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Real vs Fake Turquoise: Your Ultimate Guide to Spotting Imitations

Fake Turquoise Throughout History

Turquoise is a precious, ancient gemstone that has been utilized for centuries by renowned civilizations, including the ancient Egyptians, who used it for decorative purposes. As such, fake turquoise has existed just as long.

This has taken various forms, including blue glass, ceramic, and imitations, among others. The purpose of this article is to educate you on how to differentiate between real and fake turquoise so that you can be confident when purchasing this popular gemstone.

One way to distinguish fake turquoise from real turquoise is by examining its history. Ancient Egyptians and other early civilizations had difficulty acquiring real turquoise as it was rare.

Hence, they manufactured ceramic and glass versions to imitate the precious stone. In recent times, robins-egg blue and blue glass varieties have emerged as commonly used fake alternatives to real turquoise.

Differences Between Real and Fake Turquoise

Real turquoise is an aggregate stone that contains tiny crystals of copper and aluminum oxides, along with hydrated copper aluminum phosphate. Due to its unique composition, it has an evenly distributed greenish blue color and is opaque, making it easy to differentiate from imitations.

On the other hand, you can easily identify fake turquoise by examining its concentric bands. If there are obvious, inhomogeneous spots and zones, then it is most likely a fake.

Real turquoise is also acetone-resistant and scratch-resistant, meaning that you can handle it with a sharp object or acetone without damaging it. In contrast, fake turquoise tends to have white spots or discoloration when exposed to these substances.

Real turquoise also has conchoidal fractures, meaning that it will break into smooth, curved surfaces like shells, whereas imitation turquoise will fracture into shards.

Real Turquoise Characteristics

Real turquoise has inherent qualities that set it apart from imitations. It has a unique and consistent greenish blue color, which is evenly distributed throughout the stone.

It also lacks any white spots and has a smooth surface that is resistant to acetone and scratching. The significance of this gemstone cannot be underestimated, especially in the realm of ancient heritage.

It was highly prized by the Persians, the Zuni tribe, and the ancient Egyptians, and has a rich cultural history. It has been used in the creation of intricate jewelry designs that have stood the test of time.


In conclusion, genuine turquoise is a rare, valuable, and historic gemstone that has been used for centuries. It is incredibly resilient and resistant to staining and scratching.

Therefore, knowing how to differentiate it from fake turquoise is essential. By examining its color, concentric bands, and surface qualities, you can easily determine whether the gemstone is real or fake.

With the above information, you can now confidently purchase genuine turquoise and begin your journey to creating a collection of beautiful, authentic gemstones.

Types of Turquoise Fakes

While it is essential to know how to differentiate between real and fake turquoise, it is equally crucial to understand the different types of fake turquoise. Some fakes are more sophisticated than others and can easily deceive even experienced gemstone dealers and collectors.

Here, we will delve into the various types of fake turquoise and highlight their features.

Clarifying Terminology

Before examining the different fakes, it is necessary to note that the terms “stabilized turquoise” and “reconstructed turquoise” are not fake turquoises. These are natural minerals where the pores have been filled with a clear resin to fortify the stone and enhance its color.

On the other hand, reconstructed turquoise is made by pulverizing turquoise fragments mixed with binding agents before being molded into different shapes.

Imitation and Synthetic Turquoise

Imitation turquoises are made from almost anything such as plastic, glass, or howlite, among others. They contain no genuine turquoise and usually have a flat blue color with black or gray veins, which appear uniform.

Synthetic turquoise is made of synthetic material and is designed to resemble the natural blue-green color of genuine turquoise. It can be difficult to differentiate between synthetic turquoise and the real gemstone due to its identical color.

Plastic and Glass Fakes

Plastic fakes are the most common imitations. They look like turquoise at first, but on closer inspection, they have a distinct texture, similar to fingerprints, lacking the opacity of natural turquoise.

This texture is a result of plastic molding. Glass fakes also have a unique texture, with air bubbles that can be visible on the surface.

Glass appears more transparent than real turquoise, so if you observe it carefully under lights, you can see that it looks like plastic and lacks the luster of natural turquoise.

Other Turquoise Substitutes

Howlite, a white mineral with gray or black veins, is often used as a substitute for turquoise, mainly when dyed in blue. Marcasite is a mineral that is close to metallic turquoise, although its rough texture means it is not used as a substitute.

Variscite has a significant resemblance to turquoise but is greener. It is often marketed under fake brand names that suggest traditional southwestern Native American origin.

Chrysocolla, on the other hand, looks like greenish blue turquoise and is regarded as a semi-precious stone. Gilson turquoise is a synthetic material created to replicate the color and texture of natural turquoise.

Sophisticated Fakes

Sophisticated fakes are made from high-quality materials that can easily deceive even the most experienced gemstone dealers. They may include artificial ingredients that have similar physical and optical properties to the real stone.

For instance, they are made using the same materials as dyes, bonds, and resins that can create similar texture, luster, and matrix color as natural turquoise. These fakes have a similar appearance as real turquoise, as seen in the color, texture, and luster, and they may also weigh the same as natural turquoise.

How to Tell if Turquoise is Real or Fake

Gemstone testing should mainly be performed by a professional gemologist. However, if you want to test whether your turquoise is real or fake, there are several practical techniques you can conduct.

You should note that non-destructive features are preferable since they do not damage the gemstone.

Non-destructive Features to Spot Fake Turquoise

To examine the luster of your gemstone, rub the surface slightly with a soft cloth, and observe the shine produced. Natural turquoise has a waxy luster that reflects light and is light-sensitive.

The Fracture test involves checking the surface of your turquoise for strength. A real gemstone will have a distinct uneven fracture, while a fake stone’s fracture will be smooth.

The texture involves examining the grain structure of your turquoise. A real stone will have a rough surface.

The matrix color and presence of white spots test involves examining the markings on the surface of the turquoise. A real stone will have random and unique vein-like markings, while an imitation will have uniform markings.

Concentration of the blue color can also indicate a fake. Genuine turquoise has unique banded areas of color on the surface, while most imitations will have a flat color.

The touch test involves feeling the surface of the turquoise and comparing it to plastic or glass.

Destructive Features to Spot Fake Turquoise

Destructive features, as the name suggests, entail destroying the stone. Hot needle tests involve heating the surface of the stone for some time with a hot needle before observing if it changes color.

A real gemstone will preserve its color, while a fake will have a plastic appearance. The scratch test involves creating a small scratch using a sharp tool on the surface of the turquoise, which will not harm it if it is genuine.

Acetone rest is done by applying a small amount of acetone on the surface, and observing it for any discoloration. Crushing the rough involves crushing the rough stone’s surface and examining the color of the powder.

Where to Buy Real Turquoise

It is essential to purchase turquoise that is genuine, and this often entails purchasing from reputable dealers with a proven track record. You can buy real turquoise from historical deposits, reputable suppliers, or family-owned businesses, mineral shows, and online platforms.

When purchasing, always look for a certificate of authenticity and origin, as this will confirm whether the stone has been treated or is genuine.


Turquoise is a spectacular gemstone with a rich cultural heritage that has been cherished for centuries. The rarity of the gemstone makes it highly sought after, and acquiring it requires scrutiny and knowledge of how to differentiate it from fakes.

In conclusion, this article has highlighted the different types of fake turquoise and how to spot them.

The Rarity of Turquoise

Turquoise is a rare gemstone that occurs in few deposits worldwide. The largest producers are located in the southwestern areas of the United States, namely Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico.

The other well-known deposits are situated in Iran and China. Due to its scarcity, the gemstone is considered valuable, making it a collectible and sought-after item.

Tips for Spotting Fake Turquoise

To spot fake turquoise, it is essential to know what to look for. This article has provided both non-destructive and destructive testing methods such as the touch test, scratch test, and acetone test.

Other factors include examining the appearance of the gemstone, matrix texture, presence of white spots, and concentration of the blue color. If these factors are absent, then the gemstone is likely an imitation.

The texture and matrix color of the fake turquoise will appear uniform and their luster will lack the sheen of genuine turquoise.

Natural-Colored Turquoise

Turquoise, like other gemstones, can be treated to enhance its color, making it more valuable. It is essential to purchase a certificate of authenticity and origin when buying turquoise to ensure that it is genuine and untreated.

Final Thoughts

Turquoise is a gemstone of exceptional beauty and cultural significance that is highly valued. It is an important part of the Southwestern Native American culture and is often used in intricate designs in jewelry and art.

Turquoise collectors often seek out natural-colored turquoise that is untreated and unadulterated. Spotting fake turquoise can be challenging, but with practice and knowledge, it can be a rewarding experience that provides you with genuine gemstones for your collection.

In conclusion, identifying fake turquoise can be a challenging task, but with the right knowledge and skills, one can choose genuine stones in the market. From the types of fake turquoise to the tips for spotting genuine turquoise, this article has covered all the essential aspects that buyers and collectors need to know to purchase authentic turquoise.

Turquoise remains a rare, valuable, and prestigious gemstone that has been cherished for centuries, and it is vital to be careful when purchasing it to avoid being duped. Here are a few frequently asked questions and their answers on the subject:


– What are the different types of fake turquoise?

There are several types of fake turquoise, including plastic and glass fakes, synthetic turquoise, and natural mineral substitutes that can imitate the appearance of real turquoise such as howlite and chrysocolla. – How can you tell if turquoise is real?

You can use non-destructive features such as examining the luster and color of the turquoise, texture, the matrix color, the presence of white spots, or even conducting a touch test. Destructive features include performing hot needle tests, acetone and scratch tests, or crushing the rough.

– How can I make sure I am buying genuine turquoise? It is critical to purchase turquoise from reputable dealers with a proven track record and look for certificates of authenticity and origin before purchasing the gemstone.

Additionally, ensure that you are buying natural-colored turquoise and be wary of treated or enhanced stones.

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