What is Turquoise? How to tell if Turquoise is real or fake?

Have you ever wondered how to tell if turquoise is real or fake? Well in this article we are going to teach you how to tell if it’s real or fake turquoise.


What is Turquoise?

You’re probably familiar with turquoise. It’s the semiprecious stone that shows up everywhere from your best friend’s engagement ring to your favorite pair of earrings. But you might not know that it is a hydrated phosphate mineral created in conjunction with the chemical processes of copper and aluminum. The color of the gemstone depends on its level of iron content, which can range from deep green to vibrant blue.

It’s not just beautiful – turquoise also has some practical uses! It’s good for your eyesight; if you look at something turquoise, you’re less likely to get eye strain or headaches. It’s also great at protecting against electromagnetic radiation from computers. If you work on your computer all day long and need some relief from eye strain, turn off your monitor and look out into space where there are no buildings or other objects blocking your view of the sky!

Where Does Turquoise Come From?

Turquoise, the world’s most ancient stone, and a revered mineral has been mined in many locations around the globe. While the turquoise that we see today can be found in many places throughout the world, there are only a few spots where the turquoise of true gemstone quality is mined.

Turquoise is a gemstone that has been valued and treasured since before recorded history. Turquoise’s beauty and relative rarity have made it a prized possession for thousands of years.

The value of turquoise is measured by the purity of color, lack of matrix (veins or flecks), hardness, and size. Some turquoise comes from mines in Iran which are nearly exhausted. Other mines exist in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The Native American Indians were some of the first miners to harvest turquoise as early as 600 A.D. The Native American Indian tribes of New Mexico were killing each other over the rights to mine turquoise at Cerrillos, New Mexico as early as 1500 A.D.

Today, most turquoise comes from United States mines; Kingman and Sleeping Beauty Mines located in Arizona and Nevada mines like Lander Blue Gem Mine and Carico Lake Mine located in Nevada produce the bulk of turquoise for today’s market.

Turquoise from all over the world has been treasured by many different people and cultures. In ancient times, Egyptians mined turquoise, using it in jewelry and sculpture. Ancient Chinese produced exquisite jade carvings, often mixing jade with turquoise, which they called “Kwangtung Jade”, or “Kuala Lumpur”.

The ancient Persians believed that wearing or carrying Turquoise would protect you from evil spirits and bad luck, while the ancient Aztecs believed Turquoise would protect you from physical danger! And today in the Southwest U.S., Turquoise is still considered a good luck charm – especially if you find a stone on the ground.

Types of Fake Turquoise

There are several types of fakes out there, and for the untrained eye, it can be difficult to tell the difference between real turquoise and one of its many imposters.

The following are some of the common types of fake turquoise:

  • Dyed Howlite
  • Imitation Turquoise
  • Odontolite
  • Smithsonite
  • Variscite
  • Blue Jasper

Why is Turquoise so Commonly Fake?

The term “fake turquoise” is a bit of a misnomer because it is not always used to describe imitations of the stone. Some of these stones are natural materials that are dyed or enhanced to look like turquoise. Others are man-made stones designed to resemble turquoise.

There are two main reasons why fake turquoise is so common:

Turquoise has been mined and exchanged for a very long time. It was one of the first gems used by ancient cultures. This means that there have been centuries or even millennia for people to figure out how to make imitations and fakes.

Turquoise is relatively soft and porous, which makes it easy to shape and color with dyes and resins. This means you can take other materials and use them to make fake turquoise.

How To Tell if Turquoise is Real or Fake

The best way to find out if turquoise is real or not is by testing the stone. You can know for sure if it’s real by doing a few simple tests on your own.

  • Look at the Color of Your Stone
  • Examine the Stone for Veins or Matrix
  • Try Scratching It with a Knife
  • Try Cutting It with a Knife
  • Inspect the Stone for Bubbles
  • Look for Signs of Dye
  • Inspect the Stone for Treatments

To tell if turquoise is real, look at the color, which should be light blue or greenish blue, and inspect the stone to see if it has dark veins, which indicate that it’s real.

You can also try cutting or scratching the stone with a knife to see what happens. If the knife leaves a mark, your stone is fake because turquoise is very hard and won’t scratch easily.

Weighing the Turquoise

Because turquoise comes in so many different shapes and sizes, there is no one way to weigh a piece of turquoise. The only way to accurately weigh a piece of turquoise is to know its exact dimensions, thickness, and specific gravity. Even then, the weight will be approximate because all turquoise is porous.

The specific gravity of turquoise varies from 2.6 to 2.9 depending on where the stone was mined, which means that one cubic centimeter of turquoise weighs between 2.6 and 2.9 grams. Turquoise is usually cut as a cabochon (rounded stone) or as a carved object such as a bear fetish or an animal-shaped bead. In either case, the thickness can vary dramatically from one millimeter for many carved fetishes to 6 millimeters for some cabochons with heavy matrix (vein).

However, if you have a piece of turquoise that you want to sell or buy and you don’t know its exact dimensions or weight, here are two methods to estimate the gem’s weight:

Method 1: Use the length (L), width (W), and average thickness (T) measurements in millimeters. Multiply L x W x T and divide by 1000; add 1 if the material is high grade, subtract 1 if it’s low grade. The resulting number is the approximate weight in grams of your piece of turquoise. For example, suppose you have a piece that measures 15 mm long by 10 mm wide and has an average thickness of 4 mm minus veining: 15 x 10 x 4 = 600. Because it’s high grade, add 1; 600 + 1 = 601. The piece weighs about 0.601 grams.

Method 2: If you know only the length (L) and width (W) of your piece in millimeters, multiply L x W and divide by 9 to determine approximately how many carats it weighs. For example, a stone measuring 14 x 10 mm contains 140 square millimeters (14 x 10 = 140). Dividing 140 by 9 gives a result of 15 carats. A stone measuring 16 x 12 mm contains 192 square millimeters (16 x 12 = 192). Dividing 192 by 9 gives a result of 21 carats.

Note: These formulas work well for shapes that have relatively constant widths, like ovals and rectangles. They also work well for squares and round stones.

Use a Gem Tester for Fake Turquoise Jewelry

Do you have a ring, pin, necklace, or bracelet that has turquoise on it? If it isn’t real, should you find out how much to get rid of it? For fake turquoise jewelry made in silver and gold, there is a gem testing solution.

A gem tester is an electrical device that passes a small current through the gemstone and can tell if the gemstone is real or artificial. It works by measuring the resistivity of the stone. Resistivity is the capacity of a material to resist current flow. Each type of stone has its own resistivity. For example, diamond has a very high resistivity while glass has almost no resistivity. This means that it takes a lot more current to pass through diamond than it does to pass through glass.

There is a problem with using this kind of tester on turquoise because there are many different types of turquoise and each one has its own resistivity value. This makes it difficult to identify certain fake turquoise from real turquoise using this method alone. There are alternate approaches to tell if your turquoise is real though.

Using Vinegar to Test for Real Turquoise

There’s an easy test you can perform to check if turquoise is real or fake: vinegar. The acid in vinegar reacts to turquoise because turquoise will fizz and bubble when vinegar touches it.

If you have a turquoise you think might be real, simply squeeze some vinegar onto it, and if it bubbles up, then congratulations! It’s real.


So, now that you know how to tell if turquoise is real or fake, hopefully, you will never get burned again by sellers of fake turquoise. And if you ever come across a stone that you are not sure of its origin, always remember those tips and tricks so that you can keep yourself from making a purchase on something that is not worth the price.

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