It’s a given that when you buy crystals you are wanting to receive real crystals, not something that has been manufactured in a lab or factory. Unfortunately there are a lot of fake crystals out there, with a lot of them so brilliantly copied that even the experts can’t tell the difference at first glance.
So how can a non-expert tell if their crystals are real or not? What should you be looking out for with fake crystals?
Tips on how to spot fake crystals
Crystals that come from the earth are beautiful because they are all uniquely different, different colours, different sizes and different patterns.
Look out for unnatural colours (such as the dyed Quartz above) or patterns that are perfectly symmetrical. Malachite and Turquoise are two crystals that have sometimes been created out of plastic - you’ll see that their patterns are too precise. Mother Nature isn’t known for growing crystals that are all the same shape and size, with perfectly identical patterns.
If a crystal looks too good to be true, it probably is. If it is ridiculously cheap, ask yourself why are they are selling them at that price. If you have a Quartz crystal is it cold or warm? Real Quartz should still be cool to the touch even on a really hot day. Calcite crystals should feel waxy.
Be careful buying online direct from China or India (including eBay). China is known for their factories where they produce fake crystals and pass them off as the real deal. One of our wholesalers, who has been in the business for over 30 years, said that he showed some fake crystals from China to experts he knew, and even they couldn’t pick up on them being reproductions.
Lastly, be wary of anything labelled ‘Smelt Quartz’. This is glass that has been melted down and had vibrant neon colours added. Glass does not have a crystal lattice structure.
How to tell if a crystal has been dyed?
If you are trying to ascertain if a crystal has been dyed or not, have a look at any cracks or marks within the crystal. Usually if they have been dyed there will be a build up of colour in these areas. The picture above is of Blue Howlite which is a dyed crystal, the other tumble is White Howlite, which is it’s natural colour.
If you leave Blue Howlite outside in the sun or rain the colour will fade. With some crystals the dye will come off easily on a damp cloth however, if this doesn't work, try the nail polish remover and cotton bud test mentioned below for Turquoise.
Using manmade or dyed crystals for healing
Manmade or dyed crystals can have their place in a crystal collection - everyone feels energy differently and only you know what feels right for you. For example, I can feel the energy in Blue Goldstone which is a manmade crystal. Goldstone has flecks of Copper in it and Copper is a great conductor of energy. Legend has it that it was first made by monks who accidentally knocked Copper shavings into melted glass.
My personal preference is to not use dyed crystals (such as dyed Agate) for crystal healing. If I want to use Agate for crystal healing, I'll use natural Agate. You will however find dyed Agate around our home as bookends, coasters, candle bases and wind chimes - it looks amazing when the banding is enhanced. At the end of the day, go with what you feel is right for you!
Heat-treated verses natural Citrine
Citrine is rare and is quite expensive to buy in its natural state. Most Citrine on the market is heat-treated Citrine due to natural Citrine being hard to source. Heat treated Citrine is made by placing Amethyst in a kiln and baking it until it changes colour. Baking Amethyst at these high temperatures can mean that the crystal weakens and breaks easily.
Above is a photo of heat-treated Citrine. The ‘cluster’ points on this crystal look exactly the same as on an Amethyst cluster. They look like a shark’s pointy tooth! Compare the photo above to the photo below of an Amethyst cluster – they look exactly the same except for the burnt orange colour.
To further help you tell the difference, the photo below is of a natural Citrine point. Unlike Amethyst, natural Citrine does not grow in a geode and is usually of a honey/lemon/white wine colour throughout. Note that the Citrine’s point looks nothing like the pointy ‘shark tooth’ that you would see in an Amethyst cluster. Plus the natural Citrine point does not have the orange tip and white base that is common in heat-treated Citrine.
Fake verses real Turquoise
Sadly real Turquoise is now very rare and usually very expensive. The most common form of ‘Turquoise’ on the market is usually Howlite that has been dyed to look like Turquoise. Howlite is used because it has ‘veins’ running through it, which looks very similar to real Turquoise. This dyed crystal is sometimes called Turquenite. Turquoise can naturally range in colour from a bright blue, to green, to a brownish green.
How can you test to see if you have real or fake Turquoise?
Can the colour be removed: Put some nail polish remover on a cotton bud and wipe this on the crystal (in a inconspicuous spot). If the cotton bud turns blue, and the crystal now has a paler spot, then you probably have a Howlite crystal that has been dyed blue (see photos above of dyed Howlite).
Scratching the crystal: If you scratch a Turquoise crystal with a steel knife, if it is fake, it should scratch easily and you should be able to see the real colour underneath. We tried this test on our personal Turquoise tumbles, they were very hard to scratch and they had the same colour underneath.
Hot needle test: You can use the tip of a hot needle to test your Turquoise. Push the hot tip into your Turquoise, it will melt if it is plastic. If your Turquoise is real, it will burn. When using this method it is a good idea to push the opposite end of the needle into a piece of cork, that way you have something to hold onto without burning your fingers.
Continue learning about crystals
If you'd like to find out more about crystals take a look at some of our other blogs where we cover topics such as crystals for beginners, testing and identifying crystals at home and what are the 7 main chakras.