Fake Gems And Jewels
Some gems are made by humans to look like more expensive stones. What are these synthesized gems? What should they look like? How are they made? What's the difference between them and their "real" counterparts?
What is a gem substitute?
Gem substitutes are gems that are not found naturally but have been synthesized. They have the same chemical composition as the natural gems, but are not found in nature; they're made in laboratories.
What is an imitation gem?
An imitation gem is one that looks quite a bit like the natural gems they're taking the place of, but they don't have the same composition as the ones found in nature. Glass is the most common imitation gem. It has long been used as a substitute for a real gem, but has its own chemical composition.
What are some common diamond substitutes?
Many substances have been used as diamond substitutes over the years. The diamond is the most common gem of which a substitute is used. For many years glass has been the most common substitute for a diamond, because it is colorless, can be easily cut, and has a similar but nowhere near as dense as a real diamond. Colorless sapphires and zircons are also used as diamond substitutes regularly. Most recently, a popular diamond substitute has been the cubic zirconia. It perhaps most closely resembles the diamond out of all the previously mentioned substances. It comes close to a diamond in hardness, fineness and brilliance.
Is it legal to substitute gems?
It most certainly is. The problem comes in marketing. You have to know what you're buying. Some retailers may try to confuse you by calling a substitute gem something similar to the real thing. One common example is with the cubic zirconia. Many jewelers call these stones "CZ Diamonds." This is misleading because they aren't diamonds at all. In fact, they cost the jeweler a fraction of the price.
Should you use a substitute gem?
It depends on the circumstance. Ask yourself what the purpose of the stone will be. Any engagement rings or important other rings or jewelry, you likely will want to have the real gem in the pieces.