Lab-Grown vs Natural stones


Post difficulty
7 min

Post Length

Gem-related Field
Lab-Grown Or Natural: Know The Difference
Lab-grown sapphires can be an innovative way to get stones with a traceable production history. Gem traders typically consider them to be of low value since they lack the fundamental core of a gemstone: a story.

Recent years have witnessed an increase in the marketing of lab-grown diamonds, but lab-grown stones are still somewhat slow to catch on since they lack the million-year history created by nature. According to specialists, man's interaction with his creation somehow degrades its beauty. Yet, it is important to understand that natural and lab-grown stones represent two distinct market segments that should never be viewed as single.

Before we move on to the next chapter, let's quickly review the benefits of purchasing a synthetic gem: they offer the same precision and finish quality as natural stones. They can be cut, colored, and sized according to the specifications of a designer, dealer, merchant, manufacturer, or jewelry brand. With low environmental impact, these jewels are ethical and environmentally responsible.

Imitations are materials with just an external resemblance to natural stones; their structure, composition, and properties are fundamentally different. They are typically created from a less expensive material that an experienced gemologist could identify in a fraction of a second. This category includes glass, plastic, ceramics, and cubic zirconia.

Two Different Market Segments
If you were to ask any gems dealer with experience in the gems industry if he would consider purchasing a lab-grown gemstone, he would undoubtedly respond that synthetic gemstones are a heresy. However, here's the catch: Laboratory-grown gems are not made for gemstone connoisseurs. In fact, recent studies* indicate that millennials are 66% more likely to purchase synthetic stones than those over the age of 30.

Synthetic stones have huge promise for a new segment of young people who wish to preserve the environment or feel "guilt-free" when purchasing a quality center stone. Some companies, such as Swarovski, try to improve the perception of these lab-grown stones by incorporating them into their designs**. Marketing will undoubtedly increase interest in these new stones.

Lab-grown gems are wildly popular among young people who are not necessarily informed about the gemstone industry. While remaining affordable, marketing these stones may be of interest to other jewelry designs that feature natural center stones. The new generation finds it to be an excellent substitute for real stones, which can have severe environmental and human effects.

Now, when we discuss natural gemstones, we refer to a work of art made by nature. Customers who purchase natural stones enjoy visualizing themselves holding a piece of stone that took millions of years to produce. Ethical and environmental concerns can also be mitigated by establishing new mining procedures and educating those who work in these mines.

Other international and renowned certifications, such as RJC, can demonstrate whether a gemstone company follows these rules and ensures that they are striving toward a brighter future for all. We are happy to be RJC-certified because we endeavor to deliver stones that were mined in a humane manner.

*Survey conducted by across all income ranges, aged 21-40 yo
** Cf. Angel Halo Ring, Penelope Cruz, Lab-Created diamonds and Ruby

Energy production costs are decreased by four for previous stones grown in laboratories
By Benjamin Poudevigne, Marketing Manager @GemMatrix
December 16th, 2022
Natural Vs. Lab-Grown Stones
There are several reasons why one might prefer to purchase natural gemstones versus lab-created gemstones:

Rarity: Natural gemstones are often rarer than lab-created ones because they are developed naturally over millions of years. However, lab-created gemstones may be produced on demand. This increases the value of natural gemstones for some customers.

Authenticity: some people may prefer natural gemstones because they are viewed as more genuine and authentic than lab-created gemstones.

Environment impact: The production of lab-created gemstones usually entails the use of non - recyclable energy and materials. Not every company adheres to these regulations since some use the ethical dimension to make stones with less concern for the environment. On the other side, natural gemstone mining can have negative environmental consequences.

However, there are numerous reasons to consider purchasing lab-created gemstones. They are typically less expensive than natural gemstones and can be equally attractive and of great quality. Whether to purchase real or lab-created gemstones is ultimately a personal choice that depends on your interests and priorities.
Left side: Natural Nigerian Sapphire
Right side: Lab-Created stones
How Do Gemologists Distinguish Between Lab-grown and Natural Gemstones?
Inclusions: In contrast to lab-grown gemstones, natural gemstones frequently contain inclusions, or minor flaws or foreign materials. Using a microscope, gemologists can inspect the inclusions in a gemstone to identify whether it is natural or laboratory-grown.

Growth structures: Lab-grown gemstones are often developed in a controlled environment, which can result in growth structures that are distinct from those of natural gemstones. Using a microscope or a loupe, gemologists can investigate the growth structures of a gemstone to identify whether it is natural or laboratory-grown.

Physical characteristics: Natural gemstones may have different physical properties, such as color or hardness, than lab-grown gemstones.

Chemical analysis: Lab-grown gemstones are chemically identical to natural gemstones, although their composition may differ somewhat due to the diverse processes employed to produce them. Gemologists can employ spectroscopy or other analytical techniques to assess the chemical composition of a gemstone and whether or not it is natural or laboratory-grown.

Keep in mind that differentiating between natural and lab-grown gemstones can be challenging, and it may require the use of multiple techniques and a trained eye to accurately determine the origin of a gemstone.
Left and Right photos: Natural Zambian emeralds. Inclusions are visible and display a "natural" color
Middle Photo: Lab-grown Colombian-like emerald. You can easily spot the lines in the emerald. The color is also slightly off.
Are Lab-grown Gems Truly Sustainable?
Lab-grown gems are more sustainable than their natural counterparts. They typically consume less energy and fewer natural resources than those extracted from the earth. In addition, these stones do not have the environmental consequences associated with mining, such as habitat damage and pollution.

However, it is essential to note that the sustainability of lab-created gemstones depends on the precise methods adopted in their production. Some procedures may be more sustainable than others, and the overall sustainability of laboratory-created gems may vary based on the circumstances underlying their production.

It is also essential to evaluate the sustainability of a gemstone's entire lifecycle, including its manufacture, use, and disposal. For instance, while lab-created gemstones may have a reduced environmental impact during manufacture, their disposal may need more energy and resources.

In general, the sustainability of lab-created gemstones is contingent on several elements and cannot be easily summarized.
Can you spot the natural and lab-grown stones in this gallery? Let us know your guesses in the comment section!
Our Thoughts on the Topic
As pointed out previously, lab-grown stones are intended for a market segment unfamiliar to most people. It presently accounts for less than 4% of global production, and the numbers continue to struggle to expand as it does not appear to be the correct response to why man-made stones are less desirable than natural stones.

Man's involvement in the middle of the process can significantly influence the value of a ring's stone. Due to their worries about the environment and social responsibility, millennials may be more interested in sustainable and ethical products, including lab-grown gemstones. However, it is essential to note that the popularity of lab-grown gemstones among millennials (or any other age group) may depend on other factors, such as their availability, price, and aesthetic appeal.

We see no problem with wearing a lab-created stone daily while disposing of your natural stone in a separate safe. You can preserve expensive rings and pendants for special occasions only. If you are concerned about shattering a fragile stone, this can be applied to any of them.

"GemMatrix does not sell any lab-created gemstones, and most of our stones come with a certificate from a reputable lab proving their authenticity."
Do not hesitate to send us a message if you have any questions about our stones! Our contact information is available at the bottom of this page.

Comments Section
Did you find our article interesting? What are your thoughts on the subject? Please do not hesitate to leave a comment!

Please wait until the comment section has finished loading before proceeding. This could take a few seconds!

Benjamin Poudevigne
Social Media Manager at GemMatrix
With over ten years of marketing experience, I finally decided to settle down in Bangkok to work in an area that I have always been interested in: the gemstones industry. I'm still learning how the market works on a daily basis, and I enjoy sharing my experience with those who are interested in learning more about gems in general.