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[4Sale] Chatham Emeralds

Hello all,

I have recently acquired about 90 cts. of beautiful chatham emeralds
at a very good price. Most of the stone are over 2 cts. in size,
ovals and emerald cuts, about 20 stones are smaller 0.8 cts., emerald
cut. I plan to use several of them in my own stuff, but I don’t plan
to use all of them. If anyone is interested in some of the stones,
please contact me off-list and I’d be happy to tell you what I have


Lisa, are these actual ‘Chatham’ brand created emeralds, or just
synthetic green birthstones? Genuine Chathams start at about $120 per
carat wholesale, and are rarely if ever available below that figure.
Other green so-called ‘created’ emeralds are available for a few
dollars per carat, on up.

Lee Cornelius
Vegas Jewelers

I have talked to Tom Chatham, the son of ‘Chatham’ founder Carroll
Chatham, numerous times while I was a member of IJO, and their
process mimics the natural growth of emerald cystals, giving an
end-product that IS emerald, with natural crystal structures and
Jardin. This process takes expensive equipment and time, and still
has a lot of waste material. Of course, this is reflected in the

The vast majority of those who sell their product as 'created’
emeralds, sapphires, or rubies, are actually selling common
synthetic imitations, the same quality as those stones found in a
high school class ring. These stones are usually flame fusion
corundums or other cheap synthetics, costing pennies per carat to
produce, and nothing gemologically like the natural gems. Tom tried
to protect the ‘created’ name that his father coined, but lost in
court, so anyone can call just about anything ‘created’ and get away
with it.

Lee Cornelius
Vegas Jewelers


I had a gemologist look at them and he says they are Chatham. I know
just enough about gemstones to know that I don’t know as much as a
vast majority of people on this list so I’m just going by what I was
told by someone who DOES know a lot about Kim- I’m afraid
don’t have any crystals, just cut stones. Sorry. If anyone has more
questions, I’d be happy to answer them.



I’ve known Tom for many years, his brother and his father. The flux
process mimics the creation of emeralds formed in a metamorphic
environment. However, Mother Nature also uses the hydrothermal
process to create emeralds, and even combinations of the two, though
rarely. The hydrothermally produced synthetic product, while less
expensive than the Chatham product, mimics, nearly exactly, the
natural hydrothermal process in much the same way as the laboratory
flux process simulates Nature’s endeavors. Neither process produces
a “better” emerald, just slightly different, and, in both cases, a
true synthetic, call it what you will.

According to the FTC, there is no such thing as a “synthetic
imitation”, synthetics and imitations being two entirely different
products. And, believe me, the production of hydrothermally created
emerald takes very expensive equipment and lots of time, as well.
Selling price does not always reflect actual costs of production,
I’ll say no more about that.

Beryl is the hexagonal form of beryl aluminum silicate. When colored
(dark enough) green by either chromium or vanadium, it’s called
emerald. Natural emerald is emerald. Flux grown emerald is emerald.
Hydrothermally grown emerald is emerald.

There is no known method of creating emerald using the Verneuil
(flame fusion) process. The Verneuil process is used to create they
synthetic corundum and synthetic spinel used in class rings, as you

Wayne, cuts a lot of all of it

If the FTC says there is no such thing as a synthetic imitation then
what is cubic zirconia? It is man made, therefore synthetic, and and
it mimics a diamond, therefore an imitation (more correctly a
simulant). :-\

Jerry in Kodiak

If the FTC says there is no such thing as a synthetic imitation
then what is cubic zirconia? It is man made, therefore synthetic,
and and it mimics a diamond, therefore an imitation (more correctly
a simulant). 

That’s a good point, Jerry, it sounds as if it makes sense, if we
look in the dictionary and use the ordinary meanings of the words we
find there. But I think a clear reading of the FTC Guidelines would
serve to clarify the answer.

Lots of folks believe that because something is “man-made”, it is
"synthetic", but the gem and jewelry trade have very strict meanings
for these words, and the legal meanings used by “the trade” have
been debated, argued and tested by the courts many times. Lately,
they have not been found wanting.

The FTC Guidelines state, in part:

  "(c) It is unfair or deceptive to use the word
  "laboratory-grown," "laboratory-created," "[manufacturer
  name]-created," or "synthetic" with the name of any natural
  stone to describe any industry product unless such industry
  product has essentially the same optical, physical, and
  chemical properties as the stone named." 

Cubic zirconia as calcium-stabilized zirconium oxide has no
counterpart in nature. It is not synthetic diamond, it is not
synthetic anything. It can be used as an imitation of diamond, of
course, because it’s optical properties are fairly similar to that
of diamond, at least as far as refractive index. Of course, its
hardness does not approach that of diamond, it is quite brittle and
the chemical composition is unrelated to the essentially pure Carbon
of diamond.

It’s an imitation, and a good one, of diamond, but it is NOT a
synthetic in the legal sense used by the gem and jewelry trade. It
also does not fit the gemological definition taught by the GIA and
FGA. GIA states, from Liddicoat’s classic “Handbook of Gem

  "A synthetic gemstone is one that has the same chemical
  composition, crystal structure, and, consequently, the same
  physical and optical properties as those of the natural gem it

It is true that zirconium oxide has been found in nature as the
mineral baddelyite, but that occurs only in the monoclinic form, not
the cubic form of the calcium-stabilized CZ we use (which forms in
the cubic or isometric system). So, the CZ we use fails the
"synthetic" test gemologically because of the wrong crystal
structure, and it fails the FTC test because it does not meet the
chemical and physical properties test.

Cubic zirconia is a man-made substance, not a synthetic, which, in
its colorless or yellow form is often used as a simulant of diamond.
In it’s many other colors, including color-change forms it simply
stands on its own.

Again, let’s try to keep in mind that this site is frequented by
many folks, of diverse backgrounds and education, all sharing an
interest in jewelry and/or gems. Many are quite knowledgeable, even
masters, in their chosen craft or profession. Many others are
starting on or are only a few years down the path. Open discussion
and questioning of posts should be encouraged, but the posting of
facts which are incorrect only serve to confuse or mislead.
Sometimes, as I have found (well, actually, many times) a little
private exploration and research on the posts that I question reveal
the facts of the matter, letting me avoid posting based
on my OPINION, which is, in fact, INCORRECT. And, of course, I have
been guilty of asserting my thoughts only to find later that they
were embarrassingly incorrect. But we should try to do better, there
is a student audience.

Wayne Emery

what is cubic zirconia? It is man made, therefore synthetic, and
and it mimics a diamond 

You are technically correct, that it is a simulant or imitation.
However, it’s against the (FTC) law to use the word “diamond” in
relation to any stone except real diamond, in any context.

what is cubic zirconia? It is man made, therefore synthetic, and
and it mimics a diamond, therefore an imitation (more correctly a

We have talked about this before here. Here is what GIA says:

  • a CZ is both a simulant for a diamond and

  • a synthetic CZ

CZ’s were made in the lab before natural CZs were discovered. They
are very rare, so much so that some on this list have argued that it
is pointless to point out that CZs that we commonly buy are
technically a synthetic.

But I love that kind of odd ball fact.


Elaine Luther
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay

I think that the point is being missed. If memory serves me
correctly. A “Synthetic” mineral is a man made duplicate of a natural
occurring mineral such as corundum. An “imitation” mineral is
anything that is made to look like something it is not. Cubic
Zirconium falls into neither of these categories. First CZ is not a
natural mineral. It is a man-made mineralthat does not occur in
nature. It could be called a Diamond “imitation,” in this instance.
However as you can see CZ is not a synthetic as there is now
corresponding mineral in nature. Therefore it can not be a “synthetic
imitation”. If anything it would have to be a “Genuine Imitation”. I
know word games but it the proper use of terms that makes gemology a
science and not an art open to interpretation.

John (Jack) Sexton

Cubic zirconia as calcium-stabilized zirconium oxide has no
counterpart in nature. 

Since we seem to be in the hair splitting mode here Wayne, let me
split the hair finer. According to Liddecoat, (Handbookof Gem
Identification, p.109, Twelfth edition) “cubic zirconia usually
appears as the mineral baddelyte”. He states further however that it
"has been found in nature " but “only as inclusions”. He refers to it
on the following page as “synthetic cubic zirconia”… In other
references in the same volume Liddecoat again refers to it as
synthetic cubic zirconia, p.255 for example. That’s good enough for
me and I am sure it would be for most of the folks of diverse
backgrounds to whom you refer.

I suppose I could have used synthetic spinel as a better example. It
is certainly recognized by the trade as a synthetic and it also
certainly is used as a simulant of a number of natural gems. It could
be argued by a real purist I suppose that because there is a slight
difference in the chemical composition between the natural and the
synthetic forms of spinel that the material which is called synthetic
spinel is not a true synthetic either, but a simulant. From a
practical standpoint however I don’t see the benefit of making that
distinction. It doesn’t help the gem dealer, jeweler or layman to
understand these minute distinctions a bit. My opinion. I have a lot
of those. :wink:

Jerry in Kodiak


Again…naturally occurring zirconium oxide in the form of
baddelyite crystallizes in the monoclinic system.

The CZ we use is a calcium-stabilized form of zirconium oxide that
crystallizes in the isometric system. Since the two do NOT share the
same crystal system, they do not share “essentially the same optical
and crystallographic properties”, and therefore the synthetic CZ
does not exist. They are similar, but NOT the same. There is no
natural counterpart of calcium-stabilized zirconium oxide.


I know this wasn’t in the same thread but I’m adding it since I just
ran into another jeweler who is apparently misinformed and doesn’t
want to listen to reality (or look at the rough material to prove

CZ is NOT the same as a Zircon… similiar names, completely different
material, with one being natural the other being created. There are
many more differences (crystal structure, birefringence, etc) but I
will stop there… so all you people who think a zircon is the same
as a CZ break out your mineral books, or go to a wiki or something
and get informed… this way you won’t look like you don’t know what
you’re talking about… I won’t be dealing with this particular
jeweler again… nor will they get any references / referrals from


If you wish to pursue it, why not read the entire paragraph you
chose to quote, which says the baddelyite crystallizes in the
monoclinic system?

The VERY FIRST sentence of the chapter you quote from Lidicoat says
"A synthetic gemstone is one that has the same chemical composition,

Calcium stabilized cucbic zirconia incorporates the calcium into the
atomic structure which forces this new compound to crystallize in
the isometric (not monoclinic) system. So the crystal structure of
the two is NOT the same. That is not a matter of semantics, it is a
simple matter of chemistry.

As I attempted to point out, there is a gemological definition of
synthetic and a trade or “Legal” definition of synthetic. Common
usage, with entities like the TV jewelry channels flaunt the “rules"
all the time.”

But many legal cases have decided that CZ is a simulant and not a
synthetic in the FTC sense. (And how it cold fit the gemological
definition, given differing crystall systems, is beyond me). And
Liddicoats usage of “synthetic” in relation to CZ has been discussed
in probably every GIA class since the stuff was invented.

In the case of synthetic spinel there is a simple excess of aluminum
oxide, but it does not force the symmetry of the growing crystal
into a different symmetry class. And because of that, the crystal
structure is the same, and the chemistry is essentially the same.

If you wish to believe that cubic zirconia fits the definition of
"synthetic", then you are obliged to use the word “synthetic” before
the term “CZ”. At least for trade purposes.

You said " It doesn’t help the gem dealer, jeweler or layman to
understand these minute distinctions a bit. My opinion. I have a lot
of those. :wink: "

Well, ask someone who is a member of the AGTA if it doesn’t make a
difference. It most certainly does. These “minute distinctions” make
a great deal of difference in the gem trade. And extremely expensive
courtroom decisions have hinged on these very “minute distinctions”.

And I can assure you that my mineralogy professor of many years ago,
quite correctly, would have put a big red X through any argument
that tried to convince someone that compounds with differing crystal
systems were somehow the same, and that one would qualify as a
"synthetic" of the other.

It’s not hair-splitting, Jerry, it’s accuracy. Liddicoat’s mis-usage
of the term “synthetic” in his own writings (relative to CZ), based
on classical definitions that he repeats from the world of
mineralogy, has been a quiet joke for decades among gemologists and
mineralogists who poke fun at their quasi-educated gemologist
friends who are products of the GIA system. Anyone who has ever
worked at GIA knows what a top-down centrist system it is, although
much less so in the last 15 years or so. If Liddicoat wrote it, it
was getting published. Anyone with the audacity to “correct” him
would have been on the street quickly. Ergo, confusion among the
students, taking a course designed specifically for those with no
knowledge of chemistry, physics, mineralogy or optics. If you don’t
have to teach to a real knowledgeable group, you can get away with
heinous errors. And if you’re the boss, few will point out that you
are wearing no clothes.

This original conversation centered, I believe, around the use of
the term “synthetic imitation” or something like that, with which I
have an issue.

Can we say that there are obvious synthetics, obvious
imitations/simulants, and that a synthetic, like yellow/green spinel
could be used as a simulant?

I think we can agree there.

I hope we meet some time and continue the debate, but I mean no
slight or hypocrisy here and do not wish the tone to turn sour. Hope
I have not offended you or anyone else, but minerals and gems have
been the object of my education and love for well over 50 years now,
and perhaps my classical education in mineralogy and geophysics
appears to be hair-splitting to some. My only intent was to NOT
mislead those whose education and knowledge lie elsewhere.


Liddicoat's mis-usage of the term "synthetic" in his own writings
(relative to CZ) 

Liddicoat’s achievements regarding the GIA are huge, and his esteem
is well deserved. I’m only extremely knowlegable, I’m not a GG. I
always thought Liddicoat’s writings bore a strong resemblance to the
old '50s Lapidary Journal - mostly accurate, sometimes made up, kind
of folksy. I only have a couple of gemology books, I use Anderson’s
"Gem Testing" for my reference…