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?
My first caution would be buying online from China or India. China is well known for their factories where they are producing fake crystals and passing them off as the real deal. I was talking to our wholesaler who has been in the business for over 30 years and he said that he showed some fake crystals from China to experts he knew and even they couldn’t pick up on them being reproductions until he showed them the tell-tale signs.
One thing to watch out for is if it looks too good to be true, then it probably is. If it is ridiculously cheap, ask yourself why are they are selling them at that price. If it feels like plastic, it might be exactly that. 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.
Another thing to look out for is unnatural colours and patterns that are perfectly symmetrical - this may be an indication of fake crystals. Mother Nature isn’t known for growing crystals that are all the same shape and size, with perfectly identical patterns. Crystals that come from the earth are beautiful because they are all uniquely different, different colours, different sizes and different patterns.
If you are buying crystal jewellery that has been labelled as sterling silver make sure that your piece is marked with the 925 stamp. If it isn’t, I would be questioning the authenticity of the whole piece.
Be wary of anything labelled ‘smelt quartz’ – this is glass that has been melted down and often had vibrant neon colours added. There is nothing about ‘quartz’ in these pieces at all, at the end of the day it is still man-made glass, fake crystals.
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 (on the left) is of a blue howlite, which is a dyed crystal. The colour has faded/run after my son left it out in the rain for a few months! On the right is white howlite.
Personally, I prefer to have natural crystals in my collection. I’d much rather my crystals look just the way they were when they came out of the earth. There are however, two exceptions for me:
- I love blue agate around the home, they look amazing and also serve a purpose eg coasters on your coffee table and wind chimes outside the kitchen window. However I don’t use dyed blue agate crystals for energy healing. If I want to use agate for energy healing then I use my natural agate crystals or blue lace agate crystals.
- I am really drawn to blue goldstone. Now I know that this is totally a manmade crystal, however it does have flecks of copper in it. Legend has it that it was first made by monks who accidentally knocked copper shavings into melted glass!
Heat-Treated v 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. Personally I’m not keen on heat-treated citrine, to me it is still amethyst which has been put in a kiln and baked so much that it has changed colour. Baking Amethyst at these high temperatures can mean that the crystal weakens and breaks easily. However this is just my personal preference, some people love the energy they feel from heat-treated citrine.
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 (on the left) is of a natural citrine point from my 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 is usually of a honey/lemon/white wine colour throughout – not the burnt orange tip and white base of heat-treated citrine. Compare the picture of the citrine point to the other photo (on the right), which is one of my Bolivian amethyst points, you can see the purple tip and white base, which is characteristic of amethyst, not of citrine. They are two very different crystals (and citrine does not grow in a geode!).
Fake v 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 turquinite.
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. I tried this on my turquoise tumbles (pictured above) and am happy to say that the cotton bud remained white, no blue dye present.
- 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. I tried this test on my turquoise tumbles and am very glad that they were very hard to scratch and they had the same colour underneath.
- Hot needle test: I haven’t tried this method but apparently if you get a hot needle tip and push this into your turquoise crystal it will melt if it is plastic. If your turquoise is real, it will burn.
Below are the photos I showed previously of the blue howlite tumble, which had been left out in the rain for a few months. Note the run in the colour and where it has faded!
At the end of the day if you are drawn to crystals that have been dyed or altered then go for it. It is your choice to make and if they make you happy then it can only be a good thing :-)
Other Blogs to Read
If you'd like to find out more about crystals then have a look at some of our other blogs.