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Alternatives for Natural Gemstones: Lab-grown, Simulant and Assembled gems

Nowadays, many types other than natural gemstones are used in jewellery industry. There are various and different reasons for that, but all these reasons lead to one point: making pieces of jewellery suitable for any taste.

You must have heard at least one of these idioms: Synthetic gemstones, Lab-grown gemstones, Assembled gemstones, Simulant gemstones, and Imitation gemstones. But what do these expressions refer to? What is the difference between them? Which one is known to be fake? Which should we buy and which should we not? How should we distinguish a natural gemstone from them?

Hassanzadeh Jewellery Gallery has explained all these and more here in this article. So stay in our company, have a cup of coffee, and enjoy reading this wonderful article where we have simplified these topics for you.

Synthetic Gemstones

Synthetic or Lab-grown Gemstones are the ones that are made by man in laboratories, but with the exact same chemical, physical and optical properties of their natural mined counterpart. Though they are artificial, they cannot be referred to as “Fake”, because they are real gemstones that just have not been grown in nature.

Contrary to what people think is, synthetic gemstones are sometimes as expensive as natural gemstones as the process it takes to grow them is very costly. The main reason why jewellers decided to make such gemstones was that they realized as time passes by, the mineral resources for gemstones are gradually dwindlingand are not assuring, permanent resources for gemstones. So They decided to make alternatives for them, with the same quality and chemical properties.

Another reason was that mining gemstones has a long process that causes serious, irrecoverable damages to nature. By time, some environmental friendly jewellery brands decided to let go of all advantages of natural gemstones and make jewellery pieces using lab-grown gemstones. Besides, the process of gemstones formation in mines takes billions of years, while lab gemstones can be grown in a period of few weeks.

Some buyers do not like the term “synthetic” and consider them fake. While that is not true and synthetic gemstones are real, just not natural. Some gem sellers use the term Created Gemstones instead of synthetic to have a better chance of selling them to strict customers.

There are two types of crystals that are made in labs. One is a single large crystal and the other is a combination of numerous smaller crystals and is called Polycrystal. Only large, transparent, and clear crystals can be used as gemstones in jewellery industry and polycrystals are used usually for industrial machines such as cutting tools.

Cubic Zirconia

Here we face two idioms that you must have heard: CVD gemstones and HPHT gemstones. These are the two common methods a gemstone can be grown in a lab.

CVD stands for Chemical Vapour Deposition, which is known and commonly used to grow synthetic gemstones. Growing gemstones this way comes to results usually in less than a month and the typical weight for such gemstones is a carat or less. CVD gemstones need to be heated or irradiated after being grown so that their colour would be enhanced. These gemstones are currently the best quality synthetic gemstones that can be found on the market.

HPHT stands for High Pressure, High Temperature that is the other famous method used for making high-quality synthetic gemstones. As it is guessable from its name, in this method they provide a condition of high pressure and temperature to evoke the same condition natural gemstones grow in the earth.

What many experts and known jewellery brands say about synthetic gemstones is that choosing them as alternatives to natural gemstones is the correct solution to all environmental concerns there are about mining gemstones.

You can read more about the most popular synthetic diamonds and how to recognize them in How to tell if a Diamond is real article.

Simulant Gemstones

Also known as Imitation Gemstones, simulants are a general category containing all alternatives made for natural gemstones by men. This sub-category includes both worthy alternatives such as lab-grown gemstones and worthless alternatives made of glass or plastic that are considered Fake Gemstones.

Here we are going to talk about the second subset, fake alternatives. This type of artificial gemstone is usually made of worthless materials such as glass and plastic. Gem cutters try to make these materials look like real gemstones but there are many physical and chemical, obvious differences that do not let this happen.

Simulant Gemstones

Simulant gemstones are the cheapest alternatives for natural gemstones as they are made of worthless material. Besides, they are widely used in the gold jewellery market since many customers demand gold jewellery pieces containing gemstones, but prefer to spend all their budget on the gold parts and not on gemstones.

Note that even if someone presents a natural gemstone as one another, it is considered imitation. For instance, if a seller presents a natural spinel as a ruby, although the spinel is natural, it is still a fake ruby.

Some sellers are honest and would tell you if the gemstone is simulated. But there are always irresponsible sellers who won’t. it is for such matters that we always emphasize the fact that you must always buy jewellery pieces from trusted jewellery shops.

Assembled Gemstones

Assembled gemstones are those that are components of two or three layers of material. Gemstones composed of two layers are named Doublet Gemstones and gemstones composed of three layers are called Triplet Gemstones. These gemstones can include all-natural layers or a natural and a synthetic or even imitation layer. Either way, it is considered fake.

These gemstones are also very functional in jewellery making industry but for an acceptable reason. Some gemstones like opal are naturally grown in a thin layer in a matrix stone and when extracted, cannot be used alone in a jewellery piece. Therefore, to make use of such gemstones, jewellers glue them either to a thicker natural gemstone, mostly black onyx, and black opal, or an imitation layer made of glass or plastic. The component is now useable in a jewellery piece as it has enough strength and thickness.

Assembled Gemstones

The other positive point about these gemstones is that the dark back layer makes a high contrast in opals different colours and lets them show themselves most beautifully. Using assembled gemstones in the jewellery industry is alright and is a common thing to do. There is only one way you may face problems, and it is that some sellers may announce the weight of the whole assembled piece, including the weight of the other layers, as the weight of opal. Although such things happen very rarely and almost no one does that.

The environmentally friendly brand of Hassanzadeh Jewellery uses both natural and synthetic gemstones in their collection and mentions all the details in every products description so you can choose consciously whether to buy jewellery pieces including natural or synthetic gemstones.

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