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Imposters? Which Crystals Are Altered?

orCrystals are not only wonderfully beautiful and equally wonderful in healing but they are also a business. Healing crystals are “trending” now and the industry is ever-growing. As such, there are those that exploit them and subsequently the consumer. Many crystals are altered and sold as something they are not to meet the high demand for certain crystals that are difficult to find and to entice buyers with a more brilliant presentation than in their natural form. The bottom line is money.

Knowing this there are some things that you need to watch out for when shopping. Caveat Emptor, buyer be aware. It’s all about intention. I prefer crystals in their natural, unaltered state for healing purposes and personal connection. That doesn’t mean they haven't been tumbled, cut, or polished. It takes an expert to cut and polish a crystal (such as points) while not losing the important ridges, etchings, and inclusions that give the crystal its integrity. If you are looking for authentic crystals to work with then knowing what isn’t is a must. Here are a few things to look for when shopping:

Heat Treated

The most obvious of the heat treated crystals is the burnt orange-yellow citrine that is so readily available. Natural citrine is pale yellowish, rare, and expensive. The deep orange-yellow citrine clusters that one so frequently sees are actually amethyst that has been heated long enough and at a high enough temperature to change the color of the stone. Citrine has been dubbed the stone for manifesting money. Due to this popularity more and more of the heated “citrine” is on the market to meet consumer demand.

Other gemstones such as sapphire, tourmaline, and topaz are often heat treated to bring out deeper, brilliant colors as opposed to their more subtle color and qualities before heating. By doing this, the jewelry market can sell more consistent uniform stones. More stones, more money.


Irradiation of almost any colorless piece of quartz will produce a smoky brown color. Mother Earth takes millions of years to do this. Irradiation (transferring energy to and from an object) is specifically exposing an item to radiation and in the case of crystals changes the aluminum impurities within the crystal lattice creating the dark brown color of smoky quartz. Specimens that have a very clear or whitish base and deeply saturated tips are most likely irradiated.

Dyed And Painted Many agates of indistinct color are dyed to be more attention-grabbing. Depending on the chemicals used they produce vivid, popping colors.They are available as bookends, pendants, tumbled stones, windchimes, etc. Other imposters can be a bit trickier. Turquoise is a good example. Both howlite and magnesite (which are white with gray) are dyed and then sold as turquoise. How do you tell which is the real deal? Howlite is softer than turquoise so the scratch test is a help here. The main contributor to the blue color of turquoise is copper. The combination of water, aluminum and phosphorus with this in different amounts is what creates the varying blue and green colors. If a piece is very uniform in color that can be a hint that it is not turquoise. Then there is the price. Real turquoise is more expensive. If the deal seems too good to be true then it probably is.

Artificially Coated

Some stones are coated, many with glistening, twinkling iridescent colors. They are placed in a very high heat chamber and are coated with metals. The atoms of the metal fuse to the crystal's surface through this vapor process. This is a permanent coating. Once again, quartz is

the most common recipient of this process. This is not natural alchemy and, therefore, does not create a new metaphysical property for these crystals. In fact, many explode during the process. It is abusive. If visual recognition is not enough to tell which they are, the word “Aura” in their name, ie; Aqua Aura, Opal Aura, Angel Aura, Gold Aura, etc. is a dead giveaway.


That leaves us with those stones that are not natural stones at all. They can be grown in

laboratories or are manufactured glass. These stones have no metaphysical properties. Although those created in labs are grown with processes similar to crystals that come to us from the earth they are still man-made. For instance, goldstone (which also comes in dark green, dark blue, dark purple) is simply glitter and glass, completely manufactured. Mother Earth did not imbue them with her love, wisdom, and healing properties. It is pretty and it sparkles but is no help in crystal healing.

Simply stated, know what your intention is when purchasing. If you are looking for crystals to aid you in healing then stay away from those that have been altered. It is not only their appearance that has been altered. If you are looking for decorative pieces then there are obviously many choices. I prefer natural energy surrounding me that is truly beneficial and straight from the source. Synthetic crystals are more easily available, less expensive and many believe much more sustainable. Be aware that even lab-grown crystals use minerals taken from the earth to produce them, even if mined for other uses as well. How do you buy while keeping our environment in mind? Buy from those that are not exploiting. Do some research. Limit what you buy. Be selective, care for your crystals and use them with intention and integrity.

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