Lab-created Gemstones

Is your budget too tight for an authentic gemstone, but you don’t want to settle for a glass or plastic imitation? At our custom design jeweler in Seattle and Bellevue, you have the option of choosing a high-quality, lab-created gemstone.

What Are Lab-created Gemstones?

Gemstones are an excellent example of the beauty that nature creates. These precious and semi-precious stones are formed by heat and pressure beneath the surface of the earth. Diamonds, the most venerated of precious jewels, are formed when carbon is put under great pressure. Lab-created gemstones are what happens when people replicate the conditions under which these gems form in nature to artificially create man-made gems.

Attempts to make diamonds in a lab began in the 1800’s with cheap carbon and intense heat and pressure to imitate the role that the Earth plays in the process. It is unclear whether these early attempts at lab-created gemstones produced actual lab-created diamonds or simulated diamonds.

Lab-created Versus Simulated

Lab-created gemstones are, by definition, stones that not only look like the real thing but have the same mineral composition as the standard for a specific gemstone. To create these in-lab jewels, scientists study the chemical composition and natural formation process of real gems. They then attempt to re-create the process in the lab with the same materials as exist in nature. There is one small difference, however -- man-made stones do not have inclusions and other imperfections that natural stones have.

Simulated stones are also made in a laboratory. They do not count as lab-created, however, because they are made with a different process and have a different composition than their natural counterparts. Like a three-dimensional simulation, these imitation stones are merely a mirage. They look like their parent stone, but that is as far as the similarities go. They also do not have the same density and often do not feel the same to touch. Cubic zirconia, which imitates the look of a diamond, is one commonly simulated gemstone.

Advantages and Disadvantages

One primary advantage of lab-created gemstones is the lower cost for consumers. These man-made gems are offered for a fraction of the price of natural stones. This allows buyers to own a gemstone that looks, feels, and has the same composition as the real thing without having to also deal with the hefty price tag attached to natural gemstones. Another advantage to lab-created and simulated gemstones is that they eliminate the need to seek gems in the natural world and all of the dangers associated with that process. Gems are mined beneath the Earth’s surface, which can be very dangerous for the workers who undertake this venture.

There are, however, disadvantages to lab-created gemstones. Because markets are flooded with low-priced alternatives to natural gems, some worry that the demand for higher priced jewels may drop over time. Some are also concerned that lab-created diamonds are being passed off as the real thing. To combat this worry, special equipment was created to make it easier to spot the lab-created stones. To many, these man-made gems are an almost too perfect versions of their natural counterparts. Without inclusions, some feel they are fakes, even though they have the same make-up as real gems. These flawless stones, although popular as a cheap alternative, are still not as revered as the real stones that come complete with inclusions. The continued love for real gemstones is buried in history and gem tradition, and for many, lab-created stones are just not the same.