There are several stone identification apps on the market to help with crystal and rock identification. These apps are helpful to an extent, but often fall short in nailing down a definitive identification. With roughly 3800 known minerals, you can see why it may not be so easy for an app to spit out the answer you seek. This is where experience and some detective work on your part come in handy. For the purpose of this article, my focus is on crystals and stones offered within the metaphysical community, not the mineral collector community.
There are some common newbie mistakes people make when ID’ing a stone. The first being color. A newbie crystal collector will look at the color of a stone and attempt to make an id solely on this basis. Don’t get me wrong, the color of a stone is a great place to start and can be super helpful.
Take this scenario as an example: Someone posted a picture of this heart in a Facebook Group asking for help in identifying. The original poster said the shop wasn’t exactly sure what the stone was but were fairly certain it was Rhodonite. Several people chimed in with their thoughts – some were quite confident and without a doubt that, yes, the stone was indeed Rhodonite. Others confidently stated it was Rhodochrosite, 100%. I chimed in that I thought it was Mookaite Jasper – to which one poster replied back to me in two words: Not Mookaite. I thought, why not Mookaite?
When identifying a stone, there are features other than color to consider. Pattern being one of them. Using the above example, the banding on the heart is not typical for Rhodonite. While Rhodonite does have color variance, it is usually brown or black and exhibits a vein or web pattern, not banded. On the other hand, Rhodochrosite indeed has banded patterning similar to the heart, but the banding on Rhodochrosite will never be purple. However, Mookaite Jasper comes in many colors like purple and pink and is banded, similar to the heart. So in this scenario, who’s right?
It’s not about being right, but about understanding how experience and knowledge matter in this all too common scenario. People tend to get caught up in the name game, and to be honest I was the same way when I first started working with crystals. Knowing the name of a stone was super important to me, it helped me research stones’ properties, and in essence learn from someone else’s experiences. Since then, I have come to learn the name of a stone matters less – much less – than how that stone makes me feel. I now understand that pink stones resonate with the heart chakra – so it really doesn’t matter if the stone is Rhodonite, Rhodochrosite or Mookaite, as all resonate with the heart chakra in their own way, and with much overlap in between.
Other things to consider when ID’ing stones are opacity, crystal habit, texture and MOHS hardness. Often a stone’s opacity is a great clue in crystal identification. Some stones you cannot shine a light through, they are very opaque, as in the Jasper family. While other stones have more translucency, like the Agate family. The opacity of a stone can be a key identifier in narrowing down ID options.
With polished stones it’s more difficult to identify the crystal habit (shape of the crystal face). Although you can sometimes see the formation or outline of it which can be helpful as an identifier. Also, a stone’s identity can be narrowed down by texture or feel. For instance, green Calcite and green Fluorite can look very similar in color, pattern and opacity. However, Calcites have a waxier and softer feel to them.
Lastly, there is the MOHS hardness of a stone. The MOHS scale of hardness is a relative scale of scratchability. I’m not suggesting you scratch your stones to figure out what you have, but this identifier can be helpful in certain circumstances, or as a “last resort”.
As you can see, there are many things to consider when trying to figure out the ID of a stone. Not all pink stones are Rhodonite, but all pink stones will resonate with the heart Chakra. Given that, does the name of the stone really matter as much? Or does how the stone makes you feel matter more?