Can You Tell the Difference Between Lab Created or Natural Gemstones?

Can You Tell the Difference Between Lab Created or Natural Gemstones?

Can You Tell the Difference Between Lab Created or Natural Gemstones?

There are advantages to owning both lab created and natural gemstones. Read further and see if you can tell the difference between them.

Keyword(s): Natural gemstones



In the United States, there has been almost $22 billion worth of gemstones sold. And more than 85% of those gemstones are synthetic or lab-created. The demand for gemstones has led to increased demand in the jewelry industry.

From engagement rings to fine jewelry, gemstones are an investment. That's one reason why choosing the best quality pieces with superior brilliance, and a near-flawless appearance is key.

So, when it comes to lab-grown versus natural gemstones, which one will give you the best quality? Can the average person tell the difference between a natural gemstone and a human-made one?

Here's everything you need to know before buying your next gemstone piece.

What Are Natural Gemstones?

In the most basic definition, a natural gemstone is one that has formed in nature and has little to no interference from humans in its creation. 

These gemstones may still be mined, cut, and polished and still have the "natural" labeling.

Natural gemstones can be faceted and still have the "natural" label. However, there has been a greater demand for the unique look of rough stones. There is no enhancement or alteration to improve color, durability, or value.

Treatment and enhancement aim to fix flaws like inclusions, cracks, and discoloration. For many, this makes the gemstone more stunning in appearance, but the tradeoff is no longer considered a "natural" gemstone.

In some cases, gemstones that are natural and untreated are rarer and more valuable than their treated counterpart. This is the case with sapphires.

You may often see natural gemstones classified as "real" as there is not a dispute with their origins or mineral makeup. Of course, they can vary in size, shape, and color.

These three characteristics are often what determine to quality and price of the gemstone. 

What Are Lab-Created Gemstones?

As the name suggests, these gemstones are created by scientists in laboratories rather than mined after forming in the earth.

This process of creating lab-grown gemstones can vary from 6-10 weeks as opposed to the millions of years for natural gemstones.

You'll often hear terms like synthetic, lab-grown, human-made, and artificial to refer to these gemstones. However, the terms artificial and synthetic can be misleading.

Lab-grown gemstones can have the same chemical composition as those grown in nature. So while they may not have formed in the same environment, lab-grown gemstones are still very much gemstones.

If the mineral makeup is identical to those found in nature, lab-created gemstones can be classified as "real".

Lab-created gemstones are often preferred for their low impact on the environment and use of fewer resources because they don't need to be mined from the ground. 

Natural Versus Lab: Quality

As previously stated, a lab-created gemstone and a natural gemstone have little difference when it comes to mineral makeup. However, quality can still vary across the spectrum with both natural and lab-grown gemstones.

Comparatively, natural gemstones tend to have more imperfections than those grown in a lab. That's not to say that you can't find a near flawless gemstone mined from the earth; it might be a little rarer than a lab-grown gem. 

However, when gemstones are made in a lab, they tend to have fewer imperfections like inclusions, and color variations. This is due to the control the lab has over them during the growing process.

When it comes to durability, because of the identical mineral makeup, lab-grown gemstones will have similar durability to their natural counterpart.

Natural Versus Lab: Price

In general, lab-grown gemstones are less expensive than natural gemstones. Though, that may also depend on what gemstone. For example, rubies and gemstones are easy and inexpensive lab creations, and the price reflects that.

You may see a significant difference in price for gems like lab-grown rubies and sapphires versus natural gems. But that's not the case with every gemstone, namely diamonds.

Because there are many different factors that go into determining a diamond's price, there can be little difference between natural and lab-grown diamonds. In some cases, you may see a 30% reduction from natural to lab-grown.

In conclusion, the price can be difficult to determine because of the factors that affect it.

Natural Versus Lab: Appearance

Though lab-grown and natural gemstones may be identical in their mineral makeup, there can be large differences in appearance. In a lab, appearance can be closely monitored and controlled, leading to more perfect gems.

Lab-grown gemstones tend to have fewer inclusions which directly affects the clarity and color. Scientists are able to create brilliant sparkle and more vivid colors in the lab, growing the desired gemstone on demand.

Natural gemstones tend to have more flaws like inclusions that affect appearance. Finding a natural gem that's flawless may be more rare and pricey, but not impossible.

This doesn't mean that a natural gemstone couldn't have a comparable appearance. A natural gemstone would most likely need treatments to bring out a similar color and sparkle.

So, Can You See the Difference?

Unless one has prior experience or training with gemstones, the average person wouldn't be able to tell the difference with their naked eye.

After all, a natural gemstone and the lab-grown counterpart have the same mineral makeup. That means the two are similar in durability and general appearance.

The difference can come in the flaws like inclusions and vividness of color. But it takes a trained eye and special instruments to be able to spot these differences.

So, you should feel comfortable in your choice to buy both lab-grown and natural gemstones and jewelry.

Sparkle No Matter the Gemstone

Gemstone jewelry pieces are timeless additions to your collection. From ruby rings to diamond necklaces, these pieces will be classic and in style for years to come. That's why it's important to seek out quality gemstones.

Whether you choose human-made or natural gemstones, quality and appearance are essential to a stunning piece of jewelry. The brilliance creates a sparkle that will make you stand out from the crowd.

Ready to find your next luxury piece? Shop our collection of crystal earrings, bracelets, and pendant necklaces. 

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