Myths and legends

How to distinguish a gemstone from glass at home?

If you happen to buy stones and jewelry in unusual places, such as flea markets or oriental bazaars, it is useful to know how to distinguish a real stone from a fake. They are unlikely to show you the documents for such a transaction, there is no expert nearby, you need to rely on yourself. Here are a few techniques that will help you accurately evaluate the item you have in your hands. Ruby intaglio depicting Emperor Augustus, early 1st century AD, from the collection of Guy Ladrière How to distinguish natural stone from fake – general principles There are about 4000 minerals and more than 300 types of stones used in jewelry. The verification methods are different for each of them. However, all natural stones have a number of common features that allow them to be distinguished from imitation ones. The answer to the question of how to distinguish a natural stone from a fake without special knowledge is simple – see price. Before purchasing, it is advisable to know which category the selected stone belongs to. Precious cost from $1 to $000. Examples: diamond, sapphire, emerald, ruby, alexandrite. Semi-precious from $100 to $10. Examples: jadeite, tourmaline, aquamarine, opal, topaz, turquoise, amethyst, moonstone and others. Ornamental from $20 to $1. Examples: agate, malachite, jade, quartz, lapis lazuli, onyx, jasper, obsidian and others. The cost depends on the size, quality of the stone and the design of the product in which it is included. The line between semi-precious and ornamental is quite blurred. But you definitely cannot buy a precious stone at the price of a semi-precious or ornamental one. Other signs, which will allow you to quickly distinguish a natural stone from a fake: the weight – natural ones are denser and heavier than fakes and imitations made of plastic, glass and various alloys; temperature — natural, cool to the touch and minimally heated by the external environment; imitations and fakes, on the contrary, have a temperature close to the room temperature; sound — the ringing sound when hitting natural and non-natural stones with a metal object is different, in the first case it is muffled, in the second it is louder. If a stone is suspicious for two or more reasons at once, it is most likely not natural. How to distinguish a stone from a fake – tests for specific breeds Each stone and mineral has its own unique properties that distinguish it from others. Therefore, the most reliable test is special tests. Let’s look at how to distinguish a stone from a fake, knowing its type and features. The first thing that will help is light and glass check. Diamond — it is impossible to scratch a stone, but it is easy to scratch glass with it; also, condensation from exhalation does not remain on the natural one, and the image on the paper cannot be seen through it. Zircon — natural stone is dense and can scratch glass. Alexandrite — there will be no scratches from the glass; in the light it will give a yellowish or purple tint, the fake will have different colors. Ruby – gives a red glow at the bottom of the glass container; in UV it gives a bright orange color, while the fake one gives a red color. Amethyst – natural loses color completely in UV rays, fake – in some places. Intaglio with amethyst with the profile of Mark Vipsania. Italy, 18th century. From the collection of Guy Ladrière. Chrysolite — in natural stone the beam is refracted and split into two.

How to distinguish a real stone from a fake using water.

Garnet – resistant to high temperatures, does not change color and shape in boiling water. Uncut garnet stone Sapphire – natural drowns in water. Lapis lazuli – fake stains the water, natural does not. Obsidian — after a couple of hours in water it remains bright and shiny, fakes lose their beauty. Moonstone — after an hour in the water it becomes brighter, it always gives a blue glare in the light. How to distinguish a stone from a fake, if you can’t scratch it, and it’s useless to shine or wet it? by appearance. Emerald — there are bubbles and inclusions inside, but no microcracks; in the natural, the edges are not visible, in the fake – yes. Turquoise – the stone is rarely larger than 5 mm; it is extremely rare, worth several hundred dollars. Rome, 4th century AD e. Emperor Constantine II (327-340). Turquoise. Guy Ladrière Collection Topaz — there is turbidity inside, the color is dim, with inclusions; After rubbing against the wool, it attracts dust. Pearl – has an uneven surface, and also creaks when it comes into contact with teeth, bounces off the surface and does not break when dropped. In addition, almost any stone can be tested by fire. Synthetics emit an unpleasant odor and melt, stone does not. This test is especially good for amber. Natural smells like resin when heated. If you want to be sure of the origin of the purchased stone, purchase jewelry with gems from trusted sellers. RUSSIAN GEMS present an extensive range of jewelry and products of the highest quality for women, men, children, home and special events. When buying on Gems, you won’t have to think about how to distinguish a real stone from a fake. The catalog includes products that have undergone deep examination. Jade, sultanite, malachite, onyx – nowadays you will see more fakes under these names than natural beads. Unfortunately, more and more unscrupulous sellers are appearing – some due to their incompetence and insufficient level of knowledge, some, in order to make more profit, sell their cheaper analogues and imitations under the guise of expensive stones. In this article we will talk about the most common imitations on the market for ornamental stones today and show how to determine the authenticity of a stone.

1. Sultanite.

The most popular stone in terms of counterfeiting is now sultanite (also known as diaspora or zultanite), beads and products with which have filled not only Turkish shops, but also Russian shops. But you need to understand that this is a very rare, expensive stone, and therefore products with natural sultanites are piece items, not serial products. Sultanites are extremely rarely pure and transparent; more often they contain many nebulae and inclusions; almost colorless crystals are also found. Natural specimens are olive green; depending on the type and brightness of lighting, they change color to orange-green or pinkish-green. Sultanite has a pronounced alexandrite effect – olive and blue-green notes appear under artificial light, and pink and lilac shades are visible under sunlight. The shine of the stone is glassy, ​​with pearlescent reflections. To meet demand, natural sultanite is not only replaced with synthetic one, but also fake glass is actively sold. Imitations made of glass are brighter, and when the lighting changes, they change color more than natural ones (for example, a radical change in color from green to red or orange is possible). Such synthetic “stones” do not have microcracks and mineral inclusions, “nebula” and cleavage. Also, the price of laboratory stones is quite high due to complex growing technologies, which cannot be said about glass fakes. Natural diaspore (zultanite) They have long learned to make color-changing glass by adding a mixture of rare earth element oxides to the glass mass. For example, a well-known Austrian company makes glass beads and inserts using this technology. The technology is simple and there are now many fakes on the market for alexandrites and sultanites with a characteristic color change when the lighting changes. All glass “stones” are the same shade, clean, transparent, have no inclusions, and there are some air bubbles. The color change is obvious and the same for all beads. The most common fakes of sultanite now.

2. Aqua-quartz and other colored glass in pieces and cut

You’ve probably seen clear, bright, matte beads in pieces and cuts sold as aqua quartz. It is popular, especially in summer, as the beads are colorful and large, but in fact it is ordinary glass. To determine whether it is glass or painted beads of quartz or chalcedony, take a closer look at the beads – natural stone will retain its texture and may contain internal inclusions, while glass will be absolutely monochromatic, while maintaining the texture of broken glass. On the left is “aqua-quartz”, on the right is apatite, which it imitates externally It is also worth clarifying that in nature there are no such shades of either quartz or chalcedony. It is always the work of human hands. Such glass is sold painted in different colors that are not typical for natural samples. On the left is “aqua-quartz”, on the right is fluorite, which it externally imitates If such quartz does not exist in nature, then what can imitate such glass? For example, raw garnet, aquamarine or apatite. On the left is painted glass, on the right is natural garnet

3. Volcanic or cherry quartz

Another glass posing as quartz is pink glass with streaks, which unscrupulous sellers call “cherry quartz.” What you should pay attention to is the hardness (quartz is very difficult to scratch), the unnatural color of the product in fakes indicates its synthetic origin and imitation. If we assume that you bought natural quartz, then the cleavage lines will be clearly visible in it, and paint can be seen in internal inclusions and microcracks, since it is often tinted to make it more saturated. Also, natural quartz will be heavier. Good glass imitations are sometimes made very realistic, but high transparency and unnatural hairy inclusions with air bubbles will always be a sign of a fake. On the left is glass “Cherry quartz” and on the right is natural quartz with inclusions, which it imitates Glass “volcanic quartz” has a characteristic hairiness designed to imitate inclusions of hematite and lepidocrocite in natural stone; the shade of such glass is always the same, but of different saturation with different degrees of dilution of dyes. In addition to pink shades, this glass is also made with brown and yellow stains, and the main difference will be the presence of air bubbles in the beads and cabochons. Fakes “Volcanic quartz”

4. Fake moonstone and opal from opalite and coated glass

Opalite is glass that they try to sell under the guise of natural opal or moonstone. Glass with a coating between two glued halves is also often sold under the guise of moonstone. Coated glass offered as opal or moonstone. Not a synthetic opal. Natural moonstone has muted transparency, softly shimmers and has areas with blue, yellow, lilac, and iridescent iridescence. In natural moonstone, the internal structure of the mineral is almost always visible. And iridescence is visible only when the stone is turned at a certain angle to the light. Opalite beads are transparent, uniformly colored in a bluish-milky color with yellowish tints and do not contain inclusions (they may contain air bubbles). On the left is scorch, on the right is natural moonstone

5. Onyx

Onyx is another popular stone in terms of the number of fakes. Dyed chalcedony is sold under the guise of black onyx (black onyx does not exist), and calcite is hidden under colored mint and apple green with stripes. The structure of natural onyx is layered, consisting of multi-tonal gray, caramel milky shades, and it is quite heavy in weight. If you see clear, even stripes or completely faded and blurry stripes, feel light weight and a warm surface, it’s a fake. On the left is natural onyx, on the right is natural calcite sold under its guise. Natural onyx beads in ball and free form Also, many people mistakenly sell dyed chalcedony as black agate, although neither black nor white agate exists. So under white agate they sell, at best, marble, bleached compacts, chalcedony, but more often glass. fakes – “Black and white agates”

6. Turquoise – dyed howlite, etc.

Turquoise is definitely among the top counterfeit stones; as soon as a new material was found that could be dyed in a characteristic color, it was processed and inserted into jewelry under the guise of turquoise. The most common materials used for this were dyed howlite, which even in its natural gray color was sold as “immature turquoise,” turquenite, cachalong, magnesite and chrysocolla. Natural turquoise has a certain hardness, density, color, luminescence, waxy luster, as well as a characteristic structure that can only be seen under a microscope – a light blue background is decorated with dark blue discs, as well as small particles of white shades. In artificial turquoise, bluish particles predominate. One of the main characteristics of natural turquoise is the size of the stone; in nature, pure turquoise is found in small pieces (for example, turquoise the size of a walnut is considered very rare). Large stones are colored unevenly – so if you have a large stone with a uniform color in front of you, then it is most likely a fake. Another important characteristic is the price: turquoise is a precious stone that is quite rare in nature, so turquoise jewelry cannot be cheap. What you should pay attention to: a plain, evenly colored stone with dark specks or brown veins that look like cracks – a fake howlite; dark spots – magnesite treated with salt or copper; Most often, on chips and in holes, the “stone” will be gray or white, since surface painting is practiced, which does not affect the entire depth of the stone. On the left is howlite, on the right is natural turquoise

7. Aventurine

Most often, aventurine glass is sold under the guise of natural aventurine – an imitation of quartzite, which is obtained by adding copper and iron oxides (red-brown “aventurine”), chromium oxides (green), and cobalt oxides (blue) to the molten glass mass. An excessive amount of glitter usually indicates imitation. In glass imitation, the scales can sometimes be unevenly distributed, and zones of colored glass with a reduced glitter content or without them at all can be observed. The color of natural stone is white, light gray, honey, pink, brick, cherry, green. Saturated colors are not uncommon, but sparkles in natural aventurine are rare. Aventurine glass has an excessive amount of shiny inclusions; in natural aventurine this shiny pollen is not so pronounced. On the left is a glass fake, on the right is natural aventurine

8. Chrysoprase

Instead of the much more expensive chrysoprase, dyed chalcedony is often sold. Signs by which a fake can be distinguished are color and uniformity of coloring. Dyed chalcedony is evenly colored over its entire plane and all beads have the same color, color saturation and practically no inclusions, also translucent chalcedony beads have a noticeable cellular growth front (a “honeycomb” structure, which is visible if you look at the stone in the light) . Also, such dyed chalcedony is often much darker than natural chrysoprase. The color of natural chrysoprase is very special: the range of shades is very diverse – from mint transparent with milky areas to rich turquoise green. Chrysoprase is very characterized by picturesque inclusions of the rock in copper-brown, gray-beige tones.

9. Cat’s eye

Colored cat’s eye beads with even stripes are, of course, also fake. The true mineral chrysoberyl is incredibly rare and expensive, but if its visual properties are what attracts you, then there are other stones that have this visual effect – for example, quartz cat’s eye. True, natural stones never have bright open colors: natural chrysoberyl has a gray-olive color scheme, and quartz cat’s eye has a gray color. Therefore, there is no alternative to glass borosilicate beads with a “cat’s eye effect” in terms of variety of colors. On the left is a quartz cat’s eye, on the right is a glass imitation cat’s eye

10. Malachite

Mainly on the market for fakes in the form of malachite are polymer clay (which is kneaded in a striped form and cut into cabochons or cut into beads) and plastic imitations with stripes. To distinguish a natural stone from an imitation, pay attention to the layering – malachite has smooth lines, the stone is also quite heavy and has a cold surface. There is also often a satin shimmer inside the stone, which can be seen when held up to the light. The colors of the fakes will be quite bright and contrasting, and the design will not create a pleasant pattern, specks and inclusions of chrysocolla or azurite, characteristic of natural malachite. On the left is fake, on the right is natural malachite

11. Cacholong

Cacholong is an opaque milky white variety of opal. Although it is found in jewelry, in the natural stone market, unscrupulous sellers sell howlite and bleached magnesite under this name. Natural cacholong has some uneven transparency, especially along the thin edge of the stone. But in howlite and magnesite we will see brownish or gray veins, while in natural cacholong these are dendritic inclusions. On the left is natural cacholong, on the right is howlite

12. “Watermelon” tourmaline

The popular watermelon tourmaline is a common target of imitators. The resulting imitation stones often consist of a thin slab of colored glass or plastic glued between two pieces of colored glass.
Imitation can be easily determined using a microscope or magnifying glass. If you examine the stones along the belt, you can see the edge of the color plate or glue lines. Sometimes glue bubbles are visible even to the naked eye. On the left is natural “watermelon” tourmaline, on the right is imitation But the most common fakes are simple painted glass, acrylic beads or imitation of cheap pressed stones, zoned pink and green. Natural tourmaline has a characteristic structure that is always visible, even if the stone is completely opaque. And in natural watermelon tourmaline, crystal growth zones with inclusions and a variety of shades are visible. We hope you find this article helpful. It is impossible to fully reveal all the nuances of this multi-layered topic in one article, so if you still have questions, write in the comments, and we will answer.

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