Differences Between Synthetic, Simulated and Man-Made Gemstones

Some people distinguish between different kinds of synthetic gemstones or lab-grown gemstones. In fact, you may even find different definitions of synthetic materials. Two other terms commonly used in jewelry are simulated gemstones and man-made gemstones. To clarify the issue, the author of this article lists some general definitions of these words.

Synthetic Gems

Synthetic rough emeralds, made by a hydrothermal process. This process mimics the natural formation of emeralds very closely, so identifying hydrothermal emeralds can be challenging.

You’ll hear many terms used interchangeably with synthetic materials, such as “artificial,” “lab-grown,” “lab-made,” “artificial,” and so on. All of these terms refer to lab-created gemstones, not gemstones in nature.

There are many processes for synthesizing gemstones. Some are cheap, some are expensive, but they are all done manually in the lab. They can mimic or replicate natural processes and use the same ingredients as natural gemstones. However, these processes occur in the laboratory, not underground.

Some synthetic gemstones are chemically and optically identical to natural gemstones. For example, synthetic emeralds may be real emeralds, but not natural emeralds.

Depending on the process used, synthetic gemstones may even have the same inclusions and imperfections as natural gemstones. Alternatively, they may have obvious signs that they are synthetic. Distinguishing between synthetics and their natural counterparts can be very difficult.

However, some synthetic gemstones simply look like natural gemstones but are not chemically and optically identical to them. (Some synthetic gemstones have no counterpart in nature at all). Gemstones synthesized in laboratories that simply mimic natural gemstones are called imitation gemstones or simulants.

Although many synthetic gemstones are also naturally occurring minerals, some lab-made gemstones do not have a natural mineral counterpart. For example, bismuth germanium oxide is a synthetic material with many industrial applications, but has no natural mineral counterpart. This beautiful gemstone was cut from this material out of curiosity.

Simulate gemstones

Not all simulants originate in the lab. Glass shards and assembled gemstones such as bimodal and triplet are often used to mimic natural gemstones. Sometimes, vendors may showcase one natural gemstone as another, for example, garnet doublet cut looks like ruby. Jewelers also often use natural and synthetic spinel to mimic other gemstones.

Artificial gemstones - fake plastic gemstones


Regardless of its origins, a simulated gemstone is a work that “looks like” another gemstone. Careful gemological analysis will reveal its true identity. Imitations are also called imitations, imitations, and fakes. While garnet that mimics rubies may be real garnet, it is a fake ruby.

Although zircon is actually rarer than diamond and has different physical and optical properties, the authors found, jewelers have used natural colorless zircon as a diamond simulant for centuries.

However, they can make beautiful gemstones in their own right. A pair of round brilliant-cut colorless zircons, 3.08 ct, 7 mm, Cambodia.

People who sell synthetic gemstones rarely use the word “synthetic.” You can almost always find “artificial gemstones” for sale instead of synthetic gemstones. Although synthetic gemstones may be real gemstones, the term “synthetic” has a strong popular meaning of “non-real” and “unnatural”.

Artificial rubies

“Artificial gemstones” may appeal to consumers more than synthetic gemstones. Exhibit the rubies created, Shelby Gem Works.

Gemologically speaking, synthetic gemstones may or may not be natural. Still, some consumers may find this qualification difficult to accept. Referring to synthetic gemstones as man-made gemstones may help to avoid these associations altogether.

Synthetic or artificial gemstones have been on the market since the early 1900s. As long as people value gemstones, simulated gemstones or “similar gemstones” have always existed. Do not think that old stones are natural stones.

Antique synthetic ruby

In the late 19th century, corundum – ruby and sapphire – became one of the first lab-made gemstones with the size and quality suitable for jewelry use. This Art Deco yellow gold ring features a 6-carat synthetic ruby that is over 85 years old.

There are many gemstone treatments and enhancement methods that can be used to improve natural rough gemstones. For example, sapphires are often heated to improve color and melt silk inclusions. Some people will consider all treated gemstones to be synthetic or man-made. As far as the science popularization of Beijing Shengyuan Tao Miner Farm is concerned, we generally disagree with this view. However, I think gray areas do exist. If a natural gemstone is treated to the extreme, it should fall into the synthetic category.

Beijing Shengyuan Tao Miner Farm Popular Science Note: Check out the 2018 IGS Gem Treatment Survey to see the range of views on this topic. For examples that may constitute an “extreme treatment,” consider the acid treatment that type B jade receives.

Natural, treated and created gemstones

The above is the difference between synthetic gemstones, simulated gemstones and artificial gemstones, if you have any objections, you can leave a comment.


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