Lab-created sapphires, alternatively referred to as man-made or synthetic sapphires, have become increasingly popular as many people set their sights on more affordable options. A lab-created sapphire is often mistakenly called a “fake” sapphire. This is entirely false as there is, in truth, nothing fake about a synthetic sapphire; it simply formed differently.
A lab-created sapphire has identical physical, chemical, and optical properties to their equivalent gemstones that formed naturally.
This article will explore the significant differences between natural sapphires and lab-created sapphires and weigh up the pros and cons of buying such a stone.
Sapphires are prized for their impeccable durability, rarity, color, and overall gemstone quality. They make for a beautiful engagement ring and convey a message of true exquisiteness. With various available colors and tints, you can essentially find a suitable sapphire for any occasion.
The natural sapphire gained its popularity and reputation decades ago for withstanding the test of time. Many renowned figures in the past have displayed their admiration for the gemstone. For example, Napoleon even gifted his beautiful bride, Josephine, with a sapphire engagement ring in 1796. The same blue sapphire is still cherished for its incredible magnificence today.
Thus, time is no challenge for this precious stone, and it will remain one of the most highly-deemed gemstones for years to come.
The name really says it all. A lab-created sapphire is a sapphire gemstone grown in a lab, contrary to natural sapphires that were mined from the earth. High-quality synthetic sapphires are comparable to mined gemstones in mineral, chemical, and optical properties. The two counterparts are essentially the exact same stones; one was just created synthetically, whereas the other sapphires form in the earth due to years and years of mineral and chemical processes.
Natural sapphires are formed over millions of years under very exact conditions, making them extraordinarily rare and highly sought after by many jewelry lovers and gemstone enthusiasts alike.
While natural sapphires remain the most highly-desired form of sapphire, the price is often enough to demotivate such a purchase.
One reason for the high price of natural stones is the substantial costs involved in the mining process, and the environmental impact extraction methods have on the earth and surrounding communities.
A lab-created sapphire presents an opportunity to wear this classically beautiful gemstone without paying an arm and a leg.
First of all, it is essential to understand that there is a clear distinction between lab-created sapphires and imitation sapphires. Synthetic sapphires are by no means “fake” as they are manufactured to be identical to natural stone in all ways. In contrast, imitations simply resemble a real sapphire but are, in truth, a completely different stone that simply looks like the real thing.
Lab-grown sapphires are created by copying the essential properties of natural gemstones by recreating the environmental conditions in which a natural sapphire is formed. Not only are these lab-grown gemstones identical in chemical composition and crystal structure, but they sometimes offer even better quality than their natural counterparts. In most instances, only a gemstone expert would be able to differentiate between a natural sapphire and a lab-created sapphire.
In contrast, imitation sapphires are merely similar but certainly not identical to natural sapphires or lab-created gemstones. They have a much lower value and durability.
Just as with diamonds, imitation sapphires are typically made with glass. The difference in optical quality and lack of inclusions are often a dead giveaway in imitation gemstones.
A lab-created sapphire is the most difficult gemstone to recreate in the controlled environment of a lab, despite also being the most popular gemstone that is lab-grown in this way.
A natural sapphire consists of various forms of corundum with the formula of aluminum oxide. This chemical substance must be mimicked to produce a synthetic sapphire. Of the various methods of growing lab-created gemstones, the Flux Method and the Czochralski Pulled-Growth Process produce higher-quality synthetic gemstones.
This method entails melting all the applicable nutrients in a crucible before dipping a sapphire seed in the molten mixture at a controlled rate. This is a complex and expensive process.
This process involves a sapphire seed being dissolved in a solution called flux. When the dissolved mixture cools down, crystals start forming, which ultimately become synthetic sapphire.
Despite laboratory conditions providing a precisely controlled environment, the resulting shade of the lab-grown sapphires remains relatively unpredictable.
These lab-grown gems come in three shades: light blue, deep blue, and royal blue. Lab-created blue sapphires are undoubtedly the most popular variant of all synthetic sapphires.
The mineral corundum can bring about a variety of different colors depending on the mineral that infiltrates it. Broad classification defines red corundum as ruby, where all other variants are referred to as sapphire.
The most popular versions of all the lab sapphires and their colors include blue, pink, and yellow sapphire.
Differing elements are used to create sapphires of varying colors:
Identifying an imitation gem is one thing, but spotting a lab-created sapphire from natural gemstones is a much more challenging endeavor.
The following methods can only be carried out by a professional possessing various specialized tools.
Essentially only an expert gemologist would be able to identify natural stains found in a real sapphire through a method called spectroscopy. With special instruments and high magnification, natural stains and particular imperfections can be found on natural stones but not on lab-created stones.
Due to the varying conditions in which natural gemstones form in the earth, other elements get involved in the molten phase of the natural stones. Various inclusions become prevalent in the crystalized blue sapphire, yellow sapphire, and white sapphire.
Conversely, a lab-created sapphire lacks these “flaws” as they are formed using a precise recipe.
Carbon dating accurately established the age of a gem. Where natural gems form over millions of years, carbon dating is limited to dating back to 60 000 years, so it would not be able to identify the exact age of the gem.
However, carbon dating would be able to determine the exact age of a lab-created blue sapphire since advances to produce a lab blue sapphire, among other rich colors, have only become available in recent years.
Natural sapphires can cost you up to $10 000 more per carat weight than lab-created gems. This high value is attributed to two reasons.
Firstly, many people consider natural gems to be more valuable than their synthetic sapphire alternatives.
Secondly, the resources involved in producing mined gemstones are significantly more than those involved in creating sapphires in gem labs. This raises the value of naturally mined stones substantially.
Beyond the monetary side of things, synthetic sapphires do not have nearly the environmental impact that natural sapphires do. Because the entire process takes place in a lab, no emission of carbon and other gases or soil pollution is involved.
The origin of the stones does not result in environmental disruption, funding wars, or human exploitation.
There is little to no difference in appearance and quality between natural and synthetic sapphire. The only notable difference would be the absence of minuscule inclusions in lab-created stones, but the overall durability quality is exactly the same as in natural stones.
In the past, diamonds have been the go-to when it comes to engagement rings and precious gifts because it was thought that no other stone could have more sparkle and brilliance than a diamond.
However, these days there is a much broader selection of lab-grown sapphire jewelry that makes for a perfect center stone in a classically arranged ring setting and pendant alike.
Sapphire rings make for the ideal gift for September babies, as it is their birthstone. Furthermore, nothing speaks of elegance and glamour like a classing blue sapphire ring.
An emerald-cut synthetic blue sapphire in platinum or white gold ring setting is an excellent option for engagement rings.
The lighter-colored sapphires such as pink and peach are more compatible with a golden ring setting, creating a blend of stunning hues.
Blue sapphire engagement rings have been associated with royalty for many decades, but thanks to lab-created blue sapphires, this timeless style is available and affordable for everyone.
For many people, s blue sapphire engagement ring is a tad too unconventional. Fortunately, synthetic white sapphires present a perfect opportunity to replicate the glam of colorless diamonds.
Whether you prefer studs, hoops, or dangles, synthetic blue sapphire earrings are a superb alternative to traditional diamonds. The vibrant color of a blue sapphire adds a bit of adventure and dare to any look.
Dangling blue sapphire earrings are a sure head-turner suitable for any occasion.
After a thorough evaluation, if you have decided to purchase a quality lab-created sapphire, be sure to support a reputable vendor.
You are recommended to request a certificate of authenticity to ensure you are not buying an imitation sapphire instead of synthetic sapphire. This will also ensure that you are not paying the price of a real sapphire.
Etsy is an excellent online platform with a satisfactory range of blue sapphires to choose from. Etsy is known for selling quality jewelry of all price classes to cater to each customer’s capabilities.
If you are looking for more elite synthetic sapphire options, consider visiting Brilliant Earth. They are renowned for their diligence in providing high-end gemstones and metals of all kinds. Brilliant Earth is the perfect destination if you seek a blue sapphire engagement ring.
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