is created by taking Turquoise powder or broken chips & mixing it with a resin or glue.
❀ Another fairly expensive & commonly imitated mineral is Malachite. Fakes can be easy to spot but may be more challenging when identifying smaller stones or beads. Genuine Malachite is formed in weathered Copper deposits, whereas fake Malachite can be man-made using plastic, glass or polymer clay. Take a look at the colour & pattern. Real Malachite shows swirls, waves, rings & stripes of many varying shades of green. On the other hand, synthetic Malachite displays a few shades of green alongside a harsh, unnatural black. The lines are often uniform & appear with clean edges. Another way of identifying real Malachite is to observe the weight & temperature, as a real stone should be heavy & cold to the touch. Reconstituted Malachite may also feel oddly light due to the added resin or other materials.
❀ Believe it or not, the warm, amber-coloured Citrine you are familiar with may not be true Citrine at all. In fact, the rare & incredibly expensive natural Citrine is frequently another type of Quartz in disguise. These semi-precious gems are created by heat-treating Amethyst or even Smoky Quartz to gain the desired colour. This is essentially the same process that happens naturally underground, humans are just mimicking this using an oven & a shorter amount of time. This is why treated Citrine is still considered to have the same healing properties as its natural counterpart. Look out for Citrine with a white base & a vibrant orange-yellow hue that is more concentrated at the tips, which is a clear sign it is heated Amethyst/Smoky Quartz. Natural Citrine has a more smoky, champagne colour that is evenly distributed throughout the whole stone. It doesn’t display dramatic light to dark colour variations as seen in Amethyst. If you would like to invest in a true, completely natural Citrine, look at the locale it was sourced from. Most authentic Citrine on the market comes from South America or Africa.
❀ Real Fire Agate is a type of Chalcedony found in south-western USA & Mexico. It is usually found with bubbly rainbow masses that display an incredible iridescent shimmer when polished. Carnelian, or more specifically, crackle Carnelian, is commonly mislabelled as Fire Agate. Crackle or Snakeskin Carnelian has been heated & cooled to produce cracks.
❀ Keep an eye out for young tree resins known as Copal, glass or resin imitations of Amber. One of the most popular ways to determine if you have real Amber is by performing a saltwater test, in which the Amber will float rather than sink. You can also try rubbing the stone with your hand to generate heat & notice if it produces a pine-tree smell. If you have been given a piece of Copal, you may notice a sweeter scent instead. Additionally, if you hold a flame over Copal, it will set alight & begin melting like wax.
Ghost Quartz & Smelt Quartz
❀ Green Ghost Phantom Quartz is lab-grown dyed Quartz, that is sometimes sold as an imitation of Chlorite Quartz. You may also find this fake Ghost Quartz in different, highly saturated colours such as yellow or red.
❀ Another unnatural Quartz is Smelt Quartz. It is a common glass melted & mixed with additional natural elements. It can be found displaying wispy swirls of blue, red (known as Cherry Quartz) or black.
Opalite, Goldstone & Fordite
❀ Opalite is not a true crystal but, in fact, a type of opalescent glass. This well-loved man-made gem is sometimes passed off as natural Opal or Moonstone. Opalite is incredibly affordable & exhibits a pearly or opalescent glow.
❀ Another popular & inexpensive man-made crystal is Goldstone, also commonly referred to as Aventurine Glass. Orange-brown Goldstone is made from coloured glass that contains tiny crystals of metallic copper that require special conditions to form properly. Blue Goldstone owes its colour to Cobalt whereas green Goldstone is caused by Chromium.
❀ Fordite, also known as Rainbow Casilica or Detroit Agate, is not a crystal at all. It is actually old automotive paint (primarily found in the car factory of Ford), which has hardened sufficiently to be cut & polished & used in jewellery. It was formed from the build-up of layers of enamel paint slag, producing swirly, psychedelic designs.