Gemstone, Enhancment and Lab-grown Gems

Knowing I am probably going to draw some flack over this, I still am
going to ask the question (actually two questions).

I spend quite a bit of time surfing the web and perusing the gem
sites - I am fascinated with gems and I recently spend a
couple of hours on the American Gem Trade Association web site and
was somewhat confused by what I read there. Their site states that
they are "dedicated to promoting the natural colored gemstone trade"
yet I get an entirely different message from reading other
on the site.

I have always thought that “natural” meant as nature created it, yet
they address “enhancements” of natural stones “to improve upon the
natural properties of gemstones and pearls” Some of these
"enhancements" are more then mere cleaning up the appearance of the

My first question is where does “natural” end and “unnatural” begin?

Among the “enhancements” commonly used aRe:

– Heat - This changes the color in many stones and/or hides
– Bleaching - improves color (usually pearls).
– Dying - changes the color to more desirable hues.
– Irradiation - changes the color.
– Permeated with wax - Red Coral.
– Stabilized with plastic - Orange Coral.
– Laser - vaporize imperfections in diamonds. The the holes created
are filled with resin or other hard substances.
– HPHT - improves the color of diamonds.
– Beryllium diffusion - improves the color od Rubies and Sapphires.
– Waxing or oiling - fills fissures in Emeralds.

The treatments for Opal boggle my mind. Thinks like immerse In a
sugar solution then in sulfuric acid to “leave microscopic carbon
specks that blacken the body color, making its flashes of color more
visible”. Or permeating with colorless oil, wax, resin, plastic, and
hardeners to improve their appearance and durability.

How about Tanzanite, which is naturally orange-brown, being heated
to produce the blue for which it is known.

Topaz is another that has a number of different “enhancements”.

The second question kind of plays off of the first question. If the
treatments above do not change the material from “natural” to
"unnatural" then why is a man made gemstone “unnatural” and why is
it considered to be inferior?

Some will say “The natural is dug from the ground; the man made is
not.” Yet the raw materials are the same in both processes. I have a
hard time understanding why heating, drilling, filling, waxing,
oiling etc. of “natural” stones to create something rarely (if ever)
found in nature is acceptable while creating the same thing from
basic raw materials is not.

What I really find hard to understand is why a lab-grown gemstone
cannot be called “real” since the stone is actually identical to the
"natural" stone. If I combine hydrogen and oxygen and produce water,
is it not “real” water? I have no problem with the requirement to
refer to a created stone as created or synthetic - but when, after I
state that a stone is Lab-Created, someone asks “but is it real” and
I have to say “No”, that is galling (and in many cases kills a sale
because if it is not real then it is a fake).

The last point on created vs. natural is that the created stones do
not create the hostile environment that natural stones do. The
murders and oppression of people does not occur like it does in the
mining process (especially in areas like Burma etc.).

Do I like “natural” gems - sure I do, can I afford them - depends.
Do I like created stones - absolutely - how else could I afford an
18+ carat ruby that is flawless (according to two local jewelers). I
have finally managed to take some decent picture and will provide a
link to them if anyone is interested.

Glenn Vaughn

You might have stopped after the first sentence - oh, yeah you’ll
draw some flack. Anyway, it’s not all that complicated. Man made
stones are certainly “Real”. What the are is man made - they
(individually) do not occur in nature. Gem enhancements could be
called “Unnatural”, but that’s more of an opinion - the material is
naturally occuring. There is, for instance, not really any such thing
in nature as Black Onyx - it is made out of white onyx in the
sugar/sulfuric acid process you mention. The essence of it all is
rarity and beauty. Man made gems are almost invariably boring, and
even Chathams are plentiful. I would ask you to realize two things
about the AGS - they are commited to keeping the industry honest,
which is good for us all, and that you read too much. They have an
encyclopedia of and much of what you read is actually
not that prevalent in the real world. I recently sold a natural,
certified unheated sapphire that could never be duplicated in a lab

  • just exquisite!!

I think “natural” truly means as found in nature and as formed in
nature. The list of enhancements is just that, it can make gems look
better or look how we have come to culturally know them. Like the
Tanzanite, or Aquamarines, we think we know what they look like but
in actuality we only know what the fashion trend of colour is for
these stones. We culturally expect them to both be blue, and so if a
gem of that type comes in blue then the market can demand a higher
price. That’s what it seems to come down to, culturally assets value.

The other thing about the enhancements is they are suppose to
disclose if it has an enhancement, particularly if it’s
non-permanent, ie. a heat treated stone that will slowly go back to
its original colour etc. Personally I don’t see enhanced stones as
truly natural but then can be nice, I just want to know what I’m
getting and that it’s for a fair price. Synthetic (lab made) I do see
a distinction between those and natural one (anyone who’s done some
gemmology would), that and there are very different political
situations to think about regarding those gems. The synthetic gems
are not always of the same chemical composition as the natural ones,
they either are mearly trying to represent say Alexandrite, or they
are made in colors you would never see the reall gem in, like deep
blue Spinels. Yet all things concidered it still comes down to what
different cultures value as the best and rarest and thus placing a
price tag on it. If tomorrow the powers that decide woke up and said
sythetic rubies are of great worth, then they would be.

All said and done I like the fact synthetics are cheaper and less
valued by the market, it just means to me I can own a 4k ruby and not
have to sell my soul to get it. That and I wouldn’t turn natural
stone away, but I’d feel less paranoid having a big Verneul ruby
kicking around rather then a real one.

My two cents anyway,

Zoe Hardisty

please feel free to argue with me, I am not an expert on the subject.

The American Gem Trade Association was the first organized group of
gem dealers to address the issue of treatments in the gem world. I
won’t address your issue of natural vs. synthetic as the topic has
been brought up repeatedly in the past and it’s obvious that some
people don’t like synthetics and some do (although from a personal
perspective I might point out that owning a synthetic “flawless 18
ct. ruby” is pretty boring when you consider that anyone can own a
synthetic flawless 18 ct. ruby but that just about no one can own an
18 ct. flawless natural ruby—heated or not—and for that matter
the only reason some synthetic rubies aren’t flawless–as almost all
can be produced that way–is so that they mimic natural stones) but
the AGTA has been a tireless promoter of ethics in the colored
gemstone trade. Their statement that they are dedicated to the
“natural colored gemstone trade” refers to the fact that they don’t
dedicate themselves to the promotion of synthetic stones. If someone
who loves synthetic stones wants to start an equivalent organization
dedicated to the promotion of synthetic stones then I think that by
all means they should. There’s room for everyone out there but not
every group has to cover all facets (pun intended) of the gem trade.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140

  What I really find hard to understand is why a lab-grown
gemstone cannot be called "real" since the stone is actually
identical to the "natural" stone. If I combine hydrogen and oxygen
and produce water, is it not "real" water? I have no problem with
the requirement to refer to a created stone as created or
synthetic - but when, after I state that a stone is Lab-Created,
someone asks "but is it real" and I have to say "No", that is
galling (and in many cases kills a sale because if it is not real
then it is a fake).

My customer asks if it is real, I ask them if they can see it. They
usually laugh. I tell them that stones can be natural, or
manmade-synthetic or simulant. Some stones that are mademade do not
occur in nature that color like the blues and greens of synthetic
quartz. When I explain what a natural stone the color and quality of
what they are looking at would cost, if it exists is nature, they are
happy to buy the beautiful piece they are looking at. The customer
that wants the one carat "pigeon blood "red ruby, hearing the price
and states that they will wait a few years is gently told that the
stones go up in price over the years faster than their pay raises and
they might consider getting a smaller stone that they can afford, if
they really have the desire to own one. If I can help my customer
obtain what they desire at the price they can afford, help them
negotiate the financial limitations they have with education by
explaining how size and quality affect price. I ask them what they
can realistically afford , I show them what they can get for their
budget and still end up with something they can admire. When I do
this I make a sale, and I make a customer. They come back to get
educated about something else they desire.

Richard Hart

I would like to share my opinions on the issues you mentioned:

Gemstones have value because of their beauty, durability, and
rarity. Synthetic gems can be beautiful and durable, but are not
rare. Legally and ethically you should draw a line between natural
and synthetic because the value factors are wildly different. A
synthetic gem is chemically the same and has all the same physical
properties as a natural gem, just not the rarity that makes fine
natural stones (even treated ones) so much more expensive.

Many gemstones are enhanced by treatments. When you are shopping for
a gemstone, an ethical retailer will tell you about the treatments
common in the type of gem you are looking at, as well as those than
are detected in that particular stone. Groups like AGTA and the
American Gem Society (among others) exist (in part) to ensure that
buyers and sellers all along the line understand what treatments are
present. These organizations require that their members have enough
gem education to detect and communicate this Many
people are concerned about gem treatments and how they affect value.
In my opinion, as long as both parties understand treatment, it is
ethical to sell treated gems. Of course, some treatments are less
permanent, or less desirable than others, and the ethical seller
might recommend against these.

Finally, the human rights issues… Colored stone mining is not like
the vast majority of diamond mining (huge mines, huge machines, huge
corporations). Most colored stones are mined in small operations (on
the smallest scale, think a family panning for sapphires in in a
river). Take the case of Burma in particular. Burma does not have
the varied natural resources and robust economy and infrastructure
the US has. So, is buying a gemstone from Burma supporting a corrupt
and cruel government, or is it enabling a family support themselves
in the long tradition of their country? Is it better for this
(hypothtical) family to trade in illegal drugs, starve, or risk life
and limb to smuggle their gems over the border to Thailand? As far
as I know, Burma goods are no longer banned, but check out this
article for more on the former embargo:

Like yourself, I am fascinated with and passionate about gems. I
mean no disrespect in voicing my opinions :slight_smile:

Jenny Sweaney

Mardon Jewelers
3640 Main Street
Riverside, CA 92501

Hi Glenn,

As a guy who grew up digging Aquamarines, Tourmalines, Graphic
Granites and asteriated Rose Quartzes out of pegmatite dike tailings
piles on his way home from elementary school and has been involved
with minerals and gems ever since, I read your posting with a mixture
of surprise and utter disbelief. Despite having tried marketing to
retailers who buy bricks for five dollars in order to sell them for
ten or fifteen (without caring what or how fine they were), I wasn’t
aware that there were any people who feel as you do on the creative
side of the counter; I just always assumed that views like this were
the purview of shopping mall comparers. Nonetheless, you’ve asked a
couple of what I consider to be very important questions, and since I
get the impression you’re both genuinely interested in their answers
and fairly young, I’ll do what I can to explain and try to introduce
you to a new way of seeing things. It may not be the easiest thing to
accomplish, however…

Your first question,

where does "natural" end and "unnatural" begin?

is a fair one, but it misses the most important point of all – the
point that is at the crux of who most of us are, as creative
craftsmen and women, and why we’re so passionate about what it is
that we do. The choices you’ve highlighted are not so much between
“natural” and “unnatural”, as they are between “naturally occurring,
usually butt-ugly and utterly undesirable by almost everyone but, on
rare occasions, potentially very beautiful and, thus, both rare and
prohibitively expensive” and “naturally occurring, usually butt-ugly
and utterly undesirable by almost everyone but, under the right
conditions, and with just the right combinations of chemicals, heat
and/or other physical treatments, physically transformable into
something the masses can appreciate and afford”. You see, Glenn, you
are not alone in your fascination with “gems and gemstones”. For
thousands of years, mankind has striven to find, possess and exhibit
items of surpassing beauty, primarily as statements of achievement.
(FWIW, in my opinion, it’s we men who’ve usually gone after gems
and other “objets d’art” for their achievement value, while, more
often than not, women cherish them as souvenirs of fond past
experiences, which enable them to take soothing, 3-second
reminiscence “vacations” in the midst of their more difficult days.)
Anyhow, for centuries, the characteristics which defined gemstones
as gemstones have been beauty, rarity, and durability, and it was
just naturally assumed that only royalty, and the wealthiest of the
wealthy could afford them, because they, and they alone, possessed
the resources necessary to pay for the gems’ removal from the tonnage
of overburden and/or bedrock which contained them, and fashioning
into wearable “statements” of personal adornment.

Between 160 and 120 years ago, way back before the Great Depression
came along and put a damper on things, Western Europe and this
experiment called The United States underwent an economic overhaul
called Industrialization, through which more people had more chances
to accumulate more things, and more and different technologies
became available for unearthing these previously unavailable baubles
we all love so much, and fashioning them into goodies for personal
adornment. If I’m not mistaken, this period saw the birth of fashion
jewelry, as most of us know it today, in which tin, zinc, whalebone,
copper or brass could be set with brightly colored and/or
foil-backed “Rhine-stones” – that is, glass imitation “stones” which
were manufactured in the Rhine region – which were created in order
to enable the relatively impoverished masses to have something
beautiful with which to adorn themselves, so they could feel “just
like Royalty”. And so began a quest, as the middle class came into
existence, for any- and everything that would give the impression
that one person of limited means was, somehow, more valuable that
all others of his or her caste. This delusion, and the very
successful attempts to market it to those susceptible to it, have
buried more millions of people in debt, and created more feelings of
helplessness and comparative inadequacy than probably any other
social movement in recorded history. (Oh, and it’s also helped create
and further the very industry that sustains all of us, here on the
Orchid List!)

Unfortunately, that double-edged sword has only grown sharper since
the advent of the cable TV-based round-the-clock shopping networks,
twenty years ago, which dangle the lure of what might best be called
“implied opulence” before the unsuspecting eyes of those who don’t
know any better, and insinuate to all of those within viewing
distance and reach of a credit card that they, too, can have whatever
they want and look like the kings and queens of fairy tale fame, “for
just pennies on the dollar”. You say that the treatments necessary to
maintain that myth “boggle your mind”, but I can’t understand how.

…Unless, of course, you have trouble with that because you’ve
managed to overlook the fact that you’re a consumer, too, just like
everyone else, and that your customers are only there because of the
trends in gemological consumerism (i.e.treatments and other
cost-reducing manufacturing angles) that make it possible for them
to buy from you. Just as various aspects of the media have been
successively “dumbed down” to make them more accessible to the
lowest common denominators of society, so too, have the lowest grades
of the most prized gem materials been enhanced, to place them within
easy reach of those hellbent on not only keeping up with the Joneses,
but slipping into the social lead in front of them (however
temporarily). After all, sooner or later, there comes a point at
which the fantasy cruise of unlimited resources and irrevocably
discountable prices runs aground on the jagged rocks of better
qualities, empty ore veins and exhausted contact zones. If the earth
only holds, say, a hundred thousand tons of Amethyst, for example,
and those who view the gem world as it appears you do are convinced
that the supply is bottomless and the prices can never increase
beyond a certain point, the only rational solutions remaining are to
either treat the living hell out of something that approximates the
previously-available commodity, or tap a chemical company to
synthesize enough of something that looks and acts like it to meet
market demands.

Let’s look at this quandary from another perspective, for a
moment… If you were presented the choice between knowing that
neither you, nor anyone you loved (or would even be likely to meet)
could ever reasonably aspire to owning a piece of jewelry that
contained one of these (truly mind-boggling) little miracles we call
“gemstones”, because they each cost the equivalent of a full years’
salary to procure, or knowing that, for a considerably more
attainable price, you could have something that was still beautiful,
fairly durable, and relatively rare (although less rare than one of
those hugely expensive rarities known as natural gems), which would
you choose? Okay, now, how about if these latter choices’ treatments
were so carefully researched and so well executed that not only could
you not tell the difference between them and their natural
counterparts, but neither could most others, and the difference in
price was extraordinary, how might you choose?

I’ve actually just had a great example of this in my studio! On the
one hand, I had a 100% natural, lush, velvety blue 6.40 ct. Sapphire
oval (reminiscent of a fine, but ever-so-slightly sleepy Tanzanite)
with a ‘discounted’ wholesale price of $2000/ct.; next, a 5.20 ct.
heavily heated African Sapphire oval with evidence of bulk
diffusion, wholesaled for $250/ct. and finally, a beautifully cut,
hydrothermally-grown, 4.42 ct. Ruby oval that went for $150/ct. All
three were within shouting distance of 10x8mm, and all were
chemically constructed, at the molecular level, of Aluminum, Oxygen,
and trace (doping) elements like Iron, Chromium and Titanium. But
their origins and respective retail prices – and thus, the degrees
of relative access to them which the public, at large, could hope
for – were markedly different. At a keystoned retail price, the most
affordable of these could be had for just over a thousand dollars; a
number that’s very easily attainable by practically anyone with a
high school education. And the next one up could be had for just
scarcely more than twice the price of the first, even though it
possessed the allure of having once been formed in nature. But to
get to the one after that, you’d have to multiply the first stone’s
price by at least twenty – more than that, actually, because of the
premium normally paid for such an exquisite and completely natural
stone. Chances are good that it will eventually retail for a figure
closer to the $50-60,000 mark, once set in a piece of fine Diamond
and Platinum jewelry of the calibre it deserves, and that it will be
eagerly snapped up by some lucky “someone” before the New Year

To address your second question fully would probably take far longer
than the first one did, because any attempt to do so would require
first finding a way to instill an entirely different set of values
and a sense of awe where your current commodities-type value system
now lies. The core issue is not whether a stone came from this
grouping of chemicals or that, but whether its origins bring it
closer to being yet another insignificant smudge in an incessant
torrent of low value, high-tech, man-made “flashy things” which hold
all the gravitas of toilet paper and hold our feeble attention spans
about as long as it does, or to a true miracle of nature, utterly
individual and as minutely different from the next stone as you are
from the person next to you, which ties us to that natural spring
from whence we, our senses of awe, and our spiritual beliefs all
eminate. Next up, you say that you

have a hard time understanding why heating, drilling, filling,
waxing, oiling etc. of "natural" stones to create something rarely
(if ever) found in nature is acceptable while creating the same
thing from basic raw materials is not.

The reason you’re have such a hard time with this, Glenn, is that
you’ve bought into the whole consumerism thing so completely and
utterly, and so matter-of-factly, that you can’t comprehend the
existence of any values beyond those of the covalent bonds which
hold chemical compounds together. I’m sorry to be so blunt about it,
but your challenge seems obvious to me: if you can’t sense any
intrinsic value in anything beyond how flashy something is, or at
what price, or how fast you can crank out behemoth chunks of it to
the marketplace, or whether or not you can save a sale by
representing a piece of cheap junk to customers as being “real”, or
not, then some serious congratulations are due to all of those
Madison Avenue advertising agencies who programmed your values into
you. In short, if your values are really as you’re describing them,
you may very well be the perfect match for a Stepford Wife! Perhaps
the greatest obstacle you’re facing is this last one, which you’d
essentially reiterated as a separate “last point”, towards the end of
your letter:

 The last point on created vs. natural is that the created stones
do not create the hostile environment that natural stones do. The
murders and oppression of people does not occur like it does in the
mining process (especially in areas like Burma etc.).

The reason that these negative things do not happen with created
stones is similar to the reason why, during gasoline shortages,
people do not wait in long lines to fill their cars’ fuel tanks up
with either milk or river water: because, despite being plentiful
and reasonably similar in structure (i.e. liquids), these other
“commodities” are intrinsically worthless. The reason that created
stones don’t engender such passionate (albeit occasionally
unfortunate) responses is that they are, for most intents and
purposes, not worth the effort. If they had any intrinsic value, at
all, people would go out of their way to do whatever it took to
attain them. As it is, they realize that the vast majority of these
“fakes” are just that: imitators to the throne. No matter how
closely they resemble or imitate those incredibly beautiful, durable,
rare and precious miracles of nature, the best that they will ever be
able to aspire to is their durability and a small fraction of their
beauty. After all, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, and what
beautiful woman doesn’t suddenly become infinitely more beautiful,
the moment your emotions enter the equation and you fall in love with
her? The difference between passionately yearning for a natural gem
and plunking down a few bucks for a created attempt to equal it is
like the difference spending an hour either falling in love or
balancing your checkbook. Enough said.

Douglas Turet, G.J.,
Turet Design
P.O. Box 242
Avon, MA 02322-0242
Tel: (508) 586-5690 Fax: (508) 586-5677
doug. at

Man made gems are almost invariably boring, and even Chathams are

And then again…I have a couple of syn blue sapphires that just
tweak my heartstrings every time I look at them… Unlike a lot of the
syn ruby and sapphire, these two have a nice cut…and they just

I also know that anything natural/unenhanced, that I could ever
think to buy (if I could even find them unenhanced) wouldn’t even
come close…

about the AGS - they are commited to keeping the industry honest,
which is good for us all.... 

And AGTA, GIA and the rest of the lot…

Gary W. Bourbonais
A.J.P. (GIA)

In the K.I.S.S. method 5 carat flawless Ruby from the lab p r e t t y
(what most customers care about after all!) and rare, 5 carat
flawless Ruby from Nature aka natural p r e t t y and common

Natural unenhanced stones of great clarity and size are rare ergo
less quality natural gems are treated to try and emulate the former.
Created stones also try to emulate, but since they are created they
can be made in quantity thus are not as valuble though to the eye
they are sparkly and pretty of course so is glass crystal so um I
gess it all depends on end users perceptions and use. Isn’t that
where the jewelry designers come in as well as the sales people. The
right piece for the right use?

An American Cameo Artist

I also would like share my opinion about this issue. I use synthetic
stones, especially synthetic diamonds for various reasons including
human rights. The diamond cartel still has one of the worst human
rights records, including body cavity searches, etc. I don’t choose a
stone because of its rarity but rather how it enhances my design. To
me, the rarity factor is akin to people wearing mink for show, and
no, I am not a PETA supporter, in fact, they sicken me. As a jeweler,
the main purpose of my art is to adorn the body, not to buy into the
decadence of the modern society. Another reason I use synthetic and
common stones is that it reduces my costs and consequently, I can
sell at a price that even people from the middle class can afford. I
enjoy knowing that people like me are able to enjoy wearing my


Very well put and quite right. Most gem mining operations I have
visited in S. America, Africa and Asia are small scale. They have to
be because the deposits of rare colored stones are not extensive in
size and rarely would pay a large concern to mobilize the capital
and heavy equipment necessary to exploit them. This has been a boon
to small scale enterprise and these tiny operations feed a lot of

I was in Burma last March. You might find my “Burma Journal” of
interest: . The military junta does have its fingers
in large scale operations in Burma but, short of shutting down all
mining, they can’t control nor contain the smaller scale operations
that produce a majority of the gems.

For Information and sample chapters from my new book:

Simulant - man made, usually not found in nature but mimics a ‘real’
stone in some cases.

Synthetic - man made, copies a natural stone in chemical and optical

Natural - You all know this one

Enhanced - treatment applied to a natural stone to improve it’s
existing qualities, although enhancement can also be used to change
colors, or apply coatings (mystic topaz, oiling emeralds).

Sapphire has already been duplicated in labs, the flame-fusion stuff
is pretty boring but the czochralski pulled stuff is incredible. In
my world it all comes down to the cut… I’m not going to cut
simulants/synthetics in ovals and rounds since they are common and as
you say boring. There is no value in that.

I recently finished an old mine cut in a simulant material with a
pink color and high RI. I got 3 offers immediately for the stone (it
is 10mmx10mm) but unfortunately for those people it was cut for my
wife. I’ll try to get a good picture of it if anyone is interested.


When it comes to synthetics the only real value is a unique cut that
has to be custom done. If you are buying a ‘run of the mill’ shape
that gets pumped out by the dozens then you are just paying for the
labor, but if you have a custom design then you are paying for
something unique even though the material is common.
Amethyst/Citrine is like this… Its fairly inexpensive rough but the
finished stones bring in decent money if cut well in a good design
(all I ever see is ovals and more ovals… yawn).


Hi Gang,

Natural stones (mined, dug from the ground, panned from a river or
dropped from outer space) were created by mother nature. Synthetics
have the same chemical make up & physical characteristics as the
natural stones, but were made by man in a lab or factory. Simulants
on the other hand are only ‘look a likes’. They’re the real
impostors, generally the only thing they have in common with the
’real thing’ (or even the synthetic) is color & sometimes that is not
really the same.

Treatments of natural (synthetics too) if they’re the addition of
heat, radiation or high pressure are usually permanent. These
treatments can cause the stone to change color, or cause some of the
inclusions to be absorbed/disolved by the stone. I don’t believe the
complete story is in yet, but who’s to say that a blue tanzinite
that came from the ground that way wasn’t heated by mother nature
sometime in the past? Like wise a London blue topaz may have been
irradiated by mother nature before being mined.

Obviously, fracture filling with a foreign substance (oil, glass,
etc.), causing a foreign substance to be absorbed by the outer few
microns of a stone or coating with foreign substance isn’t done by
mother nature. Generally these type of treatments aren’t permanent.

Which one the customer wants depends on many things, their use for
the stone (is just for ‘bling’, does it have a sentimental value or
investment), the amount of money they can afford to spend, etc.

We’ll probably never get a definitive answer about which is best, a
Flawless synthetic or an I 3 natural, it’s all up to the purchaser.



Those of us who depend on jewelry sales had better take heed to
changes that are inexorably taking place in our industry. So called
precious stones are being mined out of existence while lab grown
substitutes are taking their place. I see a two tiered market
creeping into place. The manmade substitutes are replacing the
naturals gradually while the naturals creep up in price. Virtually
all gemstones are now duplicated in the lab. Meanwhile, the many
decades of mind bashing that have gone into marketing of natural
gemstones are being eroded by realization that nothing is sacred in
I really don’t know where all this is going, but I do
think that it is time to rethink our commitments…Ron at Mills Gem
Company, Los Osos, Ca.

Indeed, several synthetic varieties of gems are available, but I
don’t sell them, have no intentions of selling them and, most
importantly my customers don’t want them. There is plenty of room in
this world to sell both. I don’t feel that synthetics will ever hurt
my business. I also don’t feel that natural stones are being mined
out of existence. There are plenty of sources that have yet to be

My analogy is not with cultured pearls vs natural pearls but with
Louis Vuitton handbags and Rolex watches. Although there are
numerous sources for imitations for Vuitton and Rolex, THEIR
customers are NOT the ones interested in purchasing these cheap
knockoffs. They are two different markets for two different