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 and patterns that are perfectly symmetrical. Malachite and Turquoise are 2 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.
If you are buying crystal jewellery that has been labelled sterling silver, make sure that your piece is marked with the 925 stamp. If it isn’t, we would be questioning the authenticity of the whole piece.
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, at the end of the day it is still man-made glass.
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 below is of a blue Howlite, which is a dyed crystal. The colour has faded/run after our son left it outside for a few months! The other picture is white Howlite, which is it’s natural colour.
Personally, we prefer to have natural crystals in our collection. We’d much rather our crystals look just the way they were when they came out of the earth. There are however a few exceptions for us such as:
- Blue Agate - it looks amazing around the home and it also serves a purpose eg coasters on the coffee table and wind chimes outside the kitchen window. However, we don’t use dyed Agate for energy healing. If we want to use Agate for healing, then we use natural Agate or Blue Lace Agate crystals.
- Blue Goldstone - now we know that this is totally a manmade crystal, however it does have flecks of Copper in it. 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.
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.
Below 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 from our own collection. Note that the Citrine’s point looks nothing like the pointy ‘shark tooth’ that you would see in an Amethyst cluster. Natural Citrine does not grow in a geode and is usually of a honey/lemon/white wine colour throughout – not the orange tip and white base of heat-treated Citrine.
Compare the picture of the Citrine point to the other photo below, which is one of our Bolivian Amethyst points, you can see the purple tip and white base, which is characteristic of Amethyst, not of 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. 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 a hot needle tip 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.