Actual or fake stone ?

Quick overview about the usual knock offs on the stone market.

You are afraid of stumbling on a con or curiosity’s simply tickling your backbone?

The goal of this article is to make you recognize fake minerals, essentially. It is a short and practical guide about what is usually found on the stone market.

First major category:
100% authentical unaltered mineral

They are, I think, the most difficult to identify. On our planet there are hundreds of mineral shapes and colours depending on the absence or presence of inclusions, natural or artificial cracks and – above all – the very composition of the mineral. In order to identify it, you’d better know where it comes from. For example, there is greater chance you find obsidian in volcanic areas. Of course, exceptions do exist.

Few other quick hints (so not 100% reliable) help in this process such as the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. One can also study some crystal shapes visible to the naked eye.

Hardness test box following the Mohs scale.

The best way is however to send a sample to a lab and that – well it costs an arm and a leg *ba-dum-tss*.

Second category:
actual stone, but not the one you believe: altered mineral


 
 
For purely aesthetic reason, in order to obtain a specific result or simply to line the pockets, altered mineral might serve several purposes.

The most famous example must be altered amethyst:

As showed here, amethyst is purple. It is coloured quartz fairly common on the mineral market.

When heated, its colour changes and becomes an orange-yellow. An amateur could then easily mistake it for citrine.

○What does it change?

The price first of all. It will change because citrine is far rarer than amethyst, so its price increases!
 
 
○How to recognize an actual citrine?

•For this, let me first tell you a mnemonic way that might be helpful: because of its colour the word citrine comes from latin “citrus” which led the way for “citron” in French, “Zitrone” in German and “citroen” in Dutch, meaning lemon.
•Second tip: citrine’s colour is homogenous. There is no darker spots.
•Thirdly: Citrine in its geode form is hardly to find.

 
 
○Are there other ways to modify a mineral into a citrine?

Unfortunatly yes! But the following method is less customary:
Inclusions I mentionned earlier are micro cracks in rocks and minerals. A rock crystal can be modified by provoking these inclusions and immersing it in dye, yellow or purple in order to obtain altered citrine or amethyst, for example. If well made, the trick can be very hard to detect. A rock crystal can be modified by provoking these inclusions and immersing it in dye, yellow or purple in order to obtain altered citrine or amethyst, for example. If well made, the trick can be very hard to detect.
So if you notice too many inclusions, either doubt the stone’s authenticity or it is possible that it was simply very weak to begin with.
 
 
Still among true minerals only altered: the tinted ones.
The most common is agate.
When extracted, it is a mineral that can present itself under different shapes. When buying it, you’ll find it as a sliced geode, most of the time. It is also thanks to this shape that you’ll be able to see its altered colour.
As you can see the colour on this picture is very vivid! So it is pretty easy to detect the trick if it’s sold as an agate without further information…
Of course, one can like the beauty of this kind of pieces..
 
○How to see if a stone was artificially tinted?

This method doesn’t always work out but if you steep the mineral you suspect to be tinted in boiling water for few minutes, the water will be tinted as well.
 
 
○Another type of modification one can find: true minerals of which the original shape was altered.

Yes, for some minerals quick authentification can stem from colour and geographical origin analysis. But for many of it, crystals shape analysis will produce it.
 
Malachite offers a very peculiar shape with very distinctive lines colliding into each other the way a a ball does when thrown against a wall.
On the second picture here, the mineral is authentical but the coherence between crystals is complete havoc. The collage of many pieces maintained together by a matrix (homogenous paste, glue) is obvious. You can even detect brightness on the edges of assembled pieces due to polishing.
It is possible not to use this “glue paste”. The identification will hence turn to be more difficult.
Malachite is a simple example because you can easily see modifications.
But it will be harder with pieces glued on their original places. Sometimes, even professionnals can’t determine whether it is or isn’t a collage!

Fakes :
100% fake stone: the synthetic one.

It is often resin or glass. Yet synthetic stones aren’t stones at all!

It is misuse of language reprehensible by the french law if not specified. (legifrance.com.fr).

For example you’ll often find opalite associated with “moonstone” or simply “stone”. I even happened to see “opal” only!
But all these labelings are false!
Moonstone is a mineral that sometimes presents Schiller (adularescence) the same way labradorite (which shall not be mistaken for white labradorite) does.
And opal is a rare stone presenting this opalescence (hence its name) and/or irisation.
Opalescence is the single common feature between opal and opalite!
 
 
○What’s opalite, then?

Simply an opalescent glass.
And let me insist: it is is a very beautiful glass!
 
And now resin!
We can talk forever about it… Let’s focus on two fashionable stones: one is called “sunstone”, the other “goldstone”.
Here is an actual Sunstone.
And here is its subsitute called goldstone made of melted glass and resin as well as copper filings to obstain this glittering effect. Following this method you can also find blue goldstone, blue sunstone, black goldstone, black sunstone and so on…
Make no mistake about it: stones with glitter do not exist.
 
 
My personnal opinion:
Goldstone name is inappropriate since it contains no gold but copper. Even if it does sound good, it is nonetheless false.

Red quartz
Now let me introduce you to what is neither quartz nor mineral! Even if it is beautiful!

Indeed, red quartz does exist and is called “hematoid quartz”. It is hematite that produces this hue in quartz as you can see here.
Here, however, is an association between transparent and red tinted resins. The visual effect it produces isn’t made to fool the customer so it is very easy to understand this is a synthetic stone.

Lastly:
actual synthetic crystal-mineral

You can easily find many tutorials on how to create synthetic stone on the internet. Most of these crystals are made from potassium alum and are, as a result, actual crystals only made artificially.

There are also crystals formed in chemicals tanks in specific industries or crafted on purpose for example from copper sulphate to obtain fake Chalcanthite.

The last word:
Conclusion !

• These methods and tricks are most of the time used in crystal healing but also in some jeweller’s and markets.
• If you find some of the example mentionned above, be wary of the rest of the shop (even on the internet!)
• Big international companies have little qualms. Be careful!
• A beautiful piece of jewelry is and will always be. Only ethically speaking it will shine even more when its true origin is mentioned.
• But don’t get paranoid. If a seller can’t tell for sure whether a stone is fake, he isn’t necessarly a conman. Some fake stones are very difficult if not impossible to identify.
 
Please let me know what you think of this article and share it if you liked it!

These examples are a tiny list of what you can find. I’ve only treated the most usual frauds and misuses of language.
I personally thank the websites, videos and blogs I studied in order to write this article and L’atelier la trouvaille for their information.

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