Fluorite is one of the most widespread minerals in crystal collections, most probably the second after quartz. The popularity of fluorite can be explained by the number of colors fluorite occurs in. Hoverer, even an abundance of real fluorite cannot protect mineral collectors from fake. Find out how to differentiate real and fake fluorite easily!
Real fluorite glows under ultraviolet light. Fluorite hardness is very low, so there will be a lot of tiny scratches on the surface of real fluorite. Fake fluorite is mostly represented by glass or plastic. Fake fluorite made of glass can have bubbles and doesn’t glow under UV light.
Kilograms of fluorite can be found in every mineral shop. Does it mean that there is so much fluorite available that no fakes are needed? Unfortunately, it doesn’t. The same pattern as with quartz is applied here. Most fluorite fakes are made of glass or plastic.
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How to Tell if Fluorite is Real
Fluorite is one of the most beautiful minerals. Of course, mineral lovers tell this to every mineral, but fluorite is truly exceptional. It occurs in every possible color of the spectrum. It can be colorfully striped and semi-opaque or absolutely water clean as a gemstone and appropriate for faceting.
Real fluorite occurs in a variety of colors. Its characteristic feature is a gradual transition of colors. The most common colors are green, violet, and blue. Real fluorite is a very soft mineral and can be easily scratched by the glass or a knife. Real fluorite glows under Ultraviolet light.
Fluorite is a mineral that has a very simple formula CaF2. It’s not a simpy attractive mineral. Fluorite is an essential part of making steel, hydrofluoric acid production, specific glass, enamels, and porcelains manufacturing. Clear and colorless fluorite is sometimes used in optical equipment.
A very specific feature of fluorite is the form of occurrence. It is commonly found in ideal cubic crystals or sometimes in form of octahedrons, hexoctahedrons, and tetrahexahedrons. All the forms are isometric, and natural facets of minerals are usually straight and without any distortion.
The combination of extraterrestrial hues and cubic forms makes fluorite a highly praised mineral among mineral collectors. For example, fluorite crystals where the transition of color from an edge to the center of crystal observed are in the greatest demand.
Another fluorite valuable characteristic is the fluorescence effect. By the way, the word “fluorescent” is derived from the mineral fluorite. Fluorite typically glows a blue-violet color under short-wave ultraviolet and long-wave ultraviolet light. Some specimens are known to glow a cream or white color. Many specimens do not fluoresce.
Fluorescence in fluorite is thought to be caused by trace amounts of rare earth elements such as yttrium, europium, samarium, or other elements that substitute for calcium in the fluorite mineral structure. For example, europium has been indicated as a response element for the blue component of the observed fluorescence and ytterbium for the green component.
How does Real Fluorite Look Like?
The most common signs of real fluorite are:
- Real fluorite occurs in different colors. Any color can be a sign of real fluorite.
- Real fluorite can be found mainly in two forms: in form of striped mineral mass and in the form of cubic or octahedral crystals.
- Real fluorite is a soft mineral. It’s 4 on the Mohs scale, which means fluorite can be scratched by glass or knife.
- Because of fluorite’s low hardness, tiny scratches can be observed on the surface.
- Real fluorite has such a specific characteristic as fluorescence. It will glow blue under UV light.
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How to Tell if Fluorite is Fake
Fluorite is quite a common mineral and can be found all over the world. The largest deposits are located in South Africa, Mexico, China, Mongolia, Russia, Spain, and Namibia. Despite the bulk abundance of natural fluorite, there are still some fakes people usually came across.
Fake fluorite is mostly represented by color glass substituents. Fake fluorite made of glass is harder than the real one. However, fake fluorite will be lighter while the real one is heavier because of the difference in the specific gravity. Fake fluorite can have bubbles inside while the real one – not.
Fake fluorite is usually made of glass or rarely plastic. Both glass and plastic occur in a wide range of colors and transparency.
All types of fakes usually occur in form of tumblings. It’s economically unprofitable to make typical octahedrons or cubics from glass or plastic. So collectors should pay attention while buying tumblings or beads.
Also, it’s necessary to mention the treatment of real fluorite. The fluorite is natural in this case, however, its appearance is slightly improved. Some mineral dealers may apply oil to the surface of natural low-quality fluorite specimens to enhance their luster. The way to spot such a type of treatment is to leave a sample under the sun or to put it above boiling water. Small drops of oil will appear on the surface after some time, indicating the oil treatment.
The other way of natural fluorite enhancement is heating. Gentle heating to 100-150°C or 200-300°C can lighten or totally remove a coloration of extensively dark specimens. In such a case, the treatment is not detectable because the same heating process can be natural during fluorite crystals formation.
Treatment should not be perceived as fake fluorite. The material is absolutely natural, just slightly enhanced by humans in order to make the mineral appearance better. Just a slight reminder that the treatment of wood for furniture making or the treatment of leather for a jacket just makes the natural material better.
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How does Real Fluorite Look Like?
The most common signs of fake fluorite:
- Fake fluorite usually occurs in form of tumblings or beads.
- Fake fluorite made of glass is harder than natural one. Fake fluorite can scratch a real one.
- Fake fluorite made of glass weighs less than the same size natural specimen.
- Fake fluorite made of glass looks too shiny and has an intensive glassy luster.
- Fake fluorite made of glass can have gas bubbles inside.
- Fake fluorite made of glass may have conchoidal chips.
Real vs. Fake Fluorite: The Main Differences
Find a table with the comparison of the main characteristics between real fluorite and fake one.
|Characteristic feature||Real fluorite||Fake fluorite|
|Transparency||Transparent, semi-transparent.||It can be transparent and semi-transparent, however, a solid opaque one is most probably fake.|
|Oil treatment||No treatment is present.||Treatment of real fluorite can be rarely observed to increase the transparency and luster.|
|Hardness test||The mineral is soft (4 on the Mohs scale). So it can be scratched by glass and knife.||Glass fakes will be much harder to scratch than natural ones.|
|Weight test||Real fluorite has a quite high specific gravity, so it will weigh quite substantially, especially in comparison with another man-made material.||Fake fluorite weighs less than its natural analog.|
|Ultraviolet light test||Real fluorite will glow blue or white, whatever color it was before.||No glow under UV light can be observed.|
|Form of occurrence||Real fluorite occurs in isometric crystals in cubic and octahedrons form.||Fake fluorite mostly occurs in tumbling.|
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Where to Buy Real Fluorite
Real fluorite is a quite common mineral, so it’s relatively safe to buy it everywhere. Especially when fluorite crystals are suggested in their natural form of occurrence (cubic, octahedron). As usual, we recommend avoiding the online purchase of kilograms of tumbling as it’s easy to run into fakes made of glass.
The best way to buy real fluorite is to contact the local mines, where real fluorite is extracted. Sometimes small firms made sales of their best crystals found.
Did you know that fluorite is a state mineral of Illinois? So it’s nothing to be worried about when buying fluorite in places like Illinois.
Fluorite mineral sources are reported from all over the world. Geologists run into fluorite in a wide range of geological environments: from late stages of igneous rocks formations to sedimentary rocks rich in calcium.
This is the reason why fluorite fakes are not so common. Natural material usually comes in good quality and big amounts. However, because of fluorite demand among the collectors, sometimes it’s possible to come across kilograms of fake fluorite.
Fake fluorite is usually made of glass and is distributed in a tumbling state. You are safe buying cubes and octahedrons of fluorite as these forms are natural for real fluorite.
Please, pay attention to the next characteristics while buying fluorite:
- Form of occurrence.
- Glow under ultraviolet light.
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)
TIP: Rock collecting is a great hobby but it is not so easy to start. That’s why I have written a complete guide about rock collecting. Feel free to read the article below:
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