So today I bring to you another post about the crystal fakes + frauds out there in Crystal-land. After the last post on the subject I got lots of questions about others so here are a few more popular ones for you to be aware of, Jelly Bean.
Amber (not technically a mineral or crystal since it has organic origins) is supposed to be super-duper expensive, right? So why all this cheap stuff on the market?
Well, that cheap stuff is most likely plastic (ick!!) or copal, pronounced “coh-PAHL”. Copal is often sold as “amber”, but it’s not. Although it is very similar, it’s not amber. Here’s why:
- Amber is the fossilized (40-60 million years old) hardened resin from a now extinct pine tree.
- Copal, on the other hand, is hardened immature recent resin (only 1000 – 1 million years old). Copal is technically almost the same thing, just not as old & the names are often used interchangeably.
BUT, “almost” is not the same & the slight variation makes a huge difference in price! A reputable seller will make sure to note that copal is not true amber.[caption id="attachment_8972" align="aligncenter" width="614"] This is actually rough copal often sold as “amber”.[/caption]
Sometimes what you think is amber may not even be copal but may be glass, synthetic resins or plastic!
Why is real amber so expensive?
Well, that, My Sweets, depends on several things:
- how rare that type of amber is
- it’s age
- whether it has any included insects (remember that Mosquito trapped in amber from Jurassic Park that they got the dino-DNA from? ….which is totally impossible BTW!)
So the value of amber is related to its scarcity, age, possible inclusions of extinct species & durability.
[caption id="attachment_8984" align="aligncenter" width="576"] Various shades of polished Baltic Amber[/caption]
Here are some tests you can do to see if you have a plastic fake, copal or the real deal:
Amber also has some cool electrical properties that I wrote about a while back too. Amber & copal will get a negative electric charge while glass will be positively charged.
Plastics will also be charged negatively like amber. Soooo…I don’t recommend using this property to test.
Amber & copal have very similar healing properties of aligning with the solar plexus chakra and inviting in a sunny disposition however, amber is more powerful than copal.
Irradiation of mineral specimens is a pretty common thing. You may not realize it but many gemstones on the market are irradiated to get a more vibrant or deeper color.
Is it dangerous?
Yeah, I’d try to steer clear of them:
- deeply pigmented topaz
- artificially dark (almost black) smokey quartz
- very deep hot pink or red tourmaline
- colored diamonds
- deeply colored kunzite
- some cultured pearls
- vibrant yellow heliodor (irradiated pal aquamarine)
[caption id="attachment_9151" align="aligncenter" width="603"] Irradiated blue topaz, peeps! Photo credit: Mauro Cateb[/caption]
Some sellers choose to take milky quartz & subject it to gamma-ray radiation normally used to clean germs from medical equipment & food (oh yeah…that’s gamma-ray RADIATION on your food….sheesh!).
Anyway, back on topic.
So, when they radiate the milky quartz with the gamma rays you get a deeply pigmented, almost smoky quartz that’s almost entirely opaque like the 1 I show here while I was shopping in Tucson in 2012. BTW, Ron Coleman’s Mine will tell you (if you ask) that their smokey’s are irradiated:
Size Does Matter in Crystal Healing – Tucson 2012!
BTW, quartz colored by natural radiation from Mama Earth is not radioactive & is safe to carry. Yes, Mother Earth NATURALLY radiates quartz that’s included with some aluminum to create smokey quartz but this is a slower, gentler process. I explain more about that here:
Crystal Healing with Smokey Quartz
1 telltale sign of an artificially irradiated smokey is that the color fades FAST when exposed to sunlight whereas a natural smokey will retain its color longer.
If the seller tells you it’s from Arkansas, raise your eyebrows way up high b/c smokeys usually don’t occur there & they certainly won’t be very dark like I explain in the vid above.[caption id="attachment_8974" align="aligncenter" width="608"] This smokey quartz is all natural – the real deal from Namibia[/caption]
Now don’t confuse dark irradiated quartz with Morion quartz.
This dreamy stuff just recently came on the scene. It’s a deeply colored, black quartz only occurs in & around volcanic rocks. These babies are RARE & formed by natural radiation caused by nearby uranium deposits from South Africa or in Poland. Natural Morion quartz retains some translucence when held up to the light as you can see in my pic below.[caption id="attachment_8998" align="aligncenter" width="570"] Morion quartz – OMGEEEZ…look at that phantom on the tip! Its hard to see but its there.[/caption]
Rainbow Cal-Silica or Calsilica
Rainbow Calsilica is bogus.
Turns out its calcite ground up & mixed in with car paint, plastic & resin!! YEAH! YUCKO!!
Some sellers will insist that it’s a naturally occurring stone, but there’s very little evidence to back it up. With some digging, I turned up a juicy document by the Swiss Gemological Institute that states… it’s a fake.
So that’s THAT!
Too bad b/c that would sure make a purty agate or jasper, huh?
And here’s a great video that explains more about it:
OK, so I hope that’s helpful to some of you out there. Remember, Buyer Beware! Education is your best tool. 🙂
Who are you buying from? Are they reputable & do they know what they’re talking about? Be informed & cautious.
Do you have any fake-out stories to tell? Please post below to help us all out!
Happy Crystal Buying.