Stones created in a lab are chemically, physically and optically identical to those mined underground — but they have fewer flaws, a lighter carbon footprint and cost less, too.
Gemstones in jewelry are colorful, romantic and personal. They mean something different to each wearer. To some, they're badges of wealth and success — think Hollywood stars at award shows dripping with rubies or emeralds. To others, they're meaningful as birthstones, symbolic for their legendary power, or simply beloved as a favorite signature color.
Yet some of these gemstones are rarer, harder to get, and quite expensive. That's why lab-created gemstones are available as alternatives.
The more expensive and hard-to-find natural gems in jewelry, such as diamond (white and fancy color), sapphire (blue and other colors), emerald, ruby and opal, are favorite lab-created stones. They're not gem imitations; lab-created gemstones are the real deal. They are grown in a laboratory but are identical chemically, physically and optically to natural gems. An imitation gemstone, while also artificially made, does not follow nature’s recipe, so it’s completely different physically, chemically and optically from the natural gem it copies.
How they’re made
The mineral composition of lab-created stones is created through a process similar to what nature does beneath the earth over millions of years, but in a lab at a fraction of the time, and for a fraction of the cost of mining.
The average person would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between a natural and lab-created stone. It takes a trained eye, high magnification and other instruments.
The main distinction is natural gems typically have inclusions from the crystallization process — gases and other minerals mixing during the molten stage of stone creation. Because lab-created stones rely on a steady, controlled process of applying minerals, heat and pressure, they usually have fewer inclusions.
So you get high-quality lab-created stones, and their prices are significantly lower than their natural gemstone counterparts. With different setting options, from sterling silver to gold in many colors and karats, lab-created stones provide choices Mother Nature can’t give in the same way.
In addition to getting a rare, top-quality fine gemstone look for less, many consumers are attracted to lab-created stones for other reasons. Environmentally speaking, lab-created stones do not tax natural resources the way the process for natural gems does — no mines are dug, the labs use a fraction of the utilities and resources necessary for a mining operation and leave behind less pollutants.
Lab-created stone jewelry is also great for traveling, when you want to leave your very expensive jewelry at home, or when you want to look like you have very expensive baubles — or both! Next to natural, nothing that can compare to a fine lab-created stone.
Whether you’re buying a gift or treating yourself, purchase lab-created stone jewelry from a trusted jeweler, who discloses what your stone is and how to care for it. Just as there are different quality levels in natural gems, the same goes for lab-created stones. Make sure you understand what you’re getting for the money you’re spending, especially when paying a premium for a piece.
It’s worth exploring the possibilities to grow your jewelry wardrobe with classic styles and cutting-edge designs using stunning lab-created stones. Only you and your jeweler need to know!