LEARN THE DIFFERENCES AND BE INFORMED By: Nguon Y Tan GIA Grad. Gemologist, GIA Grad. Diamond. GIA Grad. Gemstone. GIA Accredited Jewelry Professional
If you are confused about the differences between a lab-grown, Synthetic, or imitation diamond/gemstone, you had came to the right place. There are many retailers that are not educated enough about the different terms and use them randomly and carelessly thus resulting in making consumer even more confused. With modern technology, many companies had came up with many ways to offer a variety of alternative gemstone to is natural counterpart. This results in a more affordable options as well as a more sustainable, ethical, and environmentally conscious alternative to the naturally mined stone.
Lab-Created, Lab-Grown, or Synthetic
These terms literally means the same thing. A lab-grown diamond or gemstones are grown with a control environment that has the same condition as that of natural stone inside the earth. They have the same chemical property, the same physical property, and the same optical property. The only different is that one is form inside the earth thousands of years ago while these lab-grown ones form inside a laboratory with human's help. So does that means that a lab-grown diamond, or a lab-created diamond, or a synthetic diamond are real diamond? Technically yes because they all have only Carbon as it chemical property and share every other property as the natural diamond counter part.
Basically, an imitation stone tries to look like the real natural stone that it wants to imitate. An imitation can be made out of glass, other natural gemstone, or other lab-created, lab-grown, or synthetic stone. For example, any red stone can be used to look like a ruby gemstones. The imitation stone can be made out of red glass, red natural beryl, or synthetic red beryl. Unlike the a lab-created, lab-grown, or synthetic stones, an imitation stone does not share the same chemical, physical, or optical property as its natural counterpart. Another example, Cubic Zirconia is a diamond's imitation. Cubic Zirconia can be a natural stone or a lab-grown stone but it has different chemical, physical, and optical property than a natural diamond that it tries to imitation. CZ looks like a diamond but the physical property is different as CZ is not scratch resistant but diamond is.
Treated Natural Diamond/Gemstones
There are many ways that a diamond or a gemstone can be treated. In this content, treatment or enhanced means the same thing. with enhanced sounds a little better than treated thus easier to market. The widely used treatment practice is as follow:
Clarity Enhanced Diamond is not permanent. Thus, we highly don't recommend it. It's very similar to how some fix a fractures car window.
HTHP Color Enhanced Diamond: This High Temperature High Pressure treatment/enhancement mimic the condition inside the earth and "finish off" what the earth hasn't finish, which is the give a diamond a different color due to added high temperature and pressure. For example, if the earth just heat and pressurize this brown color diamond a little longer, this diamond would have been more colorless diamond. Human understands this environment preciously and by mimicking the nature, it finishes it off. With this practice, the enhancer most of the time does not know what the color the outcome would be. Usually they use brown diamonds to enhanced to a more colorless diamonds or to get a variety of fancy color diamond. Because this practice results in a permanent color on the diamond, most trade or end consumer would find this a very attractive alternative to a more expensive natural stone with no enhancement.
Heat treated is one of the most common treatment in gemstones. Because it is a permanent treatment, it's very forgiving and most are fine with this treatment as it's similar to how the earth would finish this process if it were to be inside the earth for several hundred years more.