Know Your Minerals! Buyer Beware!

Like many other markets today, there are vendors and middlemen ready to take your money for specimens, material and pieces that are man made, or material that is sold as something it is not. To make matters worse, the plethora of marketing terms and new names for minerals and material has made buying confusing. 

If you are paying a significant amount of money for a specimen, crystal or jewelry with a stone, be sure you know your material before you put your money on the counter. If you are not sure, you can ask an expert or a friend who is knowledgeable. Don't be fooled. 

Today's market includes resins sold by the Chinese market and designed to look like turquoise or amber. There are also U.S. dealers who are happy to take your money. For example, you might see a fake piece of Howlite, dyed and prepared to look like Turquoise. This piece is made of resin and made to look like Turquoise.

It is advertised as 'faux turquoise' so, in this case, there is nothing underhanded. But, there are just as many dealers out there who are happy to sell manufactured material as the real thing!

If you can't afford the real thing and you are buying these pieces at an appropriate price, by all means, buy the piece. You might like the look of the piece. You might not care that it is dyed and you might be perfectly satisfied with replacement material. But if you are buying a piece that is reputed to be real opal, amber, turquoise or other material and paying a high price in the bargain, you are wasting your money. 

Take a look at this video on how to tell the difference between fake and real opals:

A synthetic opal ring may be beautiful but it should be sold as synthetic at an appropriate price, as this sample ring was.

In the metaphysical stone market, new names for things like 'phantoms', e.g., 'ghost quartz' allow vendors to charge more for something that is 'rare' or a 'new find' when, in fact, this material has been around for a long time. The piece is still valuable but it is not the new and different configuration, habit, color or material you might think. Buyer beware! Beware the dealer who sells you on a piece based on some new trademarked nickname or re-branded ID. 

Take a look at this 'ghost quartz', more commonly known as a 'phantom'. 

Vendors will often use the name they want to give the stone, or the name given the stone or habit of growth by someone who has written a book and wants to put a new spin on a well-known, existing mineral, shape or color. They do this to differentiate their product from other vendor products and will even trademark these new names and titles so that others cannot use the name to identify their products without paying a fee to the trademark owner. 

The mineral and metaphysical stone market can be confusing, even when you know what you are doing. Minerals sometimes have more than one name. For example, Lithium is also called Lepidolite and Amber is known as Copal or Amber, depending on the age of the material. Get yourself some reference books to help you through the process. A good field book will provide habits of growth, location of deposits, color spectrum, etc. A good metaphysical book will give you a brief, concise description of the healing qualities of the stone, and may also provide pictures, locations of deposits and other important information. 

If you love a piece, by all means buy it, but be sure you are an educated consumer and that you know the real value and rarity of the piece you are buying. Don''t hesitate to ask the dealer how to care for your piece. Find out if you can put it in a window with full sunlight, or if the color will fade. Find out if you can put the piece in water and how to clean it. You'll need to know if your piece has been dyed. If it has, you may not be able to put it in water, or you will lose the color. You don't want to damage your specimen or jewelry!

As with any other purchase, always deal with a reputable, honest dealer. Get references from other buyers and friends whenever possible and seek the advice of an expert or someone who is familiar with a particular stone or material before you make a buying decision. If you know what you want to buy, try to get this information in advance. Find out what you should look for in color, growth patterns, provenance, size, and market prices for the material. 

You will be happy you did!

In reply to the question about 'Rabbit Hair Quartz', this is a perfect example of a stone or habit of growth that already has a recognized name but is given another name to make it seem like something new. Rabbit Hair Quartz is Rutilated Quartz. The rutile that grows inside the quartz is usually titanium! Hope this helps. 

1 comment

  • What is rabbit hair quartz? Is it real?


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