Welcome back to our next blog post about identifying crystals. We know the market is flooded with fakes, dyed, enhanced or miss-sold. In this part 3, we will be uncovering more difficult crystals and smaller identifications. Our blog posts have come from our personal experiences, working with geologists and experts in the industry.
Malachite, Malacolla & Synthetics
Precious malachite! One of the worlds most loved precious stones. Malachite is found in many parts of Africa, ours is mainly sourced through Congo and Zambia. Malachite is generally a medium to expensive priced material. Malachite has many forms of natural swirls, banding and colouring. The larger the specimen the more banding you will find, they will use these large specimens to create jewellery, polished crystals and tumbled stones, malachite has much more worth once polished as it is found to be more attractive.
In the bottom left photo you will see how this malachite is not swirly or uniquely patterned as it has been reconstructed. This means that the crystal is natural but they have either glued or mixed together chunks of malachite to form a tumble stone, it would need to be smoothed over and over again creating this effect.
In the last photo (bottom right) the typical fake malachite spotted on the market frequently. Often synthetic material is set in jewellery. Malachite is either light or dark green and can sometimes display a very dark green which looks black, often this material is from fibrous malachite. However the synthetic beads look painted or too bright. They are often green, black, green patterns, where as natural malachite has no consistency. Check the prices, the origin and the pattern for identification.
Malacolla is a natural occurring stone. Malachite can grow with Chrysocolla and often other crystals such as Azurite, Shattuckite, Quantum quattro etc. We have never come across any fake or reconstructed material however it is also another precious stone that is not priced cheaply.
Turquoise, Howlite, Dyed crystals
One of the most mistaken materials on the market. Turquoise is a very distinctive colour with natural golden brown inclusions as you can see from photo number 1, this is our own natural turquoise from the sleeping beauty mine. Some specimens are completely covered in blue which does not make this unauthentic. Depending on which location and mine the turquoise is extracted it can show variations to the stone and can sometimes be slightly more green. As for many jewellers and sellers it is often mistaken as Howlite.
Howlite is naturally a white mineral with grey or yellow veins running through. When dyed blue it can easily be misinterpreted as turquoise. Turquoise is rare and expensive and is usually polished as small specimens or set into jewellery. In photo number 2 this is actually magnesite, magnesite is also naturally white. Although it is more rare to come across magnesite dyed or miss sold it does happen also.
Picture number 3 and 4 are two popular variations of dyed Howlite to sell as turquoise. The colours are some what similar however the dyed blue is much more brighter than the natural turquoise and it does not show natural indentations golden/brown veins.
In photo number 4 it is possible that this Howlite is mixed with resin, it has an impeccably smooth shape and finish. The lining on the stone is not natural and looks over crowded on each stone.
Turquoise specimens and jewellery should feel very light, they are not mined in particularly large pieces like a quartz rock would. Always check which country and mine the turquoise has come from. Turquoise is generally priced by the gram and will appear expensive for any small or medium sized specimens. Turquoise is also stabilized for longevity as most of the time it is naturally a soft, crumbly material and can loose its colour and size over time.
Dyed Vs Natural Howlite
Howlite is a naturally wonderful crystal and is often coloured to display vibrancy, colour therapy, jewellery and excitement. Howlite is white, yellow and has a off grey/brown veins running through the material. Howlite is often faked as some large factories who produce polished jewellery and tumble stones find roughs expensive to import and export. Ideally they crush, rebuild the material back up with resin which they can still sell as a "natural stone". It is often painted and dyed to make the veins appear more and sold as high quality. You can see in photo 1 and 4 the comparison between natural and enhanced white Howlite.
Photo 2 is the blue dyed Howlite that is often miss sold as turquoise. Dyed Howlite comes in a variety of colours such as blue, green, red, purple, pink and so on. This is more for attraction and giftware. For natural Howlite you will need to seek white as this is the only colour it is found in.
Picture number 3 is an interesting situation. Magnesite has a very close appearance to Howlite but there is ways to identify. Magnesite has a more creamy-white tone to the material and has a lot of bumps, cracks running through it. They remind us of popcorn pieces or brains! Where as Howlite is more like a rock/boulder formation. Magnesite polished does show a big representation of the rough material due to its unique features. The magnesite material is often sold as turquoise too.
Treated, Natural and Enhanced Ametrine
Beautiful Ametrine, mined in Bolivia and Brazil only. Ametrine is amethyst and Citrine quartz growing naturally together, Ametrine is beginning to become listed under the precious stone. Today it is more likely to be sourced in polished material. Natural ametrine will display inconsistent colouration between Amethyst, Citrine and sometimes quartz. Some specimens may consist higher than the others.
Identifying a heated or unauthentic ametrine is shown in the bottom two photos. They are incredibly bright which may result in a dying or heat treated process. In brazil it is often they bake amethyst to create a yellow Citrine colouration. In these two photos you can see that the ametrine is colour blocked and too perfect for authenticity.
Sodalite, Blue Lapis Lazuli and Blue Aventurine Quartz
There are so many similarities between these crystals and it is often mistaken or miss sold. Lets run through easy ways to separate these appearances from each other. There are two variations of sodalite. Sodalite is apart of the feldspar family and can show appearances of white, salmon coloured veins and markings. The blue can vary from dark to slightly lighter coloured blue, this will depend on the quality you are purchasing. Now there is Sodalitic quartz which is sodalite with quartz. It looks very similar to Blue Aventurine Quartz. Blue aventurine is also apart of the quartz family. Sodalitic quartz is more patchy with white and blue markings, it also is much lighter as you can see in the second photo next to sodalite.
Blue aventurine, also known as Blue Quartz is blue with blue veins. Again, it can vary in colour by intensity. All three of these crystals grow in brazil where large masses are exported from this country. The blue with blue veins is the easiest way to identify blue quartz.
There is also big confusion on the market with Blue Lapis Lazuli. Blue lapis is only mined in Afghanistan and it does carry a very intense and bright blue colouration. Whilst sodalite is darker and can display black veins. When identifying Lapis, look for the unique veins that would be pyrite. It will have sparkly specs showing. It may not be prominent in smaller pieces but always check the origin of this stone.
Rose Quartz, Girasol, Dyed & Glass
We all love a little bit of rose quartz as it holds such a unique pink pigment, its very rare to come across naturally pink crystals. However we have some ways to identify authentic, dyed or miss-sold rose quartz.
Natural rose quartz varies for pale to deep pink. Commonly mined in Brazil or Madagascar. Brazilian rose quartz is a very soft, vein like version of rose quartz, where as madagascan is known for its Rose Quartz to be a very rich pigment. In photo 1 displays a mixture of deep and light natural rose quartz. In the photo below (picture 3) is a very neon/vibrant variation of rose quartz which has been treated with dye or heat. This is more appealing for suppliers to sell as it looks bold, pretty and appealing for consumers to wear, the best way to notice if your rose quartz is dyed is to look for external dye or if cracks display around the stone or bead, that lead to a deeper pink vein. Rose quartz has got white or brighter pink banding, but it should naturally look like inclusions.
Rose Girasol is often sold as Rose Quartz or Star Rose Quartz, they are mined close by which can end up being mixed when extracted and loaded onto the trucks. The only difference between these crystals is that Girasol has a more cloudy and transparent appearance.
Not that rose quartz is often faked, but unfortunately there are some sellers out there selling glass rose quartz. A rose quartz should never display glass, circular bubbles or be completely transparent, Girasol still has some inclusions and rose quartz has inclusions and white veins running through. There is a close resemblance between Girasol and glass, however the natural inclusions are usually your best bet for identification.
Thank you so much for reading through our Part 3 of Identifying crystals, the industry is getting busier and harder by the year, we hope this blog helps you identify more trickier crystals that are commonly sold within the gemstone market. If there is any crystals you would like us to blog, please share your ideas and comments below.