Turquoise is a beautiful and unique gemstone, prized for its bright blue-green color and the special meaning it holds for many cultures. Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous dealers out there trying to pass off fake turquoise as genuine stones. In this article, we’ll look at how to spot fake turquoise - so you can be sure you’re getting the real deal! 



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. This is because natural turquoise usually has a webbing-like matrix. Fake stones, on the other hand, often don't show this type of patterning. 


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.


One of the oldest and most reliable ways to test a stone's authenticity is with the scratch test. Turquoise should have an unusually hard surface that won't scratch easily. Fake turquoise will usually exhibit signs of wear and tear or will be soft enough to nick with a tool such as a knife blade or a piece of genuine turquoise. If you're able to scratch it easily, the stone in question is likely, not authentic.

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.


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.


In the end, telling between real and fake turquoise is still a tricky process. However, you can spot counterfeits easily with the right guidance and a keen eye. The best way to protect yourself from buying fake turquoise jewelry is by doing research before shopping or buying from a reliable retailer. Stay vigilant and remember to use some of the tests above to verify the authenticity of your turquoise. Good luck!