"Fake or Real - What is your Gemstone?" Part-1
I decided to write this article to help many of my customers who purchase gemstone beads/jewelry at gem shows or online.
We've all had the experience of finding a bead or gem that speaks to you. Yes…Love at first sight definitely counts. My motto is a pretty bead is a pretty bead so buy it if you like it, however you should know what you are buying. Purchasing something that is misrepresented whether intentionally or accidentally is not good for you or your business. A vendor who is not truthful may reap the benefits of an immediate sale but will not establish loyal business relationships.
In an ideal world, full disclosure before you purchase anything would save you tons of money and embarrassment, however since we know that that is wishful thinking and not reality, the following information should help you become a more informed gemstone buyer. Remember, If you don’t know your supplier well, be attentive before purchasing, trying to return items don't always work in your favor.
In section 23.22 of the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) “Guides for the Jewelry, Precious Metals, and Pewter Industries”. One reference clearly states that:
• It is unfair or deceptive to use the name of any precious or semi-precious stone to describe any product that is not in fact a natural stone of the type described.
Oh well…so much for the Federal Trade Commission's rule. Remember when the beautiful varieties of quartz/glass hit the market a couple of years ago. They all had those luscious fruity names, like Strawberry, Pineapple, Blueberry, Cherry etc. I fell in love with them and I still buy them, only now, I now that they are glass. Glass that is beautiful with luscious colors and added line patterns to enhance the flavor. During that time, I heard lots of customers wondering why their vendor didn't tell them that the Cherry/Pineapple beads was really glass and not Quartz at all?”
I have managed to put together some information to help you sort out real gemstones from the fakes. Glass, and a mixture of glass and other materials, is making this chore a hard task. We won't have the space in this article to completely cover all the information but lets start with one major basic to aid you in determining glass from gems.
First buy yourself a loupe or a magnifying glass. We've got them at Pudgy's for $10.00. You will be using this throughout your gem-buying spree.
1. Check out the interior of the bead. If they are glass, you will see bubbles or swirls. The bubbles could look like typical round bubbles or they can look like swirls or oblong bubbles.
2. Another way to distinguish glass from stones is by touch, although this is not always reliable because of the surrounding air temperature. Glass doesn’t feel as cool as gemstones, and with experience you can get quite good using this method.
The following is just a sample of the many fake gemstones you will find at many gem shows or online.
· Pineapple/Blueberry/Strawberry Quartz - If those Pineapple and Strawberry glass beads were indeed quartz they would have angular solid looking inclusions of tiny crystals because quartz is a crystalline material. Don't mistake "Lemon Quartz" for the other fruity glass variety; usually "Lemon Quartz" is a variation of Carnelian.
· Opalite – Opalite is sometimes referred to as Sea Opal. Its semi-transparent slightly hazy, iridescent quality is beautiful but it is glass.
· Turquoise – Be particularly careful when purchasing this stone. Some Turquoise is made from powdered Turquoise and epoxy around a base of rock or lead. Some are just powdered Turquoise and glue. Some stone manufacturers will make mass amounts using the glue and powdered turquoise and pass it off as legitimate Turquoise. Another one to watch out for is dyed Howlite or Magnesite. Howlite is sometimes referred to as “Buffalo Turquoise. A well-known process among unscrupulous manufacturers is to place Howlite into “Tidy Bowl” toilet cleaner. The result will produce some very good-looking fake Turquoise…try it.
· Goldstone – You might see this sold as Sunstone. This is not a natural stone. It is glass. It is made with a mixture of copper or copper salts and silica. Oxidizing these components in a flame forces the copper and silica to produce a bluish-green glass. When the reduced goldstone melts and cools, the copper remains in small crystalline clusters. It’s the copper that gives this glass its beautiful reddish brown color and the resulting crystals give it those sparkly silvery flecks.
· Amber - is usually faked using plastic resin or it is reconstituted. Reconstituted Amber is made from scraps and shavings generated by Amber carvers. Using heat they press them into large blocks. Insects are often added to make it appear more real. To tell if its real or fake you can try rubbing it, doing so will casue it to give off an electrical charge so that it will attract a very light object..like a feather. If you’ve already purchased your Amber, you can use several tablespoons of salt in a glass of water. Amber will float, while glass or resin will sink. You can also try pricking your amber in the hole or any area that is hidden with a heated pin the smell from the prick should be of pine or wood..not plastic.
Part 2 of this article will be in the next issue of "Pudgy News"