Hydrothermal Emeralds and Lab-grown Gemstones
Updated: May 11
We offer jewellery with both natural ethically sourced gemstones and lab-grown gemstones with similar or exceeding them in quality and appearance characteristics.
An interesting fact that not everyone knows about is that nowadays, everyone can afford to wear beautiful, lab-grown emeralds of the same composition as natural emeralds. I want to point out emeralds in particular because mined clear emeralds with minor inclusions are a very rare find and therefore they are not affordable for most of us. In fact, big sapphires and rubies with good clarity and colour characteristics are also way too expensive for the majority of the population, whereas their lab-grown counterparts can surprise you with how indistinguishable they are from natural stones, but budget-friendly.
Lab-grown gems are real crystals of the same composition as natural gems. It means they are as durable and as beautiful as natural gems. They have nothing to do with coloured glass or Cubic Zirconia which are not as durable and can easily be visually distinguishable from real gemstones. GIA defines them as synthetic gem material that is "made in a laboratory, but which shares virtually all chemical, optical, and physical characteristics of its natural mineral counterpart, though in some cases, namely synthetic turquoise and synthetic opal, additional compounds can be present."
Natural ingredients are placed in an environment created to duplicate nature. Once the required combination of chemical and environmental factors is created, gemstone crystals grow over the course of about a year (the time may vary). As a result, the crystals have physical, chemical, and optical properties that are identical to those found in nature. When they cut the sapphire crystals, they cut away 80% of the rough to give you faceted gems that are cleaner and brighter than the finest mined counterparts. The price difference between the finest lab-grown and mined sapphire or emerald of the same size and quality can be as much as $10,000 per carat!
Below are the most common ways how crystals of real gemstones can be grown in labs.
The hydrothermal growth process is slow and expensive but it creates excellent quality gems which almost indistinguishable from natural gems even under the microscope. Because this process requires heat and pressure, it imitates the conditions deep in the earth that result in the formation of natural gems. Nutrients are dissolved in a water solution, and then synthetic crystals form as the solution cools. It’s the only method for successfully growing quartz and the best way of growing emeralds, corundum and other gems.
Growing a gem by the flux growth method also requires patience and significant investment. Crystal growth can take up to a year, and the equipment is very expensive. But the results are well worth the time and effort. Emerald, ruby, sapphire, alexandrite, and spinel can be created through a flux-growth process.
Flux is a solid material that, when melted, dissolves other materials in the same way that water dissolves sugar. As the dissolved chemical solution gradually cools, crystals form.
Flame fusion or Verneuil process is the first method used for growing commercially successful gems. This process involves dropping powdered chemicals through a high-temperature flame, where it melts and falls onto a rotating pedestal to produce a synthetic crystal. Today it remains the least expensive and most common way to make gems such as corundum and spinel.
Most of the lab-grown gemstones we use in our jewellery are hydrothermal gems which guarantee their exceptional quality and ethical production. Our hydrothermal gems come with certificates. Apart from better price, lab-grown gems are also a good alternative to mined gems because they do not require digging mines and scarring the surface of our planet for the sake of getting the gems out. So, we love our lab gems as much as we do our mined gems. Moreover, in fact, we do offer lab-grown gems for a fraction of the price, whereas other companies sell them for much higher prices, look here.