July 11, 2022

How to Tell if Carnelian Is Real or Fake? (CHECK 7 CRITERIA)

by Brad

Carnelian is a translucent stone. To tell if carnelian is real or fake, hold the gemstone up to the light. Look at the edges of the rock to see if the light passes through. The real Carnelian has a dense structure and feels heavy when you hold it.

Carnelian is a mineral stone with a vast metaphysical and historical tale.

It displays several unique physical and optical features which come in handy in determining whether the gemstone is real or fake. 

These properties comprise the stone’s hardness, temperature, color, and more!

Since time immemorial, Carnelian has been carved and fixed into jewelry like chains and bracelets.

Plus, it was utilized as currency in the trans-Atlantic trade. 

In terms of jewelry, Carnelian was a favorite among royalty in the past, like the grave of King Tutankhamun and the ancient murals of religious 

locations throughout Sri Lanka, Cambodia, and India. 


Table of Contents

What Is Carnelian?

Otherwise called Cornelian gemstone, this stone is categorized as part of the Chalcedony group.

This group also belongs to the crypto-crystalline quartz category.

It features an alluring orange-reddish shade due to the existence of iron oxide in it. 

Before it’s processed, this stone is opaque; the more you expose it to the sun, the more its magnificent orange shade heightens, together with its opacity.

Carnelian substantially surges its value as it becomes translucent.

That said, here is how to tell if Carnelian is real or fake.

How to Tell If Carnelian Is Real or Fake?

Now let’s look at how to tell if Carnelian is real or fake plastic and glass, agate, and sard variations. 

1. To Identify If Carnelian Is Real or Fake, Do a Hardness Test 

As pointed out above, Carnelian is a kind of cryptocrystalline quartz.

This means that its hardness is seven on the Mohs scale; thus, it is satisfactorily complex and doesn’t easily scratch.

So, for the first simple test, you can try scratching it using a knife or another sharp object. 

If the knife scratches the stone and leaves a mark, it’s probably fake.

Again, you can scratch the stone against the glass to test its hardness.

A genuine Carnelian stone will effortlessly scratch the glass.

On the other hand, a fake stone like plastic and dyed glass won’t. 

2. To Identify If Carnelian Is Real or Fake, Check the Spread of Color 

Generally, Carnelian is a semi-opaque, translucent, brownish, or orange-red chalcedony.

This color is due to Iron oxide present in the stone.

Meanwhile, a wide array of chalcedony turns orange when heated in an oven because it has finely scattered iron compounds that, when heated, oxidize. 

Heat-treated silicate, typically marketed as genuine Carnelian, is difficult to tell from genuine Carnelian.

At times, manufacturers heat-treat or dye agate and sell it as Carnelian.

In this case, the difference between these fake products and Carnelian is that when it comes to coloration, raw Carnelian will occur with a uniform color spread across the stone. 

On the other hand, with dyed or heat-treated agate, the color bands are either disbursed concentrically or in vertical streaks.

What’s more, they could appear in cloudy patterns.

3. To Tell If Carnelian Is Real or Fake, Explore the Its Structure Under Good Light 

The next technique you can utilize to tell if Carnelian is real or fake is analyzing the stone’s structure under the light.

So, you can hold it under various light sources like a flashlight or sun.

If the stone you have is agate, once the light passes through it, there is a prevalent fibrous structure that is atypical for genuine Carnelian. 

While there are more translucent and transparent carnelian versions, the fibrous structure is uncharacteristic, unlike agate.

Even the best fakes will hold their color at the top, though the fiber structures will be evident in the deeper layers. 

Moreover, when lit from behind with a torch, an agate might exhibit fibers similar to the web of a spider, with light lines coming from the geode’s rim to the center of the structure.

These fine lines move perpendicularly to the ends of the agate.

This structure is more visible on the sides though it fades as it reaches the middle.

However, with genuine Carnelian, there is an even color across the entire stone, minus the fibrous structure. 

4. To Tell If Carnelian Is Real or Fake, Check the Temperature 

This one is easy.

Conducting a temperature check to determine whether your Carnelian is real or fake involves putting the stone against your cheek.

Dissimilar to fake materials like plastic or glass, genuine Carnelian will feel cold against your cheek.

Moreover, you can grasp it in your hands for some time, and if it warms up to match your body temperature, it`s probably not genuine.

5. To Identify If Carnelian Is Real or Fake, Do an Acetone Test 

When doing an acetone test, it comes in handy if you suspect your gem is dyed.

Due to the iron impurities in Carnelian, it has an orange coloration.

This shade is inherent to the stone`s composition, compared to a stone dyed orange or red. 

Besides, the dye is only applied on the skin of the stone and gives up chemical reactions once you run the acetone test.

You’ll simply require the stone, some acetone, and a ball of cotton wool to test your stone.

Wet the cotton wool using acetone and rub it against the gemstone.

If it gives up an orange shade, it`s dyed, hence fake. 

6. To Tell If Carnelian Is Real or Fake, Check if There Are Inclusions 

But what is inclusion?

This is simply any material that is confined in another mineral during crystallization.

The type and size of the inclusion that can be seen under magnification or with the naked eye will give you a lot of information about the formation and origin and can come in handy in telling apart ingenuine stones. 

For instance, a dyed fake has a few small air bubbles which you easily spot by revolving the Carnelian in your hand.

A genuine carnelian stone doesn’t feature any inclusions visible to the naked eye.

However, those sourced from agate geode may at times exhibit banding. 

Again, inexpensive chalcedony is heat-treated and sold as Carnelian.

These stones usually have a bulbous structure with a few stripes of color, as opposed to orange.

Ensure not to mistake these for genuine Carnelian.

These varieties are less expensive than real, uncut carnelians; hence if you find such a stone, don’t buy it at a high price. 

7. To Identify If Carnelian Is Real or Fake, Observe the Luster

Often, Carnelian is confused for sard and, at times, sold as it.

Sard is a darker type of silicon dioxide.

Nevertheless, one reliable way to differentiate between Carnelian and Sard is their different clusters. 

Despite the polish of the stone features or whatever shape it comes in, minerals keep their characteristic luster.

This is the physical appearance of the gemstone`s surface once it reflects light.

This information will be handy if you`re ever mixed up by gemological taxonomy. 

Sard is a dense stone and has a more intense color, usually dark brown, almost looks like black, with a waxy luster.

Hence, the surface appears to have a slender wax sheet or resin material when it reflects light. 

On the other hand, Carnelian doesn’t display any of these characteristics.

Again, genuine Carnelian is usually translucent and features a vitreous luster. 

To Summarize: How to Identify if Carnelian is Real or Fake

Purchasing a carnelian stone is the initial step for most people before they establish a relationship with it.

Besides, it’s your first connection to its metaphysical properties.

Some of these require employing a whole sensorium of tactility and sight regarding the stone`s reaction with light and, at times, with different chemicals.

Using these tips when making a digital purchase is complicated and needs you to trust the seller completely, though this alone is insufficient.

You can ask for a quality certificate for the Carnelian, you intend to buy or request audio-visual recordings of the piece under light to see its luster, coloration, and crystallography.

All the same, this might not yet be enough evidence that the stone is genuine. 

The other thing you can check on to be sure of the Carnelian’s authenticity is the price it’s being sold at.

Besides, in this write-up, we’ve given you several ways to determine between a fake heat-treated chalcedony sold as Carnelian.

These fake varieties are frequently more inexpensive than the genuine Carnelian. 

So, if you decide to purchase one, ensure you check to know whether it is Carnelian so that you don’t spend a lot of money on a fake piece.

Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean that if you find a genuine product, you shouldn’t try to bargain!

Most genuine Carnelians in the industry today usually come from India, Egypt, Uruguay, and Brazil.

The retailer should be able to give you information about where the stone came from.

Also, make sure not to purchase carnelians sold as “mined in America” since they are probably dyed agate.

There is plenty of agate in Arizona and Colorado. 

Occasionally, what may be retailed as Carnelian might be the middle section of an agate which is usually orange; hence you might be incapable of viewing the banding and fibers.

If this happens, ensure to search for the crystal structure and luster of the stone since genuine Carnelian features a trigonal crystal formation.

This usually diffuses light compared to an agate which reflects the light in the bands. 

Hopefully, this article has helped you tell the difference between real and fake Carnelian.

So, the next time you’re in the market for Carnelian, make sure to purchase the real thing.

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About the author 

Brad

Brad is a professional climber in the discipline of traditional climbing. He often jokes that he can get a book to read during the long climbs. Of course, it always goes well with a good cup of coffee. Drinking coffee is his safer hobby.

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