Turquoise is actually quite a rare gemstone – but there are many fake Turquoise pieces for sale across the internet.
It can be extremely difficult to identify these fake pieces from images, even for experienced collectors. Having the piece in your hands is by far the best way to tell.
I’m now going to run you through a few simple ways to identify whether a piece is fake or not.
First of all – there are several things that may be done to Turquoise, which are purely treatments for the stone to be more usable in jewellery or lapidary.
Genuine natural Turquoise may be sold:
As it was mined – these pieces tend not to be used for jewellery or polished, as they are quite brittle.
Stabilised – these pieces are genuine Turquoise which have been treated to make them more suitable for polishing. They may be soaked or coated in wax or epoxy. It simply makes the stone less likely to break during any lapidary work.
Dyed and Treated – some Turquoise is dyed to give it a better or a more even colour. As long as this treatment is actually mentioned, it seems fair to call it ‘genuine’, although selling a dyed piece without disclosing the dye treatment is unfair to the end customer at best.
Common types of fake Turquoise include:
Turqurenite – a fake form of Turquoise usually composed of dyed Howlite, or dyed Magnesite.
Block / Reconstituted Turquoise – small pieces of genuine Turquoise ground up and added to a matrix with resin or other minerals, to form a blue block. It contains hardly any Turquoise – if any.
Plastic / Epoxy / Resin – simply, a plastic imitation stone. This should be reasonably easy to identify, although some sellers have added metal or other items to give the piece some weight.
How do I tell?
Certain fake pieces can be identified quite easily by sight or weight – some can not.
One simple test involves heating a pin and placing it on the surface of the stone – a burning plastic smell will indicate that the piece has been treated, or is an imitation.
Another test involves soaking the piece in a strong solvent, such as Acetone overnight. It is possible that some dye will leach out into the solvent, giving you a solid indicator that the piece is either fake or dyed.
A good test is to check out the lines on the Turquoise – on genuine Turquoise and on dyed Howlite, these lines will be sunk into the stone itself. On some fake pieces, they are painted or dyed on and cannot be felt with a fingernail.
If you have multiple pieces of the stone, or it was suspiciously cheap – there is always a destructive test. Cut the stone in half, with a lapidary saw, tile saw, or something like a Dremel. You may see that the dye has not fully leached into the centre of the stone. This website contains some photos of the destructive testing of a piece of ‘Turqurenite’.
We recommend reading around carefully and ideally, examining all pieces of Turquoise you intend to buy in person. Only buying from reputable gemstone dealers is always a good strategy, too.
If the dealer can identify the mine the piece comes from, all the better – although this is typically only on higher grade pieces.