Beautiful real amethyst crystal takes millions of years to develop naturally, meaning this special semi-precious gemstone dates all the way back to prehistoric times.
But the good news for the budding at-home scientist is that fake amethyst can be easily made using only a few common ingredients available from your local grocery store. And the best part of all is that the process takes just a few days and makes for a fun and enjoyable science project.
What You’ll Need – Materials
Plaster of Paris for making a mould in which to grow your amethyst. This is the basis for making your own geode.
Alum – long name “potassium alum”, which is a form of hydrated potassium aluminium sulphate. It is typically sold in the form of a white powder used for pickling and baking.
An empty egg carton that can be used as the mould.
Half a cup of water.
- Mix the plaster of Paris with water by following the directions on the package.
- Next, press the plaster down into a section of the egg carton for making a mould.
- Allow the plaster to dry for 30 minutes before removing it from the carton and allowing it to air-dry naturally on its own.
- Next, stir alum into half a cup of water in a container. Now stir the alum until it stops dissolving.
- Now, add purple food colouring to the mixture until the desired hue has been reached.
- The next step is to place your plaster of Paris geode into a container that is big enough for the water mixture to just cover the top of the geode.
- Be sure not to allow any undissolved alum into the bigger container.
- Now leave the container in a space where it will not be disturbed, and leave it in this position for two to three days. This will be enough time to allow the amethyst crystals to form and grow.
- Once you’re satisfied with the size of your crystal, remove it carefully from the mould.
- Since alum is a pickling spice and used for baking in powdered form, it is safe for pouring down the kitchen drain, but not to ingest in large quantities.
- Remember that it can irritate the eyes and skin, and so when growing amethyst crystals with children, use caution in terms of inhalation.
- Your crystal requires preservation. Keep it safe from moisture, dirt, and dust.
How To Tell If Amethyst Is Real
While it can be a great deal of fun to make your own amethyst crystals at home, there’s no match for the real deal: naturally grown real amethyst that takes millions of years to form.
But since it’s such a popular gemstone, synthetic amethyst has become quite common. In fact, the world of gemstones is rife with lab-created amethyst crystals. Fortunately, there are many ways to discern between natural and lab-created amethyst.
Method 1: Colouring
Natural amethyst will have varying hues of colour rather than a single and even hue.
But it is also important to remember that real amethyst comes in different varieties. This greatly affects the distribution of colouring when looking at a stone.
The golden rule of thumb is to hold amethyst up against the light. True amethyst will allow you to catch sight of different shades of colouring shimmering and swimming beneath the surface.
Method 2: Clarity
Gems are formed in intense environments of extreme pressure and high temperatures.
These conditions impact the clarity of the crystals and also create bubbles right beneath the surface of the stone. Also, high temperature and pressure lead to discolouration.
While this is true for many gemstones, amethyst is the exception. Since amethyst is quartz, you’d be more likely to see threads under the surface instead of bubbles.
In order to verify whether amethyst is the real deal, use a magnifying glass to check what lies beneath the surface of the stone. If it isn’t quartz, you’re likely to see bubbles, meaning it isn’t amethyst.
Holding amethyst up against the light should allow you to see almost all the way through without bubbles and discolouration. Clarity, therefore, is the key to determining whether amethyst is real or man-made.
How To Spot Fake Amethyst
- Variety of the cut. Since amethyst is an easy gemstone to cut, it can be formed into all sorts of shapes. This means that even when it appears in the shape of a heart, it isn’t necessarily fake amethyst.
- The eyes aren’t the only way to figure out whether amethyst is real. There’s also a gravity test that is considered the authoritative way of discerning between natural (real) and man-made amethyst.
- Hardness. The hardness is always a great test for determining whether amethyst is real. The way for determining the hardness of any crystal is by measuring it according to the Mohs Hardness
- Scale. Amethyst is rated 7 out of 10, meaning it’s one of the harder gemstones around. This means that anything below 7 on the hardness scale should not be able to cause any prominent damage to real amethyst.
- Beware of strange names. Sellers enjoy getting creative with names in order to enhance the appeal of the gems they are selling. Fancy names like Japanese Amethyst, Desert Amethyst, or Bengal Amethyst are usually a clear indication that the amethyst you are buying isn’t real.
Real Vs Fake Amethyst
Something else to keep in mind when buying amethyst is the different grades.
There are three grades for figuring out how valuable real amethyst is. The highest grade, namely Natural AAAA amethyst, refers to the most valuable type. This makes up only about 10 per cent of the market.
The next best grade is referred to as Natural AAA amethyst. This applies to around 20-30 percent of amethyst gemstones available on the market today. This class of stone will typically show slight inclusions and a medium purple hue.
Natural AA amethyst is the lowest grade of amethyst. These make up roughly 50-75 per cent of amethyst stones. Even so, the lowest grade of amethyst is nothing to smirk at. The colour scale will be closer to light purple, and with moderate to heavy inclusions.
Now you know how to tell if amethyst is real you can make fake amethyst at home and see if others can spot the difference!