Forums Beginner Questions Material, Real or Lab?

18 replies, 7 voices Last updated by  gemmakermz 1 month ago
Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 19 total)
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  • #2482

    scottwkelley
    Participant
    @scottwkelley

    I have been reading what others are writing in the yahoo groups and am confused between lab stones and natural, the real thing. What is the choice of the master cutters and why? I have been cutting natural quartz, different varieties and color and I will have an inclusion here and there, but after the cut it almost seems to give the stone character as the inclusion reflects the light different. I don’t know but when I see a spectrum of rainbow color coming from a certain angle I think it is miraculous. This maybe from my lack of knowledge, as i am sure it is, but is there also a value difference between the two also? I have to ask, where do you spend your time on, Real or Lab, and why?

    Thanks Scott

    #2483

    Alan Balmer
    Keymaster
    @alanbalmer

    I can’t answer questions about value, except to say that natural stones sell for more than synthetic.

    Remember, though, that synthetic, or “lab created” stones are just as real as natural stones. They are the same material, and usually pretty much flawless. For quartz, in particular, it’s not easy or cheap to tell the difference, and a large percentage of the quartz sold as “natural” is actually synthetic.

    Simulants are another class. These are stones which look like natural gems, but are not the same material. For example, CZ and moissanite are often used to simulate diamond.

    What you cut will depend on what you can afford, and your reason for cutting. Cutting for sale is not the same as cutting for your own enjoyment.

    #2485

    scottwkelley
    Participant
    @scottwkelley

    I guess that helps define the difference. I have been pricing rough to cut and can understand choosing synthetic to experience the stone and master a more difficult material. The quartz I am cutting today is from a box of rocks from North Carolina. The material appears to be genuine as I have to trim and cab to find a near flawless piece. I do enjoy going through the process. My collection is putting me into a position of others wanting to own it. Which is good, for a beginner. I like setting my stones too which is another topic.

    #2498

    Gregory Hays
    Participant
    @gregoryhays

    Synthetic and or Simulants in my understanding are not just as “real” as a natural gemstone. Synthetic gemstone have all the same properties as natural gemstone but it is created by man in a lab. Simulants are man made materials made to look like a natural gemstone where it may or may not have all the same properties. I guess it can be further defined as this is a real synthetic gemstone and this is real natural gemstone. Are they the same?

    #2504

    scottwkelley
    Participant
    @scottwkelley

    Hmmm, another deep thought into what is real and what is not. And boy today Tom Foolery is all around us.
    I guess in my mind If I am The Designer, Master of my God Given Creation whether lab grown to the Specs of Nature and Science or the Natural from the wonders of the Earth I guess there is a slight difference.
    Disclosure is what I understand is what makes the difference. I guess then we can say that the lab being flawless is ascetically more pleasing to the eye than a natural with a flaw. Here again I guess it is in the eye of the beholder. But to the appraiser, to the certified may I ask what they may think of the difference?
    A Gemologist from what I have read can tell the difference, is this true?

    #2522

    Tom Mitchell
    Keymaster
    @tommitchell

    Synthetic and natural gemstones are both real gem stones. They both have the same chemical composition. As you stated the synthetic variety of a gem stone is grown in a laboratory and the natural gem stone was created over time by geological processes. To call them real synthetic and real natural is redundant and unnecessary. When I am referring to a synthetic gem species, I usually use the term lab grown. Partly because most people equate synthetic with unreal.

    Simulants on the other hand are used in jewelry because they have some of the properties of natural stones such as dispersion which gives them their fire. An example of a simulant is CZ which has a similar dispersion as diamonds but is much less expensive to produce and cut for jewelry. Another term to use for simulant is immitation.

    Tom Mitchell

    #2523

    Tom Mitchell
    Keymaster
    @tommitchell

    When an appraiser examines a cut stone one of the first things they do try to determine the gems physical properties, the way it deals with light as light enters the stone, pleochrysim, double refraction, dispersion, refractive index of the stone and sometimes the specific gravity of the stone. There are about 30 bits of information that can be obtained to positively identify a stone. A good appraiser will look for at least 5 of these bits to make a reasonable guess. The color of the stone is the last thing that they will look for.

    Is there a difference in value between natural and synthetic. You bet there is and sometimes the difference if quite dramatic. For example a natural flawless emerald (if there was such a thing) could be worth up to $200,000 per carat where a synthetic emerald could be worth up to $2000 per carat.

    If a graduate gemologist simply looks at a stone and tells you what it is, they are only guessing. To positively identify a stone they have to go through the same steps, using the same testing equipment as an appraiser to positively identify a stone. No one can positively identify a gem by its color, because so many other stones can be the same color.

    Tom Mitchell

    #2706

    michaelnoetzel
    Participant
    @michaelnoetzel

    Scott, when I first got into facet in I thought I would NEVER cut a ‘fake’ stone. I love nature, even with all its flaws and assumed I would happily work only in naturally made stone.

    With the difficulty of finding affordable clean-ish material to work with and the knowledge that in my inexperience that I should not be destroying valuable natural material to learn with, I figured d myself leaning toward the use of artificially manufactured stones.

    As has been mentioned above, the terms for synthetic stones, lab created, or whatever other names they are known by are a turn off for both faceter and for clients as well. I totally get this but I’ve been finding myself explaining to coworkers who I show off my work to, that if you were to imagine a piece of amethyst being melted down and impurities strained out before it is reformed (and without cracks), you have exactly what lab created stone is. It is chemically identical, just without the impurities and fissures that sometimes show up.

    I still have a definite soft spot in my heart for a naturally formed, perfect stone to be sure but I’ve been finding myself much more accepting of manufactured stones if I am to be investing my time and focus on cutting a gem.

    #2708

    scottwkelley
    Participant
    @scottwkelley

    So much thanks to you all. Now I know. Everything I have cut so far I have either cabbed myself and saved for a faceting machine. I still have plenty of clean quartz. I feel better and more confident now to purchase lab specimens and feel confident of a nice stone. A bit more affordable to cut. But from what I see too is some lab specimens are just as rare in some cases.
    What specimen would everyone suggest as for me to cut next? Suggestion of a reliable source or is ebay the best bet?

    #2710

    michaelnoetzel
    Participant
    @michaelnoetzel

    I have bought most of my rough from Ebay and more often than not am disappointed but it is the only real source of material I have found. For Cubic Zirconia, there is a seller (Jewelelectronics) that I have consistiently good transactions with; decent prices (at about $.02 to .08 per carat) and he always sends more carats than is actually listed.

    But for ‘natural’ stone, I’m afraid my hunt for gemmy material has yielded multiple disappointments. Most often the stone is what is pictured but the picture just doesn’t show all the inclusions or fractures. My gut feeling is that most vendors are honest and are not intentionally hiding these flaws; just hard to show them all. Many times I’ve bid on an item that I believed to be superior quality, only to find it hazy inside or otherwise disappointing. If I can’t hold it in my own two little paws up to the light, it’s hard to see what you are really buying.

    I pay very close attention to feedback and make it a point to read the negative AND neutral comments left by previous buyers regarding anyone with a less than 99.5% satisfaction rating. Below that, you generally have sellers who have something of an issue that you may want to avoid.

    I have also had a couple of transactions that were pretty blatantly falsely advertized. One in particular comes to mind in that there was a piece being sold as ‘natural blue’ topaz. It absolutely had a bizarre shade of electric blue that would jot have ever occurred in nature but also, you could see this flat side to it with ripples that are left during the manufacturing process.

    I wanted the piece regardless but bid what I felt it was worth as a lab-created piece and not as a ‘natural’ stone. Perhaps they were a ayi g it was a natural blue and not a natural stone as a way of twisting words but I believe the intent was deceptive.

    I’ve also seen several auctions advertising ‘Herkimer’ diamonds or Herkimer quartx, but the items are coming from Pakistan or China. I wrote to one of these sellers and they insisted that most gem vendors will use the term Herkimer to refer to clear quartz when by my standard it should have come from Herkimer County, NY.

    Buy what you think you can afford to be disappointed over. Look as closely as possible but don’t pay a fortune because you WILL get taken. I have had a hand full of very good transactions through Ebay but they are the excepti OK n rather that the rule. Kind of like finding the one gemstone in a whole quarry of junk.

    #2711

    Alan Balmer
    Keymaster
    @alanbalmer

    Why Ebay? There are plenty of honest, reliable suppliers of rough who have been in business for years. Many of them are USFG members. It’s probably not appropriate here, but send me a message and I’ll get you a list of suggestions.

    The topaz you saw is probably natural, but the color is a consequence of irradiation and heating. I don’t believe there is any synthetic topaz produced for sale, though it’s been reported as a laboratory curiosity.

    #3278

    gemmakermz
    Participant
    @gemmakermz

    hi again i would prefer to put my time on real natural stones. it takes the same amount of time but natural are worth more. as for rough on ebay now there’s a bit of joke. i bought items sold from india sellers and there not at all what they say they are. lemon topaz, i’ve looked at the pictures and even bought a piece– sorry not.. its quartz and not one piece shows the clevege plain hummmm. a lot of india sales are incorrect or man made. as for u.s.a. seller their more true but the material has a lot to ask for– not too good. we really need to do more exploring here in states as i know theres a lot of gem material here. i was lucky into faceting in 1965 and in 70’s i was able to get some good materials so cutting in my old age i have good stock. even my bad is better than whats offered. N.W. of levenworth wa. there are garnets of fine quality but what they don’t know i was panning up that way and found beautiful sapphires too and that area is just south of the wa. alps. a large granite range. happy hunting

    #3407

    scottwkelley
    Participant
    @scottwkelley

    Well it has been awhile since I have been back to this subject and my feelings have not changed. My knowledge has increased and I have only put one piece of CZ on my lap to shape and took it off the dop when I realized I did not have the proper polishing laps to remove the horrible scratches. When I get the 3000 to 8000 I will be happy to return to it. For now I stick to the quartz, which I have plenty of, Garnet, Sun Stone and Sapphire that I have purchased through a box of gravel delivered to my door. I will purchase rough only from known sources from here on out. I had much opportunity this past weekend at the Mid West Faceters Annual Seminar where I could have purchased some of Roger Dery and Suzette Hetrick, but didn’t…there will be another day for that…still a student.
    Always Natural for me..I like the challenge , there is more frustration and challenges in the natural, more beauty and value in the end.
    Happy Faceting
    Scott

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    #3415

    tucsonbear
    Participant
    @Tucsonbear

    I have cut synthetic amethyst, from a Russian dealer at the Tucson show, and the stuff is fabulous, totally flawless and gorgeous color, maybe a wee bit too dark, limiting the size of cut stones (think Welch’s grape jelly). As far as the synthetic amethyst goes, there really isn’t a test that will distinguish the natural from the synthetic, but the clarity and color of the synthetic are a tip off.
    From the same dealer, I purchased a large synthetic emerald that I haven’t cut yet. Same goes here, gorgeous color and clarity, but these hydrothermally grown emeralds can be detected by flux inclusions under a microscope. The tip off to the eye is the dark color and flawlessness. If this stuff was natural, there is no way on earth I could afford it.

    BTW,it was about 10 years ago I purchased these, the amethyst crystal was 1 1/4″ x 1 1/2″ x 7″ and cost $80.
    The emerald is about 1 3/4″ x 1/2″, and was $120. Both have a thin seed crystal running through the middle.

    As stated above, disclosure is required. But if you want to cut a large flawless stone without breaking the bank, you should give it a try.

    #3438

    tucsonbear
    Participant
    @Tucsonbear

    As far as blue topaz is concerned, lab created is now available. I was cruising eBay for rough blue topaz, and found some that looked very suspicious to me, with almost a botryoidal top surface, with sawn bottom and sides. Check out item #’s 292217268069, 292220153031, 302415305922, and 401385364614. Incidentally, that last one is the only one that admits to being lab created, the others make no mention of it. These are all approx 100 carat chunks in the $8-$10 price range. The price should be a tip off, along with the botryoidal termination. All of these are coming out of India.

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