Monday, September 14, 2015

FYI: Some "Gemstones" That Aren't Really Gems At All!

To help identify genuine minerals and gemstones, here is a great website that shows pictures of gems alphabetically:
When you click on "Gemstones" at the top of the page, you can search by color as well.  
It seems like every week, a "new" gemstone is found online, with little or no information at all about it.  And jewelry designers will use these stones and pass along the information they are given by the wholesaler, and pretty soon, the misinformation seemingly becomes accepted as fact.

Yet, with just a little effort, anyone can find out about these stones.  But it doesn't seem like consumers or even jewelry designers bother to spend a few minutes researching these stones.

There are SO many fakes and frauds, or what I like to call "creative marketing" of gemstones,  that I could write many blog entries....and I have!!  But I thought it would be easier to just start a quick list of "gemstones" that aren't really gems at all.  I hope this is informative, or at least gets people to do their own research on gemstones before buying!

This list is a work in progress and I'll update it as I get more info.

November 27, 2018 - There is a genuine gem called "strawberry quartz" (as well as glass beads sold as this gemstone) and it's called that because there are reddish inclusions of Lepidocrocite inside the clear quartz which gives it a strawberry color.  This is iron oxide, which is red to reddish brown like rust.  So because of the Lepidocrocite inside clear quartz, it's called Strawberry Quartz.
So how can there be "green" strawberry quartz?  Answer: there isn't.  There are quartz gems with mossy green minerals inside (several different minerals) and are called things like "moss agate" or "phantom quartz" etc.  The green minerals are a darker forest or grass green color, not kelly green as seen on ebay. Most of the so-called "green srawberry quartz" are either man-made glass, or are dyed quartz, or Aventurine. 

October 5, 2018 - This glass bead is being sold on ebay (from China) as a "natural moonstone" gem.  It is a manmade glass, and comes in a frosted (matte) glass, a smooth shiny glass, in a darker grey and a very light white.  It's just glass.  Alibaba is selling it as glass.

 April 18, 2018 -  This stone is being sold as a gemstone, particularly on Etsy, and it's a glass "cat's eye" stone.  This is manufactured and sold by - where it's clearly offered as a glass stone for costume jewelry...yet sellers are claiming it's a gem.  It's NOT!  I wrote about this HERE.

June 4, 2018:  This stone is being sold, again almost exclusively on Etsy.  I have found absolutely no information anywhere about this stone, which is being sold as "coated silicatite" with no further description.  There is something online called silicalite (example: " titanium silicalite zeolite catalyst") but NOTHING about silicatite other than as a typo regarding silicalite. There are a couple of sellers online who have purchased this and made it into jewelry and selling it as "silicatite."

I contacted the etsy wholesaler weeks ago and asked what this material specifically is, and received a response many weeks later stating it's "a coated gemstone" but nothing more.  Odd that there was no explanation as to where it was mined, what it is, NOTHING, just that it's a "coated gemstone".  I sent an email to the other seller (an online shop) and am awaiting a response--I don't expect to ever receive one.  Until I can confirm that this is an actual gemstone, for example that it's Sillimanite,  (It looks a lot like "silverite"--see below.)  I don't consider this to be a legit gem, and it could possibly be glass or some sort of created stone, or something like sillimanite but has been given a different name.
Strangely, there are two entirely different-looking "silicatite" gems for sale.  One type looks like a brownish or blue-brown mottled stone (or glass bead?) with maybe a clear (?) coating and sold as rondelles, and the other "silicatite" is sold as faceted pears with a silvery or blue-ish metallic coating.  I'm not sure if it's due to photography differences, as these are two different sellers.  Either way, there is no gem by this name anywhere---except for those sellers.


July 1, 2016 - I had 3 samples of "silverite" examined by a certified gemologist.  If you read my blog or even shop on Etsy, you will see "Silverite" jewelry for sale---yet each seller seems to have their own description of what it is; i.e., "white sapphire", "pearlized Corundum", "Diamond Coated Quartz" etc.  (Read HERE.)   This gemologist examined the 3 separate pieces of this "Silverite" using various tests, including microscopic examination and other tests. She found no indication that any of these were minerals, but were all GLASS with a coating, some sort of pearlescent paint or coating.  She is a professional jeweler, a certified gemologist with one of the world's largest and most well-known and well-respected gemstone suppliers----and she never even heard of "silverite" and consulted with others in her field--and they never heard of "silverite" either.  (I showed her listings on Etsy and she was shocked.) She examined three separate pieces from 3 different sellers, and determined that ALL WERE COATED GLASS.  These are NOT "corundum" or "sapphire" or "quartz" or any sort of gemstone or mineral AT ALL.  PERIOD.  Silverite is a FRAUD. Beware.

UPDATE August 2016----someone contacted me to insist that their strands of pink silverite have been tested and CONFIRMED to be corundum (sapphire)!  The big problem with this is so obvious:  why would anyone sell genuine, precious pink sapphire gemstones as "silverite" or by any other mysterious name?  That would be like selling precious Muzo emeralds as "Muzite" or genuine precious diamonds as "Glitzite" or something----NO ONE WOULD DO THAT!  And beyond that, the gemstone dealer in India who claims to mine these silverite stones, told me that these are "NOT corundum" but are a "new gemstone" that is "uncoated and untreated".   Yet, I still haven't had any of this silverite material tested and confirmed to be anything OTHER than coated glass.  So the idea that these are sapphires is ridiculous.

UPDATE March 2017 - another seller from India is now marketing this "silverite" as "Sillimanite" on their Etsy shop page.  I've also received a couple of emails (probably from these same people) telling me that silverite is the same thing as Sillimanite.  Well, that's not exactly true---there is STILL no such gemstone registered anywhere as "Silverite".  Strangely, sillimanite is considered to be a collector's gem, and can be very pricey.  I would think if this Sillimanite is being sold, it should be sold as what it is---Sillimanite.  To call it silverite is not a good marketing idea.  Reminder: all of the silverite I've had tested---ALL----has been glass.  I have not had this new sillimanite tested.

This material is sold, mostly on Etsy, as "Scorolite Opal".  There is NO SUCH GEM as Scorolite Opal, or Scorolite, at all.  I've posted about this gem in 2015 HERE, and now it seems Etsy sellers are calling this "Scapolite".  Scapolite is a genuine gemstone. Scorolite is not.  The two are not related.  Most of this "scorolite" looks to be glass.  It's possibly quartz, or silica quartz (glass).  But...IT'S NOT A GEMSTONE!

June 4, 2018:  Of course, turquoise IS a genuine gemstone!  However, there are a lot of fakes in the marketplace----everything from "yellow turquoise" (jasper) to "buffalo white" (howlite or magnesite) to vibrant rainbow colored "turquoise" stones (dyed howlite), to composite turquoise (which actually IS turquoise).  I've written about this separately, and HERE is a link to my post about this. 


Wow---this slag glass is being sold as a "crystal" with mysterious and magical powers.  Slag glass is just simply glass that is left over from manufacturing, and is found in all sorts of sizes of these chunks of glass, and in various colors.  It is JUST GLASS.  Sometimes, sellers on Etsy and Ebay appear to be selling chunks of broken glass, maybe bottles or something like that.  There are also pieces of glass that are sold to be used in fireplaces and outdoor gardens that are also being used in jewelry and sold as "Andara Crystal."  

This is simply GLASS.
Please---buyer beware!!


  • Cherry Quartz 
  • Blueberry Quartz
  • Pineapple Quartz
  • Strawberry Quartz 
 These "fruit" quartz stones are actually GLASS with swirling colors inside the glass.  Please note that fruity "Lemon Quartz" is an actual gemstone.  Sometimes, genuine quartz with encapsulated red Hematite needles (sometimes referred to as "Lepidocrocite" which is also false) is sold as Strawberry Quartz. From to describe genuine Strawberry Quartz:  "Pinkish to amethystine quartz containing microscopic hair-like or tabular red crystals of hematitite" and these appear to be deep watermelon-colored quartz crystals with sparkling "hair" inclusions.  See here for pictures of genuine strawberry quartz.
  • Opalite, Opal Quartz, Sea Opal, Opal Moonstone, or sometimes just Moonstone

    Opalite GLASS
Just because the word "Opal" is in the name Opalite doesn't mean it's any form of Opal!  This is simply GLASS, and can be found at such places as Michael's craft store where it is sold as "Opalite Glass" -- at least they're honest!  There are a LOT of sellers hawking opalite on Ebay and Etsy under the guise of "Moonstone" and other misleading names.  Opalite is not a form of quartz, it's not an opal or a moonstone or any type of gemstone----it's just glass.  I've written about this a LOT on my blog.
  • Tangerine Quartz

    Tangerine Quartz: Mystic coated?
I haven't been able to determine if this is a real quartz, perhaps treated, a more "orange" color of citrine, or if it's just a coated quartz ("sunset" or "Tangerine Aura") or if it's glass.  I haven't found any tests that were run on this yet, so I can't say for sure.  There is a lot of misinformation about this, some obviously coated crystals, but some crystals clusters that appear to have an orange color within the stone. 
  • Mystic Aura Coated Quartz Crystals

    Mystic Quartz? Looks like Glass to me!!
Many of these quartz crystals are actual quartz crystals that are coated in various metals like titanium and gold to produce beautiful rainbow-like effects.  However, there are LOTS of these mystic aura crystals that are nothing more than coated GLASS, mostly coming from China.  Not all of these crystals from China are glass, and it's very hard to tell (especially online), but if the prices are very low (like on Alibaba) then they most probably are coated glass.  Ebay has a large number of sellers from outside the USA who are selling these pastel-colored coated crystals in colors like lavender and peach and seafoam and turquoise-blue, very pretty---but not necessarily genuine Quartz crystals.  I bought a few strands of these pastel crystals, had them examined by a gemologist, and they were ALL glass.   I bought some titanium coated crystals and they were quartz.   So it's hit or miss.  Be careful when buying these!
  • Fake Rutilated Quartz and Fake Tourmalinated Quartz

    Phony Glass "Rotayti" - In Black and Green!
Found all over the internet, lots of this obvious glass material with "confetti" or scratches and bubbles inside, on Ebay and on Etsy.  One big giveaway is that it is sold as "Rotayti" which is a name that doesn't even exist.  It's obviously a mangled version of the word Rutile or Rutilated, and Etsy sellers (who don't even make the jewelry but buy it from China or India, sadly) just pass along this "Rotayti" as though it's some gemstone!  Wow!  These are terrible looking fakes.  Nothing is found in nature that looks like that!!  Here are the real quartz gems:

Rutilated Quartz is a natural gem---clear quartz with encapsulated "needles" of Rutile (Titanium Dioxide), in golds, browns, or reddish colors.  Often looks like strands of golden hair.

Tourmalinated Quartz is a natural gem---clear quartz with encapsulated "needles" of Tourmaline, usually black but sometimes green.

  • Hydro Quartz

    "Paraiba" HydroQuartz?
Yes, there are actual man-made "hydroquartz" stones that have the same physical, chemical and optical properties as natural quartz---in other words, they are synthetic quartz stones (Amethyst and Citrine). However, a HUGE number of these so-called "hydroquartz" stones being sold today are nothing more than GLASS.   Glass is non-crystalline, whereas minerals have crystal structure.  I have only seen these "hydroquartz" stones, fashioned into briolettes and pears and cushion cut stones and many other shapes, sold on strands or in pairs, online, or sometimes at gem shows---NEVER at reputable jeweler wholesalers, such as Rio Grande Jewelry.    I have personally purchased hydroquartz stones from various sellers online  and have had them examined and tested by a gemologist, and sad to say---all were glass, NONE were quartz.  Personal communications with the GIA have also confirmed that only testing will reveal if these are glass, or quartz.  I hate seeing these stones sold with HIGHLY misleading names, such as "London Blue quartz" or "Tanzanite quartz" or "Paraiba Quartz" which are the names of actual gemstones.  To me, this is beyond "creative marketing" and is designed to fool buyers into thinking they're getting London Blue Topaz or Paraiba Tourmaline.  So be careful when buying this "hydro quartz". 


These are spectacularly beautiful GLASS stones, in deep blue or coppery gold, and sometimes green and purple.  They are absolutely man-made, not gemstones, and are made in a controlled environment with copper and cobalt oxides, and form beautiful and sparkling crystals which are captured within this very hard glass.  This glass can be faceted and carved into various shapes.  Gorgeous stones, but beware of any seller who claims this is a gemstone!  It is only a type of Venetian glass.  I've written a lot about this in my blog.

I just saw someone selling this as "Blue Sandstone", saying it's a natural gemstone with all sorts of metaphysical properties, "composed of quartz or feldspar because these are the most common minerals in the Earth's crust. The sand inside creates the blue color. For this reason, this substance is named "Blue sandstone."  WHAT?  That's just completely random nonsense, like words just strung together!  (Blue sand??)  This person obviously copied/pasted Wikipedia's description of the real sandstone...except for the blue part, which they made up.  There is NO sand inside this stone, it's not made of quartz or feldspar (??), and it's just simply the man-made Venetian glass called Blue Goldstone.  WOW.


So-called "Sandstone" which is actually glass Goldstone
I've so astonished at how MUCH of this is being sold now that I wanted to give this "sandstone" it's own section here.  There are pages and pages of this being sold on Etsy as a "gemstone" called "Sandstone" or  "Blue Sandstone" and it's even listed as a form of Quartz!  On Etsy, if you search for "sandstone", there are over 2,100 listings for jewelry and over 950 listings for supplies, with featured listings of this NON-sandstone material.
Real Sandstone--No Glass or Sparkles

This is still just a glass called Goldstone or Blue Goldstone (see the post above).  Of course there is a stone called "sandstone" but that's NOTHING like this Venetian glass that's filled with sparkles.  Every seller from China or India as well as in the US seems to have a new "creative" name for this material.  One year it's "Galaxy Stone", the next it's "Sun Sitara", and now it seems to be Sandstone. Whatever you call it, or claim it to be, it's still NOT quartz or any type of "sandstone" or any sort of stone or mineral at all.  EVER.  There is no "sand" inside it.   It's man-made Italian glass.

There is a seller from India who, although describing this as "Lab Sandstone" (which is only half-right---it is made in a lab!), goes on to describe it like this: "Sandstone has a beautiful glittering sunlight effect as a result of its tiny metallic inclusions (millions of particles playfully interact with light). This feature is known as "Schiller" or "Aventurescence"."  Again, they're half-right!  It is beautiful and glittering with tiny metallic particles, but it is NOT Schiller or Aventurescence.  Those are terms used to describe shimmering or glittering effects in GEMS--not man-made glass.


This is an artificial magnetic material called hematine, not a gemstone, and is commonly seen in jewelry.  It's referred to as "Hemalyke" or "Hemalike" as well as "Magnetic Hematite".
Carved Victorian Hematite Brooch

There is a genuine mineral called Hematite that ranges in color from red to brown ("bloodstone"), and metallic dark grey, steel grey,  and black.


Hematite in quartz---NOT Lepidocrocite
The red formations you see inside so-called "Lepidocrocite" are actually hematite crystals within quartz.  (Lepidocrocite is an actual mineral, but is not the commonly-seen stone as pictured.) Although quartz with hematite crystals is an actual gemstone, it is not "lepidocrocite" which is a very common misnomer.  There are no known quartz stones with lepidocrocite inside--it's always hematite.

Here is a picture of genuine lepidocrocite:

Actual Lepidocrocite crystals


This colorful, banded stone was marketed a few years back as a "mined gemstone" found in Mexico.  Still today, some people are claiming it's mined, or it's "a mystery--is it real or not?" which is a way to generate interest in this colorful stone.  But testing has conclusively revealed that this is just an assembled manmade stone that is basically layers of pigments, resin, clay, polymers, etc. that is assembled into pressed slabs and then polished and marketed as Rainbow Calsilica.  There is NO QUESTION---two world-renowned labs have tested this, and it is absolutely not mined, not found in nature.  You can read one of the reports yourself:


Apollo Cultured Created Diamonds

Although there are a few facilities around the world that actually create diamonds in a lab (synthetic diamonds, or "cultured diamonds"), these diamonds are pretty expensive (almost the cost of a natural diamond) and must have a laser engraving in the stone's girdle to indicate that it is, in fact, a created man-made diamond.  These are beautiful and flawless, and definitely NOT blood diamonds, but they are pricey.

  • NOTE:  A lot of people don't understand the difference between "synthetic" and "simulated" gemstones, and think they're the same thing.  No!  In the jewelry world, "synthetic" means man-made, or grown in a lab, but it has the same chemical, physical and optical properties as its natural counterpart.  So a "synthetic" ruby is a ruby, only lab-created.  A "simulated" stone means that only looks like another stone.  It doesn't have any of the physical or chemical properties.  A crystal is a diamond simulant--it only looks like a diamond.  So is a Cubic Zirconia (CZ).  A red CZ can be a ruby simulant.  So a synthetic gem and a simulated gem are two very different things!

Some sellers are offering CZ (Cubic Zirconia) jewelry, and are calling these "created diamonds".  This is fraudulent and against the FTC rules.  A CZ is actually a simulated diamond, NOT a created diamond.  CZs are lab-created stones, that are the best diamond simulants---they look nearly identical to a flawless, colorless diamond.  But they are NOT created diamonds.  That term is only to be used on lab-grown diamonds---that possess the same chemical (Carbon) and physical properties of a natural diamond, as well as optical properties.

I'm not sure if sellers who try to sell CZs as "created diamonds" are just misinformed (trying to give the benefit of a doubt!), or are trying to deceive the public into thinking their "created diamond ring" is somehow better and more valuable than a high-quality CZ.  (There are different grades of CZs.)
Moissanite on Left, Cultured Diamond on Right

By the way, like the inexpensive CZ, Moissanite is also a diamond simulant.  It is ALWAYS lab-created.  These stones are marketed as that they are "found in meteorites" but that's misleading.  If you gathered ALL of the actual moissanite ever found on Earth, you wouldn't have enough to make a tiny pair of earrings.  So Moissanite is grown in a lab, making this a synthetic stone.  It is double-refractive and often has a more "green" shift than diamonds.  Because of a great marketing effort, prices for this man-made stone are kept high.


There has been a FLOOD of phony precious gemstones from India, in particular.  You can find these all over Ebay (and Etsy).  These are large stones set in jewelry, such as necklaces, supposedly in Sterling Silver (but often it's just silver plated mystery metals), and can be found for unbelievably cheap prices.  For example, here is an "emerald" necklace on ebay right now, for $6.66:
Dyed Sillimanite - not Emerald

These types of stones have been tested and it is revealed that it is actually dyed sillimanite.   Sillimanite is a mineral, fibrous, that "takes" color easily.  It is a member of the same family as Kyanite.

I've written about this in my blog HERE. 

Gemstones have been coveted throughout history, and there have been gem fakes and frauds for thousands of years.  Sometimes one gem was mistaken for another (such as the huge "Ruby" in the Crown Jewels of England, which turned out to be a huge Red Spinel gem).

But with today's technology, there are more and more fakes flooding the marketplace, and these fakes are getting harder and harder to discern.  Not too long ago, major jewelry companies and department stores were facing fraud lawsuits regarding rubies that were more leaded glass than gem!  And gemstones are treated with various methods, such as heat, irradiation, oiling, fissure filling, and other methods to enhance or even change the colors of the gemstones, or make them appear clearer with fewer flaws.  A lot of these enhancements are accepted as "normal" within the jewelry industry.  But it's important for jewelers to disclose any enhancements to the buyer.