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If you have ever come across a mesmerizing geode with splendid color in a crystal shop, you may have wondered if that piece is dyed or natural. I wondered, too! That’s why I researched this topic for a deeper understanding, and in this article, I am going to share what I learned with you.
If the geodes are very bright and intense in color, they are likely to be dyed. Also, the crystal may appear smoother in texture if enhanced. Most geodes are brownish or white naturally. They may also have muted colors due to the mineral contents.
So now you know dyed geodes look somewhat different than the naturally colored ones. Let’s discuss in detail how you can tell the difference and identify the dyed geodes.
If you are interested in checking out beautiful geodes you can find them by clicking here (Amazon link).
How to Identify Dyed Geodes
Before we can identify if a geode is dyed, we first need to know what a natural geode looks like. I will break down the topic for you and elaborate.
Natural Colors of Geodes
What does a natural geode look like? Well, a loose translation of the Latin word ‘Geode’ is “earthlike.” The natural color of most of the quartz crystals is milky white or transparent. However, some of them can be colorful; for example, amethyst has a purple color.
Geodes are sedimentary or volcanic rocks with an internal cavity that is lined with crystals and agate bands. The crystals and bands are formed by different minerals and silica precipitation, which are responsible for their natural color. Additional elements and impurities mixed with the minerals result in the unique colors of the geodes.
The agate layers form concentric bands and are commonly grayish or brownish earth tones. They can have colorful shades because of specific mineral constituents distributed within the stone. Some common examples are:
Some rare colors are also found in geodes such as green Quartz, golden yellow citrines, bi-colored ametrines, or black calcites.
A special type of quartz crystal is called chalcedony, which has a very small crystal structure. They contribute to the color of the interior wall of the geode, such as gray, white, blue, orange, or yellow.
How Dyed Geodes are Different from Natural Geodes
You may already have the idea that the natural geode colors are usually not very bright or intense. Their colors are subdued in appearance.
They can have different hues, while the transition of color and band shades are not very dramatic. From this standpoint, we can note a few characteristics of artificially dyed geodes:
- Geodes with bright, vivid colors are most likely dyed.
- Dyed geodes may have a dramatic transition in color bands.
- Colors may appear very consistent, which is not common for natural geodes.
- Overall, the dyed geodes look more polished where the color is enhanced.
TIP: Both, natural and dyed geodes can be really expensive. Do you what is the real value of geodes? Find out more in the article below:
Why Geodes are Dyed
It is rational to wonder why people would dye geodes. Let’s check out some of the most common.
Dyed Geodes Improve Salability
Geodes are dyed to look more attractive because, in all practicality, they sell well! Colorless, white, grayish, or yellowish pieces are often dyed to add different colors of vivid tones. When naturally colored pieces are pale or dirty, they are frequently enhanced with added dyes.
- Agates of the geode are dyed after they are processed in the form of slices, standing slabs or nodules, and small tumbled stones.
- Commonly used dye colors include vivid pink, purple, blue, green, teal, orange, red, etc.
- In the case of Quartz, usually, the small pieces are dyed, as large pieces are often appealing enough on their own.
- Colorful geodes appeal to many customers as decorative pieces. Some are also processed to be more functional products, such as paperweights, or bookends.
Colorful Quartz that is naturally attractive and valuable usually does not need to be dyed. Some examples are:
- Rose quartz,
- Citrine, and
Large amethyst geodes with spectacular appearance can even sell for thousands of dollars!
TIP: The most interesting part about geodes is what is inside them. But do you know how to cut geodes correctly? If not, don’t worry, check out the step-by-step guide on how to cut rocks with hammer and chisel:
Dyed Geodes May Imitate Gemstones or Rare Minerals
Dyeing geode stones is a cheap way to imitate rare gemstones, which are very expensive. The intent of this is to provide an affordable option for consumers looking for a similar gemstone look. They can be used in jewelry or aesthetic pieces.
- A very common example is ‘Howlite,’ which is usually found in white or colorless, nodule form. They are often colored to imitate the valuable mineral stone ‘Turquoise.’ This is why Howlite is also called ‘Turquinite.’
- Quartzite, chalcedony, marble, gibbsite, magnesite, aragonite, and jasper are also dyed and processed to imitate other rare minerals.
- An average size (say a baseball size) of typical calcite or quartz crystals can sell from $4-$12. The more uncommon mineral geodes can sell from $30 to $600. Again, the price will vary with the size, type of mineral, and aesthetic of the piece.
So, you can see, profitability is the key with some of the dyed geodes! Nonetheless, while this kind of dyed geode is lucrative in the jewelry or showpiece market, most true mineral collectors would always look for the natural ones.
How Geodes are Dyed
Diverse techniques and treatments are involved with the dyeing of geodes. These techniques usually vary depending on the type of mineral and the crystal structure.
Dying Quartz with the Quench Crackling Color Treatment
A common color treatment technique used for Quartz is called quench crackling or thermal shock.
Here, the crystal is exposed to heat with a butane torch and subjected to a cold liquid dye solution. This process causes the crystal to crackle, and thus, dyes can be deposited through the cracks.
This technique is suitable for non-porous crystals that do not have a natural affinity to dyes. Overall, the coloration of Quartz is inexpensive due to its natural clarity and neutral color.
Another method is irradiation, where the optical properties or visibility is altered with high levels of ionizing radiation to enhance appearance. For instance, colorless Quartz can be altered to imitate ‘smoky quartz’ by this process.
Fracture Filling or Impregnation Treatments for Geodes
This technique involves injecting colorless or colored oil or resin into the stone. This can be used to improve clarity, increase luster, enhance, or add color.
Some other treatments include:
- Coating, and
- Lattice diffusion.
BTW: Do you want to know more about rocks and minerals identification? The books listed below are the best ones you can find on the internet (Amazon links):
- The Crystal Bible
- Smithsonian Handbooks: Rocks & Minerals
- Gemstone & Crystal Properties (Quick Study Home)
- Ultimate Explorer Field Guide: Rocks and Minerals (National Geographic Kids)
Tips for Buying Quality Geodes
From the above discussion, you may have some clues as to how to differentiate dyed geodes from natural geodes.
It becomes more critical to be careful when you are investing in an expensive geode such as amethyst. In those cases, pay attention to the following tips:
- Try to choose a geode that has thin walls, with more crystal visible
- Notice if the crystal is fully formed with large size
- A good piece should have symmetry in the shape
- Be careful not to pick a piece with a defect, crack, or holes
- A darkly-colored amethyst usually has a greater value
Following these tips will ensure that the quality and value of the geode is worth the price.
Sometimes, uncracked geodes are also sold at a low price. Keep in mind that due to hollow crystal formation, geodes are usually lighter in weight compared to solid agates.
This guide can also help you with how to choose and buy uncracked geodes.
I hope this article helps you determine the differences between dyed and naturally colored geodes, how and why geodes are dyed, and how you can pick a quality piece by being a little bit observant. Natural geodes that are bright and deep in color will usually be quite valuable and expensive.
So, if you just want to pick some affordable decorative pieces that look beautiful, but don’t break the bank, check out some less expensive dyed geodes.
TIP: Do you know where are the best places for finding rocks, minerals, and crystals? don’t forget to check out articles about the best places for rockhounding in the US.