Fake Stones and How to Avoid Buying them by Mistake
Beware of fake stones. You may have heard this before, but unless you’ve experienced it yourself or know someone who has, it’s difficult to fathom the far-reaching consequences of wearing them. A certain user of a blue agate bracelet turned to the Internet to get opinions from other users when her bracelet started leaving blue spots on her arm. Every time she wore it, she saw those spots on her skin. What exactly happened?
Sadly, her bracelet was a fake and that caused the shedding of colors. Taking the advice of one of the users, she does an acetone test to check if the agates in her bracelet are real or otherwise. As she rubbed the inky blue beads with an acetone dipped cotton, the dye came out leaving the cotton heavily stained.
If this story has alarmed you, then it has done its job. Incidents like these happen every day, with real people in real lives. The dyed beads weren’t just money wasted. They were also a health hazard. The dye could have very easily caused a skin irritation of some sort. What’s worse, these kinds of fake crystals are quite common in the market. They may fool you into thinking that you have got yourself a good deal, when in truth you have paid many times the actual cost to unwittingly buy a fake.
Going Around the Fake Stones
The problem is, it’s easy to get confused between a real and fake semi-precious gem, the reason being, these, unlike precious gems, do not come with a certificate of authenticity. That leaves room for mistaking a fake for an authentic stone.
So, what’s to be done to avoid ending up with a fake gem? Choose your seller wisely. When in doubt, always go with the one that is well known and trusted in the market. Buying online however, this risk factor doubles up. Amazon, Etsy and such sites have colossal collections of semi-precious gem jewelry which makes them an easy place to shop at. But concerned buyers always look beyond availability and price.
Some of you enquire if a gemstone is coming from China. This is because there is a general question looming in the market about whether Chinese gemstone jewelry is fake. As of now, China is one of the largest exporters of jewelries worldwide, and even though it won’t be right to say that those products are often fake, it can be said that in many cases, the quality of the jewelry has been questionable.
If you have no idea where the product comes from, chances are, you may not be able to determine the authenticity at the time of buying. Eventually when you find out, if it turns out that you have a fake product, you may not even be able to send it back. That means two things, the money is lost and your health is at risk.
Normally, natural gemstones are subjected to enhancements like heat treatments, color treatments and such things. Those processes improve the aesthetics of the stone, but they don’t change the stone in any inherent way. So, it’s fine to purchase a natural stone that has undergone gem enhancement treatments. These treatments in gemstones are over 2500 years old. Since untreated natural stones are too expensive, the treated variety was introduced to aid common people to afford these stones. You will see mention of such treatments in the accompanying certificates. That’s a story for another day. For now, let’s take a closer look at the kinds of stones seen in the market and the tests that can reveal them.
Types of Fakes
As of today, the two semi-precious gems that are faked most in the market worldwide are turquoise and black onyx. Here is how they are faked.
Duplicate Turquoise: Most of the fake turquoises in the market today are actually magnesite dyed to look like turquoises. Magnesite is easy to color treat as it absorbs dyes pretty well.
Reconstituted Turquoise: Bits, scraps and dust of turquoise too are used to create fake turquoises. Dust and particles from turquoise are lumped back together with the help of resin and other composite materials to create full turquoise stones.
Plastic and Resin: The cheapest fakes in the market are originally plastic imitations. Normally lighter in weight, sellers weave these gems with metal parts so as to balance the weight. The only way to find out if the stone is a plastic imitation is by weighing. If it feels lighter than normal in your hand, in all probability, you are looking at a fake gem.
Lookalikes: There are some gems in nature that look closely like turquoise. One such example is the African Turquoise Jasper. Although called turquoise, this particular stone is not a turquoise at all, even if it looks a pretty close.
DIY Fake Gem Tests
Like turquoise, black onyx is another stone that is commonly counterfeited by charlatan sellers. But luckily for the buyers, there is an easy and straightforward way of finding out. If a black onyx appears too shinny and has a glassy sheen on top, then it’s probably a fake one. One way of being certain is to do a quick temperature check on the skin. Fire and scratch tests work too for identifying fakes. It only takes a few seconds. Hold the stone in steady flame for a few seconds. If the stone comes out unscathed, it’s a real stone you have.
There is one other way to test a black onyx, but it’s advisable only for those who are willing to risk damaging the stone. Put the stone inside a small pouch of baggie and hit it with a little force with a hammer. The stone will break into pieces. If the insides of the pieces are shiny, then it’s a fake stone. In all probability, the stone was either glass or plastic.
- Also called temperature test, in this test, you need to touch the stone to your face. If it feels cool against your skin, it’s a real stone. If not, it’s either plastic or some kind of fake. However, please be advised that the findings of this test are contingent upon your body temperature. So, it’s not always accurate.
- The weight test is more accurate by comparison. Take the stone in your hand and get a feel of its weight. Is it light? Is it heavy? The best way to judge is to compare the weight with your other authentic stones. The stone should not feel lighter in comparison to real stones unless there is a huge difference in weight.
- Take the scratch test. Scratch the surface of the stone using a sharp pin. If that removes the color, then know it’s a counterfeit stone.
- If you suspect that your stone is dyed, leave it in a water bath overnight. If color bleeds out in the water, then it’s not a real stone you have.
- Try wiping the stone with an acetone-soaked cotton. If color from the stone starts to stain the cotton, your stone is a fake dyed one.
- If it’s a turquoise stone you are testing, then breaking it may help you get to the bottom of the mystery. A real turquoise has color within whereas a fake one has it only on the surface.
Sundari Jewellery is a trusted manufacturer and distributor of gemstones and jewellery in London, United Kingdom. We pride on our colossal collection of ace-quality gems and jewellery. In business for 15 years, we get our supplies of gemstones through known sources to us who adhere to our standards. Irrespective of the trust and relationship we have with suppliers and manufacturers we still carry out our inhouse tests on randomly selected items using some of the above described distractive and non-distractive tests regularly by our staff. All our high value precious gemstones come with independent certificates and warranties assuring the high-quality of all items in our gallery. As a result, we can offer quality assurance on all our items.
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