With the increasing popularity of amethyst crystal, it’s essential for buyers to be aware of fake or synthetic amethysts on the market.
Determining whether an amethyst is genuine can be challenging, but there are several key factors you can look out for to ensure the authenticity of your gemstone. Let’s dive in.
- Examine the color and color zoning of an amethyst to determine its authenticity
- Real amethysts exhibit a range of purple hues, while synthetic ones may have an even and unnatural tone
- Ensuring the authenticity of an amethyst not only guarantees its value but also its healing and spiritual properties.
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What Does Pure Amethyst Look Like?
A pure amethyst crystal looks similar to other types of colored quartz—semi-transparent with a relatively shiny look to the faceted edges of the crystal that’s neither cloudy nor quite glass-like.
Pure, real amethyst typically exhibits a beautiful purple hue. It can range from a deep violet or reddish-purple to a pale lilac or grayish purple. More importantly, you’ll notice that the color is concentrated on the tips and gradually fades towards the base of the crystal. This is easiest to see in amethyst’s natural form, in an amethyst geode.
A geode is a common formation for genuine amethyst, with clusters or long, singular crystal terminations with unevenly distributed color. The crystal structure of amethyst is another distinguishable characteristic, typically exhibiting a hexagonal composition.
You’ll also notice that a natural amethyst crystal generally will have some inclusions—teeny, tiny imperfections in the crystal itself. For example, you might see needles or pinpoints that may come from additions of hematite or geothite.
Bear in mind that there are various types of amethyst, such as Lithia amethyst and specimens from locations like the Carolinas, Colorado, Arizona, and Madagascar. Each type may display unique characteristics, but the color, clarity, and formation remain consistent features of pure amethyst.
Read Next: How to Use Amethyst Crystals
What Does Fake Amethyst Look Like?
Unfortunately, fake amethysts abound in the healing crystal market. Upon closer inspection, they’re quite different in appearance when compared to genuine amethysts. This is because they are often created using synthetic materials or treated to imitate the real stone’s characteristics.
In terms of color, fake amethysts often have a single shade of purple throughout, rather than the varying hues found in real amethysts. Real amethysts have a deep, saturated purple hue due to trace elements like iron and exhibit a color change in response to different lighting.
Also, fake amethysts may have an off color—too blue, for example. These are essentially heat-treated citrines that have a blue hue instead of the natural amethyst’s purple shade.
Synthetic crystals and imitation amethysts are sometimes made from quartz or man-made materials, which can give them a different texture or appearance than real amethysts. For example, they might have a more opaque or transparent quality that indicates they are not authentic.
You may want to pay particular attention to items marketed as ametrine, which is a natural combination of amethyst and citrine within a single crystal. Some fake ametrines could consist of heat-treated crystals or artificially color-treated stones that resemble the genuine article. If you suspect a stone might be fake ametrine, look for unnatural discoloration or color zoning that indicates possible manipulation.
How To Tell If Amethyst Is Real
Examining an amethyst to determine its authenticity can be a simple process if you know what to look for.
Here are the tips that will help you avoid counterfeit amethyst.
Look for an Authentic Purple Color
First, inspect the color of the amethyst. Real amethysts typically exhibit shades of purple, ranging from light to dark hues. Some stones may have a reddish undertone but should still be primarily purple.
Look for Variations in Color Intensity
If you notice that the amethyst’s hue is consistent and doesn’t vary, it could be a sign that it’s not genuine. Authentic amethysts often display color zoning, where their hue fades or intensifies in different areas. On the other hand, fake amethysts often have an even color distribution, which is unnatural for this type of gemstone.
Remember to hold the stone up to light while examining its color, as real amethyst will show different color variations in response to lighting changes.
Identify Real vs Fake Inclusions
Some fake amethyst makers are really good at counterfeiting amethyst and will add false inclusions in the crystals to make them look more genuine. However, you can still spot these false inclusions with close inspection.
If you see perfectly round gas bubbles, inclusions that look like cloudy webbing, or obvious fractures, you’re probably looking at a fake crystal. Real inclusions look more like tiny needles, pinpoints, and unique imperfections.
In polished amethyst crystals, identifying inclusions might be more challenging, but they may still be evident if you look very closely.
Look at the crystal structure, and pay attention to any unnatural formations or inconsistencies.
Fake amethysts may be made from synthetic stones that have undergone treatment to mimic the appearance of amethyst, including injected dyes or manipulated mineral content. In these cases, you might spot threads or unusual patterns within the stone that are not typical for genuine amethyst crystals.
Check Its Clarity
Real amethyst can be transparent to opaque, with inclusions and minor imperfections. It is not cloudy. Nor does it look like clear glass.
Real amethysts also have a slightly greasy luster, while fakes may appear too shiny or too dull in comparison. Depending on the grade, genuine polished amethysts may be eye-clean, meaning they’re transparent and free of impurities without being viewed with a magnifying glass. However, they may contain tiny inclusions or manganese particles that are not typically found in fake gems.
Check Its Hardness
Amethyst is a hard gemstone with a Mohs hardness of 7, which means it should be relatively resistant to scratches. To check, perform the scratch test.
Using your fingernail, try to scratch the surface of the amethyst crystal in question. If you can scuff it up with your nail, it’s fake. Alternatively, you can run the amethyst crystal along a glass surface. If the glass gets scratched but the amethyst crystal is undamaged, it’s more likely to be real. But if the amethyst gets damaged easily with this method, it’s likely fake.
Avoid Cheap Prices
Sometimes, a bargain is actually too good to be true. Amethyst ranges in value depending on its size and grade. But if you’re being offered a large amethyst geode or piece of amethyst jewelry at a fraction of the price you normally see, you should hesitate.
Crystal dealers can’t afford to sell amethyst below a certain price point, or they’re losing money. Fake amethyst dealers, on the other hand, can disguise other cheap minerals or materials as amethyst and sell them to you dirt cheap.
Don’t Be Fooled By Exotic Names
True, there are different varieties of amethyst, including ametrine, amegreen (green amethyst), and pink amethyst. But be wary of really exotic-sounding amethysts, particularly if you can’t find them easily across the internet or from trusted sources.
Crystal lovers may get excited at the prospect of discovering a unique type of amethyst crystal, but they still need to exercise caution and do some research before buying.
Consider the Gravity Test
This test measures the stone’s density, and you can do it from home with a digital scale and a graduated cylinder. Bear in mind while you’re conducting this test that an authentic amethyst will have what’s called a “specific gravity” within the range of 2.65 – 2.68.
Here’s how to do it.
- Weigh the amethyst using a digital scale and record the weight in grams.
- Fill a graduated cylinder with water to a level that will cover the amethyst when it’s submerged.
- Record the starting water level in milliliters.
- Carefully place the amethyst in the graduated cylinder, making sure it’s fully submerged.
- Record the new water level in milliliters.
- Subtract the starting water level from the new water level to get the volume of water displaced by the amethyst.
- Divide the weight of the amethyst by the volume of water displaced to get its specific gravity.
- If you come up with a number around 2.65, the amethyst crystal has passed the test.
It’s worth noting that this test should be used in conjunction with other tests to confirm its authenticity.
And, if you’re still unsure about the authenticity of your amethyst, consider seeking professional testing from a gem laboratory or an experienced gemologist. They have the knowledge and tools necessary to determine if a gemstone is real, heat-treated, or a more expensive variety sold under false pretenses.
What Can Be Mistaken for Amethyst?
When identifying an amethyst, it’s important to be aware of other gemstones and crystals that can be mistaken for this beautiful purple stone. Several similar-looking stones can lead to confusion, so understanding their differences will help you determine if you have a genuine amethyst.
- Quartz is a common crystal that can be confused with amethyst. Amethyst is actually a type of quartz, but it’s distinguished by its distinctive purple hue. Clear quartz and colored varieties, like rose quartz, are not considered amethyst despite being part of the same family.
- Citrine is another quartz variety that can be mistaken for amethyst. This gemstone exhibits a yellow to orange color, which can appear similar to amethyst’s purple tones, especially in low light. The main difference between citrine and amethyst lies in their color and saturation.
- Ametrine is a natural fusion of amethyst and citrine within the same crystal. This striking gem exhibits both purple and yellow hues. Although it contains amethyst, ametrine is considered a separate gemstone because of its unique blend of colors. If a stone displays clear zones of purple and yellow, it is likely ametrine rather than amethyst.
- Opal can sometimes resemble amethyst, although it’s a completely different type of mineral. The purple color play found in some opals can lead to confusion, but opals typically exhibit a play of colors and a more solid, opaque appearance, not the crystal structure of amethyst.
- Smoky quartz is another variety of quartz that can be confused with amethyst. As its name suggests, smoky quartz has a gray to brown color, which can range from pale to nearly black. Dark amethysts might be mistaken for smoky quartz in certain lighting conditions, but the key to differentiation is the dominant hue. Amethyst will have purple tones, while smoky quartz maintains its earthy colors.
Can Real Amethyst Scratch Glass?
Yes, real amethyst can scratch glass.
Amethyst is a variety of quartz, and quartz has a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale. This scale measures a mineral’s resistance to scratching, with 1 being the softest (talc) and 10 being the hardest (diamond). Due to its relatively high hardness, a real amethyst should be able to scratch glass, which has a hardness of 5.5 to 6 on the Mohs scale.
To perform this test, find a clean, smooth area of your amethyst where you can easily perform the scratch test. Also, make sure the piece of glass you will be using is clean and not very valuable, as it may get scratched in the process. Gently press the amethyst against the glass surface and try to scratch the glass. If you notice a visible scratch mark left on the glass by the amethyst, it may indicate that the amethyst is real. However, it’s important to be careful not to apply too much pressure, as this can damage the gemstone.
Though the scratch test can provide useful information in determining the authenticity of an amethyst, it may not be foolproof. Some lab-grown or synthetic amethysts may also possess similar hardness properties, which can also scratch glass. It’s essential to consider other attributes such as color zoning, clarity, and cut to identify a real amethyst more accurately.
Combining these aspects alongside the scratch test can increase the likelihood of determining whether your amethyst is genuine or not.
Is Amethyst Magnetic?
No, amethyst is not magnetic. It is a type of quartz, which is a non-magnetic mineral. Therefore, you will not be able to identify real amethyst based on its magnetic properties. Real amethyst will not be attracted to a magnet.
Can Amethyst Go in Water?
Yes, amethyst can be placed in water without causing any harm to the crystal. However, be cautious when using hot water or exposing the gemstone to extreme temperature changes, as it can cause cracks or fractures in the crystal over time.
Will Amethyst Fade in Sunlight?
Amethyst can fade in sunlight over long periods, especially if it is exposed to direct sunlight for extended periods. To maintain the vibrant color of your amethyst, it is best to keep it away from direct sunlight and store it in a shaded or UV-protected area when not in use.
Is Real Amethyst Rare?
Real amethyst is not particularly rare, as it is a relatively abundant mineral. However, certain factors such as color, saturation, clarity, and size can increase its value and rarity. Despite its abundance, authentic amethyst remains a sought-after gemstone due to its stunning hues and crystal properties.
What Is The Rarest Color of Amethyst?
The rarest color of amethyst is an intense purple hue with a hint of blue or red known as “Deep Russian” amethyst. This high-quality amethyst is scarce and is therefore more valuable. Other valuable and rarer amethyst shades include those with a saturated purple hue and stones with exceptional clarity and depth.