Gemstone jewellery can vary in cost depending on the materials used. Diamond rings cost an average of $5,500. There are a number of variables that impact the cost of gemstone jewellery, one of those being how the gem was created. There are four main types of gems: natural, genuine, lab-created, and simulated. What do they all mean and what’s the actual difference?
Natural gems are also known as rough-cut gems. They do not undergo any human treatment process. They are simply mined, cut, and polished, then installed into settings. Each natural gem still has unique inclusions and imperfections that may appear as colour inconsistencies or scratches.
Genuine gems are treated versions of natural gems. Treating the gems can remove some inconsistencies and offer a uniform “perfected” look to each gemstone. Occasionally, the gem can lose some value after being treated because it loses its unique qualities.
Lab-created gems were never mined. They are fabricated versions of the different gems. Where natural diamonds take thousands of years to form from carbon, the same creation can take place in a number of weeks in a laboratory setting.
Due to high cost, certain gems are simulated by using other gems with similar properties. For example, diamonds are typically simulated with the white sapphire or other clear gemstones like cubic zirconia.
So, what is the difference between the four different gem options? There are four categorical differences to help you choose the best option for your jewellery.
The difference, visually between many genuine and lab-created gems is virtually undetectable. The only way you could tell is by looking for inclusions under a microscope. A natural or genuine gem will have small imperfections that will not be present in a lab-created version. You can tell the difference much easier between simulated and genuine gems, though. Simulated gems will be lacking some visual features of the real gem, for example, light refraction, hardness, and weight.
The molecular structure of lab-created gems and natural or genuine stones is the exact same. The formation process is merely sped up. The gems behave the same under every condition. Simulated gems have an entirely different makeup altogether and will behave in a dissimilar manner.
The difference between the four kinds of gems is major. Natural gems are typically the most expensive, followed by genuine, then lab-created. Simulated gems also vary in cost but can fall above or below lab-created gems, depending on what they are made of. Natural diamonds cost anywhere from $1,800-$10,000 per carat, lab-created diamonds cost anywhere from $800-$1,000, a huge price drop.
While the cost of lab-grown diamonds is lower, so is the value. If you are planning on ever reselling the jewellery, lab-created diamonds may not be the way to go. A jeweller can tell the difference between a lab-created diamond and a natural one despite the two being nearly identical.
Which is Best for you?
Now that you know the definite differences between all four different kinds of the “same” gem, how do you decide which one is best? If you are looking for a traditional, classic piece of jewellery, go with a genuine or natural gem. For something with the same look but at a cheaper price tag, go for a lab-created gem.