Mineral Review

How does synthetic corundum differ from natural corundum?

Everyone is well aware of such precious gems as sapphires and rubies. But not everyone suspects that these are the same type of mineral – corundum stone. All these crystals have the same structure, identical physical properties and chemical composition.

Description and history of the mineral

More than a dozen centuries ago, people already appreciated and admired precious stones. Clothes and household items were embroidered with beautiful gems. Sapphires and rubies were especially highly valued. Corundum minerals were used to pay for expensive transactions and were given as gifts to high-ranking persons. Crystals were first brought to Europe from India, where they were already widely known and were especially popular. Then the word “oriental” was added to the name of the imported precious gem – oriental ruby, amethyst, emerald. In Russia in the Middle Ages, stone was also loved and appreciated. At that time we called him a yacht. Natural corundum has a transparent structure with a metallic or glassy luster. Sometimes the crystals are matte. Depending on the impurities, the stone is colored red, pink or blue. The color range is very wide – almost all the colors of the rainbow. Titanium atoms in the structure of the mineral give shades of blue – this is corundum sapphire. Chromium impurities color the crystal red – this is a ruby. It is very rare in nature to find a completely transparent, colorless crystal without impurities. Such a “pure water” stone is especially highly valued in the jewelry world, most likely because of its uniqueness. Corundum is a very strong mineral. In terms of hardness, it is second only to diamond. This quality allows it to be widely used as an abrasive material. Corundum does not dissolve in acids. This indicates high chemical resistance. When heated, the mineral loses its color and turns pale, but the melting point is very high (2050°C). Corundum is mined almost all over the world. There are large deposits in Australia, Asia, South and North America, on the islands of Sri Lanka and Madagascar. In Russia there is a storehouse of rubies and sapphires – the Ural Mountains, Krasnoyarsk Territory, Karelia.

Where is the gem used?

The mineral is widely used in the abrasive industry. Granular opaque crystals are used to make abrasive and grinding tools, polishing powders. Due to its high heat resistance, it is used as a heat-insulating material in the radio-electronic field and in medical production. The unsurpassed strength of corundum and the property of its transparency have found application in aircraft construction. Airplane and even spaceship windows are made from this material. A high-quality glass substitute is called “sapphire glass.” But the most widespread use of the gemstone is in jewelry. Craftsmen love to work with this gem. Jewelry with ruby ​​and sapphire inserts fascinates and enchants. A bracelet, pendant, earrings or ring with corundum is a valuable and desirable gift.

Horoscope and magic

The stone has an active, strong magical influence. Blue or light blue corundum (sapphire) will help you define yourself in the profession and in society. Gives confidence, reveals talent, concentrates attention. It is worn by creative people, scientists, and students. Red corundum (ruby) works great in love relationships and strengthens family ties. People with leadership needs should wear this gem. He will direct initiatives in the right direction and concentrate forces to achieve the goal. The stone respects and promotes active people, those who are not afraid of difficulties and solving complex problems. His energy works in unison with such a personality, multiplying the abilities and strength of the owner. Helps you go the right way without wasting yourself on empty ideas. As for the compatibility of the crystal with representatives of the zodiac signs, there is a division according to color and specific type of mineral. Ruby corundum makes excellent friends with Capricorn, Leo and Scorpio. The strong and powerful energy of people born under these signs completely coincides with the powerful impulses of the stone. An amulet or talisman with a gem will help you achieve high results, no matter what the task. Blue corundum (sapphire) is more suitable for Aquarius, Taurus, and Sagittarius. Representatives of these signs mainly gravitate toward creative pursuits. Sapphire will provide an opportunity to reveal talent, give confidence in a difficult situation, and strengthen self-esteem. Precious gems look gorgeous in jewelry. They are always desirable for every woman. Corundum will not harm those who passionately adore it. Therefore, everyone can wear jewelry with crystals. As a last resort, if there is some incompatibility with the stone, then it will simply be neutral. That is, you shouldn’t expect help from him, but he won’t turn into an evil enemy either.

Types of corundum

The color spectrum of corundum is huge. Representatives of this mineral include the entire palette of the rainbow. Ruby is a red transparent stone. Color ranges from light pink to deep purple. A very expensive gem. Pure dark cherry crystals are sometimes more expensive than diamonds. A star ruby ​​is a unique specimen that has an optical effect (asterism) in the form of a star of 6 rays. Sapphire is a mineral with all shades of blue. The richest cornflower blue tone is considered the most valuable. Dark blue sapphire is called indigo, and pale blue is called aquamarine. Star sapphire is a mineral with an optical effect (asterism) in the form of a star of 6 or 12 rays that create white highlights. Polychrome sapphire – several tones are visible in the structure of the crystal. For example, a green color scheme with a blue tint or a pink tint on a yellow background. Well, and other various combinations. “Oriental Emerald” – green corundum. It is put in quotation marks because it has nothing to do with emerald and is named so only because of its bright greenery. Another name for the stone is chlorosapphire. Padparadscha is yellow or orange corundum. It is sometimes called yellow sapphire. The most valuable expensive gems are mined on the island of Sri Lanka and India. There the crystal is called the “Lotus Flower”. Black sapphire is a dark gray opaque mineral with a metallic luster. Only those specimens that have the asterism effect are valued. Leucosapphire is a completely transparent, colorless corundum. Another name is white sapphire. “Cat’s Eye” – there is such a crystal in the corundum collection. The highlights and iridescent effect of the yellowish-green tone are literally mesmerizing. It is impossible to take your eyes off the sight of this gem. Gray corundum – grainy, opaque stones have no value in jewelry production. But they have increased hardness and heat resistance. Therefore, they are actively used for technical purposes, as an abrasive and heat-insulating material.

Mineral of artificial origin

Natural corundum is a very expensive commodity. Already in the 19th century, scientists tried to create an artificial analogue, and it worked. Currently, synthetic stones are produced on an industrial scale; they are used both for technical purposes and in the jewelry industry. Synthetic corundum grown for jewelry looks practically no different from natural corundum. To say more, in some cases it surpasses its natural counterpart in color saturation, purity and shape. But the price is much more affordable. But if preference is given to natural stones, then it is worth learning to recognize them, although this is very difficult. You can choose a natural crystal from the huge number of jewelry on the market based on price. Natural gems are an order of magnitude more expensive, even if there are visible defects in the structure of the mineral. It is precisely these imperfections in the form of inclusions of impurities or gas bubbles that indicate the natural origin of the stone. Usually large, clear crystals with an exclusive color are found in rich private collections or in state museums. An accurate analysis of the origin of the stone can be done in the laboratory using a microscope. The synthetic mineral has irregular wavy lines in its structure, which are visible only under high magnification. And one more thing: under the influence of X-rays (ultraviolet) the artificial mineral acquires a greenish glow. This phenomenon reveals its synthetic origin.

Healing properties of crystal

Rubies are responsible for the cardiovascular system. Improves blood circulation and promotes normal heart function. The gastrointestinal tract will function in a healthy mode and metabolism will be normalized. Blue stone (mostly sapphire) is used in ophthalmology. It reduces eye pressure and treats eye diseases. A purple-hued gem will help fight depression and mental disorders. For headaches and migraines, it is recommended to wear earrings with amethyst corundum. Yellow and orange stones lift your spirits and give you a feeling of joy. Crystals have the ability to rejuvenate the body and body. Traditional healers and astrologers are confident that any corundum has a beneficial effect on all human organs and on his general mental state.

Storage and care of the gem

Corundum is a very durable and strong mineral, but it must be treated with care. Firstly, the stone is not cheap, and secondly, any strength has a limit. The crystal must not be heated or exposed to high temperatures. Because of this, it changes its color – it turns pale, discolored. With prolonged exposure to the sun, it also loses its original color. You should not wear jewelry for a trip to the beach or a fun day out in the fresh air in bright sunny weather. When cleaning jewelry from plaque and dirt, there is no need to be zealous with aggressive detergents. It is enough to dip the stone in a soapy solution, then rinse under running water and finally wipe the product with a soft cloth. Each piece of jewelry should be stored in a separate box with a velvet interior. If all these simple conditions are followed, then precious gems will be passed down from generation to generation for many years, prolonging family traditions. Most rubies, sapphires, emeralds and other inserts in jewelry today are synthetic. This is not mentioned in the advertisement, but just look at the product tag to be convinced that in 90% of cases there will be “synthet” next to the name of the stone. or another indication of the artificial origin of the insert, for example, “g/t emerald”. This is where the huge difference in price comes from, for example, for a ring with a ruby, in different stores. Is it so scary, and what kind of synthetic stones can be used in jewelry?

Synthesized gemstone as an analogue

Natural synthetic stones are sometimes called artificially grown rubies, sapphires, and diamonds. Their composition is identical to their natural counterparts, but, unlike them, they grew in laboratories – not over millions of years of the planet’s life, but in a matter of minutes, weeks, months. Let us note that, according to Russian legislation (Article 2 of Federal Law 41 of March 26.03.98, XNUMX), the category of precious stones includes stones of exclusively natural origin, incl. diamonds, emeralds, rubies, sapphires, alexandrites, pearls, unique samples of amber. So the expression “synthetic gemstones” is illegal from a legal point of view.

Advantages and disadvantages of synthetic gemstones

  • are cheap;
  • due to their artificial origin, they have no cracks, they are easier to cut – any type of cut can be used;
  • you can grow a sapphire or ruby ​​in a form suitable for the chosen cut;
  • synthetics do not require additional processing (refinement).

It would seem that there are continuous advantages. And yet natural stones cost tens, hundreds and thousands of times more than artificial ones. Why are they so valuable? For some people, awareness of authenticity is important. For others, buying natural gemstones is a kind of investment. Still others believe in the magic of stones. From this point of view, only a mineral of natural origin has the power of a talisman or amulet.

Stones as imitation

Imitation is not fake. We do not consider cases where one stone is passed off as another (for example, garnet or tourmaline for a ruby) or is completely replaced with glass or plastic. We are not talking about the substitution of concepts, when the seller confuses the buyer by using the name of a precious stone to profitably sell a less valuable one, for example, as in the case of the “Yakut emerald” – chrome diopside. We are talking only about artificially synthesized stones, which are legally used in jewelry as an inexpensive replacement for precious stones, differing from them in composition, but resembling them in appearance.


Cubic zirconia is an artificial analogue of a diamond. It differs in composition (it is zirconium dioxide), but is similar to diamond in such characteristics as refractive index and has a diamond luster. The hardness of cubic zirconia on the Mohs scale is lower in comparison with diamond, 8 versus 10. It would seem not much, only 2 points, but in reality this means that cubic zirconia is about 180 times softer than diamond, and is also brittle. That’s why you shouldn’t choose it for engagement or wedding rings – it won’t stand up to daily wear. In the color version, cubic zirconia replaces emerald, ruby, and sapphire.

Cubic zirconia was invented in the USSR in 1968. Now this is the most popular imitation diamond – it costs a penny and looks impressive. But in the first years of production, it was exported at the same price as diamonds.

There is a legend that in the USSR they did not advertise the invention of cubic zirconia for several years and managed to sell large quantities of artificial stones under the guise of first-class diamonds. Since 1972, cubic zirconia in the USSR replaced diamonds in mass-produced jewelry.


Moissanite in its composition is silicon carbide. Today, this stone is actively advertised as a wonderful replacement for diamonds – not just equivalent, but even superior in quality. The following advantages are indicated:

  • a higher refractive index of light than a diamond (an unnatural shine for a diamond is one of the signs by which experts identify moissanite);
  • a higher dispersion rate, that is, a better “play” of the stone (however, in most cases, in order for the stone to “play”, a cut other than a classic diamond is needed);
  • hardness exceeding that of precious corundums – sapphires and rubies (9,25 versus 9).

Natural moissanites are found less frequently than diamonds, and are not valued at all – they are small, ugly, dirty-brown crystals, unsuitable for use in jewelry. Even artificially synthesized stones always have a yellowish-green tint.

“Real” moissanites

Until 2016, the patent for the production of synthesized moissanites belonged to an American company. Now its effect has expired, and the main producer of raw materials is China. Hence the division into “real” moissanites (made in the USA) and “fake” Chinese ones. In both cases, it is a synthetic artificial stone, which is not classified as precious.

Scientists from China have developed a technology for coating moissanite with a diamond film, which made it possible to remove the unsightly tint. The presence of this film confuses even diamond testers: they can confuse moissanite with a diamond. The cost of American moissanite is higher than Chinese: a large stone costs the same as a small diamond.


Rhinestones, that is, cut pieces of glass, were the first crystals to replace precious stones in jewelry – examples of their use have been known since the Middle Ages. To imitate colored crystals, rubies, sapphires and emeralds, colored foil was placed under the rhinestones. The name comes from the name of Georg (Joseph) Strass. This jeweler invented lead crystal in the 18th century, a toxic material with excellent performance and brilliance.

Today, the most famous rhinestones are, of course, Austrian Swarovski. The composition is classified, but it definitely does not contain harmful lead (in crystals produced after 2011). They say that the actively advertised diamondite is also cut glass, but there is no exact data about this type of insert.

The history of the appearance of synthesized stones

Attempts to synthesize gemstones have been made for centuries, but Auguste Verneuil was the first to obtain large enough samples. The first synthetic stone was ruby. Already at the beginning of the 20th century, red corundum began to be synthesized on an industrial scale – like many stones, rubies are used not only in jewelry, but also in industry.

Various methods are used to grow the mineral, but they still have a common principle: low-quality raw materials are crushed, and on its basis the stone is grown under artificial conditions. Most often used:

  • Verneuil method – for sapphire, ruby, spinel, rutile and fabulite. Based on the use of natural low-grade raw materials, crushed into powder (charge) and seed.
  • The Czochralski method is for growing alexandrite, sapphire, garnet, spinel, tanzanion. Used since the 1950s, it makes it possible to grow large crystals by controlling their growth. In English, such stones are called pulled, which means “stretched”. The mineral is literally pulled out of the melt of the raw material.
  • Hydrothermal (h/t) method – for emerald, aquamarine, morganite, sapphire, ruby, beryl. The crushed natural stone is transferred into an aqueous solution, and a crystal with a reconstructed structure is recreated in autoclaves.

Synthetic stones in Russia

The older generation likes to repeat: “Now you only have synthetics, but before…”. What came before? Earrings, rings and pendants that we inherited from our mothers and grandmothers are almost always inlaid with synthetic stones. Natural resources were either sent abroad, used for the needs of industry and the military-industrial complex, or were not mined at all.

1966 is recognized as the year of the beginning of mass production of jewelry in the USSR. The inserts in them were synthetic rubies, sapphires, and alexandrites grown using the Czochralski method. The USSR did not produce synthetic emeralds, so there is a chance that the green insert of my mother’s ring is a natural emerald or at least natural beryl.

Fashionable synthetics

It must be said that imitation is fashionable. Now many are delighted with moissanite, previously cubic zirconia was popular, and even earlier, shortly after World War II, synthetic rutile, which was also called titanium, diamond, daimotist, rainbow diamond, was a bestseller.

Rutile has a higher refractive index than diamond, and you can see a rainbow glow in it, which caused the delight of the public. True, interest in rutile quickly subsided. There is a birefringence effect in the stone, which clouds its back edges. So synthetics can be fashionable, but diamonds. Diamonds are forever!

What are the main differences between synthesized and natural stones?

It is extremely difficult to distinguish between a synthetic and natural sapphire or ruby ​​“at home,” so the best way not to make a mistake when purchasing is to make it in trusted places and carefully study the product tag, without hesitating to ask the seller questions. Even for experts, it is not always easy to determine the origin of a stone. “Synthetics” can be indicated by rounded air bubbles, the presence of dust-like inclusions, and curved lines of mineral growth.

Synthetic sapphire: difference from natural

Synthetic sapphire is a stone that has the same composition as natural one. If you see a gold ring with a large sapphire that costs 8000 rubles, you can rest assured that this is a synthetic sapphire. Despite seasonal sales, promotions, and store closures, natural stone is more expensive.

Synthetic sapphire is flawless and crystal clear, its color is even, which is rare for natural corundum. Examination under a microscope will reveal a growth pattern uncharacteristic of a natural formation. The price of high-quality synthetic sapphire is much higher than the cost of imitations, for example, sapphire-colored cubic zirconia.

Synthetic ruby: difference from natural one

Low price, unnatural purity and uniformity of color are the first things that should make you think about the artificial origin of ruby. Large red corundums are rarely found in nature, and therefore sizes larger than 1 carat should be alarming. In addition, synthetic ruby ​​will change color under ultraviolet light. Under a magnifying glass you can see inclusions-bubbles (in natural – needles).

What to buy, natural gems, their synthesized analogue or imitation – it’s up to you to decide. The situation with stones is similar to the situation with works of art. You can buy an original Monet (natural diamond), a painted copy (artificially synthesized stone) or a poster (cubic zirconia, moissanite, rhinestones). In all three cases, no one will accuse you of lack of taste. However, you are unlikely to be proud to show the poster to guests.

The Wedding Ring Palace offers jewelry that is worthy of becoming heirlooms. Our jewelry is made with natural precious stones.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button