Natural and Man Made Crystals
We are often asked which crystals are natural and which are manmade, treated or enhanced. Crystals like citrine, turquoise, agate, amber, hematite and many of the gem type crystals are often 'enhanced'. This guide covers a few of the basic ones gleaned from many years as a crystal dealer. The director of Unlimited Exotica has a science background and holds a degree in Chemistry.
Most crystals sold as citrine are heat treated amethyst. When amethyst is heated the purple colour turns to a bright yellow/orange colour. It is possible to find natural citrine on ebay, but the vast majority is heat treated. Of course if one is interested just in colour (from a metaphysical point of view) then this would still be fine.
Heat Treated Citrine Natural Citrine
Jewellery made from turquoise is often stabilized (ie treated to make it more durable). Some stabilization techniques affect the crystal structure more than others. A lot of 'turquoise' from China is dyed howlite (so always be careful and check the origin if possible). Again, it is possible to find natural turquoise,- much of which originates in Arizona.
Dyed Howlite Natural Turquoise - Kingman, Az.
Agate is one of the best known examples of colour enhancing. This is a common practice in Brazil. The bright pinks, purples, blues, greens etc are all dyed. This includes agate slices, slabs, bookends, carvings, spheres etc. There are some colourful natural agates though,- blue lace agate, pink moss agate and a few more.
Dyed Agate Natural Blue Lace Agate
Amber is fossillized tree resin (often containing small insects). Often (again especially from China), artificial resin is impregnated with insects and sold as amber (often with large creatures like scorpions, butterflys etc). Amber can also be melted down and insects inserted in it too. Natural amber can be found though with a little research.
Natural amber specimen Natural amber with insect inclusion
Most tumbled hematite crystals are natural, but most hematite jewellery is not. Hematite is ground and mixed into a paste like substance and then set into shapes for jewellery. This is why hematite necklaces and other hematite jewellery is so inexpensive (imagine carving the beads by hand).
Reconstituted Hematite Natural Polished Hematite
Other crystals that are commonly misnamed as natural includes the following. Sunstone (natural) is often confused with goldstone (man-made). Moonstone (natural) is often confused with opalite (man-made). Fibre optic (man-made) is often confused with cat's eye or tiger eye (both natural).
Many other crystals are colour enhanced, but we will deal with these in a latter guide.
We hope this guide answers a few questions about which crystals are natural and which are not. Always do as much research as possible when buying your crystals and don't be afraid to ask the seller if the crystal is natural or man made. Most will only be too happy to answer your questions.