Real or Fake?
So let’s start with the dictionary definition of each
Real – actually occurring as a thing, existent
Fake – not genuine, imitation or counterfeit
In my mind all crystals are real – as they do exist. However, the difference for me is whether it is in fact made in the earth and therefore is mined as a natural product, or if it is in fact man made.
No crystal can be deemed ‘fake’ they are simply man made. Some do try to imitate those of mined crystals but quite often the man made ones do have different names and so do have a point of differentiation.
Here I am now going to list some of the man made ones or ones that have slight differentiations in the way they are, and can cause rumours or discussions about if they are real.
Citrine - heat treated but not man made
Citrine, I am yet to come across in a man made variety. Most Citrine on the market these days is heat treated Amethyst. This means that when Amethyst is mined it is then baked under high temperatures until the colour changes to yellow. All Citrine that has been treated in this way will have some elements of crackling and also solid white in the crystal.
Citrine does exist that has not been heat treated, this is a little harder to come by as it is rarer. Generally this type of crystal comes from Madagascar and it will almost be a mixture of yellow, clear and smokey in colour.
It should be noted that both types have the same chemical composition and both belong to the Quartz family (SiO2) and will therefore have similar properties.
Pictured here is the heat treated version
Malachite - some man made versions exist
Malachite is, most of the time, natural and comes from mines – most of the Malachite we get in to the UK comes from parts of Africa. Currently this is most abundant source. However, it isn’t completely uncommon to find man made versions.
The key difference to note is in the weight and to a degree the markings. Natural Malachite has various bands, stripes and circles. Most man made versions will have patterning that is more regular. With regards to the weight Malachite is naturally a heavy stone, not as heavy as Hematite, but heavier than most crystals. This tends to be why the majority of man made versions exist in jewellery. Real Malachite is simply too heavy to be practical as earrings and necklaces.
Real malachite pictured
Moldavite - because it's rare
Moldavite is becoming quite a hot topic right now, mainly because it has gained a lot of popularity and it is rare. Moldavite can only be found in the Czech Republic as it comes from an asteroid that landed many years ago.
Due to the fact it landed and has not been created on Earth it is obviously quite a finite resource and so prices are high for small amounts. This year (2020/2021) it could no longer be mined during the winter months as the ground became frozen solid. Stock then run out meaning man made versions were created to try and fill the demand gap.
Real Moldavite is hard and feels brittle to the touch, even though it isn’t brittle and actually pretty difficult to break. It will always have a sort of translucency to its colour and be matt..
Picture of Moldavite being extracted (before the ground froze over)
'Facts are too busy being true to worry about how you feel about them'
Dyed Crystal - Agate, Howlite any others?
Ok, so to clear this up some crystals are dyed to enhance them. The main culprits are Agate (Teal, Purple, Hot Pink, Dark Blue) and Howlite (Pink, Purple, Blue). Agate in its natural form tends to be some way between orange, beige, grey and very pale grey/pink. Howlite in its natural form is only ever white
Any other variation of colours of these crystals have been dyed after they have been mined. In my mind this does not take away from their qualities, but is more a preference for people.
The three most common dyed howlites pictured - the white is natural
Quartz - so many rumours
Quartz is rarely ever found out to be man made. Man made Quartz is glass. Quartz is so abundant in its supply that is goes in to many every day objects such as watches, concrete, sandpaper even your television!
If you do believe Quartz to be man made, and in fact glass, the best way is to look through a lupe. Clear Quartz will have inclusions, milkyness, rainbows, lines, which illustrate how the crystals molecular structure changed as it cooled at varying temperatures and stages in its formation.
Glass on the other hand will not have these minor changes. Instead the internal molecular patterning will all be the same and thus all look very clear and uniform through the lupe. Occasionally tiny bubbles (not visible to the naked eye) will be able to be seen as sometimes these get trapped in the cooling when glass is made.
Real clear quartz rough point pictured
Lab Grown Crystals - Alum, Alunite, Arcanite, Chalcanthite to name a few
Crystals can be grown in a lab. I have even seen children’s games where they can make their own at home (which sounds really cool and crafty, just for fun). However, as far as selling these and them being part of the crystal market – well that’s the customers choice.
Generally its pretty easy to tell if something is lab grown. It will have vibrant colours, no imperfections, and have fairly uniform shapes. Most real crystals will have some type of imperfection or inclusion of dirt or other substance in them, and their colours will be dull(ish) or smokey. The brightest natural crystals that I have come across are Uruguayan Amethyst and Blue Lace Agate.
Arcanite blade pictured