Romancing the Stone
Choose the Best Gemstone for Your Next Jewelry Treasure
As a jeweler concerned with authenticity and lasting value, you might think I’d be a snob when it comes to anything other than naturally occurring gemstones. But you’d be wrong. Sometimes, the better gem for the purpose is lab-created.
Lab-created gemstones are not “fake” stones, like simulants made of glass or plastic. Rather, they’re the result of scientific innovations performed in controlled laboratory environments. These processes approximate conditions that created natural stones in the earth. LC’s share the same chemical, physical and optical characteristics as their natural counterparts. They can serve the same industrial and jewelry uses equally well. When it comes to jewelry, as long as the jeweler you deal with discloses the nature of your gemstones, by opting for lab-created, you may be advancing technology, preserving the environment, and saving yourself some serious green.
“Growing” the Stone
There are several methods for growing gemstones in a lab, most of which rely on some form of heat and tiny pieces of the gemstone material, or “seed,” they are intended to become. These are a few of the most common:
Flame fusion- the oldest and most common technique for creating gemstone material, flame fusion involves melting chemical components by dropping them through a torch flame. The “melt” lands on a metal surface coated with the seed material and cools into the desired mineral. This technique is often used to create Spinel and corundum-based gemstones, such as Ruby and Sapphire.
Crystal Pulling- a mineral seed is dropped into a molten broth of chemical components, then “pulled” away, resulting in a trailing thread of consistent mineral material. This process is used to produce a number of gems such as Chrysoberyl, Garnet, Corundum minerals (see link above) and color-change Alexandrite.
Flux Growth- much like the “Grow Your Own Crystal” kits you may have tried as a kid, this method takes time and patience. Melt