I’m asked a lot on my Facebook page if I can help identify crystals that people can’t remember what they bought, were given or found, and it can be really difficult to tell what the stone is for a number of reasons.
Often the photos are dark and blurry. Then, there are thousands of varieties of crystals and some of them look really similar. Crystals can also look completely different in their raw and polished forms – I’m still constantly amazed when I see raw slabs or chunks of some crystals that bare no resemblance to how they look when they have been polished or carved.
We also have to contend with fake and synthetic (man-made or altered) crystals. Hibiscus Moon has a great series of blog posts on this topic – you can read Part 1 here.
So what do you do if you have a crystal that you can’t identify? Here are some suggestions:
Check out the tumble stone sections on my website
I’ve tried to ensure the photos of my tumble stones (and all the crystals I stock) are large and clear. I stock over 80 of the most common tumble stones (and some of the more exotic varieties). Browse through these pages and see if you can identify your crystal from the photos on my site – look for matches in the general shape, colour and texture of the stone. Notice whether the stone is shiny or waxy in appearance – this will give you clues as to what it might be.
Check out crystal books
If you’re growing a collection of crystals, it’s worth having a crystal book like Judy Hall’s The Crystal Bible on hand to both help you identify your crystals and give you a better understanding of them. There are several editions of this book, but Volume I covers pretty much most of the mainstream crystals that you would be likely to find in crystal shops and markets. Volumes II – IV get into some of the more exotic and newer crystals that are being discovered today.
This book also typically has a couple of photos of each crystal so you can see what it looks like in its raw and polished form. The differences between the two can be amazing!
The Book of Stones by Robert Simmons and Naisha Ahsian is another comprehensive book about crystals, with a lot of pictures.
There are plenty of other books about crystals that can help you to identify them! Invest in one and expand your knowledge of these beautiful stones.
Ask at your local crystal shop
Try taking your unidentifiable crystal into your local crystal shop and seeing if they can help you to identify it. Crystal shops typically label all their stock, so again, look for stones that are similar in colour and texture to yours.
Ask the experts and enthusiasts at your local lapidary club or gem show
Lapidary clubs are collectives of people who are passionate about crystals, gemstones and minerals. They also discuss and promote working with stones (such as how to cut and polish them, how to create jewellery etc). A simple Google search on lapidary clubs will pull up clubs that are local to you.
Lapidary clubs often run gem shows, where members display and/or sell their crystal and mineral collections. These are GREAT FUN and I highly recommend you seek out your local gem shows and go to at least one.
I’ve been to a bunch of gem shows and in my experience, this is where you’ll find some of the most knowledgeable people about crystals, because they work so closely with the stones. Many of these people personally fossick for crystals and gemstones, so they are well versed in identifying the pieces in their raw and polished form. And, they typically LOVE to share their knowledge.
Use a pendulum to ask a crystal what it is
This may sound a bit odd and woo woo, but a friend and I recently used a pendulum to confirm whether a particular crystal was either clear quartz or smoky quartz. We each independently held the pendulum over the crystal and tested whether it was clear or smoky quartz. Only after we’d both done our testing, did my friend and I both say out loud what the crystal had confirmed – and we both confirmed it was smoky quartz.
This post on pendulums goes into more detail about how you can use pendulums with all sorts of questions. The trick in identifying a crystal is that you need to already know at least a couple of options of what it might be – in our case, we had narrowed it down to being one of two varieties of quartz.
Identifying crystals by colour
To give you a bit more help in identifying crystals by name (or at least giving you a few options that may help you to do further research), here are some of the most widely available crystals listed by colour. This is really just a general guide to point you in the right direction. Be aware, that some crystals like calcite, fluorite, quartz and tourmaline (just to name a few) for example, can come in many colours.
Clear or white: Apophyllite, Clear Quartz (also called rock quartz), Calcite (also comes in pretty much every colour, and is waxy to touch), Chlorite, Diamond, Herkimer Diamond, Magnesite, Moonstone, Opal, Rutilated Quartz, Smoky Quartz, Selenite, Stillbite,
Yellow/orange: Amber, Carnelian, Citrine, Jasper (various forms of it), Sulphur, Sunstone, Tiger’s Eye,
Red/brown: Agate (although this can be dyed and comes in many colours), Fire Agate, Aragonite, Garnet, Jasper, Ruby, Vanadinite,
Black: Black Obsidian, Black Tourmaline, Boji Stone, Hematite, Jet, Onyx, Snowflake Obsidian, Tektite,
Purple: Amethyst, Ametrine, Charoite, Fluorite, Lepidolite,
Pink: Cinnabrite, Danburite, Kunzite, Lepidolite, Rhodochrosite, Rhodonite, Rose Quartz, Unakite,
Blue: Angelite, Aqua Aura Quartz, Blue Lace Agate, Apatite, Aquamarine, Atacamite, Azurite, Celestite, Blue Chalcedony, Chrysocolla, Iolite (deep blue), Blue Kyanite, Lapis Lazuli, Larimar, Sapphire, Shattuckite, Sodalite, Turquoise,
Green: Amazonite, Apatite, Aquamarine, Atacamite, Aventurine, Azurite, Bloodstone, Chrysocolla, Chrysoprase, Dioptase, Emerald, Fluorite, Fuchsite, Howlite, Jade, Labradorite, Malachite, Moldavite, Peridot, Prehnite, Seraphinite, Serpentine, Shattuckite, Stichtite, Unakite,
Gold: Iron Pyrite,
I hope this helps you to identify any crystals in your collection that you may be unsure of. Happy exploring!