Lab created gems are created in a laboratory. Often mistaken for fake gems, synthetic stones have same chemical compositions and physical properties as their natural counterparts. They even look better and fine finished that natural ones. Natural and human made gemstones so close to one another that even experienced gem dealers get puzzled to differentiate between the two.
History of human made gems
The history of first synthetic gem dates back to a few thousand years when early Romans made glass beads. As natural ones are in limited supply and take much labor to mine, human started to look for other alternatives.
Glass gem could be made in any color, but it lacked durability and can easily break. So, the durability problem of glass was solved when doublet was invented.
What is doublet?
The most common doublet consists of a glass bottom and a thin layer of garnet on the top. The two pieces are combined together. Earlier the adhesive agent was glue. The stone has luster and hard, and it takes the color of the glass which has been placed on the bottom. Doublets were common in Victorian and vintage jewelry. Doublets are easy to identify with magnification.
After doublets, triplets were the next step in creating gem substitute. They consist of a crown and pavilion section and contain some coloring substance bonding the top and the bottom. Opal triplets are the most common example in this category.
A synthetic gem is defined on the basis of physical, chemical and optical properties, related to natural gem. Most of the synthetic gems have been developed during the 20th century, like emeralds, opal, turquoise, quartz. Many of these are expensive to manufacture and difficult to distinguish from their natural counterpart. Synthetic rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and cubic zirconia stone are now mass produced, and almost all of them are difficult to distinguish from their natural varieties. It takes much expertise and knowledge to tell the difference.
The presence of diamond substitute is as long as the existence of diamond. Glass coated by itself is perhaps the oldest diamond substitute known. Colorless natural zircons were also present as an alternative to diamonds, but they lack durability and harness. In fact, many human-made gems have been developed in the quest to produce diamond imitation, like synthetic garnets, spinel, etc. However, the best imitation was cubic zirconia which was the closest counterpart of natural diamond. It can fool even experts. At present, there are diamond testing machines available that can test the conductivity of the material being tested.
Cubic zirconia differs from diamond in many aspects. First, cubic zirconia has much higher specific gravity than diamonds. Other difference is the cuts; if a diamond is well cut and placed down on a print, print will not be visible through a diamond. However, if the same is repeated with cubic zirconia, the print will be visible through this gem. However, an exception to this test is that it doesn’t work with fancy cuts.
The surface of the girdle is another factor to differentiate between a diamond and cubic zirconia. Most diamonds have a rough girdle which cannot be successfully imitated in human made gems. In addition, cubic zirconia is not as hard as a diamond and easily gets scratched. Naturally occurring flaws in diamond also indicated that it is natural.
Synthetic diamonds were first developed in the first half of 20th century.
Thus, the history of synthetic gemstone is very old. At present, we have come a long way in the field of lab-created gemstones, and we are capable of producing gemstones of very high quality.