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Synthetic Gemstones

A synthetic gemstone is identical to a natural gemstone in almost every way. This includes the same basic crystal structure, refractive index, specific gravity, chemical composition, colors, and other characteristics. Since the same gemological tests are used for stone identification on both natural and synthetic gems, it is sometimes even possible for a gemologist to be puzzled as to whether or not a stone is natural or synthetic. When this occurs, the best course of action is to send the stone to an accredited gem laboratory, like the Gemological Institute of America. They can positively determine whether a stone is synthetic or naturally occuring. Only minor internal characteristics allow separation of a synthetic gemstone from a natural gemstone.

The following gemstones are common synthethics:


A variety of methods are currently used in the production of synthetic crystals, resulting in different qualities, appearances and prices.

These are:
Growth from Melt:

  • The Flame Fusion or Verneuil Process
  • Pulling or Czochralski's Technique
  • Brigman-Stockbarger Technique

Growth from Solution:

  • Hydrothermal Method
  • Melt-diffusion Method
  • Flux-transport Method

High Temperature/Pressure Method:

Skull Melting Process

Ceramic Process (results in aggregate crystals)


Imitation gemstones merely imitate the color or look of a natural stone. They can be made out of anything. A cubic zirconia is an IMITATION diamond, for example. A blue piece of glass could be an imitation sapphire. A variety of blue synthetic forsterite is an excellent imitation for tanzanite, while chemically, it's composition is much closer to the yellowish green peridot. Another classic example is the "alexandrite" set in many jewelry pieces is actually a variety of vanadium colored synthetic sapphire.