green gems

Synthetic Gemstones

Synthetization of gem material has transformed the jewelry industry and become an integral component of gemstone production. Where once stones were formed over thousands of years, now they can be manufactured in laboratory settings in hours or even days!

Synthetic gems offer vivid colors with less inclusions and at a much lower cost than their natural counterparts, all at a significantly reduced cost. All gem buyers should understand the difference between synthetic, simulated or cultured gemstones when purchasing gems.



Man-made gems, whether made in nature or the lab, form when specific combinations of minerals come together under certain chemical and physical conditions. Manufacturers can control and accelerate this process in their laboratories – often making use of melt and solution processes (more on those later) – combining minerals that would otherwise be difficult or expensive to mine in nature. Common gemstones such as sapphire, ruby and emerald can all be made on order this way.

Synthetic gemstones may serve as simulants of other gem materials without being exact replicas. Imitation diamonds are one such example; they’re composed of cubic zirconia that mimics diamond’s physical qualities while closely mimicking natural rubies and emeralds in color and hue.

Most synthetic gemstones are produced via hydrothermal or flux growth processes, which create crystals by dissolving mineral components in liquid before forcing the solution to cool slowly until crystallization takes place. Hydrothermal processes have produced various gemstone varieties including corundum (sapphire and ruby), chrysoberyl (alexandrite) and quartz; additionally they are the only processes capable of creating rare and valuable types like yttrium aluminum garnet and gadolinium gallium garnet which have not existed prior.

By this method, synthetic gemstones of both cut and uncut varieties, as well as some metals like copper and silver, are produced. These inexpensive gems can often be sold as imitation gems; however, with close examination under a microscope they can often be distinguished from real jewels.

Other synthetic gems can be produced through various processes, including the sputtering process used to form cubic zirconia and ceramics like these, which can be formed into virtually any shape at significantly less cost than comparable natural stones. Other methods are more complex, such as coating a substrate with an inert material which allows crystal formation; more costly synthetics often combine multiple techniques into products that resemble natural gemstones – creating semi-precious stones which are extremely durable.



Synthetic gemstones have long been created from various synthetic minerals derived from various sources. Some were byproducts of technological research (for instance rubies and emeralds produced for solid-state lasers); others were specifically created as gems (such as diamonds, corundum sapphire quartz and alexandrite). Over the past decade however, we have witnessed less new varieties being sold as gemstones for market purposes, suggesting that our supply may soon reach capacity.

Synthetic gemstones, unlike natural stones, are usually manufactured in labs. Their production allows for their molding into any desired form and color similarity with natural gems; however it’s important to understand the differences before purchasing jewelry with synthetic gems. A synthetic gemstone offers several advantages over its natural counterparts including reduced prices for equal sizes and qualities as well as being less environmentally damaging during mining operations and less likely to violate local peoples rights through human rights abuses.

Synthetic gems tend to outlast natural stones due to being manufactured under carefully controlled laboratory conditions rather than mined from the earth. Their crystal growth process is unimpeded by impurities which could compromise color intensity or change. Furthermore, synthetics tend to be more stable than their counterparts as heat or pressure may not damage them as easily.

Pierre Gilson of Paris introduced synthetic gemstones into mainstream culture during the late 19th century. He successfully replicated both opal’s color flashes and lapis lazuli’s rich blue color, producing synthetic black-and-white turquoise that closely resembled Persian turquoise in terms of hue. Close examination under a microscope reveals its composition of tiny spheres of uniform size – easily distinguishing it from its natural counterpart.

Producing synthetic gems can be a complex and time-consuming process, requiring considerable engineering and technical know-how. Even an experienced gemologist often struggles to positively identify synthetic gems. With certain materials like flux-grown opal being particularly hard for gemologists to distinguish from natural versions.


synthetic gemstones
Synthetic Gemstones

Gemstones come in an assortment of colors, many which can be achieved synthetically. Red gemstones are rare naturally, yet some natural gems offer shades from red to purple-red such as rubies and pink sapphire. Spinels may also boast red tones. Early lab-grown crystals for industrial purposes were produced using hydrothermal methods, yielding amethyst and red synthetic spinel varieties as well as amethyst. With the introduction of flux-grown synthesized spinel in the 1990s, blue synthetic spinel could now be produced as an affordable substitute for natural sapphire while also creating synthetic tanzanite growth potential.

Other colors of gemstones can be created through chemical treatments and other means, as evidenced by the popular example of peridot. This gemstone comes in different shades of green with brownish tones due to chromium, vanadium and iron pigmentation; and recently there has been the creation of synthetic gems such as Iridium which features blue shades similar to an emerald’s hues.

Synthetic stones can provide an economical alternative to more costly natural gems, making synthetics an attractive and worthy purchase option. While synthetics may be an appropriate substitute, it is important to keep in mind that their exact colors might differ significantly from natural gemstones; no simulant exists that matches up exactly with real emerald hue, though a synthetic version could still provide the desired hue at a fraction of its cost.

As with gemstones with color-changing properties like alexandrite and blue garnet, jewelers or gemologists may find it challenging to tell apart these gems when their colors shift over time. Therefore, language used when describing them becomes absolutely critical; using terms like “simulated,” which refers to imitation gems that have been created artificially rather than being found naturally can mislead consumers and may misinform consumers as to its value; for better consumer understanding it is always wiser to use clear and unambiguous language when discussing its qualities when discussing gemstones’ qualities than using terms like “simulated”.


Synthetic gemstones appearance
Synthetic Gemstones Appearance

Synthetic gems share many of the same chemical, physical and optical properties with natural gemstones; however, they are created artificially in laboratories rather than occurring naturally. Even trained gemologists find it hard to differentiate between natural and synthetic stones without proper training. Some synthetics referred to as simulants have also been created that resemble natural gemstones but don’t exist naturally; simulants typically consist of colored plastic cut and dyed to resemble them.

Humans have been creating synthetic minerals since the late 1800s, and continue to create them today for use in various industrial applications like laser technology, microelectronics, abrasives and communications equipment. Although successful attempts were first made over 100 years ago to produce synthetic gems specifically designed for jewelry applications.

Today’s most synthetics are made using flame fusion. Powder with appropriate elements is heated and then cooled until it becomes the desired mineral – for instance aluminum oxide can be heated to high temperatures to produce corundum (sapphire or ruby), with many other colors possible through using different elements. However, an emerging technique produces colored synthetic sapphires and rubies by pulling material directly out of solution instead of melting it together first.

Other synthetic gems can be manufactured through hydrothermal, pull or flux-growth processes, which allow for controlled environments that produce gems with fewer inclusions and more vivid colors than their natural counterparts. They can even be designed to mimic color change in alexandrite!

Some of the earliest synthetic gems, including sapphires and rubies used in art nouveau and art deco jewelry, were produced via flame fusion. More recently, flux-grown and pulled synthetic sapphires and rubies have become increasingly popular as an alternative method, including red hues not possible through traditional flame-fusion production methods. Other methods involve chemical diffusion that creates star effects in each stone produced synthetically.

No matter what method was used to produce a synthetic gem, any expensive or valuable gemstone should always be examined by a qualified professional before being purchased. This is especially important when the gemstone has been treated or is an unintended color; providing education on synthetics and simulants will make for more discerning buyers when shopping for jewelry or gemstones and help prevent being duped into purchasing fakes.

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