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Gemstones - Natural, Synthetic, Or Imitation


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Gemstones are an important commodity in today's marketplace. They have been sought after for thousands of years for their beauty, metaphysical properties, and commercial uses. In earlier times there were no such things as synthetic gemstones but today they are quite common. So what's the difference?

Natural gemstones are items that have been formed by nature with no interference by man. They form in a variety of ways in many different environments from many different chemical compounds. Sapphires, rubies, tourmalines, and many many more natural minerals and organic gems are found around the world. Natural gemstones are often subjected to a variety of treatments including, heat, irradiation, diffusion, and others. Many gems, such as blue topaz, are so routinely treated that the treatment is expected and assumed. These treatments, also called enhancements, are accepted in the industry providing they are disclosed.

Synthetic gemstones are man made products of the same chemical makeup and structure of natural gemstones. The natural mineral corundum, which includes sapphires and rubies, is the hardest mineral except for diamond and this property makes it very useful. In the late 1800's corundum was synthesized and is now used in many commercial applications such abrasives, lasers, medical equipment, even space technology. These synthetics are commonly used in jewelry applications and are accepted in the trade as long as the product is disclosed as synthetic.

Imitation gemstones can be anything that resembles a natural gemstone but does not have the same chemical makeup or structure. These items are usually much less expensive than the natural forms and give consumers other options for items that appear similar. Imitations can be natural or synthetic. For example, blue glass, natural blue spinel, and synthetic blue spinel, can all be referred to as imitation sapphire. Cubic zirconia is used as an imitation diamond in many jewelry applications. Imitations are accepted in the trade providing the disclosure of the true nature of the product.

Natural, synthetic, and imitation products all have uses in today's marketplace. As long as you know what the item actually is you can make an informed purchase.

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