A Gemstone is any material which is cut and polished and used for personal adornment but exclude metals. Most gemstones are minerals that are found in rocks of the earth’s surface. A few examples of gemstones are diamond, ruby, sapphire, emerald etc. However, other gemstones are also obtained from living organisms found in the sea or fresh waters e.g. coral and pearl.
Gemstones may also be man-made. Examples being man-made glass, Moissanite and Cubic Zirconia, the last two being mostly produced to imitate diamonds.
Throughout the ages, men and women have admired the beauty of gemstones and because of the quality and rarity of a number of them, placed a high value on some specimens. This has led to a proliferation of gem substitutes, as well as to the clever alteration of natural material to enhance its beauty, and its apparent value. Consequently, nowadays, more and more treated gemstones and synthesised materials are flooding the market. Synthetic and treated gemstones may be distinguished only by trained gemmologists working in well equipped gemmology laboratories.
A synthetic gemstone is a man-made stone which resembles, at least to some extent, a natural gemstone. Synthetic gemstones have the same physical and chemical properties as the natural ones i.e same hardness, refractive index, specific gravity etc. A few common gemstones of such type are synthetic diamonds, synthetic sapphires and synthetic emeralds.
Synthetic gem crystals have been manufactured in laboratories since the late 1800s, and their production is often marked by a need for them in industrial applications outside of the jewellery industry. Synthetic crystals are used in communications and laser technology, microelectronics, and abrasives.
Enhancements and Treatments of gemstones
Enhancements and treatments are generally practiced on lower grade gem materials to improve their appearance, properties and subsequently their value.
Some common form of gemstone treatments are heat treatment, irradiation, diffusion and fracture filling.
Click here to learn more about gemstone treatments.