Lab Gemstone Stimulants and Synthetics

Gemstone Simulants and SyntheticsWhen it comes to lab created gemstone stimulants and synthetics, consumers are often confused by these two terms and their meanings. A “stimulant”, is a material (usually grown in a laboratory) cut to look like a particular gemstone. Typical diamond stimulants used today are cubic zirconia, and moissanite. These materials are typically intended to represent a diamond. Both these materials have some physical characteristics and properties that give them an appearance that does resemble diamond. The refractive index which measures the slowing of light within a material, is a tool gemologists use to identify gemstones. The RI of of diamond is 2.41 and the refractive index of cubic zirconia is 2.15 and Moissanite is 2.65, all three materials have a high refactive index, which is indicative of how light behaves within the stones and why they resemble each other despite being made of a completely different mineral composition. At Dynamic Designs Jewelry we use Moissanite as a diamond stimulant probably 30% of the time in engagement rings. It makes an affordable and realistic substitute to diamond.

A “synthetic” (or “created”) gemstone is a whole different story. Synthetics have the same chemical, physical and optical properties as the real thing but they are grown in a lab setting with a recipe and high-tech equipment, not inside the earth over millions of years. A synthetic or created gemstone (such as a Chatham Emerald) is technically a genuine gemstone, but it is not a natural one. So what does this mean for the consumer? How does it affect price or value? When it comes to price, value and gemstones, it all boils down to rarity. A natural ruby will command a higher price per carat because natural rubies are very rare, especially gem quality stones in medium and larger sizes. With a created ruby, your dollar goes further toward a larger, clearer, and more ideal color stone.

Lab created Diamonds and Stones

While created rubies, sapphires, emeralds and alexandrite are quite common, one gemstone where we don’t see much in the way of synthetics is diamond. The technology to synthesize diamond has been around for years, but producing gem quality material has been challenging. Several companies are producing high quality gem material but not currently enough of it to make it significantly less expensive than a natural diamond. And if you’re wondering about being tricked or fooled with a synthetic gemstone thinking you’re getting the real thing, don’t worry! The process for creating synthetic gemstones leaves clues that let gemologists know what they are dealing with and we are extensively trained to distinguish natural from created.