Gemstones can be made?
Whoa! Hold up, what are we talking about here? Gemstones come from the ground, you dig them up, cut them, polish them and string or wrap them. Now you’re saying they can be made? Yes, that’s right, you heard correctly: Gemstones can be made, and it’s quite clever too. Have you ever wondered why you see gemstones in a store and they seem so expensive, but then in another store they’re almost unbelievably affordable? Chances are they lower priced ones are man/lab-made.
First of all, what is a synthetic or man-made gemstone? They are gemstones that are created in a lab instead of digging them out the ground. They are called lab-grown or man-made. Simulant stones are made to look like a real gemstone. They are created from different minerals and could even contain the same mineral material as the stones they are trying to emulate. There is also another category of man-made gemstones known as Fake gemstones which are lower in natural materials, quality, and price.
How can I tell which one is which?
Lab created stones are the hardest to tell. There are however, ways to tell with just the naked eye or a tool called a loupe. Let’s look at them now.
- The quality of a lab made gemstones will be unrealistically high. So the cracks and inclusions you’d expect to find in a natural gemstone won’t be present. Remember if you think you’re finding what looks like a flawless 10ct diamond for $1 a piece it’s probably lab made and not the real thing.
- Colour. The colour on lab made gemstones is very rich, and in some cases deep. It’s like finding the gemstone in the colour you expect it to be in, but it’s such an intense colour you can’t believe it.
An example of lab made vs natural is Diamonds. Often people use the lab made diamonds instead of the natural ones because they’re brilliant with their clarity and size, and often more affordable.
It can sometimes be hard to to figure out. A sure-fire way (if you have the time and an excellent eye) is to look for the serial number (yes, just like on your phone, or cable box.) Lab made gemstones have serial numbers on them…often in print smaller than fine print, but we promise it’s there. It’s one way governments stop sellers from passing off lab made as authentic gemstones.
Interesting fact: Lab made stones are often made up of minuscule amounts of the natural stone. It’s how they’re “grown.”
Simulant stones look very much like the real thing, but they don’t contain any of the mineral in the natural stone they are emulating. Prices for these are very low. You can’t tell the difference between natural and synthetic with the naked eye.
Two examples of these stones are Cubic Zirconia and Moissanite. They can both easily be exchanged for a natural diamond with the naked eye. With a loupe however, you can check them and find they have no inclusions.
The most common simulant stones you’ll find are:
These kinds of stones have been in existence since the 1800’s. Geneva rubies appeared in 1885.
To determine if it’s synthetic or natural, you can use a a heat test. A flame from a lighter held against a simulant stone will cause it to melt.
The final kind of stone is known as the Fake Gemstone. These are the worst of the bunch.
They are usually sold by crooked dealers. There is no real gemstone material in these at all. Commonly they are made out of glass that’s been coloured to look like the gemstone they are supposed to be.
a 10x loupe reveals bubbles in the “stone” which shows it’s just glass. These are never a good deal no matter the price.
So what are some adavantages to to using lab/man-made gemstones?
- A lot of gemstones are still being mined in dangerous ways’ that exploit the workers who look for them. Blood Diamonds are a good example of this. They usually fund bad practices with governments in many underdeveloped countries. So buying lab/man-made gemstones would be a better choice for your money instead.
2. Colour matching. Gemstones usually make up a large part of the design because of their colour. Lab grown or simulant gemstones hold their colour better than a natural stone and they often come in more shades. Most of the lab grown stones look like the imagined colour for natural gemstones. They are also flawless unlike natural gemstones.
3. Price. This is the last advantage for lab/man-made gemstones. They are more likely to be within the jewelers budget , whereas Natural gems are very expensive because of all the work involved in obtaining them. Lab/man-made gemstones are about 1/3 of the price.
So which is better?
Well…that depends on you. The main thing to take from is blog is that lab/man-made stones are quite similar to natural stones. They’re just grown in a lab instead of the earth. Synthetic stones are good in a pinch, and be aware of shady sellers trying to pass glass off to you.
As always, looking forward to getting ideas for article topics from your curious minds. See you in the April edition!