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Closer Look: Synthetic Gemstones and How to Identify Them

When most people think of gemstones, they imagine beautiful, sparkling precious stones that are mined from deep within the earth. But did you know that there are man-made crystals that have similar physical and optical properties to natural gemstones?

These are known as synthetic gemstones. In this article, we will discuss the types of synthetic gemstones, the difference between synthetic, simulant, and fake gemstones, and the availability and rarity of synthetic gemstones.

What Are Synthetic Gemstones? Synthetic gemstones, also known as lab-created or man-made gemstones, are created in a laboratory using the same mineral compositions as natural gemstones.

These stones are produced using various methods, including crystal growth, flux growth, and hydrothermal synthesis. Synthetic gemstones are essentially identical to their natural counterparts in terms of chemical composition, optical properties, physical properties, and durability.

Difference Between Synthetic, Simulant, and Fake Gemstones

Synthetic gemstones are not be confused with simulant or fake gemstones. A simulant is a stone that looks similar to a natural gemstone but has a different chemical composition and is less valuable.

For example, cubic zirconia is a common diamond simulant. A fake gemstone, on the other hand, is an imitation stone made of glass, plastic, or other materials that do not have the same optical properties as a natural gemstone.

For example, a glass imitation of a ruby would be considered a fake gemstone.

Types of Synthetic Gemstones

Corundum-Based Stones

Corundum is a mineral that is used to create two of the most popular gemstones ruby and sapphire. Synthetic ruby and sapphire are created in labs using the same mineral composition as natural stones.

These stones have the same physical and optical properties as natural gems and are just as durable. While synthetic rubies and sapphires are not as rare as natural stones, they are still beautiful and highly sought after.

Beryl-Based Stones

Beryl-based stones are created using the same mineral composition as emerald and beryl. Color-changing sapphires are also a form of beryl-based stone.

These stones are popular due to their striking green and blue colors. Synthetic emeralds are less expensive than natural stones and are often used as a substitute due to their similar appearance.

Alexandrite

Alexandrite is a rare and very expensive natural stone that is difficult to mine. Synthetic alexandrite is created using the same mineral composition and is nearly identical to its natural counterpart.

While synthetic alexandrite is less rare than natural alexandrite, it is still a highly sought after stone due to its unique color changing properties.

Availability and Rarity of Synthetic Gemstones

Exotic stones like alexandrite and padparadscha sapphire are rare and expensive natural gemstones. Synthetic versions of these stones are less rare and, therefore, less expensive.

This makes synthetic gemstones a great option for those who want the beauty of a natural gemstone but cannot afford the high cost. However, not all synthetic gemstones are readily available.

Some synthetic gems, such as synthetic opal, are difficult to produce and are therefore rare. This can make them more expensive than their natural counterparts.

In conclusion, synthetic gemstones are an excellent option for those who want the beauty of natural gemstones at a fraction of the cost. While they may not be as rare as their natural counterparts, synthetic gems have the same physical and optical properties and are just as durable.

When purchasing synthetic gemstones, be sure to do your research and ask questions to ensure that you are getting a high-quality stone.

3) Simulant Gemstones

Simulant gemstones are synthetic stones that are designed to appear similar to naturally occurring gemstones. Unlike synthetic gemstones, simulants do not have the same chemical composition or optical properties as the original gemstone.

Simulants are created using various materials and the intention is to replicate the look of a more expensive gemstone. The use of simulant gemstones to deceive buyers is a common scam, especially among naive buyers who are not familiar with gemstones.

Examples of Simulant Gemstones

Cubic Zirconia

Cubic zirconia is a popular diamond simulant due to its clear color and high refractive index. It is used as an economical alternative to diamonds and is often difficult to differentiate from diamonds by the naked eye.

Moissanite

Moissanite is another popular diamond simulant that is almost indistinguishable from diamonds by the naked eye. It is known for its high refractive index and is used as a substitute for a diamond in engagement rings and other jewelry.

Simulated Zultanite

Simulated zultanite is a simulant gemstone that is made to look like the more expensive color-change gemstone, zultanite. While they may look similar, simulated zultanite does not have the same chemical composition or optical properties as real zultanite.

Use of Simulant Gemstones to Deceive Buyers

Simulant gemstones are often used to deceive naive buyers. Scammers may advertise a gemstone as a natural, expensive gemstone, when in reality, they are selling a much cheaper simulant.

Buyers should always do their research and ask questions before making any gemstone purchases to avoid falling victim to a scam.

4) Fake Gemstones

Fake gemstones are stones that mimic the appearance of a natural gemstone but do not have the same chemical composition or optical properties. These stones are typically made of colored glass or other materials.

Laymen may have difficulty differentiating between genuine and fake gemstones, especially if they are not familiar with the physical and optical properties of the stone.

Use of Colored Glass to Create Fake Gemstones

One of the most common materials used to create fake gemstones is colored glass. This type of glass can be easily molded into different shapes and colored to resemble a natural stone.

The use of colored glass is especially common among cheap jewelry manufacturers who want to give the appearance of a natural gemstone without the added cost.

Trending Fake Gemstones

Moldavite

Moldavite is a rare natural gemstone that is found only in the Czech Republic. Due to its rarity, its price has skyrocketed in recent years.

As a result, there has been an increase in the production of fake moldavite made from colored glass. Synthetic moldavite is also available, but it is generally less common than glass imitations.

Fake gemstones can be difficult for laymen to identify without proper knowledge. Always purchase gemstones from reputable sources and do your research before making any purchases.

In conclusion, simulant gemstones and fake gemstones are commonly used to deceive buyers. Simulants aim to replicate the look of a more expensive gemstone using different materials, while fake gemstones aim to mimic the appearance of natural gemstones but do not have the same chemical composition or optical properties.

It is important for buyers to do their research and ask questions before making any gemstone purchases to avoid being scammed.

5) How to Identify Synthetic Gemstones

Synthetic gemstones are becoming increasingly popular due to their affordability and resemblance to natural gemstones. However, it is important to be able to distinguish lab-created gems from natural ones, especially when it comes to investing in high-end gemstones.

Here are some ways to identify synthetic gemstones:

Price as an Indication

Price is often a good indicator of whether a gemstone is synthetic or natural. Natural stones will always be more expensive than synthetic gems.

If a gemstone is being sold at a significantly lower price than what is typically associated with commonly known natural stones, then it is more likely to be a synthetic gemstone.

Quality and Clarity

Natural gemstones will always have some visible inclusions because they are a natural product. However, high-quality natural gemstones tend to have fewer inclusions than lower-quality stones.

Synthetic stones, on the other hand, may have flawless clarity because they are produced under controlled conditions. However, this does not mean that all synthetic stones are perfectly clear.

Its possible to find minor inclusions in synthetic stones, which are referred to as jardin. In general, a high-quality stone with no inclusions at all is more likely to be synthetic.

Size

Large gemstones are rare and expensive, and it is difficult to find large, high-quality natural gemstones. Therefore, if a gemstone is exceptionally large and has good color and clarity, it is more likely to be synthetic than natural.

Need for Professional Lab Verification

Gemology training is necessary to identify synthetic gemstones accurately. The best way to identify a synthetic stone is through professional lab verification.

A gemologist will use specialized equipment to analyze the gemstone and determine whether it is natural or synthetic.

6) Identifying Lab-Created Diamonds

Lab-created diamonds are increasingly being used in the diamond trade as an alternative to natural diamonds. These diamonds have a similar chemical and physical makeup to natural diamonds, making them difficult to identify without special equipment.

Here are some ways to identify lab-created diamonds:

Similarity with Real Diamonds

Lab-created diamonds have the same chemical composition as natural diamonds and, therefore, have similar physical and optical properties. They are usually indistinguishable from natural diamonds to the naked eye.

However, lab-created diamonds may have unique characteristics that can help distinguish them from natural stones.

Lack of Home Identification Methods

Home test kits that use thermal conductivity or ultraviolet light to identify diamonds are not reliable for identifying lab-created diamonds. This is because the thermal conductivity and UV light properties of lab-created diamonds are often the same as natural diamonds.

Therefore, the only reliable method for identifying lab-created diamonds is through professional gemological testing with specialized equipment. In conclusion, identifying synthetic gemstones and lab-created diamonds is essential when it comes to making informed purchases or investments.

While some identifying factors like price, quality, and clarity can provide some indicators, it is best to have the gemstone tested by a professional gemologist to confirm whether it is natural or synthetic. Additionally, specialized equipment is necessary for identifying lab-created diamonds, and home identification methods are not always reliable.

7) How Synthetic Gemstones are Made

Synthetic gemstones are created in a laboratory using various methods of crystal growth. The most common methods include flame fusion, crystal pulling, and flux growth.

Here are some of the ways synthetic gemstones are made:

Flame Fusion

Flame fusion is the most popular method used to create synthetic gemstones. The process involves melting the starting material of a gemstone (such as aluminum oxide for sapphires) in a crucible.

The molten material is then dripped onto a rotating pedestal that is heated with a flame. As the material cools and solidifies, a crystal forms on the pedestal.

The crystal is then removed and cut into the desired shape.

Crystal Pulling

Crystal pulling is another method used to create synthetic gemstones. This process involves dipping a seed crystal into a molten mixture of the gemstone material and slowly pulling it out at a controlled rate.

As the crystal is pulled out of the mixture, the gemstone material solidifies on the seed crystal, eventually resulting in a large crystal. This method is often used when creating large gemstones.

Flux Growth

Flux growth is a more complex method used to create synthetic gemstones. This process involves dissolving the starting material in a molten flux (a mixture of chemicals) under high pressure and temperature.

As the material cools, a crystal forms in the flux. The crystal is then removed, cleaned, and cut into the desired shape.

The complexity of synthetic gemstone creation is immense, as it requires engineering to form a flawless and consistent crystal structure. Additionally, size limitations exist as larger synthetic gemstones are harder to create uniformly than smaller gemstones.

As technology advances and newer methods are developed, these obstacles are becoming less prevalent.

8) Advantages of Synthetic Gemstones

There are several advantages to buying synthetic gemstones, including ethical reasons, color matching for design purposes, lower cost, and aesthetic appeal.

Ethical Reasons for Buying Synthetic Stones

Buying synthetic stones can be considered an ethical choice as natural gemstone mining often takes place in dangerous conditions, with exploited labor and can fund conflict. Synthetic stones, on the other hand, are made in a controlled environment without such hazards.

Color Matching for Design

With synthetic stones, it is possible to obtain consistent and uniform color matching. This makes the selection of stones for a particular jewelry design easier, as the designer will be able to choose stones that have the exact same hue, saturation, and brightness.

Lower Cost

Synthetic gemstones are overall less expensive than their natural counterparts. This can make them a more affordable choice for those on a budget while still maintaining a high-quality appearance.

Aesthetic Appeal

Synthetic gems provide an appearance that is often extremely appealing to the eye. They are able to provide a flawless appearance and offer a variety of finishes and styles to achieve an appearance that is gaudy or striking.

In conclusion, synthetic gemstones are made through various procedures and can offer several advantages over their natural counterparts. This includes the ethical reasons behind buying synthetic compared to natural stones, consistent color matching for design purposes, lower cost, and their overall aesthetic appeal.

Synthetic gemstones will continue to be a popular alternative to natural stones as technology is continually improving, and new methods for creating synthetic gemstones are evolving. In summary, synthetic gemstones provide a beautiful and cost-effective alternative to natural gemstones, and they offer several advantages over their natural counterparts.

Buyers should always do their research, and it is recommended to have gemstones professionally identified to ensure the purchase of a high-quality stone. While synthetic gemstones may have once been viewed as less desirable, recent advancements in technology have made it possible for synthetic stones to replicate the appearance of natural stones with astonishing accuracy.

As always, it is up to the individual buyer to decide which option is best for them based on their personal preferences and budget. FAQs:

– What is the difference between synthetic and natural gemstones?

Synthetic gemstones are created in a laboratory using the same mineral composition as natural gemstones, whereas natural gemstones are formed in the earth over an extended period. – How can I identify a synthetic gemstone?

Identification of synthetic gemstones requires the aid of a professional gemologist, who will use specialized equipment to analyze the gemstone’s physical and optical properties to identify whether it is synthetic or natural. – Are synthetic gemstones complete replicas of natural gemstones?

While synthetic gemstones have the same chemical composition and similar optical and physical properties as natural stones, they are often distinguishable through visual clues such as a lack of inclusions or solid uniformity of color. – Why are synthetic gemstones more affordable than natural gemstones?

Synthetic gemstones are formed under controlled laboratory conditions, leading to a lower production cost and, therefore, a lower price point than natural stones. – Are synthetic gemstones ethical?

Yes, synthetic gemstones are considered an ethical alternative to natural stones as they do not contribute to the poor working conditions and worker exploitation often seen in the natural gemstone trade.

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