What is Imitation Turquoise?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Imitation turquoise can refer to certain stones made of natural minerals, or to plastic or glass stones that have been dyed to look like true turquoise. There are some excellent imitation turquoise stones on the market, and to the naked eye, it can be difficult to tell some apart from true turquoise. There isn’t anything morally wrong with making imitation turquoise, unless the stones are sold as true turquoise. Along with reconstituted turquoise, which does contain low-grade turquoise chalk or powder, imitation turquoise is inexpensive and has little value in the jewelry market.

Howlite can be dyed to look like turquoise.
Howlite can be dyed to look like turquoise.

There are several natural stones that may be dyed to look like turquoise and are imitations of the real turquoise stones. These include howlite, which is a white stone that readily absorbs turquoise colored dyes because of its porosity. A few natural stones can look like turquoise but really aren’t. These include variscite, amazonite and serpentine. Again there isn’t anything wrong with using these stones, provided the customer knows he or she is not buying real turquoise.

A good imitation is difficult to distinguish from real turquoise.
A good imitation is difficult to distinguish from real turquoise.

The other way imitation turquoise can be manufactured is through created plastic or glass materials dyed to match the true stones’ colors. It may be cut or injected with other dyes that make it look even more like the real deal. These may be called synthetic instead of imitation gemstones, and they may be identifiable under magnification. For the person not expert in classifying and identifying gems, the best way to evaluate whether you have true turquoise is to have the stones examined by a gemologist.

A little experience with analyzing gems and using magnification may help to identify some versions of synthetic turquoise. Under magnification strengths of 30X to 50X, you may note what appears like tiny blue threads. It’s still hard to always identify turquoise as true if you’re an amateur. Some forms of imitation turquoise aren’t very good. You may be able to easily spot some plastic forms, especially in children’s jewelry because they weigh much less.

Those who love turquoise are often angered when imitation turquoise is used in expensive or good quality settings, like silver. Gemologists recommend that you get a certificate of authenticity from the jewelry vendor, especially when you’re paying high prices for turquoise jewelry. The subject of fake turquoise also comes up when people shop at consignment shops, or find what appears to be turquoise at garage sales, (or perhaps even in their own attics or garages). If you plan on reselling the stones or jewelry made from them, it’s a good idea to have a gemologist certify that they are truly turquoise.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


@turquoise-- You are right. Two turquoise stones are never the same. Turquoise is a mineral so it can take on a variety of hues. But it's possible to find imitation turquoise in a variety of colors as well. So if you can't afford semi-precious turquoise, imitation turquoise is the best alternative. And no, people don't notice and they don't know that I'm wearing imitation unless I tell them. So you won't be embarrassed.

That being said, all imitation turquoise are not the same. Quality varies and it's up to you to find a good manufacturer and a good brand with high quality work.


I love turquoise stones but they can be quite expensive. I want to try imitation turquoise but I'm afraid that it will be obvious. Natural turquoise comes in a variety of natural colors and designs. There is no way that this can be imitated with plastic or glass.


I use imitation turquoise made from plastic. It's affordable and it's light, so I think it makes better jewelry than real turquoise.

I actually have a real silver bracelet with turquoise gemstones. It belonged to my grandmother. It's very pretty but it's heavy since it's stone. I can't wear it for a long time. That's the great part about imitation jewelry. It's light so I can wear it all the time. It's particularly suitable for making earrings. Heavy earrings are not healthy and make ears longer if used for long periods of time.

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