What is the Difference Between Imitation Gemstone, Lab Created Gemstones and Natural Gemstones?
The rising costs to fund mining processes in the hunt for new gemstones has given way to the solution of creating gemstones rather than further exhausting the natural resources. Gemstones created in a lab have a similar feel and look to the authentic stones and are often times impossible to tell apart by those who are not trained to notice the subtle differences between the two. Despite being Lab created gemstones, they can still fetch a pretty penny, with this cost being lower than the real gemstones. Gemstones made within a laboratory setting have a few criteria they must meet in order to be able to deceive an untrained eye. One such criterion is the size and the other is the time taken to create it. Scientists or gem makers must use careful precision to carefully create each gem to mimic the counterpart of its original. With more of these stones being introduced into the market, it is easy to mistake them for the real deal, however, there are a number of ways in which the authentic gemstones are tested before they can be awarded the honour of being authentic.
Identifying your Gemstone
The study of rocks is called geology, and although gemstones are types of rocks, the study of a gemstone is called gemology and the person who studies them are called gemologist. Gemologists study the composition or make up of a gem in order to be able to identify it. If you ever did chemistry, you would remember how each rock has its unique chemical make up such as diamond, the hardest substance in the world, being made of Carbon atoms that bond together in to form the tight tetrahedron structure. These chemical ways of identifying gemstones are not to be outdone by the clarity of a gemstone. Yes, those movies you watch with the jeweler using his eye piece to look at a diamond, or any other precious stone is not just for props. The jeweler is checking to see the clarity to discern whether the jewel is a real or a fake.
Mother Nature vs Man-Made Characteristic
We already mentioned a benefit of leaving your gemstone make up to the scientists – it makes for a more affordable jewel. However, because scientists want to make the jewels as close to the real gems as is possible, they mimic the very chemical composition of the authentic jewel stones. This, of course, will make nearly impossible to identify the fake, but, unlike its original counterpart, the scientist or lab made gemstones are perfect. Almost a little too perfect, and this gives away its inauthenticity. If you notice an emerald that isn’t a little rough around the edges, it may just be a fake.
Creating Gemstones: The Process
To everything created, there is a tedious and painstaking process involved. It is no different when it comes to making these gemstones. There are at least five different ways in which a gemstone can be created and as you may or may not have guessed, the more time and attention to detail that goes into a process, the more accurate the replica gemstone turns out looking.
Scientists have come up with varying processes that can help you get your gemstones cheaper. Among these are Hydrothermal, which is perhaps the highest ranking of all the processes solely due to how long the process takes. It can go on for months as it involves the creation of a gemstone by the use of water and very high heat. Hence, hydro-water and thermal- meaning heat. Hydrothermal falls under the larger bracket of “solution-growth” which has another category- flux. Flux utilizes chemicals such as pure potassium oxide and chromium oxide that is then dissolved over a high heat furnace in water, other materials are added to form the gemstones, but the process proves to be one of the most popular methods for creating expensive scientist made gemstones like sapphires and emeralds.
Melt growth is the other process scientists employ in the creation of their gemstones although it has been critiqued to give gems an unpolished or dull finish that is more easily identifiable as a man-made gem than those made by processes of solution growth. As with the previously mentioned process, melt-growth is also conducted under high heat and employs two categorical methods-Czochralski pulled-growth and Verneuil flame fusion with the former being the more popular method to create gemstones under this process.
Imitation Gemstones Pros and Cons
Just when you thought you’ve got in the bag how you could tell the difference between a natural gemstone and a lab created one, an imitation gemstone is thrown into the mix. You will be relieved to know that an imitation gemstone is the easiest on this list to identify. The cost factor, for one, as it is the least expensive gemstone of all three. Imitation gemstones are either made from glass, ceramic beads, plastic resins or made from unexpansive materials that look like natural gems such as quartz. Recently, most fashion jewelry designers incorporate imitation gemstones in the style of fine jewelry to create chic and very popular fashion jewelry pieces. The trend now is to go with imitation gemstones as they are more affordable and ecofriendly accessories.
We know we presented you with a lot, so here’s an easy way to remember the most important things stated. Lab created gemstones are identified by how perfect they are in comparison to a naturally made gemstone formed by Mother Nature. Despite being made in a lab, lab created gemstones are good for purchase and provide a cheaper alternative to Mother Nature’s gemstones, although pricing is dependent on which process the gemstone underwent. Imitation gemstones are the poorest in quality of all gemstones mentioned. Whatever you are unsure about, ask, ask, ask a trained eye aka your jeweler, so you made a good purchase.
Go enjoy your newfound knowledge of how you can now easily identify an authentic gemstone from. and if you are on the look for some affordable sparkle, imitation gemstones would be a great option.