Today we are going to dive into crystal topics about real versus fake, some common crystal terms you've probably seen but maybe haven't heard of... and also a little bit about how to not overpay for crystals. Or more so, beware of some sellers.
As with anything that becomes more and more popular, fakes and imitations start to pop up. That's no different with crystals. The other day while gem shopping at a wholesale event, I took a video of faux quartz clusters that I've seen popping up recently at gem events. Everyone started to ask how exactly you can tell, but let me preface this whole post with, sometimes its hard to know.
Levels of Fake
There are different levels of 'fake' as we've talked before. Like heat-treated citrine which is actually amethyst (you can read a post I did previously on that here
). Citrine very rarely, except with Congo Citrine for example, comes in a true cluster form, although there IS natural ametrine clusters which is where there is citrine present in an amethyst cluster. And then there are aura crystals which are coated with precious metals. While modified, they both at least started as naturally formed out of the earth minerals. PS, there are actually SOME naturally forming auras, but they don't happen often, and usually they are just on one point. There are other heat-treated ones in the world like Cherry Quartz that is bright red/orange in color... not real haha.
There are some, who flat out sell GLASS as minerals, those you can usually tell because they are practically perfect with no cracks or inclusions. Sometimes they will occasionally have tons of little bubbles as well. Luckily they usually look like glass so they are easier to tell.
Now the problem crystals that are popping, up out there.... 'lab grown crystals' which are often made using the same minerals, that say a quartz would, but it is created in a lab environment. Some people say (and this depends on your personal beliefs) that because it is made with the same minerals it has the same, although weaker, properties. But that's not why we are here. I don't want anyone getting fooled into thinking they are real ones.
How to Tell
- If it looks TOO perfect in its formations, aka it's almost a perfect 'flower' and there are no points broken, missing, no 'keys' where a point fell off of another.
- If the color is too pure and there are no inclusions (other minerals that ended up in the structure), or again the color is too uniform.
- Price seems too good to be true, a 6" quartz cluster in perfect condition is NEVER going to be $20, it's just not. More on pricing below.
- A lot of these are being produced in China, so at events, look for sellers who only seem to have carved crystals on their table, and then they randomly have quartz clusters.
- Ask!! Don't be afraid to ask a seller. But unfortunately don't always assume they are going to tell you the truth. I hope they will, but you never know. : (
Again, it's hard sometimes, but I stick with the age-old adage, if something is too good to be true... it probably is. Go with your gut.
Some Terms to Know
Irradiated: Is a process that is used to enhance or change the color of a crystal. Blue topaz and smoky quartz are both commonly irradiated ones.
Aura: Typically coated with a precious metal coating and then heated to high temperatures.
Stabilized: They have taken a soft version of a mineral (like turquoise) and pressurized it with a glue or epoxy.
Howlite Turquoise: This is simply white howlite that has been dyed to look like turquoise... because realy turquoise is expensive peeps.
Dyed: Dyed minerals are usually dyed with a mineral colorant. They can be bright colors, but they will also do black agates with these, so beware.
Crystal Pricing - Don't get hit!
One of the main reasons for posting, and something that crystal sellers have been chatting about recently, is not only that I don't want you to end up with a fake, or even worse.... buying a fake at the price of a real one! Really, I just wanted you to know that you should not gauge a fair market price for a crystal by the fake ones. A $20 faux quartz is not going to be the same size or quality of a real $20. Please please don't judge us small crystal sellers based on the fake bake ones hehe.
While this isn't REALLY part of the real or fake, I did want to mention some things to watch out for on general crystal pricing.
Prices are going to always be changing with crystals. We of course fall in to the supply and demand principles of the world just like anything else (also why we now have the fake crystals in the world). For example a few years back, tourmaline was dirt cheap (pun intended haha), but it's popularity inflated the prices. (Not to mention minerals can become more scarce as they are mined). Some sellers will also be able to offer certain items cheaper than anyone else, but other minerals they will have to charge more for. So many factors go in to that. Quality (color, clarity, etc) is the biggest, size, locality, how much the wholesaler bought it for etc. So I'm not telling you to judge any sellers based off of that.
What I want you to look out for is people who are way too expensive across the board, because there are some who are just flat out being greedy. Although I'm hoping they just genuinely don't KNOW how off they are. I'd like to point out that I'm not talking about any of the shops I follow online. What is worse, is these sellers I'm talking about also often do not know their crystals, and don't take the time to learn about them. (PS, these aren't crystal shops, they are people that sell other products typically, but have a crystal section or do live sales occasionally).
There is a lot to learn about the crystal world, but there are certain things a crystal seller NEEDS to know. A common selenite piece for example, especially when everyone else is selling the SAME EXACT pieces for $25 and under should never ever cost THREE times that. Seriously though. And while there are a bagillion different crystals to learn, a Herkimer Diamond has a very distinctive look compared to a $15 milky quartz point. I legit saw someone selling a Brazillian quartz point as a Herkimer for $200 (that would have been worth MAX $40) and it broke my heart. They look nothing alike.
Above all, remember size is not the biggest determination, yeah it matters (get your minds out of the gutter!), but quality is generally always more important. Just because it is a big crystal, doesn't mean you should be charged hundreds of dollars for it. A 2 pound rose quartz point could cost anywhere from $50-1000's depending on clarity, color, rarity, and all of those factors mentioned above. You can't just be a crystal seller and go, wow that's a huge crystal, I'm gonna charge $600 for it. Oy.
We aren't all perfect, don't get me wrong, I make mistakes all the time, but I try to keep learning and growing so I can make it a better experience all of the time!