How Can You Tell If Turquoise Is Real

8 min read Jul 01, 2024
How Can You Tell If Turquoise Is Real

How Can You Tell If Turquoise is Real?

Turquoise, with its captivating blue-green hues, has been prized for centuries. From ancient civilizations to modern-day jewelry, its allure remains undeniable. But with the increasing popularity of turquoise, so too has the prevalence of imitations and fakes. Knowing how to tell if turquoise is real is essential for discerning collectors and buyers alike.

Understanding the Characteristics of Real Turquoise

True turquoise is a natural gemstone formed from the combination of copper and aluminum phosphates. Its unique composition gives it a distinct set of characteristics that distinguish it from imitations:

  • Color: Authentic turquoise exhibits a wide range of blue-green shades, from vibrant sky blue to deep greenish-blue. It often displays variations in color within the same piece, known as matrix or spiderweb patterns.
  • Texture: Real turquoise typically has a slightly waxy or porous texture, which can feel cool to the touch. It may also have a slightly uneven surface.
  • Hardness: Turquoise is a relatively soft gemstone, with a Mohs hardness of 5-6. This means it can be scratched with a steel knife or other hard objects.
  • Weight: Authentic turquoise is relatively dense for its size. This is due to its copper content.
  • Fluorescence: Under ultraviolet (UV) light, some turquoise exhibits a faint yellow or green fluorescence. This can be a helpful indicator but should not be relied upon solely.

Common Ways to Tell if Turquoise is Real

Here are some common methods for identifying real turquoise:

1. The Streak Test:

This simple test can help differentiate between turquoise and some imitations. Rub the gemstone against a piece of unglazed porcelain. Real turquoise will leave a white streak, while many imitations, like howlite, will leave a streak that matches their color.

2. The Water Test:

Turquoise is porous and can absorb water. However, it will not change color significantly when wet. Fake turquoise, on the other hand, might change color or become cloudy when exposed to water.

3. The Heat Test:

Real turquoise is relatively stable and won't change significantly when exposed to heat. Fake turquoise, especially plastic or glass imitations, may become discolored or melt under heat.

4. The Magnifying Glass:

A magnifying glass can reveal details that might be difficult to see with the naked eye. Real turquoise will often show inclusions, matrix, or veining. Imitations typically have a more uniform and consistent appearance.

5. The UV Light Test:

As mentioned earlier, some turquoise fluoresces under UV light. This can help distinguish it from imitations that don't exhibit this property. However, not all turquoise fluoresces, so this test isn't always conclusive.

6. The Price:

Real turquoise, especially high-quality pieces, can be quite expensive. If a piece seems too good to be true, it likely is. Be wary of unusually cheap turquoise, as it may be an imitation.

7. The Seller:

When purchasing turquoise, it's important to choose a reputable dealer. Reputable jewelers will be knowledgeable about turquoise and able to provide certificates of authenticity.

Identifying Common Turquoise Imitations

Several materials are commonly used to imitate turquoise. Recognizing these imitations can help you avoid purchasing a fake:

  • Howlite: This white or gray stone is often dyed to resemble turquoise. It can be distinguished from real turquoise by its harder texture and streak test (leaves a white streak, unlike turquoise).
  • Plastic: Plastic imitations are often lightweight and have a smooth, uniform texture. They may also have a slightly shiny or glossy appearance.
  • Glass: Glass imitations can be quite convincing, but they will lack the natural variations and texture of real turquoise.
  • Ceramics: Ceramic turquoise imitations are often found in mass-produced jewelry. They are typically lighter and less dense than genuine turquoise.
  • Treated Turquoise: While not technically a fake, treated turquoise has been altered to enhance its color or appearance. Be wary of turquoise that appears too perfect or uniformly colored.

Important Considerations When Buying Turquoise

When purchasing turquoise, consider the following:

  • Origin: Turquoise from different locations can have distinct characteristics. Some popular sources include Arizona, Nevada, and Mexico.
  • Treatment: Some turquoise is treated with wax, resin, or dye to enhance its color or stability. While these treatments are common, it's important to inquire about them before purchasing.
  • Care: Turquoise is a relatively fragile gemstone. Avoid exposing it to harsh chemicals, extreme temperatures, and abrasive materials.

Conclusion

Determining if turquoise is real requires a combination of observation, knowledge, and simple tests. By understanding the characteristics of authentic turquoise, its common imitations, and the potential treatments, you can make informed decisions when purchasing this captivating gemstone. Remember, investing in a reputable dealer and acquiring certificates of authenticity can help ensure your investment in beautiful, genuine turquoise.


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