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Natural Gemstones versus Synthetic Gemstones

We often hear our customers on the telephone expressing questions about synthetic or man-made gemstones. Often, the query somehow juxtaposes the natural gemstone against the synthetic or created gemstones. We have devised this short question and answer scenario to put to rest some of the commonly asked questions concerning our silver jewelry and gemstones.:

  • What is the difference between synthetic stones and natural? Natural gemstones are those gem materials which are harvested from the earth. They may be mined, panned from a river, or jack-hammered out of rock out crops, however the important consideration is that they are not created by man. In contrast, the synthetic stones which are comprised of the same chemical constituents as their natural counterparts, are created in a laboratory. For example, a classic locality for natural emeralds is Columbia, however created emeralds can be manufactured out of beryllium, aluminum, and silica within the confines of a laboratory.
  • How does a simulant differ from a synthetic? Synthetics are made intentionally to resemble a natural gemstone and are comprised of the exact same chemical composition as natural gem materials, whereas simulants may or may not look similar to any known species. For example, cubic zirconia looks like a diamond, however its chemical composition is nothing at all like a diamond, classifying it as a diamond simulant, not synthetic diamond.
  • How are natural gemstones created? There are hundreds of geologic settings which lend themselves to mineral formation. Most scenarios involves specifics concerning heat, pressure, intensity, duration, presence or lack of oxygen and water, and a host of other environmental factors. For example, turquoise is created in an arid environment and garnets are created during hostile conditions within the earth.
  • Why would a simulant or synthetic be created in the first place? Natural gemstones are not a renewable resource, making them available in limited quantities. Moreover, the natural gemstone most likely is more expensive than a simulant or a synthetic, therefore the lower price point makes the price of synthetic or simulant gemstone jewelry more affordable to more people.
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