I am writing about this as it seems to be a very popular topic. I’ll be honest. When I was purchasing beads, I was screwed a couple times by vendors. I purchased beads that were dyed, plastic, dyed and plastic, glass, dyed and glass, dyed quartz, and pretty much every variation you can think of. At the time, I was just starting out. I didn’t have relationships with my distributors and was using large wholesaler companies as my distributors. These people didn’t have faces. I had no opinion over my selection of my beads. I was buying rose quartz and receiving a different product every time. Even though this company had ways to narrow down search for product by “dyed” and “natural” but somehow, I was still receiving product that had suspicious characteristics. I’m using beads as an example, but this can also happen with many (usually large) companies when purchasing stones.
Things to look for. A natural stone will have cracks, lines, pitting, cloudy coloring, will not be 100% perfect and will have depth.
Ways stones are altered or recreated:
When a stone has been dyed, the dye will seep into the natural cracks of a stone, and those natural cracks will appear darker than the rest of the stone, having absorbed more dye. This can be seen most obviously in agate. Agate is often passed off for amethyst, being dyed purple. Agate will retain purple dye, keeping especially dark lines within the cracks in the agate geode areas. In many cases, a stone will be enhanced with the same color it is meant to be, to look brighter. As an example, rose quartz is often dyed pink to appear brighter and more desirable. You can tell this in the lines of the stone as the lines will appear to be a brighter pink than the rest of the stone. Almost a bright to fluorescent pink color. With beads, there is a very easy way to tell if a stone has been dyed. The hole where the thread goes will generally still show signs of dye. Large specimens are a bit trickier to tell, so looking for cracks and lines is the best way to assess.
Stones can be recreated with resin in a few different ways. One way is by grinding small amounts of the actual stone up, mixing it with resin, adding dyes and colors and reconstituting it into something that (slightly) resembles a stone. One great example of this is usually Malachite. There are many examples of this floating around in egg shapes. The next example would be 100% resin recreations. These are very good in coloring and are usually very close to look at. A good example of this is usually Larimar. There are very good recreations of larimar done in resin. Ways to tell the difference between resin and actual stone are weight, texture and characteristics when exposed to elements such as fire and water. Resin is extremely light and will be room temperature to the touch. Resin is light and when exposed to water, will retain some buoyancy. Resin will also burn when exposed to fire. When testing if Larimar is authentic, Larimar will withstand small amounts of heat to test its authenticity. Real stone will also have natural inconsistencies. Natural stone will NOT have bubbles. Resin is used to recreate all sorts of different stones. Amethyst, Jasper, Quartz, Agate, Malachite and Larimar are just a few. It is such a versatile material that it can easily replicate many materials. It is easily called out though with a flame and a knife. Give it a little scratch or burn and you can usually quickly tell if you have been or will be duped.
Did you know that Goldstone and Sandstone is actually not a stone at all but glass with inclusions and is 100% manmade? In addition, dyed glass is used to recreate many different gems in beads and crystals. Glass is used in many different artificial gemstone applications, from Amethyst to Quartz to Agate. It is very versatile and easily disguised as other stones. It can feel cold to the touch, heavy and have a look and feel similar to stone, however there are small ways you can tell glass apart from stone. Glass has an overall uniform look. The color will look very similar overall. If there are bands of color, they will be continuous with no irregularities. Glass will have a very smooth, regular texture on its surface whereas a natural stone will have surface textures, cracks and pitting. If you are purchasing beads, the hole cut for thread will not just be cut through. The edges on the outside of the stone leading to the thread hole will be beveled as to not allow the glass to chip, as glass naturally chips easily. If a stone is natural, you should be able to see inclusions inside the stone like crack lines, rainbows, minerals and other such inclusions. I in addition, on occasion you will see bubbles inside manufactured glass. Stones will not have bubbles inside unless they are enhydro stones, which will have moving bubbles. They will not be stationary in a natural stone. The only stone that is an exception to this rule is certain naturally occurring stones that have been formed similar to glass such as Obsidian, Moldavite and stones formed by exceptional heat or electrical influence.
A few things to keep in mind is not all altered stones are bad. Dyed stones aren’t all bad. Some dyed stones are absolutely stunning! There is also no proof either way that dying alters the benefits of a stone in any way. Another alteration that is very popular is Aura. Aura is a coating of Titanium that is applied to the stone to give it a beautiful shine and metallic look. Again, this does not alter the benefits of the stone. I was always a huge fan of 100% natural stones but have recently come around to aura coating and now it has a huge part of my heart!
We won’t get into the higher end jewelry gems (Emeralds, Rubies, Diamonds, etc.) as this is just a basic guide to protect yourself when purchasing display pieces. It all comes down to knowing some basics, trusting your seller, and having some fun in the stone buying process. A great rule of thumb to follow is…. If you aren’t sure… Ask! Any reputable seller will get back to you with an answer as to where they sourced the stone and if the stone is dyed or altered.