Summary
Question: I want to get an emerald pendant for a Christmas present. I’ve talked to some jewelers who are trying to push lab-created emerald pieces. I’ve been told synthetic emeralds are just like the genuine stones. They also say synthetics are just as valuable as the natural kind and very difficult to make. To me, “Ain’t nothin’ like the real thing.” Am I wrong?

I’m really confused by this whole synthetic vs natural emerald pitch. What are the pros and cons of buying lab-created emerald jewelry?

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A lab-created emerald is a real emerald but not a natural emerald. Synthetic emeralds are some of the most expensive synthetic gems. The energy-intensive methods used to create them in labs require expensive equipment. The process is slow, and the yield of facetable material is low. Nevertheless, a lab-created emerald is not nearly as valuable as a natural emerald. “Synthetic Emerald” by Deidre Woollard is licensed under CC By 2.0. (Cropped to show detail).

Synthetic emerald jewelry. Photo by Deidre Woollard. Licensed under CC By 2.0. (Cropped to show detail).

Answer: A lab-created emerald is a real emerald but not a natural emerald. Synthetic emeralds are some of the most expensive synthetic gems. The methods used to create them in labs require expensive equipment. The process is slow and energy intensive, and the yield of facetable material is low. Nevertheless, a lab-created emerald isn’t nearly as valuable as a natural emerald.

Synthetic and Natural Gems Have the Same Properties

People often ask these kinds of questions about synthetic sapphires and synthetic alexandrites, too. In brief, a synthetic or lab-created emerald will have the same chemical, physical, and optical properties as a natural emerald.

Synthetics are Much Less Expensive Than Natural Gems

However, synthetic emeralds are MUCH less expensive when matched for size and quality against natural emeralds. (Just take a look at the price range for natural emeralds).

A good natural emerald will set you back a pretty penny. As for whether to purchase a synthetic or natural emerald jewelry piece, you’ll have to set your priorities. Balance how much you want a natural gem of a particular size and quality against your budget.

However, I do have one recommendation. Please don’t buy from someone who feeds you a line of baloney. That could be just the beginning of a lot of trouble.

Donald Clark, CSM IMG