Do you have a crystal that you would like to test to see if it is real or fake? Or do you have a crystal that you can't identify? The good news is that there are several ways to test crystals yourself, and you don't need to buy expensive equipment!
Discover how to test and identify crystals at home
Create your own crystal test kit
Putting together your own crystal test kit is really easy and you should be able to find most of these items around your home. A simple kit consists of a:
- solid piece of glass (aka a glass plate)
- your fingernail
- unglazed white porcelain tile (aka a streak plate)
- unglazed black porcelain tile (aka a streak plate)
- copper coin
- steel nail or file
- magnifying glass
To get a better idea of what a crystal test kit could look like, visit our Mohs scale of hardness page.
Identify crystals by colour
Assorted raw crystals
Now before you go around scratching or burning your entire crystal collection, grab a crystal book that lists crystals in order of colour (The Encyclopedia of Crystals by Judy Hall and The Crystal Healer Volumes 1 and 2 by Philip Permutt are great books for this). Let's say you have a pink coloured crystal and you can't remember if it is a Rose Quartz, Pink Opal, Rhodonite, Rhodochrosite or Pink Mangano Calcite ... Compare your crystal against all the pink crystals in the book (or search for pink crystals on google and compare your crystal to the images online). This is often a quick way to identify what crystal you have. Other non-harmful tests include a magnifying glass to get a closer look at patterns, or a magnet to test for magnetic crystals.
Identify and test crystals using the Mohs scale of hardness
Raw Blue Calcite
You might be wondering what a fingernail or a piece of glass has to do with testing crystals ... These are all tools that you can use to test the hardness of a crystal using the Mohs scale of hardness.
Mohs’ hardness is a term meaning ‘scratch hardness’ which was introduced by German mineralogist Friedrich Mohs in 1812. Mohs created a system whereby minerals were tested to their hardness with a pointed object, with 1 being the softest (eg Talc which will be scratched by a fingernail) and 10 being the hardest (eg Diamond which is the hardest mineral on the scale and won't be scratched by softer crystals).
You can also use your own crystals, for example if you have a Apatite crystal (Apatite rates as a 5), you can use this to scratch other crystals to see if they are softer or harder than your Apatite. Obviously don't perform any of the scratch tests if you don't want to damage your crystal (or choose an inconspicuous place to test).
- You could have a Clear Quartz crystal that you are unsure whether it is genuine Clear Quartz or if it is a fake crystal made out of glass. Testing the hardness of the crystal will soon reveal what you have ... Clear Quartz will scratch glass however glass cannot scratch a Clear Quartz crystal.
- You are unsure if you have a piece of Calcite or a piece of Selenite. For this test you would use a fingernail as a fingernail is rated as a 2-2.5 on the Mohs scale and will be able to scratch Selenite which is rated as a 2. Whereas a fingernail won't be able to scratch Calcite as Calcite is stronger than a fingernail and is rated as a 3 on the Mohs scale.
Identify crystals with streak tests
Another way to test crystals is by doing a streak test - this is done by using either the unglazed white porcelain tile or the unglazed black porcelain tile. Some crystals leave a very telling streak of colour on the tile (the powder of the crushed mineral) which will help you to identify what it actually is. Examples are:
- Hematite, which can look grey, silver, red, brown or black, will leave a reddish colour on the tile.
- Fluorite, which can be green, purple, blue, yellow, clear, or a combination of these colours, will leave a white streak on the tile.
- Pyrite, which looks very similar to Gold, will leave a black streak when tested, whereas Gold will leave a yellow streak on the tile.
- Calcite, which can be pink, blue, green, yellow, red, orange or clear, will always produce a white streak, no matter what actual colour the crystal is.
- If you are unsure if you have Lapis Lazuli or Sodalite, Lapis Lazuli will leave a blue streak whereas Sodalite will leave a white streak.
How to tell if your crystals have been dyed
Dyed Blue Howlite
You can test if your crystals have been dyed by:
- Dabbing nail polish remover on a cotton bud and wiping this on the crystal. If the cotton bud has colour on it from the crystal, and the crystal now has a paler spot, then you probably have a dyed crystal.
- Scratching the crystal with something that is high on the Mohs scale (make sure you scratch with a material higher than what the crystal to test is). The crystal that you are testing should scratch easily and you will be able to see the real colour underneath.
How to tell if your crystals are plastic
You can test whether you have a real crystal or if it has been made from plastic by performing a hot needle test. 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. For example:
- Turquoise will melt if it is plastic, if the Turquoise is real it will burn.
- Genuine Amber will smell slightly of pine.
If you don't have any crystals that need to be tested, and you'd like to give scratch testing a go, try using the Mohs scale to test Shungite, Onyx and Black Obsidian crystals. They'll all look fairly similar when you first look at them, however you should be able to tell which is the Shungite as both the Obsidian and Onyx will be able to scratch it. Whereas the Shungite won't be able to scratch the other two crystals.
Lastly, take a look at our How to Spot Fake Crystals blog for more tips on what to look out for with dyed or fake crystals.