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How to Tell if Turquoise is Real or Fake: Top 10 Expert Tips

Stunning greens and blues are what make turquoise so beautiful. This mineral is often the foundation of breathtaking jewelry pieces. Unfortunately, people also often replicate the stone, introducing countless fakes onto the market. Due to this infiltration, you may wonder how to tell if turquoise is real or fake.

silver native american turquoise cuff bracelet

Is the jewelry piece you own legitimate or a cheap knockoff? Figuring this out can help you avoid falling victim to unscrupulous sellers trying to hawk fake turquoise.

Embracing the Power and Mystique of Turquoise

One of the best options to tell if turquoise is real is to study more about the properties of the mineral. Natural turquoise consists of a hydrate of phosphate, copper, and aluminum.

Its color can range from vibrant blues to bright greens. Despite what it may seem, due to so much for sale on the market, genuine turquoise is fairly rare.

It only forms in specific regions that are dry and barren with copper-rich waters running underground.

Finding Your Shade: The World of Color and Texture in Turquoise

One of the main draws to turquoise is its coloring. It really is unique in how bright and vibrant it can be.

The characteristic brilliant blue-green color is simply stunning. The mineral’s hue differs depending on where it’s mined.

The particular makeup of the soils and other attributes of the area in which the turquoise formed play a huge role in what color it ends up being.

Location also impacts texture. The compression of the mineral will determine if the final result is compact and durable or crumbly and porous.

Some examples of the different types of turquoise based on location include:

  • Egypt – pure green coloring and highly compressed
  • Iran – black coloring that turns green, slightly porous 
  • U.S. Southwest – blue color and great compression

Authenticity Unleashed

What techniques are there to validate the realness of turquoise? Understanding the characteristics is only the start to tell if turquoise is real.

It is also important to test stones to ensure you have something genuine and not imitation.

1. How to tell if turquoise is real: Turquoise’s Strength

An important point of any mineral or stone is its strength, which separates genuine items from fakes. Professionals measure hardness by scratch resistance.

The hardness scale, or Mohs scale, runs from 1 to 10, with one being soft like a fingernail and 10 being diamond strength.

Turquoise rates at five or six on the Mohs scale. As with other minerals, professionals weigh turquoise by the carat or grams. Five carats are equal to one gram.

2. Check Turquoise Matrix: Mother Nature’s Artwork

One of the most distinguishing characteristics of real turquoise is its matrix. The matrix refers to the veins that traverse the entire stone.

These are naturally occurring and weave about to create patterns. The matrix introduces other colors into the mineral, with the rarest coloring being silver.

The matrix of a stone is unique, like a fingerprint. You will not find any two that are exactly the same unless the gemstones come from the exact same piece of stone.

Note that in real turquoise gemstones, these veins are entwined in the mineral. They do not cause depressions or lines that you could feel.

3. Unmask the Real Deal: Scratch Test

Turquoise can be brittle but fakes are much more so. Typically, counterfeiters use howlite and magnesite to create fake turquoise jewelry.

These substances are very soft and brittle, so the scratch and hot needle tests are ideal ways to spot a fake.

The scratch test involves using one piece of turquoise and scratching it against another. If the piece is fake, it will crumble. Real turquoise jewelry will not break or otherwise show signs of harm.

4. Hot Needle Test Demystified

To do the hot needle test, heat up a needle until it is red hot and then touch the stone. If there is any melting or other damage, such as smoking, the mineral is not real.

5. Shine Bright: Specific Gravity Test

The specific gravity test is a little complex. You will need to find the weight of the gem in the air. Take that figure and divide it by the weight of an equal volume of water.

If the stone is real, the resulting specific gravity will be 2.6 to 2.8.

6. UV Light Test for True Gems

Professionals often use UV light to identify authentic gemstones because many minerals glow under it. However, turquoise is not one of them.

So, if you place a piece under UV light and it glows, then it is fake.

7. Nail It with Acetone: The Must-Know Test for Turquoise Lovers

If you have what you think are genuine turquoise beads, there is a test that is super simple and easy to conduct.

Put a little of the acetone nail polish remover on a cotton swab and rub it against the gem. You shouldn’t get any residue or color on the swab.

8. How to tell if turquoise is real: Professional Appraisal

While all these tests can be helpful in seeking out imitation stones, the best way to determine the authenticity of your turquoise is to take it to a professional for an appraisal.

A professional has the training and expertise to be able to make an accurate determination. Plus, they have the ability to test without damaging the stone.

Stand Out in the Crowd: Recognize Imitations and Celebrate Authenticity

Another helpful tool to tell if turquoise is real is to understand the various fakes on the market.

Dyed Stones Beware: Spot the Difference and Embrace Your Genuine Style

Many people trying to create imitation turquoise rely on dying by using cheaper stones and making them the beautiful turquoise color.

Do note that some makers dye genuine stones to help get an even appearance, but the seller should disclose this.

9. How to tell if turquoise is real: Spot Reconstituted Turquoise

Reconstituted turquoise comes from small pieces of the mineral ground up and added to a resin or mix of other minerals.

The creator takes the mixture and forms it into a block from which they break off pieces to sell. They cannot create the matrix and the end result is very uniform in appearance.

A rough natural stone will always look unique, but it is not possible to do this with reconstituted products.

10. Plastic and Ceramic Imitations: Be True to Yourself, Not the Fakes

Plastic, epoxy, and resin can create nice-looking imitation turquoise, but they are too perfect. You will not get the depth of color or the intricate matrix with these knockoffs.

They are also usually very light and will fail any weight test.  Ceramic is a bit harder a substance some people use, but it lacks the opaqueness and is also very weak.

Authentic turquoise is expensive due to its rareness. You should not easily find good pieces or get amazing deals on them.

Look for turquoise to sell for about $1 to $10 a carat.

How to Care for your Turquoise

If you find your stone is real, the professional can also give you some details about it and potentially assist you with overall care.

Some of the common advice about turquoise maintenance includes:

  • Clean with warm, soapy water
  • Do not use steam
  • Do not use ultrasonic cleaners
  • Be cautious with heat or chemicals as they can damage treated surfaces

How to tell if turquoise is real: FAQs

How do you test for turquoise?

Testing methods to distinguish between real and fake turquoise may involve checking the hardness with a scratch test, determining the specific gravity number, or rubbing it with acetone.

How can you tell if turquoise is valuable?

All genuine turquoise is valuable. Exceptional pieces have intense color, no imperfections, and are larger in size.