Identifying Synthetic Gems

Step 5: Advanced Gem Information

Lesson 1

Distinguishing natural from synthetic gems is a critical skill for gemologists. It could mean the difference between valuing a gemstone at thousands of dollars per carat or just a couple of dollars.

Basic Terminology

You should know the following definitions.

  • Natural Gems – Formed in the Earth.
  • Synthetic Gems – Duplicates of natural gems grown in a lab.
  • Homocreates – Synthetic gem materials with no natural counterparts.
  • Imitations – Gemstones or other materials presented as other kinds of gems.

You can find more information on these terms in our guide to gem classification.

Keep in mind that some of these definitions can overlap. For example, you may find a synthetic corundum stone offered for sale as an imitation aquamarine.

What to Look For First

Very fine clarity may be the first indication you’re dealing with a synthetic. Few natural gems are clean to 10X, much less anything higher. If you can’t find natural inclusions with a loupe, you probably have a synthetic. While this isn’t proof, it’s a strong clue. You should investigate further.

Unfortunately, the opposite isn’t necessarily true. While most synthetics are very clean, you’ll …

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Full Article Details

Content Length 3028 words
Reading time 15 min 8 sec

Here's what you get if you unlock this article:

  • Basic Terminology
  • What to Look For First
  • Examples of Synthetic Gems
    • Synthetic Alexandrite
    • Synthetic Sapphire
  • A Brief History of Synthetic Gems
    • The Beginning of Modern Gemology
    • The First Synthetic Gems
    • More Varieties of Synthetic Gems Appear
    • Gemstone Synthesis Expands and Improves
  • Gem Synthesizing Processes
    • Melt Processes
    • Solution Processes
  • Flame Fusion
    • Flame Fusion Stones
    • Distinctive Features of Flame Fusion Gems
  • Czochralski or Pulled Process
    • Pulled Stones
    • Distinctive Features of Pulled Gems
  • Skull Melting
    • Skull Melt Stones
    • Distinctive Features of Skull Melt Gems
  • Flux
    • Reaction Technique
    • Transport Technique
    • Flux Grown Stones
    • Distinctive Features of Flux Grown Gems
  • Hydrothermal Method
    • Hydrothermal Stones
    • Distinctive Features of Hydrothermal Gems
  • Identification of Specific Synthetic Gems
    • Synthetic Diamonds
    • Synthetic Emeralds
    • Synthetic Lapis
    • Synthetic Opals
    • Synthetic Quartz
    • Synthetic Spinels
  • Advice for Identifying Synthetic Gems
    • Gemstone Manufacturing Always Progresses
    • Beware of Gemstone Marketing and Substitutions
    • Magnification is Critical for Identification
    • When Not to Make a Distinction

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