Turquoise - Telling Fakes from the Real Deal

Published: 01st June 2009
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Over the years, turquoise jewelry has become very popular in the United States, and to some extent, around the world. If you are reading this article, it would come as a great surprise if you did not own at least one sterling silver turquoise pendant! In all probability, you own more than just the single pendant. When you've looked at this jewelry, you have surely wondered to yourself whether the turquoise you bought was genuine, or if you had been duped into buying a fake. Unfortunately, with the great demand for turquoise jewelry, and the dwindling of world supplies, unscrupulous sellers and dealers have resorted to selling fakes. This article has been prepared to discuss some relatively easy ways that you can use to spot a fake.



As the first step, it is important to understand some basic facts about turquoise. Turquoise is a hydrated complex of copper and aluminum phosphates. In nature, this stone is most commonly found in shades of blue. However, the presence of other chemicals can alter the color of the stone. For example, the presence of zinc in the matrix can produce a yellow color. The stone has a waxy luster to it. Most turquoise on the market today has been stabilized using either epoxy resin or vaporized silica. Fakes in the market can be plastic, bone, or howlite that has been dyed to look like turquoise. Howlite is a form of calcite or calcium carbonate.



Your first line of defense against being cheated is to go to a seller with a strong reputation for honesty and integrity. Ways to find such a dealer including word of mouth, scouring the internet, etc. Hold the piece of jewelry in your hand. If it appears light in weight, as most plastics do, then you probably have a fake. For comparison, you can hold a piece of stone - any stone - of roughly the same physical dimensions and see if the two appear to weight the same. If you already own the piece, then heat a pin and touch it to the stone in a spot that is hidden from you. If the "stone" melts, you most likely have a plastic fake. If you suspect that you have a piece of howlite instead of turquoise, add a tiny drop of dilute hydrochloric acid on the back of the stone. Howlite should fizz and/or turn green. In this discussion of fake versus real turquoise, it is important to note that stabilized turquoise is considered to be genuine turquoise. The stabilization is done by infusing a moderate quality stone with resin or silica vapors to strengthen the stone. Stabilized turquoise is much less expensive compared to gem-quality untreated turquoise. Common sense is a good guide in this respect. If you bought a white pearl necklace with turquoise accent beads for around $30, in all probability the turquoise is stabilized, regardless of what the seller tells you!


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