Firstly, join me and Tamara Winfrey Harris on Sunday at Exittheapple on 2334 Guilford Ave between 11AM-3PM in Baltimore City, MD for a discussion of the recent book The Sisters are Alright: Changing the Broken Narrative of Black Women in America. I believe there will be light refreshments. Alright, onward with the column.

Posted recently on the African American Wiccans Society FB group page was an article titled “Beware of Fake Crystals on Ebay (How to Know the Difference)” penned by aLoverOfLife. This article is actually really good about how to spot fakes when buying crystals online.

I usually buy my rocks from physical places but I definitely have bought gems online. Sometimes stores will over-price on something that you will eventually think, “This is a rock. I am about to spend $25 on a semi-common rock smaller than a phalange on my finger” in regards to so you want to have a more acceptable price. However, the thing about buying online is that you can wind up with fakes. Surprisingly, it never truly dawned on me that folks would sell fake stones because I thought it would stand out but I’ve been staring at rocks speculatively since I was a kid (and had a rock growing kit using chemicals) so there’s probably that. However, give folks an inch, they’ll take up half the coastline of California: I’m good at identifying a fake but the average person isn’t and especially not the noob who really just want to get any stone to start their witchy practice. And while there are those who would say, “Why don’t the person just go outside and dig in the dirt? There you go, rocks galore,” you’re not likely to find a Herkimer diamond or phantom quartz or sodalite in your backyard in the middle of Detroit. Hence why folks like me buy stones in physical and digital places.

The information the writer got was from an Ebay seller that recently closed shop that finally decided to share the tricks of the trade of how to spot a fake versus a real rock.

The starting information is about Azeztulite/Satyaloka (I’m not going to quote the whole article since clearly it has been written but merely give my own experiences), which is simply not real. It’s just a milky quartz with the price hiked up way high up. Also, here’s a rule of thumb since this is probably going to come up a lot: if the seller mentions that the rock (or any item of question) comes from a “secret” or “old” pocket or space of any US state or country (the more otherized, the better), it’s probably a fake. It’s very rare this is actually the case. If the orgin story sounds too glamourous to be true, it probably is. For example, I could find really good stones under the Middle River Bridge in Baltimore City, my hometown, buuuut that orgin story wouldn’t sell as well as “found from a secret pocket among the Appalachian mountains region”, which is basically the same thing, jazzed up.

Also, the piece says that rough white quartz is pretty much worthless in price. That’s actually quite true. Remember, not everything that comes from the earth warrants a high price and also remember that high prices are man-made, no rock comes out the ground with a price tag. Usually prices (fair ones) are based on established value delved from location (is it somewhere remote or easy to get to?), ease of acquiring (can you just pick it up off the ground or have to scale a mountain?) usage (can it power something or just be a pretty paperweight?) and rarity (are there a bunch of these scattered around like gravel or is this the only rock you’ve seen like this?). This is why some metaphysical shops will gouge the price of a gem you could purchase from a science-y rock store for less.

Next mentioned are glass crystal points from China. I don’t like the hyper focus on China because geez, it’s becoming yellow scare shorthand for “cheap, worthless, comes a hundred a penny”. Yes, a lot comes from China (it’s a big country, in case no one has noticed) but still, it bugs me. Moving on, buying glass when you thought you were getting crystal certainly sucks. The tell-tale sign, as noted on the piece, is that they’re perfectly clear and quite big but quite cheap. A crystal like that would sell for hundreds, possibly thousands, not ten dollars. If they have fractures, they look odd because they were made with a cloth and a ball peen hammer.

There’s also a common man-made fracture made, as illustrated by the article, by heating the glass and dipping it in room temp water (or cold water), which makes these odd fractures. I think I gotten one myself because it was thrown in when a purchase was made at the Maryland State Fair. It was a clear fake because there was glue on top to keep the “stone” fastened to the holder. Remember, I got it for free, mainly because it wouldn’t sell and the seller wanted to make their payload lighter when it was time to pack up shop.

Here is another “[fake crystal] from China” entry. Y’know, I know China is seen as the king of fakes, partially because of Western orientalism but ummmm, China produces authentic stones as well. Like jade. Not everything in China is fake and other folks in different nations can make dupes as well. It’s not like China (and to a further extent, Nigeria) holds the world population of scammers and frauds. Cons exist everywhere. As for stones, I’ve seen fakies coming straight from New York and LA. Yes, China can make passing fakes but the hyperfocus on them is a bit irksome.

This entry was about colored crystal points. This reminds me of being told once that sapphire is not actually a brilliant blue unless scientifically doctored. Given the picture on the article, it can show how the “quartz” actually is colored glass. If the quartz can remind you of a kitschy glass kitchen bowl, it’s probably fake. That and if you take a close look at the surface, the surface is probably perfect. Crystals, given their creation, are not perfect, especially at a close look. There are teeny ridges and if you look super close, indentures and fragments. And no bubbles.

Finally a fake gem not from China. Here we have fake smoky quartz from the United States, namely Arkansas (and noticed for the US, a state or location gets made. It doesn’t care what region the fakie came from in China, just the fact that it did, which creates the illusion that all of China pumps out fake stuff when really it’s just certain parts). As pictured on the article, it’s a clear quartz that went through a radiation treatment to give the stark black smoky color. If the color is claimed to come from a heat treatment, it’s a lie. On the article, there is a side-by-side analysis of a man made smoky quartz and a real one as well as a short list of how to tell the difference, which is pretty on point.

Afterwards, you have polished quartz being sold as natural. Goodness, here’s the thing about natural, raw quartz: it doesn’t look “perfect”. Natural quartz have sharp, clean lines instead of dull edges and polished crystals are often cut flat on the base. There is also a short list of how to tell the difference between the two, also very good.

There are certainly more features of false stones and how to tell on the article, I would recommend reading, this is pretty much a very cohesive article for when you buy online but also when you purchase in person. Crystals are bought for their qualities as created by their formation, it is not the same to use false stones or materials such as glass. Metaphysics is a lot more than simply the “power of thought”, authentic materials are important.