Wondering if you have real or fake amethyst on your hands?
You're in the right place.
In this Learning Guide, I'll answer the following questions:
- What's the Difference Between Natural and Synthetic Amethyst?
- Where is Real Amethyst Found?
- What is Fake Amethyst?
What is Natural Amethyst?
Natural amethysts are crystals found in geodes in alluvial deposits and in pegmatites. It's the light lilac purple color to dark purple colored variety of quartz. Quartz is the most abundant mineral found in the earth and is the species responsible for other popular gemstones and healing crystals. Some of these include:
- Clear Quartz Crystals
- Rose Quartz
- Smoky Quartz
Natural Amethyst vs Treated Amethyst Stones
Many gemstones receive gem treatments. Some of them impact value and others don't. Heat treated stones are a lab's way of enhancing gemstone color the same way natural sunlight or heat inside the earth does for mined gems.
Amethyst material occurs in different purple shades. People will buy crystals of amethyst in any shade. For fine jewelry, best quality amethyst is a medium dark purple color.
Treated amethyst stones are still natural, but they decrease the value. Already an affordable stone, amethyst doesn't need treatment.
Read also: Best Places to Buy Amethyst Necklaces
Amethysts aren't subjected to heat treatment to enhance its shade. When amethyst is heat treated, it becomes citrine. Most citrine on the market is heat-treated amethyst. It can also be heated to the color of smoky quartz.
Natural Amethyst vs Synthetic Amethyst
Most gemstones have a synthetic or lab created version of themselves. Since natural amethysts are inexpensive and common, there's little demand for man-made amethyst gems. They exist, despite this. They're easier and cheaper for both the seller and the person buying amethyst.
A synthetic amethyst is a real amethyst gem. It has the same chemical, physical, and optical properties as a natural amethyst crystal. The main difference between a natural amethyst crystal and a synthetic stone is the gem's origin. Synthetic stones are produced in a laboratory environment.
Yes, synthetic crystals are lab created crystals, not fake crystals. Scientists can recreate the natural process the earth uses to form real amethyst with all the same properties as an earth mined amethyst.
Since natural amethysts are commonly found crystal clear, it can be hard to tell if amethysts are lab created or natural stones. Usually we recommend to only purchase gemstones with a gem certificate from a legitimate grading lab.
With amethysts, you'll rarely find a certified one. Gem certifications are mainly used for precious gemstones like rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and diamonds.
What is a Fake Amethyst Stone?
Amethyst isn't often faked because of its affordability and abundance as a gemstone. You shouldn't be concerned about the genuine amethyst jewelry when buying from an online retailer with lots of reviews and customer testimonies.
If you're looking for an amethyst engagement ring crafted in white gold or yellow gold on a marketplace like Etsy, it more likely you'll run into fake gemstones there.
A fake stone can be a real gemstone or a fake one. It can also be made of another material entirely, like glass. Glass stones are the most common gemstone imitation out there.
Cubic zirconia is another common stone imitation. It's available in virtually any shade and produced cheaply. Dark purple and light purple cubic zirconia can pass for a fake amethyst gem at first glance.
Amethyst Gem Trade Names
- Siberian Amethyst
- Rose de France
- Chevron Amethyst Quartz
- Bengal Amethyst
- Japanese Amethyst
- Desert Amethyst
- Lithia Amethyst
Real Amethyst vs Fake Amethyst: What's the Difference?
If you're not a gemstone expert, it might be hard for you to know how to tell if amethyst is real. There are some ways that can help you tell if other gems are real, but have no effect on if an amethyst is real. Some tests can be performed on the amethyst stone itself with everyday objects and others can be seen by looking at it.
Read also: How to Tell if Diamond is Real?
Expensive gemstone equipment is always needed to tell if amethyst is fake or authentic amethyst. The easiest way to tell if amethyst is real is with the naked eye. A jeweler's loupe or magnifying glass would be really helpful too.
Color and Patterns
Amethysts aren't always completely purple colors. They can have different hues of purple and pink. They aren't always the same purple saturation throughout the amethyst crystal either. Like some other stones, amethysts are subject to color zoning.
Color zoning is what happens when there are dark and light colors within the same crystal. Pieces of glass posing as authentic gems aren't able to replicate the color zoning of a real stone.
You can find other real gem material with injected dyes being passed off as amethyst in marketplaces. You can tell someone selling fake amethyst with injected dyes by observing the color. If you see small patches of pigment in the cracks of amethyst, it's fake.
This one's really simple, but works best on a larger pieces of amethyst stones, not a faceted gem. It's easier with amethyst crystal points, polished and cut amethyst cabochons, or raw crystals.
Keep in mind this isn't a surefire way to determine if your amethyst is real or fake. When you hold the amethyst in your hand, it should be cool. Close your fist around the stone. If it warms up, it's probably not amethyst. Amethyst can remain a relatively low temperature, even exposed in sunlight.
Inclusions are usually an indication of real crystals. Not in an amethyst stone. It's common to find the gem's clarity to have little to no inclusions. Avoid heavily included, translucent, or opaque faceted amethyst gems.
Moh's Hardness Scale
More and more engagement ring buyers are learning about the mineral scale of hardness. A gemstone or mineral's hardness determines its ability to be scratched by dust and dirt in the air.
A lot of people don't know that some of the dust and dirt in our air is actually microscopic pieces of quartz. After years of wear almost every day, a gem can become scratched by the air particles. This is outside all wear and tear you might inflict on it.
Some gems are soft and are better worn as occasionally. If worn everyday as a ring, it's likely it'll need to be replaced down the road. Some stones are inexpensive to replace and doesn't bother the wearer. Other high quality soft gemstones can be more expensive to replace, like opal engagement rings.
A big misconception about a gem's hardness is the belief it's the same thing as the durability. The Mohs hardness scale only indicates whether it can be scratched by different things such as steel or glass, not its overall wearability. Amethysts are give a rates a 7 on the Mohs scale. With other gemstone durability factors included, it's considered to be a tough stone and have very good wearability.
The Scratch Test and Streak Test
The scratch test is a common hardness test you at home can perform on many gems to discern if you have a different mineral on your hands. It won't tell you what the stone or material is, but more likely tell you if the amethyst is real.
You can drag your purple stone against a glass surface. If it leaves a white streak on the glass, the stone is not real amethyst.
Amethyst's Specific Gravity
This test is a bit more complex than the others on this list. Every gemstone has a specific gravity value that can be tested. A gem's specific gravity is the density, and it can help identify if it is real or fake. You'll need some equipment for this one:
- set of scales
- beaker or a glass
- Place the glass on the scale and record the beaker's original weight.
- Take it off and do the same thing for your supposed amethyst gem.
- Add a little bit of water to the beaker, enough to submerge your amethyst. Write how much water you added.
- Place the stone in the beaker and write how much the water rose.
- Take the measurement of Step #3 and subtract it from Step #4. The result is how much water has been displaced by the stone.
- Drain the water and remove the amethyst, then fill it back up with the amount of water displaced (Your answer to #5) and weigh the beaker again. Record that number.
- Take the beaker's original weight (Step #1) and subtract the answer from Step #6. If the number is 2.65, it may be real amethyst.
You should keep in mind that all varieties of quartz will test at 2.65, so don't rely on this one as a standalone test.
As you can see, there are plenty of tests on how to tell if amethyst is real. The best way to determine if you have genuine amethyst on your hands is to bring it to a gemstone expert or a local jeweler. Avoid bringing it to places like Kay or Jared, because their staff aren't trained gemologists.
Read also: Kay vs Zales
Typically the best way to ensure you have a real gemstone on your hands is to buy one with a gem certification from a reliable grading lab, such as the Gemological Institute of America. However, this is usually done for more valuable stones like precious gems.
When buying amethyst online, you don't necessarily need a certificate. It's affordable enough that you shouldn't worry about running into a fake one among online jewelry stores. You're more likely to encounter fakes on Facebook groups, Etsy, Ebay, and Amazon.