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What Are Lab Stones?

Natural stones are those that are dug out of the ground, cut and polished and then made into jewellery. Natural stones have flaws within them, small cracks and inclusions that you can see under high magnification. Many natural stones come only in small sizes and are often hard and expensive to match as colour variation is normal.

Because of the dangers and costs of mining and the uncertainty of what you would find, the drive to make nature identical flawless gemstones in laboratories was understandable. An ethical advantage of lab stones is that their provenance is certain, unlike natural stones which can pass though many hands before being set into jewellery.

Laboratory grown rubies have been widely available since the early 1900s, so grandmas ruby necklace may not quite be what you expect!

Advantages of lab stones :

1) Price - they are usually much cheaper than the natural ground-dug gemstone.

2) Appearance - They look just like the natural stone and are flawless, which the natural stone isn't

3) Availablity - Your can specifiy exactly what you want with lab stones and know they will match etc. You can't be sure of getting the same again in natural stones.

4) No one can tell! - Lab created stones are so good that only well qualified gemologists, equipped with high powered magnifiers and experience can tell what your stone is.

Drawbacks:

1) Emotional value - Some people may feel that although the lab stones are chemically identical they don't have the romance of a stone that someone dug out of the earth (nor do they carry the a history of bloody violence that many natural gemstones do)

2) Investment - Because lab stones can be created as people want them their prices have tended to fall, whereas natural gemstones continue to appreciate.

As someone who works with these synthetic stones every day I love them for the colour and variety they can bring to my work. Silver works especially well with them as you can produce a unique and fabulous piece of jewellery for a very reasonable price and that's a the biggest plus!

 

What Exactly Are Synthetic Gemstones?

“Synthetic” is a term that is commonly used to describe anything which is synthesized or artificially produced. In the gem trade, synthetic gems are artificially made materials that possess exactly the same material composition and structure as their natural counterparts.

Laboratory grown synthetic gemstones have essentially the same appearance and optical, physical, and chemical properties as the natural material. Synthetic gemstones include Sapphire Oval, diamond, emerald, garnet, lapis lazuli, quartz, ruby, sapphire, spinel, and turquoise.

Rubies (Corundum: aluminium oxide with chromic oxide) are precious red gems. They are extremely hard; only diamonds are harder.

Sapphire refers to gem varieties of the Corundum when it is a colour other than red, in which case the gem would instead be a ruby. In its pure form, Sapphire it is colourless and called white sapphire. Blue sapphires contain titanium, yellow sapphires contain ferric oxide.

Rubies and Sapphires have been manufactured synthetically since the 1890’s.

 

Simulants

Simulants are artificially made materials that are sufficiently close in appearance to other more costly gem materials that they provide superficially convincing substitutes. Common examples include substituting White Cubic Zirconia for Diamonds or substituting Synthetic Blue Spinel or Blue Topaz for Aquamarines

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