Enter your e-mail address to be added to the Khyber Minerals mailing list






Asia/ Pacific

South America

North America




Display Aids


New from Inner Mongolia!




*Clearance Minerals*




How to Order

Order Now

Contact Us


About Khyber Minerals


Spotting Fakes

Mineral Backgrounds





Spotting Fake/Repaired Specimens

I am by no means an expert on the subject- but after having seen one too many of these, I think that I should mention something about them here.

If you buy specimens on Ebay, please take the time to read this.  Those points especially pertinent to shopping on Ebay have been marked as such.

I assume most of you already know the things described on this page, but there may be some who do not.  If you would like me to add something to this page, then by all means, please e-mail me


A repaired schorl crystal.  This is a rather sloppy job- but if one is not careful, it could be overlooked.  Notice the thin, shiny film around the cracks.  It is an adhesive that is insoluble in water. 



(EBAY) Things to watch out for:


1) "Saffron okenites"- these are actually the Indian specimens that we are all familiar with, dyed orange/yellow.  I recently saw some dyed blue.  What the hell?

4) Large Chinese turquoise nuggets- not all are fake, but many are simply dyed howlite, or another white mineral.

2) Chinese "Native Aluminum" specimens- man made

3) Chinese "Native Chromium" specimens- man made

4) Chinese "Native Nickle" specimens- man made


***Keep in mind which elements are usually found as "Native Elements"- Au, Pt, Ag, Cu, S, As, Sb, Hg and Bi are common (the word "common" is being used very liberally here).  Te specimens are rare, but exist (such as the ones from Mexicoand Fiji), the same goes for Se, and Pb.  Rh exists too, and specimens come from the Kudriaviy Volcano.  Ni/Fe is common in meterorites, and terrestrial specimens are seen on occasion.


I've probably missed a few, but those are the main ones. 





(EBAY) "Fakes" that are usually disclosed:


1)  Large, iridescent bismuth crystals-  these are lab grown, usually in Germany.

2)  Gigantic chalcanthite crystals- copper sulfate is easily obtainable, and very easy to grow into large crystals.  These generally come from Poland.

3)  Polish "Zincite"-  these are not intentionally manufactured.  They form in the smokestacks of zinc smelting plants in Poland.

4)  Carborundum- another pretty, man-made compound.  

5)  Dyed Quartz Crystals-  All those things with names like "Aqua Aura" or "Azetlean" that look like quartz in peculiar colors, are altered quartz crystals.  Beware.

6) Cleavage fragments-  the pretty fluorite octahedrons, the optical calcite rhombs, etc.  Those are not usually natural, but cleaved pieces of larger specimens.

7) Polished Items-





1) Look for matrix/ mineral combinations that seem implausible for a given locality.


  For example, specimens from Mina Ojuela more often than not are on a limonite matrix.  If someone presented you with a "legrandite" on white marble from this area (an exaggeration), it could possibly be a fake.  This is not to say that ALL Ojuela specimens are on limonite, but knowing the general combinations/ appearances for a locality can aid in the detection of fakes, or simply mislabeled specimens.


As a side note, some overly eager people will try to sell adamite as legrandite (the latter being worth much, much more), but this is something that is easily noticeable, and which no good dealer will do.  It's usually just an Ebay mistake.



2) **EBAY** The old cliché, "If it looks too good to be true, it probably is," applies


  I recently saw a Chinese stibnite being sold as a classic Japanese piece.  Of course, it was priced higher than a Chinese specimen, but far lower than one from Japan. .  The price of the stibnite was way too good to be true--and it turned out it was.  The dealer had a few other specimens marked as being from localities that would increase their value (when they clearly weren't from those localities).



2)  When buying matrix specimens with only a few crystals, look for glue, or glued on fragments of matrix around the main crystals.  


There are plenty of examples of matrix specimens being "made" by gluing lose crystals to a bare piece of rock.  Some Congolese carrolites, Peruvian proustites, Colombian emeralds, etc are " made" in t his way.   Somewhere along these specimens' paths from the mine to the collector, there are people who know that a matrix specimen is more valuable than a loose crystal.


3) **EBAY** When purchasing Afghani lazurites, look for a white powdery coating, or rough, lusterless faces on the crystals


   This does not constitute a fake, but it is damage that is sometimes undisclosed.  If you see a white powdery coating and rough surfaces on the lazurite, these are the result of a botched cleaning job.  The marble matrix is soluble in hydrochloric acid-- but so is the lazurite.


Also beware of lazurite specimens that have grainy marble matrixes- this is a clear indication that acid has been used--although the crystal could have been protected with wax while the matrix was exposed to the acid, this is not usually the case. Pay special attention to these specimens.


This is an ESPECIAL peeve of mine. (And so therefore the annoyingly bright highlight)  I am fed up with dealers saying "no damage" when the poor lazurites have clearly been acid-killed.  This applies to afghanite as well.


4) Some are more difficult to tell- there have been "Freiberg/ Kongsberg silvers" made in a workshop, from a melted piece of silver sculpted onto a matrix. The high value of the real pieces, and the relative ease with which they can be faked makes them an especially lucrative option for crooks.


Photography Tricks (for internet purchases)


1) Beware of colors that seem too bright, as often, they are the result of (novice level) Photoshop work.  All it takes is adding contrast to the image, an effect that can greatly increase the visual appeal of a specimen--at least on the monitor.  


2) Also, sometimes dealers attempt to add additional color to the photographs of certain specimens.  To detect this, look at the background.  If, for example,  you are purchasing a pyromorphite that looks a little too green, check to see if the background has a greenish hue as well.  This means that at some point, the photograph was edited to increase the level of a certain color, in this case green.


3) Watch out for close-ups.  Unless you are buying a micromount, there should be pictures of the entire specimen.