What Is a “Synthetic” Gemstone? How does it differ from natural or imitation gemstones?
Synthetic gemstones are man-made, laboratory created gems with the same chemical composition, crystal structure and the same physical and optical characteristics as a natural gemstone. They are in essence identical to their natural counterpart.
A genuine natural gem is usually formed within the earth under tremendous pressure and heat over tens of thousands of years. A synthetic gem is man-made and produced in a laboratory in a matter of days and replicates the same chemical composition, crystal structure and properties as a natural, “genuine" gem. This is the same concept as name brand versus generic prescription medicine. Both have the same active compounds, but their binding agents are different.
Synthetic gemstones are not imitations. An imitation gem is simply a colored piece of glass or material made to look like the real thing but sharing no chemical properties, structure, and no associated value.
How to Tell The Difference? With high tech equipment and a trained eye, jewelers can easily identify a synthetic gemstone based on its growth patterns and spectroscopic characteristics.
While synthetic gemstones have been around for a very long time, they are gaining in preference as an option to natural gemstones in fine jewelry. The quality, affordability, and sustainability are attracting more and more customers. Since synthetic gemstones are created in a lab, there is no destruction of the earth with extreme mining operations and rest assured no risk of "conflict" gems from war torn countries.
A beautiful gemstone can be within reach of your budget. Consider synthetics as a viable option. With all of the technological advancement in laboratory grown colored gemstones, a whole world of options opens up to you.
If you are interested in the details of synthetic gem creation, G.I.A. has an excellent brief on the different processes. https://www.gia.edu/gem-synthetic
20-years a Customer at Medlars Jewel Masters Leanna's Custom Jewelry Story
Two years before I began working for Medlars Jewel Masters, I got engaged. It was 1997 and Michael, my soon to be husband insisted we go see Roger Huckabee at Medlars Jewel Masters to have our rings made. I brought in some of my favorite jewelry pieces to show the styles I preferred, and a small collection of family diamonds. As I was flipping through several catalogues and magazines, I found a brooch design that became a huge inspiration for my ring. Roger went to work combining the design elements from the brooch with my stones into a one-of-a-kind hand carved ring of my dreams.
Diamonds With History The diamonds we used for my ring came from my mom and his moms’ wedding rings. There was also one from Michael’s great grandmother’s earring. Given that both of our mothers were divorced we joked that using the diamonds from their rings would be like taking two wrongs to make a right. His great grandmother lived into her 100’s so her diamond represented longevity.
Choosing The Center Stone My personal style is goth subculture, which includes fashions from the Victorian and Edwardian eras. I’m not traditional and I really like dark red, so I wanted to put a dark red stone in the center of my ring. As is the case with many young couples, we didn’t have a lot of money, so a pigeon blood red ruby was out of the question. I chose a Mozambique garnet in an oval cabochon cut to get the color I wanted and stay within budget.
Fast Forward 20 Years: I didn’t realize at the time that I would eventually go to work for Medlars. Now I get to help other people create the jewelry of their dreams! For more than 10-years, I have been able to work with customers to design, refurbish and remake their jewelry utilizing advanced computer technology. People have always admired my ring, but I started to compare it to the jewelry we make now and realized it’s looking pretty worn out including small details now worn off.
Time For a Makeover
I decided to sit in the customers seat once more. My 20-year anniversary gift was to remake my ring in the same design, but with a few additions. Plus, I would be able to take advantage of the latest jewelry technology. We added a few more diamonds, including 20 smaller bead-set diamonds representing my 20 years of marriage. The most exciting part was getting my dark red ruby for the center. I went with a lab-grown synthetic ruby, which is rich in color and excellent clarity. A big plus is that it is identical to a natural ruby and synthetic rubies are second to diamond on the MOHS Scale of hardness. That means I won’t have to switch my ruby out every couple of years because of chips and scratches like I had to do with the garnet.
Putting Trust in Medlars' Jewelers Soon, it became obvious that this ring would have a thicker shank and fit, and that concerned me. But after working with jewelers Roger and Ruben Narvaez, I could see that this was the right thing to do. The new ring is considerably heavier than the original and the details are crisp and balanced. So, once again, I had a first-hand view of putting my trust in Medlars Jewel Masters to re-create the ring of my dreams.
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