Identifying Lab-Made Emeralds
Mined emeralds are expensive, so lab-made emeralds are an attractive option for consumers. Learn how these synthetic gems are made and how to identify them.
11 Minute Read
Why are Lab-Made Emeralds Expensive?
Emeralds are among the most world's most popular and expensive gemstones, so a market for cheaper synthetics exists. However, gem enthusiasts may be surprised to learn that synthetic emeralds are also more expensive than other laboratory-grown gemstones. That's because emeralds are difficult to grow. They require more time and energy to make than most other gems, and the necessary equipment is costly. In addition, the synthetic emerald crystals produced often contain flaws, so they yield a smaller amount of facetable material than other synthetic stones.
Distinguishing Mined and Lab-Made Emeralds
Although they're expensive, lab-grown emeralds still cost much less than mined stones. So, for a gemologist or jeweler, distinguishing between the two is important. Several standard tests can help you figure out whether an emerald is mined or lab-grown.
Measuring a stone's refractive index (RI) and specific gravity (SG) are the first steps. Lab-grown emeralds tend to have lower RI and SG values. However, they do have some overlap with mined stones. Use the reference table at the end of this article to compare the properties of synthetics with those of mined emeralds that also exhibit low RI values.
Next, a quick observation of...
A geologist, environmental engineer and Caltech graduate, Addison’s interest in the mesmerizing and beautiful results of earth’s geological processes began in her elementary school’s environmental club. When she isn’t writing about gems and minerals, Addison spends winters studying ancient climates in Iceland and summers hiking the Colorado Rockies.
Emerald Value, Price, and Jewelry Information
Seven Famous Emeralds and Their Stories
Emerald Origins: History and Identification
Emerald Transformation: Cleaning and Recutting a Natural Emerald
Why are Topaz and Citrine Gemstones Misidentified?
Identifying Garnets Simplified
Staurolite Value, Price, and Jewelry Information
Amethyst Buying Guide
When you join the IGS community, you get trusted diamond & gemstone information when you need it.
Get started with the International Gem Society’s free guide to gemstone identification. Join our weekly newsletter & get a free copy of the Gem ID Checklist!