When it comes to turquoise, there's real, and there's fake. And unfortunately, fake turquoise is becoming more and more common. So how can you tell the difference?

Well, there are a few things you can look for to help determine whether or not you have real turquoise.


One of the easiest ways to tell if you have real turquoise is by checking the price tag. If the item you're looking at is very cheap, it's likely not real turquoise. But of course, there are always exceptions to this rule. However, real turquoise will generally cost more than imitation stones.

Imitations are inexpensive because they contain much more common materials than authentic turquoise. For example, howlite (a common imitation) is a sedimentary rock that's found all over the world, while genuine turquoise is quite rare. As a result, items made with fake turquoise cost very little to produce and sell for very low prices.


You can sometimes tell faux turquoise by its appearance, but because fake turquoise comes in various materials, you may not get the most consistent results. For example, in some fake turquoise jewelry pieces, you may notice where the dye builds up in the cracks of the "turquoise," or if you can't feel the cracks of the questionable stone, the appearance of cracks is most likely painted on.

Real turquoise varies widely because of its formation in nature, so fake turquoise jewelry that does not appear precisely like the real thing is difficult to spot. Still, some visual cues may help you determine whether a stone is real.


You can use the fingernail test if you have a rough natural stone. Simply scratch the questionable turquoise with your fingernail. If your fingernail becomes caught in the webbing matrix, there's a good chance it's a genuine turquoise stone.


The acetone test is another helpful technique. First, rub a cotton swab with pure acetone. Then apply it to the questionable turquoise and wait 10 minutes to see if any color transfers off the stone along with the liquid. If the turquoise you're examining is real turquoise, the color will not rub off. However, if the stone is dyed howlite, you'll see blue on the cotton swab.


You may attempt many tests to decide whether your turquoise is genuine, but many of these tests are invasive and damaging to the stone itself. However, the scratch test is the least damaging of all.

Turquoise is a naturally soft stone, but howlite crystal (a common turquoise substitute) is even softer. So if you scratch a questionable piece with real turquoise and it scratches easily, there's a good chance it's made of howlite crystal.

We recommend performing the scratch test on the part of the stone that isn't easily visible.


The hot needle method is probably the most effective test for telling authentic turquoise from fake turquoise. Use a jeweler's torch to heat a needle and press it into an inconspicuous part of the turquoise stone's surface. It is either plastic or resin jewelry if it begins to melt or produces a burnt smell.


It is difficult to distinguish fake turquoise jewelry (even we have difficulties sometimes!) since turquoise varies so much from stone to stone. For example, 90% of the turquoise on the market is dyed howlite crystals made to resemble real turquoise. Other common imitations include dyed magnesite, plastic, epoxy, and resin.

Reconstituted turquoise is another form of imitation turquoise that dupes buyers by mixing tiny bits of genuine stone with other minerals to create one sizeable fake turquoise. This type of jewelry is usually lower quality and not as expensive as pieces made with real turquoise, but it can still be challenging to spot.


As you can see, there are quite a few ways to test if your turquoise stone is real or fake. The most definitive way is to take it to a professional jeweler and have them appraise it, but this isn't always possible or practical.

If you're looking at a piece of turquoise jewelry and you're unsure if it's real, the best thing to do is ask the seller some questions. How long have they had the piece? Where did they get it? If they can't give you a straight answer, or if they seem evasive, it's probably best to walk away.

Remember, if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is!