A Natural Emerald VS A Lab Emerald
A lab-created emerald, also known as a synthetic emerald or a man-made emerald, shares the exact same chemical composition, color, and scratch resistance as natural emeralds. The only significant difference between the two is that synthetic emeralds are made in the controlled environment of a lab. In contrast, as the name suggests, natural emeralds are naturally formed and mined out of the earth.
Lab-created emeralds should not be confused with imitation emeralds or emerald simulants, simply made to resemble natural emeralds as closely as possible but do not contain the same chemical composition or properties.
Synthetic emeralds currently hold the greatest command among other synthetic gems and also trade for the highest price. Yet, despite being so sought after, this synthetic gem still costs a mere 10% of the price of natural gems.
Emeralds belong to the beryl family and have been a symbol of love and loyalty through the ages. This gemstone is additionally associated with the 55th anniversary and is more commonly known as the May birthstone.
Natural emeralds are the rarest among the colored gemstones, making them precious and highly desired gems.
Natural emeralds are created in the earth when specific elements, such as beryllium, bubble up from the crust of the earth and move into hydrothermal vents. The stunning green color of the gem is attributed to elements like vanadium, iron, and chromium.
The color is the determining quality when choosing an emerald stone. Where diamonds’ value lies in their brilliance, an emerald gets its value from the intensity and saturation of its green color.
Not only are emeralds the stones of May, but they are also becoming an increasingly popular choice for engagement rings and other irreplaceable jewelry items. The beautiful green color seen in emeralds can be found in dark and light shades, catering to a variety of tastes and providing an ideal gemstone option for every buyer.
Evaluating Emerald Quality
The value of an emerald is graded on a scale where B is the least valuable version of the gem and AAA is its most valuable form. The hardness of emeralds is relatively consistent, being quite soft and fragile.
Whether it is a natural or synthetic emerald, its value is largely determined by saturation and color. Characteristics like brilliance and clarity, which are significant in diamonds, are not important attributes to the value of emeralds.
Furthermore, a buyer can decide on how light or dark the hue of their emerald of choice should be, based on personal preference. The quality of this stone is also based on whether it is a lab-grown or natural emerald. Just as with natural diamonds, natural emeralds have a much greater value than their synthetic counterparts, largely due to the input required to extract these natural gemstones from the earth.
Most natural emeralds are known to contain more inclusions than other colored gemstones. Emeralds have a larger degree of visual variations because of the minerals that infiltrate the stone in its formation stage.
To the unaided eye, inclusions may seem like flaws because of their irregularity when, in fact, they add to the unique nature of every gem. Incorporating a natural emerald into jewelry will provide you with a true one-of-a-kind piece as no two natural gems will have the exact same composition.
Countries like Brazil and Columbia yield natural emeralds with the purest green color.
Lab-created emeralds differ in their green hues and do not contain the inclusions found in natural emeralds. Those that consider inclusions to be flaws prefer lab-grown emeralds, as they are perfect in their lack of inclusions.
Although differences in color variations and saturation in synthetic emeralds can be seen with the naked eye, a lab-created emerald is identical to a natural emerald regarding its chemical composition.
Lab-created emeralds lack the exquisite detail and rarity of natural emeralds.
Nevertheless, it is important to understand that lab-grown emeralds are real emeralds in every respect. Although they may not be considered authentic, they are in no way a fake version of the natural gem. A natural emerald and a synthetic emerald are essentially equivalent to one another; one was simply created in a lab where the other grew naturally.
Synthetic emeralds are usually priced lower than their natural gem equivalents of similar green color. The difference in prices is due to a difference in appearance that leads to a distinct quality.
A synthetic emerald may still be priced less than a natural emerald with the same quality grade on the emerald scale. This is because of some slight variations in appearance and color. In addition, buyers may notice certain irregularities in a lab-grown emerald with the naked eye that simply isn’t found in a natural emerald.
Features Of A Lab-Created Emerald
Because natural emeralds and synthetic emeralds are created from the same material, certain inclusions like fractures, tubes, and fingerprints are not conclusive indicators of whether the stone is a natural or man-made emerald.
If a fingerprint has flux, it is undoubtedly a lab-created emerald because fractures in emeralds cannot be healed with flux as it can with sapphires and rubies.
Moreover, some clearly visible distinctions between a natural and a synthetic emerald include:
- Lab-created gemstones have little to no inclusions
- Natural stones are opaque, so light doesn’t readily move through the stone, and a viewer cannot see directly into the gemstone.
- Because a lab emerald is crystal-like, light travels through the gemstone, and you can almost see “through” it.
- Only the rarest and most expensive natural gemstones display notably vivid colors.
- Lab-created emeralds have vibrant and vivid colors.
The Growth Process Of Synthetic Emeralds
Lab-Grown Emeralds can be grown by means of either hydrothermal or flux processes.
The Flux Process
With the flux method, all the elements that constitute emeralds are dissolved in a solution with flux and a great amount of heat. This solution is heated in a platinum crucible, and flux emeralds alone sometimes display platinum platelets.
The duration that the solution is heated will determine the size of the final emerald crystal. The grower may grow large emeralds for months on end.
Jacques Joseph Ebelman discovered the flux process in 1848. However, creating synthetic emeralds remained more expensive than simply mining natural emeralds until a century after the discovery of a method to create a synthetic emerald.
Carrol Chatham revolutionized the flux method to be less expensive and complex than mining a natural emerald.
The Hydrothermal Process
Hydrothermal emeralds are created in conditions that are very similar to those in which a natural emerald forms. One significant difference includes that a hydrothermal emerald does not freely form crystals but instead forms elongated hexagonal colorless beryl crystals.
Hydrothermal emeralds display certain unique features like chevron, nail-head spicules, and inclusions typical to a natural emerald, such as tubes and fingerprints.
Additional Treatments Of Lab-Created Gemstones
Almost every natural emerald is oiled to enhance its clarity, but because synthetic emeralds do not have the same amount of inclusions as natural gems, they rarely require treatment for clarity.
Because of the advanced clarity of a lab-created emerald, identifying these emeralds with magnification alone is often a challenging endeavor for a gemologist.
If a natural emerald displays extraordinary clarity, it may well be a lab-created emerald. In these cases, distinguishing real emeralds from lab-created emeralds could be near impossible without an adequate lab report, which the vendor should provide. If there isn’t a readily available lab report, the vendor is responsible for requesting one from an accredited gem lab.
The importance of a lab report becomes relevant when the value of an emerald in a given shop is determined. For example, untreated emeralds possessing magnificent clarity could sell for three times the price of emeralds that have been treated and have comparable quality.
Advantages of Lab-created Emeralds
Beyond being an excellent alternative to natural gemstones at a much more reasonable price, lab-grown emeralds present several other advantageous properties:
- Lab-grown emeralds have no negative impact on the environment and its natural resources. Mining is a necessary requirement to obtain natural gemstones, which substantially impacts the environment. An emerald created in a lab does not require even a fraction of the resources that mining does.
- Lab-made emerald jewelry allows you to travel without fear of losing a significant investment, such as a natural emerald. You can leave your expensive gemstones at home while still looking beautiful wearing your lab-grown emerald jewelry.
- When you buy emerald jewelry, your jewelry should be able to clarify the exact quality grade of your gemstones. Just as natural emeralds have varying levels of quality, your lab-created gems are also graded according to several features, such as inclusions. Being informed on the factors that contribute to the value of your stones will enable you to pay an accurate price for your gemstones.
Synthetic Emerald Jewelry
Emeralds are deemed beautiful alternatives to diamonds in classic engagement rings. These gemstones can be implemented as either accent stones or even a center stone.
Tend to lean toward the traditional diamond ring style? You can always add a little color and excitement by incorporating a lab-grown emerald to compliment the brilliance of the diamond.
Emerald gems alone make for exquisite jewelry ranging from an elegant ring to a combination of silver and aquamarine earrings.
Moreover, gold jewelry can enhance the stunning clarity and bright color of a synthetic emerald. A ring with a classic emerald cut or oval gemstone will create a luxurious air, especially when paired with pear shape emerald earrings.
Synthetic emerald gemstone jewelry makes for the ideal gift for a May baby. Instead of spending a fortune on a one-carat diamond ring or necklace, consider gifting your wife of 55 years with this stunning synthetic gemstone and show her how precious she is.
Both synthetic and natural emerald jewelry convey timelessness and also serve as a valuable investment.
Emerald gemstones are cut according to the shape to maximize their color and brilliance. Emerald cuts are undeniably the most popular gut for these gems, followed closely by round and oval cuts. A square shape is ideal for a lady that appreciates vintage-style jewelry, while a pear shape makes for an appealing emerald pendant.
The detail and saturation of the green color of synthetic emerald truly convey their magnificence. Unlike diamonds, carat content and brilliance do not carry significant value in an eye-clean, gorgeous emerald gem.
Misconceptions About Synthetic Emeralds
Many people tend to confuse lab-created emeralds with imitation emeralds. On the contrary, lab emeralds are real emeralds in every aspect. Nevertheless, there are many misconceptions about these synthetic gemstones that need correction:
Synthetic Emeralds Are Fake
Many jewelry lovers wrongly believe that synthetic emeralds are fake. A lab-created emerald is 100% authentic and genuine in all its properties, including physical, optical, and chemical characteristics.
The official definition of a synthetic gem states that the gem is definitively identical to its natural counterpart.
Synthetic Emerald Are Treated To Look Better
This statement could not be further from the truth, as natural emeralds are often treated much more than man-made emeralds. For example, lab-created emeralds are not treated with dye, irradiation, or heat, where these treatments are frequently a given with natural emeralds.
Lab-created Emeralds Are Overpriced
The belief that lab emeralds are highly-priced contradicts the hard fact that they are, in fact, priced at around 15% of the cost of a quality natural emerald. Synthetic emeralds cost about as much as a natural emerald of the absolute lowest quality. The difference is that the lab-grown emerald is certainly of the highest quality. These stones are almost exclusively available in their most excellent forms.
Lab-grown Emeralds Are Less Attractive
This is one of the most common misconceptions people have regarding synthetic stones. The controlled environment of a lab ensures that an emerald exhibits the richest color it possibly can.
The stones often display a much more vivid color and clarity than natural stones could, so this misconception is entirely unjustified.
Lab Emeralds Lack Inclusions
Although this is not entirely false, advancements in lab techniques have provided the opportunity to create inclusions in lab-grown emeralds, making them even more similar to their natural counterparts.
A hydrothermal emerald, in particular, displays all the natural inclusions found in mined emeralds.
Lab Emeralds Damage Easily
As synthetic emeralds are the exact replicas of natural stones regarding their chemical composition, they are just as hard and durable as natural gems.
Natural emeralds are not very durable, to begin with, but synthetic emeralds are no more perishable simply because they did not grow in a natural setting.
A Lab-Created Emerald Does Not Have Astrological Powers
Those who believe in the astrological powers of certain gemstones often think that lab-grown gemstones don’t have equivalent capabilities. Since the significance of a gem in an astrological sense is based on the sunlight that passes through the stone and into the person wearing the gemstone, a lab emerald is no different than a natural emerald.
Because the chemical structure of the synthetic gemstone is identical to its natural form, the interaction between light and the wearer will be the same, regardless of the origin of the gemstone.
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