Birthstones – Natural, Lab Created, Or Simulated

When shopping for a birthstone, you may encounter a wide range of prices along with the labels “natural, ” “lab created or synthetic, ” and “simulated. ” As you might expect, natural gemstones are the most valuable, as they are created by nature, must be mined, and are rare.

Many natural stones do not look pretty in their natural state. Rather, they must be treated with heat or chemicals to bring out the colors we admire, then carefully facet cut and polished to bring out the sparkle and fire we want. A good gem cutter can work around the naturally occurring flaws within the stone, called inclusions, which can either give the gemstone character or decrease its value.

Laboratories are able to take the composite minerals that compose a natural stone, which took Nature eons to produce, and re-create the necessary heat and pressure to synthetically make an identical gemstone. The only difference is that a lab-created gemstone is flawless, meaning it is without inclusions or impurities that occur in a naturally formed gemstone.

Simulated stones are made from materials that are not part of the composition of a natural gemstone. They may be made from glass, plastic, or other synthetic or natural stones. For example, lab-created sapphires may be color treated to simulate Alexandrite gems, or a zircon is used in place of a diamond. Even harder to detect are stones with a thin layer of natural gemstone fused to another material. These stones often take a trained gemologist to detect, and are called doublets or triplets.

All three types of gemstones have their use in jewelry making. If you want to have inexpensive costume jewelry, you do not want to pay the price of simulated or natural jewels. On the other hand, if it is the “real” thing you want, be prepared to pay a lot for it. If the deal is too good to be true, the stones are probably synthetic. Gemstones should come with a certification of authenticity if they are natural.

The most common synthetic stones are rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and alexandrite. Other synthetic stones are opals, garnets, and all the other birthstones. As long as you know what you are buying, these lab created stones are everything that a real gem is, just not as rare. Certain stones, such as topaz and opal, are fragile and are typically fused to another stone to create a doublet or triplet.

Gemstones are weighed in carat weights (ct. ) This is not to be confused with a karat (K), which is how gold is weighed. If there are more than one stone in a setting, it will be referred to as “ct. t. w. , ” or “carat total weight. “

The most common way for people to get ripped off when buying birthstones or other gemstones is to buy them second-hand from a pawn shop, flea market, estate sale, or even out of the newspaper. Buying from a reputable jeweler or gemologist will assure you that you are getting what you pay for.

Each item is made to your exact specifications and made even more special with the personalization you choose. Create your custom piece to include a loved one’s name, a wedding date, a birth date, religious occasion or words that inspire or touch your heart.