Buyers Guide to Synthetic vs Real Gemstones

Buyers Guide to Synthetic vs Real Gemstones

When I was younger thanks to my grandma, I was taught to bite pearls to ensure they’re real. (Anyone else grow up thinking this was legit?) I cringe looking back because yeah, that totally scratches the nachre but hey it was an easy way to tell. Fast forward many years and with new technology, real gemstones can be grown with the same chemical properties while being more friendly to the environment producing up to 95% less carbon emissions. 

There is really three main categories when discussing gemstones whether it’s opals, diamonds, rubies, emeralds, etc. There are imitation gems, synthetic gems, lab grown gems, and natural gems that have been mined from the earth. It’s important to be able to distinguish between them when shopping for gemstone jewelry. 

Imitation vs Lab Grown/Man Made

Imitation stones don’t share any chemical properties of the actual gemstone. These are the lowest quality often being produced in glass, plastics, and resins. While these can be purchased at very low prices, it ultimately isn’t worth anything given it’s make up. Imitation glass gems can look beautiful as an incredibly inexpensive alternative though their smoothness and lack of inclusions makes it incredibly obvious it’s an imitation.

Lab grown gemstones unlike imitation are in fact made up of its natural counterparts composition though that distinction can be a little tricky because there are various ways of creating lab grown gems with some creating a very natural looking gem versus methods that create more flawless appearances. Purchasing from a transparent and reputable jeweler is always important because to the average eye many people are unable to tell subtle differences. 

Lab Grown vs Natural

There are a variety of methods when it comes to lab grown gemstones. Synthetic and lab grown are often used interchangeably though this can sometimes be misleading a bit. Synthetic gems often use processes that include glass or resin whereas lab grown are created using minerals and crystals with high heat and pressure over a period of months to recreate its  natural counterparts formation. Therefore high quality lab grown gems won’t only be exactly identical in chemical make up but they’ll also have grown with inclusions something that is common in natural gemstones.

Natural gemstones are just as they sound, natural and mined from the earth. There are a variety of techniques depending on the type of deposit a gem is mined from. These gemstones can vary in color because no two are the same. Purchasing gemstones mined responsibly is important because of the working conditions and dangers associated with mining. 


There’s definitive differences between the types of gemstones. Imitation gems are the cheapest while natural gems tend to be the most expensive. Certain gems are of course more expensive due to either market demand or scarcity. As long as you choose to purchase from a reputable jeweler, you can’t go wrong. 

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