Ahhhh the world of gems and semi precious stones... I have been buying semi precious stones and beads now for many years and there has always been a huge debate about the provenance of the stones that are available on the market today. It is also one of the main questions I am asked in the shop - are these real and where are they from!
I would like to think that I am a bit of an expert in semi precious stones having worked with them now for over 20 years, that said I believe that even the best of us can be caught out from time to time with an expertly made fake!
There are a number of ways you can protect yourself from purchasing fake stones...
Firstly - hand select, I never ever purchase from the internet. Everything in my shop is hand selected. I will travel far and wide for the right stones, their journey is as important to me as being honest when I tell customers my stones are real and purchased from genuine people and places.
Secondly I have built up wonderful relationships with stone and bead dealers throughout the UK. Some of the relationships are so good that I visit the dealers in their own homes, this is a really great way to ensure you are buying quality stones - it is also much easier to buy.
If you choose to buy from the internet then you do run the risk of receiving potentially fake stones... the Chinese are very capable of creating just about anything really, really well! That said there are also some fabulous and genuine stones that come from China - its all about ensuring that you are buying from legitimate places.
Stone prices over the last 2 decades have increased substantially, stones that I was told were rare 20 years ago are still available to buy but either the quality is not there or the prices have rocketed which makes is difficult to then price my jewellery to sell.
Lapis Lazuli is a prime example of that, Lapis is a much sought after stone and has been used in jewellery for many thousands of years. The rich colour of blue with little flecks of iron pyrite has made it one of the most popular semi precious stones, unfortunately, its popularity has also been the reason for it being one of the most faked gemstones in the world!
How do I tell the difference?
Cheaper gemstones such as howlite, sodalite and calcite (to name a few) can be dyed to make fake Lapiz - so how do you know?
Look at the price. Lapis is able to command a high price. If there is a string of beads being sold as Lapis for a low amount then the chances are they are fake. Genuine Lapis should be reassuringly expensive.
Check the colour - if the Lapis you are holding has flecks of white in it or does not have the royal or deep blue signature colour then it could be a fake.
There are some fantastic Crystal books out there which can help and guide you on the way a stone should look and feel. I come from an interesting view point in that I have the gemology interest but also the spiritual interest too - both of which are covered brilliantly by UK author and crystal specialist Judy Hall in her Crystal Bibles and Crystal Prescription books which have been around for many many years.
We have recently started selling beads through our shop in Avebury, I am delighted to be able to offer my customers the reassurance that I take bead buying extremely seriously. During the winter months I will be taking my knowledge and expertise one step further by studying Gemology with The Gemmological Association of Great Britain. I am really looking forward to learning more about semi precious stones from a scientific perspective that will inevitably pass down to my customers.
My final word.... colour, look, feel and a good book can save you £££'s when buying semi precious jewellery and beads.
Thanks for reading