Fellow Orchid Ponderers,
When it comes to the gem trade the lines between synthetic and
natural seem very obvious, but in reality can be quite blurry.
For example: Large gemmy transparent halite (sodium chloride)
crystals have formed for millennia in the desert salt flats of
California. These have been collected and sold at mineral shows and
are "natural". In more recent times people have intervened and
formed ponds, walkways, special areas for these crystals to grow in.
Are these now synthetic halite crystals? I don't know, but do you
get my point?
The classification also gets blurry when crystal growers start out
with natural material like crumby emerald, grind it up, and
recrystalize it to form better emerald. Or how about a natural stone
that is immersed into a solution from which man is able to grow
additional material onto the natural stone. I have seen this with
amethyst specimens which have been overgrown in Russia with superb
purple (amethyst) quartz in the lab. This lab grown overgrowth
follows precisely the original natural crystals in habit and
formation. Baffling the first time you see it, but once you know, it
can be recognized. This occurs with other gem minerals on occasion
too. Synthetic, hybrid... or what?
The real key is - Avoid trying to neatly classify everything into
compartments i.e. natural, synthetic, simulant, imitation, fake, etc
etc - but to understand the processes that lead to the results you
But then consider that everything man is able to do is governed by
the laws of Nature. All gems that man makes are made in obedience to
these laws, the same laws that govern the "natural" creation of
gems. Wouldn't everything in the universe be "natural" in this broad
viewpoint? Including "synthetic" stones?
Don't get me wrong, I am only representing a philosophical argument
here, but it does cross to reality sometimes. Where does the
pegmatite end and the lab begin?
Steve Green - Rough and Ready Gems www.briolettes.com