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Geodes have notably become one of the most mesmerizing enigmas for the world. While they serve as a source of precious scientific research material for geologists, they embody mystery and wonder for the general public. This has led to heightened demand for geodes, which resulted in the artificial manufacturing of fake geodes. But, there are real and fake geodes, so let us see what are the differences between them.
Fake geodes can be identified based on how they were manufactured. Synthetic versions lack flaws that are found in natural geodes, while composites and imitations often have evidence of bubbling, cracking, splotchy paint, artificial color, and leftover glue.
Most genuine geodes are well sought after and are not easy to come by, as they are formed under very specific environmental conditions over long periods of time. Needless to say, there are simply not enough geodes to go around, and many geodes sold commercially are in fact fake. Here’s how to spot if you are actually getting your hands on the real deal.
If you are interested in checking out beautiful geodes you can find them by clicking here (Amazon link).
What are natural geodes?
Geodes can form anywhere in the world, but they do not form at random. There are very specific environmental conditions that are required in order for these treasures to form naturally, and the geode type, shape, size, and interior contents will be highly dependent on these conditions.
They are most commonly discovered at deep levels within the earth’s sediment, in rivers, and in cliffs. Certain types of gem contents require specific mineral contents and mineral combinations within their surroundings in order to form.
Geodes are approximately round in shape, can range from a few millimeters to several meters in length, and have the external appearance and texture of regular rocks. This exterior protects the interior cavity from the surrounding sediment and bedrock.
The interior cavity is what makes geodes so special, as it is lined with various types of mineral materials. These minerals create bands lining the interior cavity.
Sometimes this interior is not as marvelous in appearance and can contain types of sediment such as chalcedony and microcrystalline instead of glimmering gems.
The interior cavity lining is often comprised of tiny quartz crystals, monotone or colorful agate, amethyst, and pure white calcite. However, there are many more rare geodes that contain minerals like gem silica, rhodochrosite, and opal.
The contrast between an ordinary exterior and a spectacular shimmery interior has baffled the public, and geodes are most commonly used as scientific artifacts, natural décor, jewelry, and ornaments.
Can geodes be fake? Difference from real geodes
There are many variants that are sold under the pretense of being a true geode. However, some environmental conditions result in rock formations appearing similar to geodes, such as when crystals naturally formed in a pocket of sediment.
Many people who collect these specimens do not necessarily have an in-depth knowledge of these differences as opposed to those who receive and study them.
These are easily mistaken for geodes. In terms of the geological definition, these are not true geodes. Although, this sort of rock formation and the crystals inside it occur naturally, and its false advertising could be a result of misconception surrounding the definition of a geode rather than it being fake.
In addition, there are many skilled artists who manufacture highly accurate imitations of rare geodes and market them at the value of the real thing.
Even expert gemologists, mineral collectors, and paleontologists have been fooled by how convincing these imitations can be.
Some of these imitations are made with standard art supplies, and some geodes and gems can also be grown in labs with nearly identical properties. Some people also use small amounts of the same mineral materials that genuine gems are made out of in order to manufacture imitations.
TIP: Another similar issue with geodes is they are often dyed. But how to identify dyed geodes? It can be a bit complicated sometimes. Therefore I wrote a simple guide on how to identify dyed geodes, feel free to read it here:
How to spot a fake geode and how are fake geodes made?
Having privately owned geodes has become a massive trend over the past decade. With more and more people having the funds and amenities for these natural pieces of art, and nature only being able to produce a certain amount of them, resources have become extremely limited.
Due to the high level of accuracy in manufacturing imitation geodes, it’s becoming increasingly more challenging to spot fakes or manmade versions.
But, there are many degrees of ‘fake’, and there are a few factors that are telling or some of these manufacturing methods.
Synthetic or Lab-grown
Synthetic gems have the same physical properties, chemical qualities, and visual appearance as the real deal.
This is due to the fact that synthetic gems are created by taking the knowledge of how the gem is formed naturally thanks to science, finding the same mineral contents as the genuine version needs, and manufacturing it in a reduced amount of time. This can result in an imitation geode or gem that is visibly identical to those created in nature.
Synthetic gems have recently become more popular, as people have started realizing the harsh reality of the earth’s natural resource depletion.
Synthetic gems and geodes are also produced with the highest amount of perfection – a level of perfection that is rare in naturally forming geodes. This is easier to market and sell quickly, as most people prefer aesthetic perfection as opposed to natural versions – even if they don’t realize it.
Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to tell the difference between naturally produced and lab-produced gems and geodes. But, if you spot a geode that seems a tad too perfect to have been naturally formed, then odds are that it was probably made in a lab.
While this is not the ‘real deal, these are not necessarily fake. Since they are comprised of the same material compositions, have the same properties, and chemical compounds, they could still technically be seen as real. Other than geodes, a relative example of this would be lab-grown diamonds.
What is fake is the pretense of it being a ‘geode’, since the main factor that defines a geode is the process by which the crystal interior is formed within the cavity without any intervention by humans. In this case, it would be a fake geode with a synthetic, lab-grown interior.
There are also composite methods that entail taking a lesser portion of the real thing and use it to coat the exterior of an imitation. Glass and other inexpensive materials are used to create the mass and shape depending on the type of gem or crystal being imitated.
Purchasing a geode like this with the impression that it’s real would be equivalent to purchasing a giant diamond ring, and then seeing it shatter into a million glass shards if dropped.
There are various methods of manipulating heating and cooling to achieve similar properties during this process. This creates similar sheen and physical properties and occasionally intensifies colors.
When this happens, there are often remaining indications of its origins, such as bubbling underneath the composite surface or cracking.
These are some of the signs to look out for in order to spot this kind of imitation geode. You can also do a scratch test if you are able to. If it has a dyed composite exterior, sometimes this layer can be scratched off to reveal the underlining contents.
TIP: The main reason why someone produces fake geodes is that these stones are very popular with people and they are willing to pay quite a lot of money for them. But what is the value of a real geode? Find the answer in the article below:
What is absolutely fake is when the geode and its interior have no composite, so chemical qualities, no mineral composition, and nothing derived from naturally created geodes whatsoever. These are simply imitation pieces that have been skilfully and accurately manufactured by humans.
While these may look gorgeous to the eye, there is no value other than having them as an art piece. While these do still take time, talent, and labor, standard art materials are commonly used to make these.
These include materials like pottery materials, ceramic, plastic, glass, or resin. These materials are manipulated into having the physical properties of the natural geode.
Sometimes, ordinary rocks are strategically painted and glued together to imitate ‘rock formations’ like crystal clusters and geodes.
There are a few ways to pick up on this kind of fake geode. One can look underneath the ‘gems’ and check the mounting or base of the interior geode cavity, as there are frequent inconsistencies with regard to the painting as well as evidence of glue.
Another simple indication is uneven coloring, and if the dye was used, it can often gather in between cracks or crevices, and leave behind unnatural streaks or splotchy marks in between the ‘gems’.
Of course, if none of these obvious signs provide any amount of certainty for you, the safest and most effective way to have the geode’s authenticity checked is to have it evaluated by a professional.
You may have to hand out some cash for this, but it’s better than getting swindled for a handful of craft-painted pebbles.
There are many variations of fake geodes, with some more acceptable than others. Natural geodes are scarce, and it’s safer to purchase those from a reputable, licensed company such as a museum.
Some geodes and gems are lab-grown, which is not a particularly bad thing since it helps lower the planet’s resource depletion, while still providing geode interiors of relatively good quality. Still, you should always know the true value of what you are purchasing.
BTW: Do you want to know more about rock and mineral identification? The books listed below are the best ones you can find on the internet (Amazon links):
- Smithsonian Handbooks: Rocks & Minerals
- Gemstone & Crystal Properties (Quick Study Home)
- Ultimate Explorer Field Guide: Rocks and Minerals (National Geographic Kids)
FAQ about Real and Fake Geodes
Still did not find the answer to your answers about differences between real and fake geodes? Find frequently asked questions in the section below:
Fake geodes are most often produced in India. Fake geodes from Morocco and other countries, especially Asian and African countries, are also common.
Prices for fake geodes range from around $ 10 for smaller pieces to hundreds of dollars for larger pieces. An important factor in the price is also the quality of their processing.
TIP: I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s best to find your own geode somewhere in nature anyway, right? And it’s not as complicated as you might think. If you are not an experienced rockhound you do not have to worry, in this article you will find all the necessary information to get started: