Black tourmaline is a highly sought-after black crystal known for its unique properties and breathtaking beauty. With its growing popularity in the world of crystal healing and jewelry making, it’s important to know that many fake, imitation crystals are being created that are not real.
This article will guide you through the process of determining the authenticity of black tourmaline so you can be confident in your purchase or collection.
How To Tell If Black Tourmaline Is Real?
Search for Inclusions
When you look at a black tourmaline stone, notice anything inside the crystal. Black tourmaline, also known as schorl, appears cloudy due to tiny hematite inclusions that look like particles within it. Use a magnifying glass to see inclusions in the gemstone, which could mean it’s natural black tourmaline.
Review the Texture
Black tourmaline crystals are rough and uneven because they are made of silicate. Black tourmaline is rough and less polished compared to other black gemstones, such as black onyx. A genuine black tourmaline stone has a striped texture because it forms in long, grooved crystals.
Look for Optical Illusions
When you look at the black tourmaline crystal, watch for the optical illusions it makes. With its columnar and prismatic shape, black tourmaline can sometimes display a “cat’s eye” effect. This effect occurs when a thin band of light appears on the surface. This optical phenomenon often distinguishes genuine black tourmaline from similar-looking minerals.
Search for Pleochroism
Black tourmaline has a unique feature called pleochroism. It can show different colors from different angles. Hold the gemstone up to a light to test for pleochroism and rotate it slowly. Due to small amounts of other elements, you might notice colors like brown, green, or blue in the crystal.
Check the Luster
A natural black tourmaline stone should have a vitreous luster like glass with a shiny surface. When light hits the surface, it should produce a reflective sheen similar to that of glass. It can help tell it apart from similar minerals.
How To Test If Black Tourmaline Is Real Or Fake?
After visually looking at your crystal to see if it is real or fake, you can perform a few tests to verify further if the crystal is a natural black tourmaline.
Below are the tests to perform on black tourmaline to tell if it is real or fake:
To perform the scratch test, find an unobtrusive part of the black tourmaline stone. Using a steel nail, scratch the stone’s surface gently. If the stone is a real black tourmaline, it will not show any scratches. However, if it is a fake gem such as black obsidian or black onyx, the steel nail will leave visible marks.
Test the Hardness
Tourmaline stones have a Mohs hardness of 7 to 7.5. You can test the hardness by attempting to scratch the crystal with quartz or a knife, which has a Mohs hardness of 7. If the quartz leaves a scratch, it is likely not authentic black tourmaline.
Test with Ice
Place a small piece of ice on the surface of the black tourmaline stone. Fake tourmalines cannot conduct heat or melt ice as quickly as genuine black tourmaline crystals. Fake tourmalines are typically onyx or obsidian. You can use these crystals to test melting ice to see if your crystal is natural.
Test with Magnets
Real black tourmaline stones have a natural magnetism. Hold a small magnet near the stone, and if it attracts to the stone, it may be a real black tourmaline. Be cautious, however, as some fakes may also have magnetic properties.
Test with a Camera
Using a digital camera or a smartphone, take a photo of the stone with the flash turned on. The black tourmaline stone will exhibit a bluish glow under the flash if it is authentic. Fakes like black obsidian or black onyx will not exhibit this property.
Test with a Light
Hold the black tourmaline stone up to a light source, such as sunlight or moonlight. Real black tourmaline is opaque and somewhat see-through. Fake stones like onyx, black kyanite, or obsidian look solid.
Test with Fire
Heat the stone with a lighter or another heat source, then quickly touch it to see if it feels warm. Authentic black tourmaline remains cool to the touch even when exposed to heat, while fake stones will warm up.
Test with Salt
Dissolve a teaspoon of salt in a glass of water and place the black tourmaline stone in salt water. Real black tourmaline is not affected by saltwater, but fake stones can lose color or corrode.
You can use these tests to be more confident about the authenticity of your black tourmaline purchase. The tests work for both single stones and black tourmaline bracelets.
How Can You Tell If Black Tourmaline Is Good Quality?
To determine if a black tourmaline piece is of good quality, you should consider its color, clarity, and origin. Black tourmaline is high-quality and very dark, almost black, with a slightly see-through or solid look. The color may vary, displaying tinges of blue, green, or brown.
When examining the clarity of black tourmaline, it’s important to know that inclusions are normal and not a sign of low quality. However, a good-quality specimen minimizes the visibility of inclusions and is free of large cracks and fissures.
The origin of black tourmaline can impact its quality. High-quality black tourmaline is commonly mined in Brazil, Madagascar, and Nigeria.
It can be hard to evaluate black tourmaline’s quality by looking at its physical properties. To assist you in your assessment, here are some key factors:
- Color: Inspect the intensity and consistency of the black color, ensuring no unwanted colors are present (i.e., yellow or pink shades).
- Clarity: Observe any inclusions and assess their visibility, ensuring the stone is free from large cracks or fissures.
- Origin: Look for black tourmalines from Brazil, Madagascar, or Nigeria, which are reputable sources.
When you look at these factors, you can find good black tourmaline and choose wisely.
Why Having Good Quality Black Tourmaline Is Important
Black tourmaline is used in jewelry, like bracelets and necklaces, to cleanse negative energy and balance the root chakra.
This crystal can have potential healing properties to help people feel more stable when black tourmaline is paired with clear quartz or protection when paired with selenite.
Beyond its physical properties, understanding additional characteristics of black tourmaline can prove useful:
- Composition: It is a boron silicate mineral that often contains small amounts of aluminum, iron, or magnesium.
- Zodiac: Libra is often associated with black tourmaline, making it a popular choice for those with October birthdays.
- Related Varieties: You may also come across watermelon tourmaline and pink tourmaline, which are related varieties. However, these varieties have different properties and uses compared to black tourmaline.