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Stone Truth - Confusion in Names: Real and Artificial Stones

Posted by Steven Barben on

Jemel Pendants






        How are stone and artificial or synthetic stone names determined? To answer this, I will restate from a previous article “generally names are determined either by a discoverer of a stone, a commercial entity that first brings a stone to market, or a name simply emerges from what a group of people or the general public begins to call it.

       Dendritic Quartz Usually, whoever determines the name of a stone tries to use the given definitions as foundations or, at minimum, guidelines for their decisions”. But unfortunately this is not always the case. Whether through ignorance or intention, some names can be deceptive, leading the unwary to purchase a stone that is actually different than its name or a “stone” that isn’t a stone at all.
        Cherry Quartz is such an example. The name indicates that it is some variety of quartz. However, though quite attractive, it is not quartz at all, but a manufactured glass. For those who care only about wearing something beautiful or a piece to match a color or article of clothing, it really doesn’t matter. But for those who love natural stones or crystals it is a very important matter. If you’re looking for natural stones of similar appearance you might try Dendritic Green AventurineQuartz, Red Moss Agate, Pigeon Blood Agate, or Red Aventurine.
        The same principle applies to Goldstone, in all of its color variations. The name implies that it is some kind of natural stone, but it also is glass, filled with copper, manganese, cobalt, or chromium metal crystal particles to give it an attractive sparkle. Natural stones of similar appearance might include Sunstone, Moonstone, or Aventurine.
        Another type of name confusion occurs when suffixes are added to stone names such as Turquesite or Turquenite and Opalite. Turquesite / turquenite is made from Howlite or Magnesite, and dyed to resemble Turquoise. While both howlite and magnesite are semi-precious stones in their own right, they are both also naturally white in color and less valuable than turquoise. Opalite was originally a name given to a clear to white common opal (or non-precious opal) with a light blue to orange glow under different lighting conditions. Now the term is more often given to a glass that resembles the appearance of the original stone.

Turquoise Nugget
        For the natural stone lover, caution should also be taken with what is called Blue Quartz and Green Quartz. Although there are natural varieties of each, many, if not most, have been treated or are synthetic. Natural varieties are typically translucent to opaque and mixed with other colors, especially white, clear or gray, and some that are called blue or green quartz are actually varieties of Jasper, Moss Agate or Aventurine. The very light green stone called Green Quartz or Green Amethyst is real quartz, but it has often been irradiated or heat treated to cause the green color to form. Green and blue color saturated quartz with appearances similar to emerald and sapphire, however, are not natural, but are made synthetically.

        In a previous article some confusion concerning rhyolite and jasper was addressed, as well as some differences between Picasso Jasper and Picasso Marble. For further clarification and distinction between Picasso Jasper and Picasso Marble: there are two kinds of Picasso Jasper, one of them is mostly white with black lines and streaks; the other is multi colored with red, yellow, orange, green, and greenish gray with some black, brown, or gray coloration. Picasso Marble is richly colored with black, gray, brown, tan, beige and cream or white, but it is typically not black and white only, and does not contain the brighter colors of red, yellow, orange, or green as seen in Picasso Jasper.
        For the natural real stone lover and wearer, just be careful and take a little time to find out. Like so many other things in this world, stones, or rather stone names, are not always what they appear to be, as this article has given some few examples. Take care, and make a more valuable choice.







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Copyright 2015 Steven A. Barben

General References

Pough, Frederick. 1983. Peterson Field Guides: A Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals.
        Houghton Mifflin Co.
Mottana, Annibale; Crespi, Rodolfo; and Liborio, Giuseppe. 1978. Simon & Shuster’s
        Guide to Rocks and Minerals. Simon & Shuster Inc.

Note: Minor sources may include, but are not limited to a variety of printed and online sources.

Some online sources include:


Steven A. Barben shares stories from his book - Wisdom's Way: Tales, Treasures, Truths in "Wisdom in Story;" provides stone information  and tales that typify emotions, moods, and personality or character symbols of various stones in "Wonder in Stone;" and clears confusion, raises awareness, and opens stone, gem and jewelry understanding in "Stone Truth."

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