Don’t Be Fooled By the Rocks that I Got!…More Crystal Fakes

Hibiscus Moon fakes, geology 11 Comments

charoite vs fake

Ahhh, I get some sort of wacko geo-geek-high from writing these particular blog posts on “fake crystals” in my Fakes Series! Thanks for letting me indulge myself once again. You can catch my previous posts in this series here:

  • Part 1
  • Part 2
  • Part 3
  • Part 4
  • Part 5

I chose today’s featured fakes b/c these seem to be showing up quite often at the gem shows & in my student forums or in our various Hibiscus Moon Private Facebook Groups. I feel it’s most definitely my duty to keep our community informed on this schist.

Now, if you choose to work with man-made crystals that’s totally fine. No judgements from me on that. I, personally, choose not to.

But, I do think its very important that you know what you’re getting & that you not be fooled & that you KNOW geologically exactly what you’re working with.

BTW, sometimes sellers aren’t looking to purposefully fool anyone…sometimes they themselves have no idea.

So let’s get to it!
Charoite
High grade authentic charoite from Russia on the left vs. fake Chinese Fluorite (sold as charoite on ebay on the right)

BEWARE: Chinese fluorite is being sold as “Chinese Charoite”, claiming a new deposit discovered in China. It’s BOGUS. They really look nothing alike to me so I’m surprised this is actually duping people. Some people have been taking low grade Chinese purple fluorite & polishing it up to sell as dupes. You’ll notice that these “Chinese Charoite” fakes have a lot of white in them & no swirly pattern, in fact the purple layers in these fakes have a very angular pattern to them.

As you can see in the above photo, high grade chaorite is vibrantly purple with very little white + a gorgeous unusual swirly purple pattern. All authentic charoite comes from Russia from the Chara River region. It’s the only place in the world where it’s found & its very rare, hence a hefty price. So price point can be a good indicator of a fake.

Real high-grade Russian charoite for sale at the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show

The “Chinese Chaorite” started rearing its head big-time about 5 years ago.

You can determine if your piece is fluorite with a UV light & a scratch test being that charoite is harder than fluorite…(something our Advanced Crystal Masters are well-versed on).
Cinnabar Infused Quartz

Cinnabar crystals also a tough crystal to come by in large quantities or in large pieces. But the fakes? Oh…very easy to come by! I’ve seen many with the name, Cinnabar-Infused Quartz or sometimes they called them cherry + or strawberry quartz (which can also be glass-infused as discussed in Part 1). *Beware the mercury content in cinnabar.*

These were all being sold as “Natural Cinnabar-Infused-Quartz” Hibiscus Moon Advanced Crystal Master, Mary Oquendo, shows a cinnabar-infused cut & polished quartz point.

Although cinnabar & quartz do grow together naturally it’s usually not in a pretty swirl as seen in the above photos. When it is actually cinnabar, it’s often reconstituted (melted & mixed with other stuffs) with clear quartz & then can have plastics & binders added to it.  Sometimes, the creators of this stuff may even add some selenium (Se) to get a more red crystal.

Here’s my big beef with all of this. If the quartz & cinnabar (if there’s any real cinnabar being added at all) are being reconstituted (hence melted down)…then all you’re doing is  creating man-made silica glass. So this is no longer holding a crystalline molecular structure = IT’S NO LONGER A CRYSTAL.

And all of this may be totally OK with you. I just prefer my crystals to be actual CRYSTALS and to be 100% Mama Earth made.

But that’s just moi.

Goldstone
Goldstone, aka “aventurine glass”, is another man-made glass “gem” that’s been hangin’ around for quite a long time…since the 17th century! It’s very pretty so I can certainly see why. Check this sparkly baby out!!

Ooooo, Sparkly…but FAKE! (Photo credit: GDK)

There’s a legend that this “stone” came about when some Venetian glass-working monks accidentally dumped some molten copper into the melted glass they were working with.

The process is a bit more complicated but here’s what goes into it:

  • After the molten copper is poured into the molten glass …
  • It’s sealed off air-tight & kept at a specific temperature that’s hot enough to maintain in liquid state while still allowing the copper crystals to grow in the solution but not melting back again
  • Then the solution is cooled forming 1 solid mass
  • The cooled mass is broken open for cutting & polishing

The result is teeny crystallized specks of copper strewn throughout the glass, reflecting & sparkling up a storm. Although usually a golden coppery color, I’ve seen “goldstone” come in all colors, based on the elements added in the process.

I’m sure you have many opinions of your own to share about my “Featured Fakes” here today. You know I always welcome a mature & respectful debate, so please do comment below. Or if you’d simply just like to share your thoughts, that’s welcome too!

Have a Sparkly Day!

How to Grow Your Own Crystal Geodes ~ Step by Step ~ PDF Download

Hibiscus Moon Crystals, geology, science 11 Comments

When I posted a photo on my FB page of 1 of my recent crystal growing specimens, I got a ton of questions asking how, how, how?

So, if you’re one of those who always wanted to know how to grow your own crystals, this is the blog post for you!

You know I love my crystals for their healing props but I feel it’s really important to also get to know them in a different way; to learn how & why they grow, how Mama Earth cooks them up in her kitchen. This FUN activity gives us a little insight into that process. And you end up with some drop-dead gorgeous crystals in the end!

Plus this gives me a good excuse to geek out all the way!!

I know from many years in my old science classroom days that kids, teenagers (& adults!) really enjoy seeing the crystallization MAGIC at work! So, pretty sure you’re gonna eat this up with a spoon!

So first…

What’s a geode?

Basically, geodes are round rocks that have a hollow interior usually from a gas bubble, in which some sort of usually volcanic  hydrothermal fluids got trapped in. These hollows create the perfect crystal growing environment since they usually contain a supersaturated crystal growing solution (Yes, I know…CRAZY-GEEK-FEST terms! I explain what that  is in the featured video…but, Yo! you’ll love it…that’s a little hint).

Geodes can take thousands or even millions of years to grow…but these babies will only take a couple of days. How lucky are you?!

HOLIDAY VARIATIONS

  • Halloween: how about a fluorescent twist? Just sub the water & food coloring solution with glow water
  • Winter Holidays: grow some snowy white geodes, skip the food coloring & you’ll get clear crystals that will look like clear or milky quartz!
  • Easter/Spring Equinox: just make ’em! Any color, go wild

Oh! In case you didn’t know…I have a slight obsession with the TV show Breaking Bad…just a slight, barely there kind of thing. 😉 Yes, even without TV I managed to get completely addicted to it.
How To Grow Your Own Crystal Geodes – Step by Step

Stuffs You’ll Need:
(Note: this will make 1 color. If you’d like to make different colors…& I’m pretty sure you will, you’ll need to repeat these steps for each color)

  • Used eggshells
  • about 2/3 c (~157 mL) Alum powder (check the spice section of your local grocery store or click on link for my favorite brand, make sure your brand has potassium for better results!)
  • White school glue (like Elmer’s)
  • Small paintbrush
  • heat-resistant glass container
  • 30-40 drops of food coloring
  • 2 c (~ 0.5 L) hot water
  • Glass stirrer or spoon
  • Paper towel or drying rack

Procedure for How To Grow Your Own Crystals:

  • Make sure the inside of your eggshells are all squeaky clean & dry
  • Add a drop of white glue to the inside of  your egg shell as well as the edges & use the paint brush to “paint” it around covering every bit of the interior of the egg-shell. Keep adding drops of glue until it’s all painted up.
  • Now, quick! Before the glue dries…generously sprinkle in your alum powder. Cover every bit of the interior, shake out the excess & add more. Let your eggshell halves dry overnight.
  • The next day, it’s time to make your crystal growing super-saturated alum solution! Heat your water to almost boiling then pour 2 cups (~0.5 L) of that hot water into a heat resistant container.  Add 30-40 drops of food coloring. In this case, the water is our SOLVENT, or the part that is doing the dissolving.
  • Now begin adding your  3/4 cup (~177 mL) of alum powder into the heated water. The alum is your SOLUTE; the substance that is being dissolved. Don’t pour it all in at once, add slowy & stir with your spoon or glass stirrer as I demo in the video. Keep adding (more than the suggested amount if needed) until your solution reaches super-saturation. TIP: If you do have undissolved alum powder at the bottom (as you should) you can force it to dissolve by placing the solution in the microwave for a 1 min or 2 then stirring again. Use CAUTION if you decide to do this as it will be very hot, but doing it will prevent alum powder from wanting to collect with the powder at the bottom, therefore more crystals on our geodes!
  • Now let your solution cool at room temp. for about 30 min.
  • Using your spoon gently dunk 1 of your eggshells in your super-saturated crystal growing solution, pushing it down to the bottom of the container with the open end of the eggshell facing up. If you choose to add another eggshell try to make sure they don’t touch each other much…you’ll get better crystal growth.
  • Leave the container in a safe spot overnight (at least 12 hours). This, Chick Pea…is where the MAGIC happens! Allow your crystals to grow without being bumped or disturbed. If you can stand to leave them in longer than just overnight, you’ll get bigger crystals. Can you stand it? 
  • On the following day, using a spoon very gently fish your geode out of the solution. Want them to grow bigger? Gently dunk it back into your solution to hang out for another day or so. Don’t worry about the color too much now as it will lighten up considerably once it dries & becomes sparkly & BRILLIANT!
  • Once you’re satisfied with how they look, place them on a paper towel or drying rack for a few hours to dry.
  • Now that you’ve grown this gorgeous beauty how do you keep it looking its best?

    Be careful not to keep it in too humid of an environment since that will cause it to start dissolving. We don’t want that. So after you’ve admired it for a few days, you can wrap it in paper to keep it dry & keep dust from settling on it & then store it in  a closed container.
    Click here for a printable PDF of the step-by-step instructions!
    So are you amazed that Mother Earth takes these (yet much more complicated) steps stretched over a longer period of time & creates over 4500 different types of minerals & crystals and has been doing so for the better part of 4.6 billion years!? I KNOW I AM! Completely & totally amazed & respectful of the entire process.

    I hope you have a ton fun trying this out all on your own or with your kids or some friends. If you do try it out please post your results on my FB page or comment below & let us know how it worked out or if you discovered any cool tips to share! I’ll add them to this post so all the Crystal Hotties can benefit!

    Happy Crystal Growing!!

     

    P.S. If you enjoyed this post, please share it along so others can try this out with us & share in the FUN!!

    Is Crystal Collecting Ethical?

    Hibiscus Moon Everyday/Personal Stuffs 24 Comments

    Is Crystal Collecting Ethical?

    Working in the crystal biz, I’ve been presented with ethics related questions regarding crystals & being a both a student & teacher of geology, I’ve had the opportunity to ask & explore the topic deeply.

    I take this very seriously so this will be more of a serious post Sweet Peas.

    For years I’ve found myself having to defend mineral collecting against environmental activists (of which I consider myself to be one). some of whom claim that crystal & mineral collecting is causing major destruction to our planet while also related to slavery + poor living conditions .

    I think there may be some  confusion between mineral & crystal collecting VS. mining for precious gems (diamonds, rubies, emeralds)  & industrial ore (coal, aluminum, tin, etc). That stuff is not what I’m speaking of when we speak of mineral & crystal collecting AKA “specimen mining”.

    In my extensive research I’ve found that specimen mining usually has little or no DIRECT impact on our planet. Often times, specimens are collected as a by product to ore mining where mines have been dug to get at coal, copper, aluminum, gold, etc. for other items our society seems to have no problem with. In addition, some of what is sold on the market are simply recycled specimens from estate sales. The ULTIMATE in recycling!
    There is a HUGE difference here.
    Industrial ore mining & mining for precious gems does require heavy blasting, strip mining & sometimes leads to poor living or working conditions.  Slavery comes into play most definitely with conflict minerals. What the heck are conflict minerals

    THIS IS SOMETHING I IMPLORE YOU TO EDUCATE YOURSELF ON & THEN PLEASE  PLEDGE TO SHARE THIS WITH 3 PEOPLE. WATCH & READ ON:

    If you’re concerned about human conditions in relation to the mining of minerals then the very minerals used in our computers & cell phones are the ones we need to concern ourselves with:

    I do try to choose a tech company that makes a conscious effort to minimize its use of conflict minerals. Are your electronics conflict free? None are 100%. Please check yours here now & if they’re not please email your tech company directly from the site to make your voice heard! This is so easy to do, doesn’t cost you a dime & is a great way for us to initiate changes.

    Then make sure you vote with your $ next time you need to purchase a computer or cell phone.

    Vote with the $$!!

    So, now let’s educate. This is what goes on in a specimen mine:

    • This is what mining for quartz looks like at Ron Coleman’s mine in Arkansas
    • Mining for quartz in Georgia
    • Larger Quartz operation in Brazil
    • Mining for aquamarine & emerald in Mexico
    • Aquamarine in Africa
    • Digging for amethyst in Kuridala Queensland, Australia
    • Digging for Topaz in Utah
    • Mining for quartz in Brazil

    Yes, these methods cause some scarring & not all specimen mining is as kind to the Earth as this. Sometimes explosives are used to crack a stubborn rock. However, we’re not talking about massive strip mining & its usually just meters of rock & not very deep. Specimen mining really doesn’t have much of an impact on the environment, but commercial mining for ore is a totally different story. Then there’s the subjective question of “what is damage?” Of course, there’ll be a certain amount of digging or rock breaking. Nature would do the same thing through ice wedging & erosion. Or given enough time, much more destructive Mama Earth forces.

    What about farming & urbanization? I feel those are much bigger disturbances to our planet…however less unavoidable.

    Yes, child labor  & poor work conditions may be a problem  in countries where there’s less regulation due to weak or corrupt governments.  And sometimes there is no way for us to know who exactly mined a crystal or picked our food for that matter! Unless we were there or did it ourselves! Yep, that is a problem sometimes but its true for anything is it not?

    However,  war & rape going on over crystal mining? No.

    For our ipads & cell phones? Yes!!!

    We don’t like to hear that do we? But we can change this. Please let these tech companies know that this is not OK.

    Here’s a recent interview I did with Joanna DeVoe on the topic. I thank her for doing this & for spurring me on to finally finish this blog post! As you’ll see…I’m really passionate about this!

    Now, not all ore mining companies are BAD. Some do make a good effort to generate sustainable employment for the communities they operate in as well as have to meet strict requirements to back fill & reclaim the land they’ve destroyed….but, again…this is industrial ore minesnot specimen mining. Sometimes, in a war-torn & weary area, specimen mining is one of the only legit income opportunities the people there can hope for.

    Then we have THE ROCK CYCLE. Guess what happens to crystal specimens that aren’t collected? Mother Earth recycles them. Of course, I’m not saying grab all you can b/c they’ll all be destroyed if you don’t but I do feel that we can be free to work with these very special crystal healing tools. They’ll eventually go back to the Mama Earth’s kitchen & more will be created no matter how powerful we think we are. 
    Lesson in The Rock Cycle

     So, please get involved. Inform others about Conflict Minerals. Email your tech companies & tell them what you think. Is your techy stuff as conflict free as you can make it? Do you agree or disagree with me? I’m always open to hearing other sides…as long as we keep it mature &  respectful. I’d love to hear about your efforts or what you think!!

    Crystal Blessings,