Updated: Sep 6
At Valeria's Secret we offer jewellery with ethically sourced mined and lab-grown gemstones. An interesting fact that not everyone knows about is that nowadays everyone can afford to wear beautiful and exceptional quality emeralds, rubies, sapphires, and other gems which are lab-grown. I want to point out emeralds in particular because mined clear emeralds with minor inclusions and the right hue are a very rare find and therefore they are not affordable for most. Big sapphires and rubies with good clarity and colour characteristics are also way too expensive, whereas their lab-grown counterparts can surprise you with how indistinguishable they are from natural stones, but budget-friendly.
Lab-grown gems are crystals of the same elements with the same chemical composition and structure as natural gems. It means they are as durable and as beautiful as mined gems, and in some cases even exceed their natural counterparts. Lab-grown gems have nothing to do with coloured glass or Cubic Zirconia which are not as durable and can be visually easily distinguishable from real gemstones. GIA defines lab-grown gems 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."
To create gemstones in a lab, ingredients that compose natural gems are placed together while the environments under which gemstones are formed in nature are being duplicated too. Once the required combination of chemical and environmental factors is achieved, 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. Cutters cut away approximately 80% of the rough lab-grown crystals (which is more generous than cutting mined gems) to get faceted gems that are cleaner and brighter than the finest mined gems. The price difference between the finest lab-grown and mined emerald or sapphire 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 are 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 at Valeria's Secret are hydrothermal or flux growth gems which guarantee their exceptional quality and ethical production. Our jewellery and gems come with certificates of authenticity.
Apart from better price, lab-grown gems are also a more ethical 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-grown gems as much as we do our mined gems if not more. Moreover, at Valeria's Secret we offer lab-grown gems and jewellery for a fraction of the price compared to other retailers, look here. Contact me via Whatsapp, chat or a contact form if you have any further questions.