was: [Source] Cultured Diamonds
When talking about synthetic gems vs natural, such as lab grown
corundum vs natural sapphire/ruby, I don’t like the word "synthetic"
either, but I DO use it, simply because it is the accepted and
generally understood terminology for such gems. It is generally
understood in our circle of jewellery makers and gemologists but
unfortunately not generally understood by the buying public.
The word “synthetic” in general use does have "artificial"
connotations, such as in fabrics. You do your laundry, washing
natural fabrics such as cotton, linen, viscose using the appropriate
settings on your washing machine. Then you do your man-made fabric
garments which are composed of things like polyester, nylon,
acrylic, using the “synthetics” programme of your washing machine.
Similarly you can buy things made of natural leather or things like
PVC which is sometimes called synthetic leather. And so for the
majority of people at large, synthetic means artificial and
definitely not the same chemically and physically.
That is the reason why I tend to explain the terms synthetic
(chemically and physically identical but man-made) and simulated
(man- made and chemically and physically different to but similar in
appearance) if using such gems in a piece of jewellery. However, I’m
not sure the buying public will ever get the terminology we use to
describe or define jewellery/gems. Not all jewellers understand the
difference surprisingly. And not all jewellers understand the
different forms of the word karat/carat either, as you still see
jewellers advertising 18ct gold rather than 18K gold, so what chance
do the public stand?!
I think people’s perceptions/prejudices are deep routed and it’s
only those who choose to educate themselves that will get the
difference between the various terminologies. There will always be
the customers who for their budget, will much prefer to buy poor
quality natural gems over better quality synthetic equivalents
because they see man- made gems as inferior, no matter what. But
equally there will always be others who don’t mind buying synthetic
(or simulated for that matter) because they can have a good clarity
gem for a reasonable price and don’t really care how it was made.
Then at the other end of the scale, there will always be those
customers for whom money is not an issue as they can afford to buy
the best quality natural gems and in that case, such terminology is
not an issue for them either. Sadly, most people are prejudiced by
the junk they see in the high street windows - that’s proper
jewellery to their minds. To my (much- maligned) M-I-L, there is only
one form of garnet - red garnet - because that’s the only type she’s
ever seen. When I showed her some lovely Spessartine garnet, she
dismissed it as “very washed-out” garnet as it wasn’t red, but
orange. I’ve given up trying to introduce her to stones such as
demantoid garnet or Merelani mint garnet, Tsavorite garnet, etc, etc,
as “garnets are meant to be red not green”. Any rubies with a pinkish
tint are not “proper” rubies as they too must be scarlet for her to
accept them. Oh and sapphires are meant to be virtually black!!! Go
figure. Sapphires that are definitely blue are “too pale”! You can
try to educate people as much as you like but they will only listen
and try to understand if they really want to.
But I guess we’ll plod on in an attempt to educate people. Sorry for