These days, fake gemstones like turquoise are inundating the market. This presents a problem for both jewelry makers and jewelry buyers, who want to know that they're working with the real deal. The last thing you want to do is invest in turquoise believing that it's legitimate, only to discover from someone in the know that it's a fake. 😫
The good news is that there are ways to identify a legitimate turquoise gemstone in this world of copycats. While most turquoise tests will require you to have the turquoise in your possession, some of our tips will help you narrow down your online searches, too.
Protect your business and your jewelry box from fake turquoise. All it takes is a little know-how. 🥰
Read on for ten turquoise gemstone tips that will help you to track down legitimate turquoise.
What Is a Turquoise Gemstone?
Before we get into our tips to spot legitimate turquoise, let's talk about what turquoise actually is. Most people can identify a turquoise gemstone by its distinct blue-green color, although it's worth mentioning that turquoise sourced from different regions around the world may look more green or more blue than the typical turquoise gemstone. This has to do with porousness, and typically, the more porous turquoise is, the lighter in color it is.
Turquoise is found deep inside of rock formations. Turquoise is created over the course of millions of years as the result of water seeping into mines and interacting with minerals like copper or aluminum. The result of the reaction is that veins form that eventually turn into what we know as turquoise. ❗️
Turquoise has a long history across the globe and contains value and meanings for many cultures. It is most predominantly a gemstone that symbolizes hope, something we could always use more of. ✨
What's the Issue With Fake Turquoise?
Now that so many dealers are manufacturing fake turquoise, it's almost impossible not to come across it in your search for the real deal. What's the problem with fake turquoise? 🤔
The biggest issue is quality. Fake turquoise can be made of anything from plastic to howlite, another stone that is far softer and less valuable than real turquoise. These fakes are going to fade and even crack or crumble much faster than true turquoise.
If you're a jewelry maker, fake turquoise is a problem because it can threaten your reputation. If you are selling what you believe is real turquoise but isn't, you're going to overcharge your patrons for something that isn't what they're looking for. Don't let fake turquoise sully the brand you've worked so hard to build!
How to Find Legitimate Turquoise
Now, let's go through the best tips we have to offer in our real turquoise gemstone guide. From the scratch test to the hot needle test, we've got you covered! You won't have to worry about buying fake turquoise ever again. 😊
1. Assess the Price 🕵️♀️
The highest-quality turquoise on the market is more valuable than a diamond. The good news is that most turquoise isn't going to cost thousands of dollars, but real turquoise isn't cheap, either.
Even a small pack of authentic turquoise cabochons can cost upwards of $150. If someone is selling turquoise at an unbelievably lower cost, don't get caught up by the seemingly good deal. Keep looking, because cheap turquoise is almost always fake turquoise.
2. Check the Cracks 🔍
Legitimate turquoise gemstones vary so much that it's hard to provide one visual identifier that will tell you if it's real or fake. Some turquoise gemstones have visible black or grey veins, while other turquoise gemstones are uniform in color. The good news is that while authentic turquoise varies so much in appearance, fake turquoise tends to hide its secret in its cracks.
If possible, inspect turquoise closely and look into any cracks or crevices in the stone. What you're looking for is a buildup of dye. Any presence of dye indicates that you're not looking at turquoise but instead, a dyed howlite or other stone.
3. Perform the Scratch Test ☝🏼
Another way to spot the difference between turquoise and its common copycat, howlite, is to perform the scratch test. The scratch test is one of the most popular ways to determine whether or not you're looking at legitimate turquoise.
All you need to do is scratch the gemstone with your fingernail. Although turquoise is considered a softer gemstone, it is hard enough that a light scratch won't create any noticeable marks or blemishes. If the gemstone you're holding fails the scratch test and you do notice marks or blemishes, you've found fake turquoise.
4. Perform the Acetone Test 🧪
What if you looked in the cracks but you're not sure if what you spotted in there was dye? It's time to break out the nail polish remover and cotton balls. Nail polish remover contains acetone, which is the ingredient you'll need to perform this particular test.
Dilute one side of your cotton ball with acetone and rub it against the gemstone. If any color comes off on the cotton ball or you can see a noticeable fading where you've rubbed the gemstone with acetone, it's not real turquoise. That change in color you're seeing indicates that the stone has been dyed to mimic turquoise.
5. Perform the Destruction Test 🔨
Admittedly, this test is one that only works under a few circumstances. The first is that you've bought a large chunk of turquoise and not a shaped gemstone like a cabochon. The second is that you already paid for it because what you're about to do is, as the name suggests, a little destructive.
To perform this test, you will need to use a saw to cut the turquoise into two pieces, exposing the center. When stones like howlite are dyed, the dye is unable to saturate the center, which means that the middle of the stone won't match the outer edge in color. If you cut the stone in two and the center is the same color as the outside, you're looking at legitimate turquoise.
6. Perform the Hot Needle Test 🔥
Here's a test that's a little easier than taking a saw to a stone - and you can perform this test with even a small piece of turquoise. All you'll need is a needle and some fire to get this test underway.
Heat the tip of a needle in a flame until it's quite hot. Then, press the heated tip into the stone. If it starts to warp or melt, your gemstone is not only fake but a fake of the worst variety, meaning that it's made out of plastic.
(One thing worth mentioning: if you've got a turquoise look-alike that is still some kind of actual rock, the hot needle test won't reveal whether or not you have legitimate turquoise.)
7. Look Out for Fake Turquoise Trade Names 👀
Fake turquoise is going by a lot of different names these days. These names can include:
- Viennese turquoise
- Fossil turquoise
- Sacred turquoise
A lot of these trade names are used to disguise a real gemstone that looks like turquoise but isn't. Many of these gemstones are still lovely and great for making jewelry, but it's important not to overpay for them or market them to your own customers as the real deal.
8. Ask for Sourcing Information 🧾
One thing that can make it easier to determine whether or not you're buying legitimate turquoise gemstones is to find out more about where they came from. Reputable dealers selling real turquoise will be more than happy to share this information.
This can also help you to learn more about the different shades and shapes of turquoise found around the world. As we've mentioned, the appearance of true turquoise is impacted by where it came from and the conditions it formed under. By knowing where your turquoise is coming from, you can identify legitimate turquoise based on appearance more easily.
9. Understand What Enhanced Turquoise Is ✨
Some dealers may sell what is called "enhanced turquoise." Is this one of the misnomers for fake turquoise that you should look out for? The simple answer is no.
Enhanced turquoise is real turquoise of medium or low grade. Methods like the Zachary Process are used to give this medium or low-grade turquoise a smoother, more polished surface. It can even bring out a richer, brighter color.
10. Buy from a Turquoise Dealer You Trust 💚
Once you've found a turquoise dealer that you trust, don't keep taking chances. Stick with a company that you know is selling real turquoise that meets your needs as either a jeweler or a buyer.
Turquoise Moose Is Here to Help
The turquoise gemstone has held an important place in culture and history for generations. Use this turquoise gemstone guide to protect your investment or business and ensure that you're only buying legitimate turquoise.
Turquoise Moose is proud to provide authentic turquoise and other gemstones that are perfect for jewelry makers and gemstone collectors. Head over to our Instagram collection