Guide to Buying Crystals: Avoid Fakes and Find Your Perfect Crystal

Guide to Buying Crystals: Avoid Fakes and Find Your Perfect Crystal

Sparkly, colourful and full of the promise of magical properties. You're curious about the power of healing crystals, but haven't got a clue how to get started. In the Crystals 101 series of articles, I'll explain everything you want to know about crystals and minerals but are afraid to ask.

I'm Laura, the Founder of Rock + Realm and self-proclaimed crystal addict and crystal nerd! I've been running my Norwich based ethical crystal business for about 3 years, during which time I've built up a wealth of knowledge, experience and wisdom about the do's and don'ts of buying, using and caring for crystals and minerals.

I remember only too well how daunting it is when you first dip your toe into the realm of crystals and spiritual healing. It can seem full of jargon and is really difficult to know if you've discovered genuine treasure with your latest crystal haul or been duped by Fool's Gold!

Crystals have beguiled and captivated civilisations for many millennia and their power to generate wonder is going from strength to strength in our turbulent and stressful modern times. 

A table full of beautiful clear quartz crystals


If you’re eager to grow your crystal knowledge as well as your crystal collection, then read our Crystals 101: Guide to Buying Crystals to learn these crystal shopping basics

  • How crystals help improve your wellbeing
  • How to choose your perfect crystal
  • How to avoid buying 'fake' crystals
  • How to buy crystals online with confidence


How do crystals help improve your wellbeing? It’s all about the vibes!

Before we dive into how to select the perfect crystal and avoid the disappointment of a poor crystal shopping experience, let me remind you why you should invite the wonders of crystals into your home.

Everything in this universe is made up of atoms that vibrate at specific frequencies, including us. When you’re well and happy your energetic vibration is harmonised, but when you are ill or unhappy these vibrations become unbalanced. Crystals are believed to vibrate at frequencies that return our own energetic vibrations back into balance. 

Close up of a clear quartz crystal cluster with pyrite

Crystals are fascinating structures that have unique properties, both scientifically and metaphysically. From a scientific standpoint, crystals are solid materials with an orderly arrangement of atoms or molecules, forming a repeating pattern called a lattice. This regular internal structure gives them their distinctive shape and various physical properties. This lattice structure is the most orderly structure in nature and that’s why crystals have the most balanced energetic vibrations.

Metaphysically, it is believed that the highly organised lattice structure of crystals creates balanced energetic vibrations that help return your natural energy field to a healthy vibrational frequency. Different crystals vibrate at different frequencies and so their benefits vary. The different shapes and colours of crystals also influence these vibrational energies and you can tap into these healing vibrations by incorporating crystals into your home, wardrobe and wellbeing practices. 

Meditating with an amethyst crystal

It's important to note that the metaphysical properties of crystals are based on belief systems and are not scientifically proven. Scientifically, crystals do have fascinating properties due to their internal structure, but their metaphysical effects remain a subject of personal interpretation and spiritual practices.

If you're interested in using crystals for spiritual or healing purposes, it's essential to approach the practice with an open mind and understand that any perceived benefits may be subjective in nature. Always consult with experts and practitioners who are knowledgeable in crystal healing if you want to explore this area further.


How to choose the perfect crystal and avoid being ripped off with fake crystals

Crystals have captivated humanity for centuries with their beauty and promise of healing properties. Whether you're a seasoned crystal enthusiast or a curious beginner, selecting the perfect crystal can be an exciting but challenging task. With a booming market and increasing popularity, the risk of encountering fake or misrepresented crystals has also risen. In this section, we'll explore some essential tips on how to choose the perfect crystal and protect yourself from falling victim to counterfeit products. 


How to Select your Perfect Crystal

Honestly, there is no right or wrong way when it comes to selecting a crystal. It's totally personal, like buying art. Some people are drawn to rare investment pieces whereas others simply want something beautiful that will make a great centrepiece on their coffee table. Whether or not you're selecting a crystal for its metaphysical or energy healing benefits or for its aesthetic appeal; introducing crystals will naturally enhance your home and life.

A selection of rainbow coloured crystals in all shapes and sizes

The spooky thing is that you'll often find that the benefits of the crystals and minerals you are drawn to when browsing through our shop really resonate with what you need, when you read the properties. 

Common ways to select crystals and minerals are

  • Use your intuition - Your body and heart know what it needs, so if you are drawn to a crystal and find yourself going back to it again and again, chances are it's the crystal for you!
  • Crystal Aesthetics - It's ok to select a crystal because you love how it looks and how it would look in your home. Adding crystals to your home decor is similar to adding houseplants, so there's nothing wrong in selecting a piece because its beauty will enhance your space... this improves how you feel as much as their energetic vibrations. Try our Crystal Display collection for inspiration.
  • Crystal Properties - If you are looking for a crystal to help with a particular area of your life or wellbeing, selecting based upon the energetic properties of a crystal is a good way to go. We organise crystals by Intention, such as Self-Love & Esteem, Joy & Abundance and Calm & Anxiety Relief
  • Crystal Shape or Formation -  Beyond their colours and unique properties, the shapes of crystals play a significant role in their symbolism and benefits. From points to spheres and everything in between, each crystal shape carries its own energetic essence. You can search the Rock + Realm Crystal Collection by Spheres, Pyramids, Towers, Clusters or even Skulls.
  • Crystal Investment Pieces - While crystals are widely adored for their beauty and metaphysical properties, some collectors also view them as investment pieces. Just like precious gemstones, certain crystals have become increasingly sought after due to their rarity and value in the market. Try our Luxury Gifts or Crystal Specimens collection if you're looking for Rare & Unusual crystals.

At Rock + Realm, we help you to make the best decision by ensuring detailed crystal listings that include lots of photos, a full description of the metaphysical and emotional benefits along with suggestions on how to use and where to display them. You can also use our extensive menus to zone in on the above categories if you are looking for a particular type of crystal, shape or even chakra alignment.


How to avoid disappointment when buying crystals

Choosing the perfect crystal can be a rewarding and enlightening experience, but it's crucial to be mindful of the possibility of encountering fake or misrepresented crystals in the market. By educating yourself, buying from reputable sources and carefully examining the crystals, you can minimise the risk of being ripped off and enhance your overall crystal journey.


1. Educate Yourself

Knowledge is your best defence against being ripped off by fake crystals. Before setting out to purchase a crystal, invest some time in learning about the types of crystals, their properties and how to spot authentic ones. Numerous reputable books, websites and experts can provide valuable information to aid in your crystal education journey. Armed with this knowledge, you'll be better equipped to make informed choices and recognise potential red flags. If you're unsure, drop me a message as I'm always happy to provide advice or guidance.


2. Buy from Reputable Sources

Counter of a crystal shop with crystal sphere on display

One of the most effective ways to ensure you're getting genuine crystals is to purchase them from trustworthy sources. Seek out well-established crystal shops, metaphysical stores or certified dealers known for their integrity and commitment to authenticity. Reputable sellers will provide detailed information about the crystals they offer, including their origin, properties and any certifications they may have.

If you're buying from a website always check if they have terms & conditions, an ethics statement, a fair returns policy and an easy way to get in touch if you have problems or questions. Reputable sellers will welcome questions about the crystals that they sell, so don't be afraid to ask if you are uncertain.

Crystal Buying Red flags and things to avoid -

  • Claims or crystals that are too good to be true
  • Unfounded claims of ‘rarity’ or ‘new finds’
  • Unusual or new colourways (could be dyed)
  • Strange combinations of crystals and minerals
  • Poor quality photos or too few photos not showing the crystal from every angle
  • A seller that avoids answering questions or doesn't seem to know a lot about the origins or properties of the crystals they sell
  • A seller that doesn't accept returns or refunds
  • Crystals sold by mainstream high street stores that don't specialise in crystals or spiritual products; chances are these are sourced from china or other countries that mass produce using unethical practices

 Colourful display of crystals in a shop

When buying in person it is much easier to establish the trust-worthiness of the seller and the shop, but don't take for granted that everything in a physical shop will be authentic or appropriately priced or ethically sourced. Be discerning, check for local recommendations, ask questions and approach 'too good to be true' offers with the same level of caution.


3. Physical Examination

When selecting a crystal, take the time to examine it closely. Genuine crystals typically exhibit unique natural features, such as inclusions, colour variations, natural cracks, matrix and surface textures. Fake crystals may lack these natural characteristics and instead appear overly perfect or uniform. Additionally, check for any signs of damage or alterations that could indicate a synthetic or man-made product, such as extremely vivid or unnatural looking colours.


Common Methods Used to Alter Crystals or Create Man-Made 'Crystals':  

  1. Dyed blue agate slice

    Dyeing: Some crystals are treated with dyes to enhance their colour or create fake versions of more valuable stones. Dyeing can sometimes be detected by looking for uneven colouration or fading over time (although be aware that natural crystal colours may also fade in sunlight over time). Agate and Howlite is commonly dyed and a reputable seller should declare this in the product description.

  2. Heat treated citrine
    1. Heat Treating: Heating is a common treatment for certain crystals like smoky quartz and amethyst to change or enhance their colour. Heated crystals may show darker or more vibrant colours compared to their untreated counterparts. It is common to heat treat purple amethyst to alter it to a vivid yellow / orange colour and sell it as Citrine; this should be clearly stated as 'heat treated Citrine' as opposed to 'natural citrine'.

  3. Blue Aura Coated Quartz

    Coating: Crystals may be coated with a thin layer of metal or synthetic material to alter their appearance. This treatment can give crystals a shiny or iridescent surface and they should be labelled as 'Aura' crystals. Aura coating is thought to imbue the crystals with the additional properties of the minerals in the coating, such as titanium, platinum and silver. Note that the coating may wear off over time.

  4. Red synthetic lab grown crystal

    Synthetics: Some crystals are created in laboratories using the same chemical composition as natural crystals. While synthetic crystals have the same properties as natural ones, they lack the unique characteristics that genuine crystals develop during their formation in nature. Synthetic crystals can be extraordinarily beautiful and whilst man-made there are obvious ethical advantages of avoiding the unregulated mining industry to produce them. 

  5. Four smelt quartz 'fake crystal' towers in blue, red, pink and clear

    Smelt Quartz: Smelting is a process of taking quartz sand and melting it at high temperatures before reforming into spheres, towers or carvings. The resultant product is basically a glass ornament. Often chemicals are added to create vivid colours like red, blue or yellow, which make it easier to distinguish as a man-made vs natural crystal. It is also sold as clear or pink, which could be confused with natural clear or rose quartz.

  6. Bismuth, opaline and goldstone man-made crystals

    Glass & Man-made Crystals: Some stones commonly found in crystal shops are man-made. Opalite, Goldstone and Bluestone are all man-made glass based products that are often sold as tumblestones or jewellery. It's rare they would be advertised as natural crystals but they may not be clearly stated as man-made, so it's worth understanding the difference. Another man-made crystal is Bismuth, which is a natural mineral that is then processed to create geometric formations.

Commonly faked or misrepresented crystals to be mindful of are Citrine, Malachite, Turquoise, Smoky Quartz, Rose Quartz, Obsidian, Tiffany Stone and Jade.

There is nothing wrong in selling or buying crystals that have been altered in some way if the treatment or process is clearly stated in the product description and the person buying understands this is the case. The dishonesty comes from not declaring that crystals have been altered or are man-made and selling them as authentic and fully natural in order to mislead people and inflate prices. Sometimes the seller won't even be aware they are selling mis-represented crystals if they have bought them in good faith from a dishonest wholesaler.


4. Price Considerations

While crystals vary in value based on rarity, size and quality, extremely low prices compared to market norms should raise suspicion. If a crystal seems too good to be true in terms of its cost, it may be a red flag for potential counterfeits or unethical sourcing or production practices. It's worth considering who in the supply chain had to take a wage hit in order for you to grab a crystal at a rock bottom price. Remember that authentic, high-quality crystals are valued for their unique properties and craftsmanship and that comes at a cost.

Museum grade crystals displayed in a cabinet

If you can't afford that expensive rare, high quality display crystal, consider finding a smaller piece or a more common variety with similar properties that is in your price range.


9 Tips to Buy Crystals Online with Confidence

There's nothing nicer than crystal shopping in your PJs with a steaming mug of coffee or a chilled glass of wine in hand! Buying crystals online is super convenient, but it comes with the challenge of not being able to physically examine the crystals before you buy. That shouldn't put you off though, with a few precautions and research, you can increase your chances of receiving genuine, high quality and spiritually energetic crystals. And because overhead costs are less for online shops vs physical stores, you'll often find prices are lower.

Woman shops online in her living room 

I've been buying and selling crystals online for many years and have often learned the hard way what to look for and avoid, so here are my 9 top tips to assure yourself when buying crystals online:

  1. Choose Reputable Crystal Sellers: Opt for well-established and reputable online crystal shops or crystal dealers. You might grab a bargain buying via eBay or social media, however the chances of a disappointing crystal delivery are extremely high. Look for crystal stores with positive customer reviews and a strong track record of providing authentic crystals. Avoid social media sellers who contact you directly to offer you crystals at wholesale prices.

  2. Read Crystal Product Descriptions Carefully: Pay close attention to the product descriptions provided by the seller. Legitimate sellers should include detailed information about the crystals they offer, including full size details, properties, origin and any known treatments or imperfections. It’s your responsibility to check that these match your expectations when the information is provided. Look for transparency and accuracy in the seller's communication about their crystals.

  3. Review the photographs: Check photos of the crystals to be clear what you're buying up front. Reputable sellers should provide clear and accurate photos of the crystal from multiple angles and with size references. Avoid shops with too few photos or overly stylised, filtered or too-good-to-be-true photography and if possible, request additional natural photos of the crystals you're interested in. Avoid buying from sellers who only use stock images that may not accurately represent the product you'll receive.

  4. Research the Seller's Policies: Review the seller's return and refund policies. Legitimate sellers usually offer a fair return or exchange policy aligned to online sales legislation (14 days) if you receive a product that doesn't match the description or is damaged. Check for customer feedback on their return process to ensure a hassle-free experience in case of any issues.

  5. Compare Prices: Be wary of overly cheap prices for crystals that are typically considered valuable or rare. If the price seems too good to be true, it might be an indication of fake or misrepresented crystals or crystals sourced from mass producers with questionable mining and employment practices. This is particularly the case with crystals found on e-commerce sites like Temu, eBay or Amazon.

  6. Research the Seller's Ethics: Look into the seller's ethical practices regarding crystal sourcing and authenticity. Some sellers provide information about their ethical standards, fair trade practices and support for responsible mining. Whilst the industry is unregulated there are steps that sellers can take to be responsible when sourcing crystals from around the world.

  7. Seek Recommendations: If you're unsure about a particular online seller, seek recommendations from crystal communities, forums or social media groups. Experienced crystal collectors can often provide insights and recommend reliable online sources and will give you the inside track on what and who to avoid!

  8. Start Small: If you're unsure about a new online seller, consider starting with a smaller purchase to test their products and customer service before investing in more significant crystal acquisitions. Join their subscriber list and follow them on social media in order to get to know them better before you buy.

  9. Take your time:  Crystals are unique and this can lead to impulsive purchases driven by love for a one-of-a-kind piece. My treasure hunting instincts mean that I'm often guilty of this! Be mindful of marketing tactics like eBay auctions or social media live sales, which can prompt overspending and snap decisions. Whilst enjoyable, these events may cause you to buy more than planned and there's a higher risk of not getting what you expected or an inability to return crystals. Opting for crystals listed on websites over eBay, TikTok or Instagram sales provides time to review properties, detailed images and ask questions—ensuring more confident purchases.

Remember, while these tips can help increase your confidence when buying crystals online, there is always a slight risk involved so a healthy scepticism is advised. If you encounter any issues with your purchase, contact the seller promptly and seek resolution through their customer support channels. Take time to get familiar with your rights as an online consumer.


Crystal Shopping Rule Number 1: Trust Your Gut!

Woman holding a quartz crystal

As you explore different crystals, remember to trust your intuition and personal connection with the stone. Authentic crystals often resonate with you on a deeper level and you may find yourself drawn to specific shapes, colours or textures. If a crystal feels right to you and supports with your intentions, it could be a sign of its authenticity and energetic alignment.

Conducting a thorough physical examination of crystals and being aware of common methods used to alter or fake crystals can help you make more informed choices when purchasing these beautiful and intriguing gemstones. Remember that the joy of collecting crystals lies not only in their beauty but also in appreciating their natural imperfections and unique energy. 

Embrace the beauty and energy of genuine crystals to enrich your life and spiritual practices, knowing you've made a thoughtful and well-informed choice.

Where to go to learn more about crystal properties and their benefits

It can be a bit overwhelming when you are first introduced to healing crystals and are trying to learn more about the do's and don't of crystal and mineral collecting. I hope you’ve found this guide for how to choose your perfect crystal and avoid buying fake or misrepresented crystals a useful starting point.

If you’d like to learn more you can browse our Spiritual Wellness blog, subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Instagram or check out our Wellbeing Books for handy reference guides like Judy Hall’s Little Book of Crystals.


More about us

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Rock + Realm is an ethical spiritual retailer, specialising in crystals, incense, jewellery, spiritual wellness and more. As an independent, female-owned UK business we care deeply about supporting women to be their best selves.


Loved our Crystals 101: Guide to Buying Crystals?

💬 If you have any other questions about how to get started with crystal healing, crystal and mineral collecting or how to choose and care for your crystals, we’d love to help in the comments below!

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Thankyou. This honest in-depth guide is exactly what I needed. Not once did I feel that you are pushing your business on me, but I feel your passion for the crystals and for people to make informed choices. You are a rare and genuine person and if I lived closer to your store I would come and hug you.

Claire Pollitt

Hello there. I have just stepped into the world of crystal healing and also find myself attracted toward collecting crystals, please help me to understand how I can really get the real crystals and am not duped, I am from India, also I am seriously thinking of stepping into selling authentic crystals in my city to start with


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