Something I get asked constantly is how to know if crystals are fake, which crystals are manmade, which have been renamed as something new (yes companies do that!), what do I think about manmade crystals and what to watch out for when shopping. That inspired me to do a series of blog posts looking at just these issues! As crystals become more main stream and everyone from celebrities to home designers start using gems as accessories more than ever the market becomes unpredictable and honestly sometimes flies out the window all together!
To start with in this blog I am going to talk about manmade/man altered gemstones. Now this is all personal preference as to how you feel about these stones and if you feel they are or can be a valuable part of your practice.
I am of course going to give you my take before we get started as it’s my blog LOL I personally do not work with these crystals. Part of my training and personal belief from working with gemstones is that they were placed within the earth for a reason, they have specific vibrations and new crystals make themselves known as we need them. They choose to work with us and have spent hundreds if not thousands of years slowly becoming the stones they are.
Many of the crystals below have has some kind of heat/radiation treatments to create their colour or bond something too them. During the process where man turns them into something else over half of the crystals do not make it through the treatment, exploding and turning to rubble. What can be salvaged is often sold as chips or small low grade rough pieces (the rest digarded). We have taken beautiful energetic gemstones and destroyed at least half for our own design, which does not sit right with me. Geodes and crystals that have grown as one often crack and break separating the pieces and sending them in different directions, I have actually worked with a crystal that simply wanted to go back to the earth as so much of itself was lost and its energy could not recover!
So that’s my thoughts! I however place no judgement on those that disagree with me and who enjoy working with man altered crystals. The only way to know if these crystals are for you is to firstly sit with the facts as I believe every choice should come from a place of knowledge and if you are drawn to them then work with a couple and see. Many are still very happy to work in their new chosen form.
Bismuth – Rainbow Coloured
Rainbow coloured bismuth, regardless of what some unscrupulous vendors may tell you, is not natural and actually made in a lab. While black/grey bismuth can be mined from nature there is no such thing as natural rainbow coloured bismuth!
A combination of glass and metal flakes, the metal depending on the colour are completely manmade. Blue, Red, Green and Orange are popular colours of this sparkly stone, but do not be fooled as its not grown in our earth!
Aura Crystals – Aqua, Angel, Titanium etc
This is done in a lab using clear quartz and then heating to very high temperatures to infuse the surface with vaporised metals to create a permanent colouration on the surface of the stone. Very high grade clear quartz needs to be used to survive this process which is why the price is so high however half is still lost due to exploding and cracking.
Much of the citrine on the market is heat treated amethyst! If it’s a geode form of citrine or a flat bed its almost guaranteed heat treated as citrine rarely grows in that formation and would be extremely expensive. The colour is the biggest give away often being bright yellow to orange, deepening at the points and brown spots are actually burns from the process. In tumble stones these stones range again from yellow to dark orange often with some clear areas where the colour did not take. They have a high shine and sometimes look a little crackly and have a different texture than other tumblestones. Price is a huge indicator too, a citrine tumblestone that’s heat treated can be purchased for a couple pounts, a genuine citrine tumblestone depending on side with be three to four times that. Natural citrine comes in beautiful honey colours from pale to golden. The heating of the amethyst actually does not change the crystal structure or vibration just colour so it does not have the same metaphysical qualities as genuine citrine from Brazil or Africa.
Red Tigers Eye –
Is actually heat treated golden tigers eye.
Crackle Quartz, Fire and Ice and Brightly Coloured Clusters – Clear and Dyed
The dyed is obvious to spot as you do not get natural quartz in luminous colours of the rainbow or crackled! Fire and Ice is normally clear quartz and in generator form, the vast majority on sale is heated to get the crackle look in the same way crackle quartz tumble stones are made. There is some very rare natural Fire and Ice but trust me if it’s from our earth you will know by the extremely high price bracket.
Agate and Agate Slices –
There are many natural types of beautiful agate, pastel brown and blues like blue lace agate are all natural. Brightly coloured pink, green and aqua colours are dyed. Most commonly seen as decorative slices or tumbles.
Now we get a little more complicated as most of those above are super easy to spot!
Irradiated and Heated Stones –
These are gemstone you would never expect to be tampered with! A big one is smokey quartz, yes you heard me right! There are different grades of all crystals but smokey quartz on the whole is a light smokey colour. To make things a little more confusing there is a type called Morion which is very dark almost black, again though it demands a high price point and is available from specialist sellers. If you some across smokey quartz that is very dark brown or almost black you might want to avoid it all together. There are a growing number of cases where this is hitting the market and still has high levels of radiation coming off it. Always use a reputable seller!
Other stones that are often heat treated/irradiated are pink tourmaline, tanzanite, fluorite and aquamarine. This is usually in the jewellery market so they look brighter and clearer to make perfect looking engagement rings, pendant and earrings.
Dyed Stones –
We have talked about these a little above where the dying comes in combination with heating but there is a lot of ‘fake’ dyed stones about at the moment.
Turquoise is one that is often actually dyed howlite! Scratch at the stone and see if the next layer down is actually white.
Again many stones in fancy jewellers are colour enhances and dying is often cheaper than heat treating. Either way their end goal is to take a faceted piece of smokey, aquamarine or tanzanite and really make it pop once its set. This gives the look of a high grade stone without the cost for the jeweller.
I’m often asked how can I tell if a jeweller is using heat treated or colour enhanced stone. Well of course you can ask, some jewellers actually do say on their website (its rather hidden though). I would more be looking for jewellers who state they do not use those methods. High street jewellers are not the best place to shop for gemstone jewellery as most do treat their stones. Many give you free cleaning for life on things like engagement rings, but I bet you didn’t know that part of that cleaning process is a little heating to bring your stone back to bright and clear!!!!
It can seem a bit of a mine field when it comes to gemstones but my number one on dealing with crystals that have been altered is trust your instincts. Does it really look like it could have grown in the earth? Does the colour look like a unicorn poop? How does the price compare?
Before shopping for gemstones do a little research, look online at what the natural stones look like so you know what you are looking for when you go out shopping for stones or jewellery.
Most importantly go with what works for you. I am giving you the knowledge as like anything in life we should all know as much as we can about anything we are interested in. If you see a heat treated crystal, love it and feel called to work with it then trust that feeling and work with it having knowledge of how it was made that can enhance your experience. If you feel they are not for you then use this information to be a savvy gemstone collector.
Part two we will be looking at Fake Crystals that actually don’t exist or have been renamed to sell better!