How To Tell If Turquoise Is Real

by Ultimate Jewelry Guide
How To Tell If Turquoise Is Real

If you were not aware already, turquoise is the most commonly fake gemstone in jewelry. As a result of this it can be really hard to tell if the turquoise is real or not. So in this article we are going to teach you all you need to know about turquoise and show you how to tell if turquoise is real or not.

What Is Turquoise?

You are probably familiar with turquoise by its distinctive blue-green coloration. This gem is mostly found in North America around copper mines. The reason for this is that turquoise is actually a byproduct of copper mining as a copper mineral.

Among the most popular types of jewelry around the world is turquoise because of its unique opaque green-blue color. However, there is a downside to using turquoise in jewelry. Its downside is the hardness and durability of the material. The reason for this is that turquoise is usually rated between 4-5 on the Mohs scale. In comparison with other gems used to make jewelry, turquoise is significantly softer and more susceptible to damage over time. 

What Is Fake Turquoise?

If you are not careful it is very easy to purchase a piece of jewelry that looks like real turquoise but is actually fake. This is because with today’s technology, manufacturers have gotten extremely good at faking turquoise by creating fake turquoise out of other gems, plastic, epoxy, resin, and magnesite. The way that they make these other materials look so real is that they use different dyes and combinations of materials to replicate the look of turquoise.

Another way that they try to sell you fake turquoise is by mixing little bits of real turquoise with the other gems or materials to make the fake gem look much more convincing.

So if you ever have fallen for a fake turquoise, do not feel bad because over 90% of the turquoise market consists of fake turquoise. Because of this, it can be hard to tell what is real and what is fake.

Common Types Of Fake Turquoise

The most common types of fake turquoise are going to be different types of gems that look similar but are dyed to resemble real turquoise. If you have ever purchased a fake turquoise piece at any point in the past, it was probably one of the following types of fake turquoise:

  • Dyed Howlite
  • Imitation Turquoise
  • Odontolite
  • Smithsonite
  • Variscite 
  • Blue Jasper

Is Stabilized Turquoise Real?

The short answer is yes stabilized turquoise is real. But there is a catch to it. 

Stabilized turquoise is simply turquoise mixed with epoxy. Stabilized turquoise is needed because turquoise itself is already a soft gem, and an unstabilized piece can’t be sufficiently cut and polished for jewelry.

Do not worry, this process does not affect the color or appearance of the turquoise piece, only its strength. So if you do have a stabilized turquoise stone, then you definitely have a good piece of turquoise.

How To Spot Fake Turquoise

Now that you have learned about real turquoise, fake turquoise, and stabilized turquoise, it is time to find out how to spot fake turquoise. Since there are many different types of fake turquoise, not every way is going to work perfectly. So we recommend trying a few different methods that we suggest to confirm if it is real or not. Here are some of the best ways to tell if turquoise is real or fake:

Price Tag

Price tags are one of the easiest ways to identify fake turquoise. The reason for this is that fake turquoise will be very cheap in most circumstances. Be suspicious and ask some more questions if you see a piece of turquoise jewelry that is more than 10% cheaper than the typical prices online for turquoise.

Appearance

Looking at the appearance of turquoise can be very tricky. The reason for this is that turquoise’s looks can widely vary. But there are a few things that you can try to spot when inspecting a piece of turquoise. 

Check the cracks for dye piles. In the cracks, it might appear there is dye, indicating a fake piece of turquoise.

Another way that you can tell by looking at the jewelry is by running your fingers across the cracks on the gem. If you cannot feel the cracks then this means that this gem was most likely painted to look like turquoise.

Trade Names

The hardest part about finding real turquoise is that they are very deceptive about their naming for fake turquoise in order to trick you into thinking that it is real. If you are ever shopping for turquoise and see any of these names on the tag, this is a sure sign that this is fake turquoise:

  • Buffalo Turquoise (Dyed Howlite)
  • Viennese Turquoise (Blue Glass)
  • Utah Turquoise (Variscite)
  • Turqurenite (Dyed Howlite)
  • Fossil Turquoise (Odontolite)
  • African Turquoise (Spotted Jasper)
  • Ivory Turquoise (Odontolite)
  • Sacred Turquoise (Smithsonite)

Scratch Test

A scratch test is an excellent way to test turquoise without using any kind of equipment. In order to perform the scratch test, you simply need to use your fingernail to scratch the gem. If your finger can scratch the turquoise easily, this indicates howlite and not turquoise.

This is because howlite is a very delicate gem that is so delicate your fingernails can damage it. Turquoise is also considered to be a very soft gem when all gems are considered, but it should be strong enough to hold up against a fingernail scratch under normal circumstances.

In order to be safe during this test, we recommend scratching a less visible part of the jewelry, just in case it does scratch.

Acetone Test

A very easy way to tell if you have a fake gem dyed to look like a real one is to use the acetone test. This test is very simple to perform. All you need to do is soak your gem in the acetone for a few minutes and if any of the color starts to come off, this is a sure sign that this was another gem dyed to look like a true turquoise gem.

Destructive Test

The Destructive test is not for looking at single pieces of jewelry to determine if they are fake, but rather for determining whether large gems are genuine. Using a saw, you cut the gem down the middle to reveal the gem’s interior. You’ll know that you’ve got a nice chunk of turquoise when the color is that nice blue-green all the way through. In contrast, if you cut the stone and the center does not match, it is probably a fake.

The Needle Test

A fantastic way to test if the gem in question is fake or not is to use the needle test. This test requires you to heat up a needle until it is nice and hot. Afterwards you will simply poke the needle into the gem.

If the needle begins to burn or melt the gem, this means that this stone is most likely make of resin or plastic.

Where Should You Buy Real Turquoise?

If you are in the market for real turquoise, we suggest starting with a local jewelry store or gemologist that specialize in gemstone jewelry to see if they have any in stock. If they do not, they should be able to source a real piece for your jewelry.

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