Tuesday, June 25, 2024

What are the names of fake turquoise?

Turquoise, a captivating blue-green gemstone, has been cherished for thousands of years. Its striking color and unique matrix patterns make it a popular choice for jewelry and ornamental pieces. However, the popularity of turquoise has led to a surge in imitation materials that can be difficult for the untrained eye to distinguish. This article delves into the various aspects of fake turquoise, including common imitations, visual and physical differences, price discrepancies, testing methods, marketplace tips, care instructions, and legal aspects.

Introduction to Turquoise

Turquoise has been a treasured gemstone for millennia, admired by ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians, Persians, and Native Americans. Its distinct hue and veining patterns have made it a symbol of wealth, protection, and tranquility. Natural turquoise is primarily composed of hydrated phosphate of copper and aluminum, which gives it its characteristic blue to green color.

The gemstone’s allure has inevitably led to the creation of numerous imitations, some of which are deceptively similar to the genuine article. As the demand for turquoise continues to grow, so does the need for consumers to be aware of these imitations and how to identify them. This article will provide a comprehensive guide to understanding and recognizing fake turquoise.

Common Imitations

Several materials are commonly used to imitate turquoise. These imitations vary in composition, appearance, and price, but they all aim to replicate the beauty of natural turquoise. The most prevalent fake turquoise materials include:

1. Dyed Howlite

Howlite is a white or gray mineral that can be dyed to mimic the color of turquoise. It is relatively inexpensive and can be easily shaped and polished, making it a popular choice for imitation.

2. Dyed Magnesite

Similar to howlite, magnesite is a white mineral that can be dyed to achieve a turquoise-like appearance. It is often used because of its porous nature, which allows it to absorb dye effectively.

3. Reconstituted Turquoise

This material is made by grinding up low-quality turquoise or turquoise dust and combining it with resins or other binding agents. The resulting product is then shaped and polished to resemble solid turquoise stones.

4. Plastic and Resin

Synthetic materials such as plastic and resin are often used to create fake turquoise. These materials can be dyed and molded to mimic the appearance of natural turquoise but lack its unique properties.

5. Other Minerals

Certain minerals, like chrysocolla and variscite, can resemble turquoise in color and are sometimes sold as turquoise. While these are genuine minerals, they are not true turquoise.

Visual Differences

While some fake turquoise can look remarkably similar to the real thing, there are visual cues that can help distinguish between genuine and imitation stones.

1.Color and Pattern

Natural turquoise exhibits a range of blue to green hues, often with a matrix of brown or black veins. Dyed howlite and magnesite tend to have a more uniform color and may lack the natural matrix patterns seen in genuine turquoise. Reconstituted turquoise might show unnatural patterns or inconsistencies due to the binding process.

2.Surface and Texture

The surface of natural turquoise is often slightly uneven and may have tiny pits or irregularities. In contrast, fake turquoise, especially those made from plastic or resin, typically has a smoother and more uniform surface.

3.Weight and Density

Turquoise has a specific gravity of around 2.6 to 2.9. Imitation materials, particularly plastic and resin, are usually lighter. Handling the stone can provide clues, as genuine turquoise feels heavier than most fakes.

Physical Properties

Beyond visual inspection, examining the physical properties of turquoise and its imitations can provide further insights.


Turquoise ranks between 5 and 6 on the Mohs hardness scale, making it relatively soft compared to other gemstones. Howlite and magnesite, however, are slightly softer, with hardnesses around 3.5 to 4. This difference can be tested through careful scratching with a reference material of known hardness.

2.Refractive Index

The refractive index (RI) of turquoise is typically around 1.61 to 1.65. Imitation materials often have different RIs. For example, howlite has an RI of about 1.58, and plastic is generally much lower.


Natural turquoise has a waxy to subvitreous luster. Fake turquoise made from plastic or resin often appears more glassy or overly shiny.

Price Discrepancies

The price of turquoise varies widely based on quality, origin, and authenticity. Genuine turquoise, especially high-grade material from reputable sources like the Sleeping Beauty mine in Arizona, can be quite expensive. In contrast, imitation turquoise is significantly cheaper.

1.Cost of Natural Turquoise

High-quality turquoise can fetch prices ranging from several dollars per carat to hundreds of dollars for larger, more vivid stones with minimal matrix. Prices can also be influenced by the stone’s provenance and whether it has been treated or stabilized.

2.Cost of Imitation Turquoise

Imitation turquoise, such as dyed howlite or plastic, is typically very affordable, often costing just a few dollars per piece. Reconstituted turquoise is usually priced between natural and fully synthetic stones, depending on the quality of the materials used.

Testing Methods

Several tests can help determine whether a piece of turquoise is genuine or an imitation. These tests range from simple visual inspections to more advanced gemological techniques.

1. Visual Inspection

Careful examination of color, pattern, and surface texture can provide initial clues about the authenticity of turquoise. Look for natural veining and slight imperfections that are characteristic of genuine stones.

2. Hardness Test

Using a hardness pick or a material of known hardness, gently scratch an inconspicuous area of the stone. Genuine turquoise should resist scratching from materials below 5 on the Mohs scale.

3. Refractive Index Test

Using a refractometer, measure the stone’s refractive index. Genuine turquoise typically has an RI between 1.61 and 1.65. Values outside this range may indicate an imitation.

4. UV Light Test

Under ultraviolet (UV) light, genuine turquoise may exhibit a greenish-blue fluorescence. Imitation materials like plastic often fluoresce differently or not at all.

5. Specific Gravity Test

Specific gravity (SG) testing involves measuring the density of the stone. Genuine turquoise has an SG of around 2.6 to 2.9. Imitations like plastic will have significantly lower SG values.

6. Acetone Test

Apply a small amount of acetone to an inconspicuous area of the stone. If the stone is dyed, the acetone may cause the dye to bleed, indicating an imitation.

See Also: Can turquoise stick to magnets?

Care Instructions

Proper care can help preserve the beauty and longevity of turquoise. Here are some guidelines for maintaining turquoise jewelry and stones:

1. Avoid Chemicals

Turquoise is sensitive to chemicals, including household cleaners, perfumes, and cosmetics. Avoid exposing the stone to these substances, as they can damage or discolor it.

2. Store Properly

Store turquoise jewelry separately from other pieces to prevent scratches. Use a soft cloth or a padded jewelry box for storage.

3. Clean Gently

Clean turquoise with a soft, damp cloth. Avoid using ultrasonic cleaners, steamers, or abrasive materials, as these can damage the stone.

4. Limit Sun Exposure

Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can cause turquoise to fade. Store the stone in a cool, dark place when not in use.

5. Handle with Care

Turquoise is relatively soft and can be easily scratched or chipped. Handle the stone gently and avoid wearing it during activities that could cause damage.

Legal Aspects

The sale and representation of turquoise and its imitations are subject to legal regulations to protect consumers from fraud. Here are some key legal considerations:

1. Truth in Advertising

Sellers are legally required to accurately represent the nature of the stones they sell. Misleading claims about the authenticity or quality of turquoise can result in legal consequences.

2. Disclosure Requirements

Many jurisdictions require sellers to disclose treatments or enhancements that have been applied to turquoise, such as dyeing or stabilization. Full disclosure helps consumers make informed purchasing decisions.

3. Consumer Protection Laws

Consumer protection laws provide recourse for buyers who have been deceived by false advertising or misrepresentation. These laws vary by country and region but generally aim to protect consumers from fraudulent practices.

4. Certification and Lab Testing

Certification from reputable gemological laboratories can provide legal assurance of a stone’s authenticity. These certificates can be used in legal disputes to verify the legitimacy of a purchase.


Understanding the differences between genuine and fake turquoise is crucial for anyone interested in this beautiful gemstone. By familiarizing yourself with common imitations, visual and physical differences, and reliable testing methods, you can make informed decisions and avoid falling victim to fraud. Whether you’re a collector, jeweler, or simply a turquoise enthusiast, this knowledge will empower you to appreciate the true value and beauty of genuine turquoise.

Turquoise remains a timeless and enchanting gemstone, and with the right information, you can enjoy its splendor with confidence and assurance.

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