I always use natural gemstones for my jewelry, but the big 4 precious gemstones: Diamonds; Rubies; Emeralds; and Sapphires, have been out of my price range. Recently, however, I noticed that my favorite supplier had started selling “Lab-Created” gemstones which are still pricey, but considerably less than then the real deal. I decided to find out more and I am sharing what I have learned with you. Here are the differences starting with the least expensive alternatives:
Simulated gemstones — These stones are man made to look like the real thing and include common CZ’s, Cubic Zirconia. I only use these for stone setting practice.
Then there are Moissanites which cost much more than cz’s, but far less than a natural Diamond. The hardness is second only to a Diamond and the refractive quality (bling) is higher! It’s stunning! This is a very popular diamond substitute with its fabulous fire, durability, and clarity – not to mention affordability. This is in the category simulated because the composition is not at all like a diamond.
Synthetic gemstones — This category is dominated by a new generation of “Lab Created” gemstones. These beauties share all of the same composition and properties of its natural counterpart, but, as the name indicates, it was completely made in a lab. Not even sophisticated testing equipment can tell the difference between the lab created stone and the natural one. Only the sales certificate tells the tale!
Pricing of these Lab stones can vary according to the stone it mimics. For instance, Lab-created diamonds are still expensive (about 25 35% less than a natural diamond), but Lab Rubies, Sapphires, and Emeralds are very affordable alternatives.
I have also seen Lab Opals, but in nature, the flash comes from randomly trapped water pockets and that is difficult to reproduce. Compositionally, they may be identical, but they look fake. I suspect the same thing would happen in a Lab Moonstones, Labradorites or any other gemstone with flash attributes. I don’t think we’ll be seeing them.
This process, start to finish is very time-consuming so I don’t ever expect to see less expensive semi-precious stones like garnets being made in a lab. But you never know!
Credit – Rio Grande Jewelry Supply