Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Which type of crystal is the most fake?

Crystals have fascinated humanity for millennia, being treasured for their beauty, rarity, and alleged metaphysical properties. However, as their popularity has surged, so too has the prevalence of fake crystals on the market. This article delves into the world of fake crystals, exploring the most commonly counterfeited types, identification techniques, tests for authenticity, understanding crystal value, purchasing tips, and maintenance and care.

Identification Techniques

Identifying fake crystals can be challenging, especially for novices. However, with some knowledge and careful observation, you can learn to discern authentic crystals from their counterfeit counterparts. Here are some common techniques to identify crystals:

Visual Inspection

Visual inspection is the first step in identifying a crystal. Natural crystals often have imperfections such as inclusions, color variations, and growth patterns. If a crystal appears too perfect, it may be synthetic or artificially enhanced.

Hardness Test

The Mohs scale of mineral hardness is a valuable tool for identification. By scratching the crystal with substances of known hardness, you can determine where it falls on the scale. For example, quartz is a 7 on the Mohs scale, so it should not be scratched by anything lower in hardness, such as a steel nail (about 5.5).

Specific Gravity

Specific gravity refers to the density of the crystal compared to water. Each mineral has a characteristic specific gravity, and measuring this can help identify the crystal. This test requires a precise scale and is typically more complex than basic visual inspection.

Refractive Index

The refractive index measures how light bends as it passes through the crystal. Different minerals have distinct refractive indices. Gemologists often use a refractometer to measure this property accurately.


Some crystals exhibit fluorescence under ultraviolet (UV) light. For instance, fluorite glows under UV light, whereas many fake versions do not. This test can be useful, but not all crystals have this property.

Common Fakes

Certain types of crystals are more commonly faked due to their high value or popularity. Knowing which crystals are frequently counterfeited can help you stay vigilant when purchasing.

Quartz Varieties

Quartz, including amethyst and citrine, is one of the most commonly faked crystals. Fake amethyst, often made from colored glass or synthetic quartz, can be hard to distinguish from the real thing. Citrine, which is actually rare in nature, is frequently made by heat-treating amethyst, resulting in an altered stone that may still be marketed as natural citrine.


Jade, particularly jadeite, is highly prized and frequently faked. Common fakes include dyed or treated jade, and other green stones such as serpentine or aventurine being sold as jade. The high value of jade makes it a prime target for counterfeiters.


Natural turquoise is porous and relatively soft, making it easy to alter. Fake turquoise often involves dyed howlite or magnesite, which are more readily available and less expensive. Enhanced turquoise, where the stone is stabilized with resins and dyes, is also common.

Lapis Lazuli

Lapis lazuli is another commonly faked stone. Imitations often involve dyed jasper or sodalite, and reconstituted lapis, where small fragments are glued together with resin, is also prevalent.


Amber, fossilized tree resin, is often counterfeited using plastic or copal, which is younger, less fossilized tree resin. Genuine amber can be quite expensive, making the market ripe for fakes.

Tests for Authenticity

Conducting tests for authenticity can help verify the true nature of a crystal. Here are some reliable tests:

UV Light Test

Under UV light, certain crystals exhibit specific fluorescence. For example, real amber fluoresces under UV light, while most plastic fakes do not. This test is quick and can be a useful preliminary check.

Heat Test

Amber and plastic can be differentiated through a simple heat test. Real amber emits a pleasant pine scent when heated, whereas plastic gives off a chemical smell. This test should be performed with caution to avoid damaging the sample.

Acetone Test

Applying a small amount of acetone can help identify dyed stones. Natural stones will not be affected, but dyed stones will show color transfer. This test is particularly useful for stones like turquoise and jade.

Density Test

Measuring the density or specific gravity of a crystal can provide clues to its authenticity. This requires a precise scale and water displacement method to determine the crystal’s density, which can then be compared to known values for the mineral.


Using a jeweler’s loupe or microscope, you can examine the crystal closely for inclusions, growth patterns, and other natural features. Synthetic stones often lack these natural characteristics, appearing too perfect or uniform.

Understanding Crystal Value

Understanding what contributes to a crystal’s value can help you make informed purchasing decisions. Several factors influence the value of a crystal:


Rarity significantly impacts a crystal’s value. Some crystals are naturally scarce or only found in specific locations. For example, tanzanite is found almost exclusively in Tanzania, making it rare and valuable.


The color of a crystal can greatly affect its value. Vibrant, evenly distributed colors are usually more desirable. For instance, deep purple amethyst is typically more valuable than lighter shades.


Clarity refers to the absence of inclusions or flaws within the crystal. High clarity is generally more valued, though some inclusions can enhance the stone’s uniqueness and character.


Larger crystals are rarer and thus more valuable. However, the overall quality of the crystal is also essential. A large, poor-quality crystal may be worth less than a smaller, high-quality specimen.

Cut and Shape

For gemstones and jewelry, the cut and shape can impact value. Well-cut stones that maximize brilliance and minimize flaws are more desirable. Raw or uncut crystals can also be valuable depending on their natural form.

See Also: 5 Fascinating Facts About Crystals

Purchasing Tips

To avoid purchasing fake crystals, consider these tips:

Buy from Reputable Dealers

Purchasing from reputable dealers or certified gemologists can reduce the risk of buying fake crystals. Established sellers are more likely to provide accurate information and authenticity guarantees.

Ask for Documentation

Reputable dealers should provide documentation or certificates of authenticity for high-value crystals. This paperwork can verify the crystal’s origin, quality, and any treatments it has undergone.

Be Wary of Low Prices

If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Be cautious of prices significantly lower than the market value. Low prices can indicate synthetic or treated stones.

Educate Yourself

Learning about different types of crystals, their properties, and common fakes can help you make informed decisions. Resources such as books, online courses, and gemological associations can provide valuable knowledge.

Inspect Before Buying

Whenever possible, inspect the crystal in person before purchasing. Look for signs of authenticity and ask questions about the stone’s origin, treatments, and history. Online purchases can be riskier, so use trusted websites with good return policies.

Maintenance and Care

Proper maintenance and care can ensure your crystals remain beautiful and retain their value. Here are some general tips:


Clean your crystals regularly to remove dirt and oils. Use mild soap and water, and avoid harsh chemicals that can damage the surface. For softer stones, use a soft cloth or brush to prevent scratching.


Store crystals in a dry, cool place away from direct sunlight. Excessive heat and light can fade some crystals. Keep them in individual pouches or compartments to prevent scratches and damage.


Handle crystals with care, especially softer stones like amber and turquoise. Avoid dropping or striking them against hard surfaces. When wearing crystal jewelry, remove it during activities that could cause damage.

Avoid Chemicals

Keep crystals away from harsh chemicals, including household cleaners, perfumes, and hairsprays. These substances can damage the surface or alter the color of the crystals.


Some people believe in recharging crystals by placing them in moonlight or burying them in the earth. While this is more of a metaphysical practice, ensuring your crystals are energetically “clean” can enhance their perceived benefits.


Navigating the world of crystals can be both fascinating and daunting. Understanding how to identify fakes, conduct authenticity tests, appreciate crystal value, and practice proper care can empower you to make informed and confident purchases. Whether you’re a collector, a practitioner of crystal healing, or simply an admirer of natural beauty, this knowledge is invaluable in ensuring you obtain genuine and valuable crystals. By following the guidelines and tips outlined in this article, you can enjoy the beauty and benefits of real crystals while avoiding the pitfalls of counterfeit stones.

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