For those of us relying primarily on instinct, guides, or UPG when choosing and using our stones, this will be far less important. This warning is for the rest of us, and for the beginners, who are just starting their journey in working with minerals.
You don’t really need a lot of metaphysical books, but you do need to do some research and find providers you can trust. Because looks are often deceiving. Far too many stones can be imitated. These are just a few examples. If you’re using your intuition or what have you, it will matter less as the feel of the stone is whatever the feel of the stone IS. It won’t matter if it’s been dyed or radiated or is really some other rock altogether. You already know what it’s used for.
The rest of us might need to keep our eyes open.
The first one that comes to my mind is turquoise. I used to adore turquoise. I got over that…but I still have many turquoise-like pieces in my jewelry box from when I was younger. I say turquoise-like because they are most definitely not turquoise. But then I was into the “pretty” not the “validity” at the time, so it didn’t really matter much.
When JLo started wearing turquoise a LOT back about 10 years or so ago, the price of turquoise shot clear through the roof. Everyone was wearing it…supply and demand entered the fray and that was that. At the same time, the counterfeiters and imitators came onto the scene in droves…sometimes honestly touting themselves as substitutes, and sometimes not.
Howlite is one stone that is easily substituted for turquoise. It’s a gorgeous white stone with beautiful branches of light-to-dark grey running throughout it. It takes dye very, very well…and is often dyed light blue to imitate turquoise. It’s also died dark blue as a lapis lazuli substitute, but that’s far easier to catch because there are no flecks of gold that make lapis so wonderfully easy to spot. It’s also dyed red…for no reason that I am aware of except that perhaps there aren’t any real true red stones to work with. For some unknown, abominable reason, some of the ugliest jewelry I have ever seen was made in a “patriotic” tone using red, white, and blue howlite. *shudder*
It’s also possible to take scraps of poor quality (not “gem” worthy) turquoise and treat them with a resin to make them into viable beads. Still turquoise…but if you’re a purist the resin might affect any vibrations you were hoping for.
Black onyx is beautiful…but almost never truly black. It’s rare to find in pure black and 99% of the time is dyed…unless you’re paying an ungodly amount of money for it. As a matter of fact, almost all opaque black stones are dyed routinely…to make them blacker. This would only matter of course, if you’re a purist and feel the dye would affect your working with that stone. I’d stick with smoky quartz myself.
Ametrine again is rare to find in the wild but *very* easy to make…by heat-treating the crystal. If you’re being sold ametrine at an outrageous price, there’s a good chance you’re getting ripped off. It’s probably heat-treated and being sold as “natural.”
Obsidian is one of my favorites, but have you ever heard of green obsidian? It’s pretty popular in some new-age circles. Thing is, it’s easily faked. Just a bit of green glass. You’d better know the person you’re buying this from.
Here’s another favorite for those of us who are money conscious…the difference between red agate and carnelian? Clarity. Carnelian will range in colors from light orange all the way to dark rust…but has minimal bits of white or transparency to it. If purity of color is your thing, by all means go for the carnelian. But if the exact same mineral and crystalline composition will do ya just fine? Red agate can often be far less expensive.
Oh, and “goldstone” is not a stone. Its glass mixed with copper shavings. Pretty, but not natural. Don’t get it confused with sunstone…which is natural but again occasionally faked. Not often, simply because there’s not that much call for sunstone.
Hematite is fabulous. It’s an iron ore…and will actually “bleed red” if you drill it. Thus the name, and its legendary association with blood issues. HOWEVER because it is an iron ore, it is far, far, far more economical to synthesize, melt it, pour it, and mold it than to dig it, pound it, and carve it. So allllllll those beads, rings, pendants, and what-nots made out of hematite are actually either “hemalyke” or “hematine” or some such name-brand man-made hematite. Especially the magnetized ones. Energetically? I find them to be almost identical. There are subtleties to me…but that’s me. You might not. So it may or may not matter, depending on how much of a purist you’re intending to be. For a collection? No, that won’t work. However, it’s not that hard to find pieces of chunk natural hematite if you’re interested. I’ve got quite a few myself.
This was another tip I’d gotten from my friend the rockhound. About five years ago or so there was a particular rock found…and it was claimed found only in this one precise location. It was given some obnoxiously white-light type name…Angel something-or-other. Only this particular stone from this particular region had these particular healing and meditational values…blah, blah, blah. This legendary gem was nothing but white quartz, often called snowy quartz. Seriously. That was all it was. And the rockhounds were openly laughing at the stupidity of the people who came in droves to buy these rocks. They sure as hell took their money, but they knew it was all bunk. Snake oil. Nothing but snake oil.
“Fairy crosses” otherwise known as staurolite really do grow that way. Really. But 75% of the ones found in stores are not staurolite. They’re carved rock made to look like staurolite.
Amber…gods I love amber…but again, check your sources. It’s very easily imitated with resin. The giveaway there is that if it’s warm…or burned…it will smell faintly pine-like. The odds are though that you won’t want to burn it…and can’t before you buy it anyway. This doesn’t mean that if it’s cheap, it’s not authentic, however. I’ve gotten some brilliant deals on the stuff from some fantastic jewelers who had connections in the Baltic. It’s more a warning for those of us haunting thrift stores and garage sales. Many of the older plastics can look amazingly like amber.
If you’re buying stones because they’re pretty…no big deal. If you’re buying stones because of the way they feel…no big deal. If you’re buying stones and minerals fora collection…there could be a problem. If you’re paying a shit ton of money because someone’s telling you this stone is the answer to all your needs…or because you need an amethyst, garnet, turquoise or what-have-you for some specific interaction…there’s likely a problem.
Get a good book with good pictures, hopefully one scientifically based, that will tell you the rarity, the hardness, and so forth so you have some background and knowledge before you buy anything. Read up on what you’re buying.
And if the person at the store sounds like a used-car salesman, back slowly away from the counter, put your wallet back in your purse or your pocket, and go home to do some research. You can always go back later…