Is a Laboratory-Made Emerald a Real Emerald?Is a Laboratory-Made Emerald a Real Emerald?

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Is a Laboratory-Made Emerald a Real Emerald?

HomeCoursesEmerald Specialist Mini CourseIs a Laboratory-Made Emerald a Real Emerald?
QuestionI 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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lab-created emerald pendant
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. Lab-made or synthetic emeralds are some of the most expensive synthetic gems. However, a lab-created emerald still isn't nearly as valuable as a natural emerald.

Why are Lab-Made Emeralds Expensive?

The methods used to create emeralds in labs require expensive equipment. The process is slow and energy intensive, and the yield of facetable material is low when compared to the processes used to create other synthetic gems.

A Lab-Created Emerald Has the Same Properties as a Natural Emerald

In brief, a synthetic or lab-created emerald will have the same chemical, physical, and optical properties as a natural emerald.

People often have similar questions about synthetic sapphires and synthetic alexandrites, too. Since the natural versions of these gems can command such high prices, some consumers look for lab-created gems as more affordable alternatives.

Chatham emeralds
These synthetic emeralds were created using flux growth, a technique first developed in the 1930s that can produce large crystals. However, growing large crystals via this method may take up to a year and proves costly. Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Lab-Created Emeralds are Much Less Expensive Than Natural Emeralds

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

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