Lab Grown Gemstones
Inspired By Nature, Made By Man
What Is A Lab Grown Gemstone?
Essentially the same as natural gemstones physically, chemically and optically, lab grown gemstones are excellent alternatives to the real thing. The conditions in which gems grow in the earth are re-created in a lab usually creating gem quality crystals which are of top quality.
Lab created gemstones were created by a man called Carroll Chatham in the 1920’s, it all started when he was trying to recreate the experiments of growing diamonds which the French chemist Henri Moissan failed at in the 1890’s. Chatham’s diamond experiments were too explosive to carry on so he switched to trying to grow emeralds as they require less heat and pressure to grow. It took years for Chatham to work out how his first emerald crystals grew while he went away to college. He finally figured it out and created the company named after him to perfect the process to grow emeralds. This then grew and he started growing rubies, blue sapphires, alexandrites and oranges sapphires.
The business stayed within the family with Tom Chatham, Carroll’s son taking over the business after his passing. Both father and son paved the way for lab grown gemstones and even diamonds in the later years. This also led to the making of lab grown opals, morganite and blue spinel.
How are they made?
These stones are created in a chamber where a nucleus of natural gemstone and a liquid containing all the chemical elements needed to create each stone are placed, this is then heated to approximately 1100 degree Celsius and left to grow for 6 months to a year. The crystals start growing from the nucleus in the natural crystal formation of that stone. Once the crystal is grown, they are then cut and polished into the varied shapes. The growth environment is generally always free from outside influences, hence the stones are generally very high quality in clarity and colour. Due to the conditions in which they are created these stones tend to be very uniform in colour rather than a lot of natural gemstones where the colour and clarity can be very varied across the stone. The only issue with using these stones is that in large sizes they can look almost too perfect.
Is there a difference between lab grown gemstones and natural gemstones?
Unless you’re a certified gemologist and have the use of a microscope you won’t be able to tell the difference between lab grown gemstones and natural gemstones. Lab grown gemstones as we know are grown without the Earth’s impurities which enables the crystals to grow to be almost perfect. They would match the finest gems from each type. Generally because they are such good quality they would be more durable as they would have fewer inclusions then the natural gemstones might have.
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