In this article, we will discuss the identification of crystals by the naked eye and with minimal magnification. Some crystals would require some higher technology if identification were crucial, but in most cases your eye and a magnifying glass in good lighting will be enough. NOTE: I am not a geologist or a jeweler. I am a crystal healer and collector, and as such, the crystals and stones I seek are not those sold at highest prices on the mainstream market or necessarily unique natural pieces.
Telling the difference between similar stones is sometimes very challenging. If you're new to the arena of crystals and stones this can be even more daunting. There are two things I find challenging for myself even after being a collector for 10+ years and a crystal healer for another 6 years.
1) The size of the stone matters. A very small stone sometimes does not have all the identifying characteristics in size that's easy enough to clearly distinguish. Even when magnified, some are too small to identify confidently. A crystal that's the size of a bead is often too small for me to identify when it is similar to another or several other stones. One example, which I've written about is sodalite and lapis lazuli. Others include jet and black onyx, serpentine and dark green aventurine. In larger pieces these can be ditinguished, but when the stone is as small as a bead it becomes a challenge.
2) The finish of the stone matters: natural, polished, cut, carved - polish really brings out a stones color and markings, making them easier to identify, in most cases. Unless you're into geology or love the natural stones, most people have more ease identifying a polished stone. However, some stones are best kept in a natural state and are more easily identified because no changes have been made to them.
Clear quartz is easier to identify when it is in its natural state as a point or in a cluster. It has six sides, is clear, and grows in a point structure. There certainly are other crystals that grow as points and are clear; apophylite, for example. But, apophylite has only 4 sides. There are other defining characteristics to these two, but we're discussing identification of stones and crystals based on what you can see with the naked eye or with a simple magnifying glass.
When trying to identify a natural stone, water can be of help. If the piece you are attempting to ID is not one suspected of being damaged by water, you can get it wet to bring out the colors a bit more. Before using water, be sure that the stones you speculate are safe to get wet. Selenite is one example of a crystal that should be kept away from water.
In most instances, a magnifying glass in good lighting will suffice for identification. But, occasionally, people may find they are holding what's considered a family heirloom or one that perhaps appears to be diamond or saphhire, or any gem quality piece. Since these could hold value far above their cousins in the crystalline world involving a professional would be an appropriate step.
Found a natural piece that you hope is diamond? Check out this website: www.johnbetts-fineminerals.com/jhbnyc/diamondtest.htm
Got a gem or a piece of jewelry that might be a diamond? Check out this website: www.diamonds.pro/education/how-to-tell-if-diamonds-are-real/
See our other stone identifying articles:
Differentiating Black Obsidian from Black Tektite
Differentiationg Sodalite and Lapis Lazuli