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Synthetic gems
Synthetic gems

Synthetics, simulators and fakes

These terms, which are commonly used to describe gemstones that are not natural gemstones but which are sold in place of natural gemstones, can easily be misused and/or misunderstood. Let’s take an example: if I have a natural ruby ​​(created by Mother Nature’s processes) and I present it as a natural ruby, great. But under what conditions would I have a sample of synthetic, imitation and artificial ruby?

Value

First things first: the word “gem.” According to Federal Trade Commission rules governing the trade and advertising of the gemstone and jewelry industry, only natural mineral and organic materials can be legally and ethically sold and advertised as “gems.” Other terminology such as “synthetic” or the equivalent terms “cultured”, “created” or “lab-grown” should be used for materials that do not come from nature.

Synthetics

Synthetics were produced in a laboratory or factory. Synthetics may or may not have natural analogues. Synthetic ruby, for example, is a man-made version of natural ruby ​​and is virtually identical to it in both chemical composition and crystal structure. As a result, both types exhibit the same physical and optical properties (such as density and refractive index).
Cubic zirconia and YAG (yttrium aluminum garnet) are examples of synthetic materials that have no exact natural analogues and have their own unique chemical composition and/or crystal structure.
The first synthetic materials produced at a size and price to make them available on the market were synthetic rubies produced by Augustus Verneuil around 1900 (many people do not realize that synthetics go that far and were bitterly disappointed to find that the miraculous the Edwardian or Art Nouveau style ring they inherited from Granny Minnie was set in synthetic!) In fact, for a while, synthetic was sort of the “cool new thing” for some designers and was not relegated to the second tier or mainstream. made jewelry, just as they do today.

The process Vernel developed, called flame fusion, is still the main process used to produce synthetic corundum and synthetic spinel. A powdered starting material such as aluminum oxide for corundum is melted with a metal oxide such as chromium oxide to give the red color. As it falls through the flame of an oxyhydrogen torch, the molten material crystallizes as it hits a ceramic platform at the cooler base of the furnace. As the crystal grows, the platform rotates and lowers, forming a carrot “boule.”
Because synthetic materials have the same optical, chemical and physical properties as the natural materials they imitate, standard gemological tests are not very useful in identifying them. In these cases, the microscope becomes the gemologist’s most valuable tool in separating synthetics from natural gemstones. There are microscopic inclusions that are found only in natural gemstones, and those that are found only in synthetic ones. Unfortunately, there are also many inclusions that can occur in both types, and flawless stones with no visible inclusions.

Flame melting materials are usually the easiest type of synthetic materials to distinguish from their natural counterparts. The most obvious sign is “curved grooves” which, when magnified in diffuse light, look like the grooves on an old vinyl record.

Triangular platinum crystals (from a crucible), such as the “flux melt” of synthetic alexandrite, are another absolute indicator of synthetic status.

Over the years, many new processes have been developed that, although more expensive and labor intensive, produce synthetic materials with more natural colors and inclusions. Some, such as the hydrothermal process responsible for producing so many synthetic emeralds in trade, mimic natural conditions, others, such as Verneuil’s invention, are entirely human inventions.

Precious and semi-precious red stone has always been popular among jewelers, doctors and representatives of the occult sciences. It is known that the word red once meant beautiful, which is quite true for stones of this color.

Description, types, origin

  1. Rubin.
  2. Garnet.
  3. Rubellite.
  4. Coral.
  5. Carnelian

Ruby is the most valuable of the red minerals. It is formed by only 2 aluminum atoms and 3 oxygen atoms. The hardness of this stone reaches 9 on the Mohs scale. In this characteristic, ruby ​​is second only to diamond.

The fiery red color of a ruby ​​makes it unique, since no other stone has this kind of color. The color can vary from pink to fiery red. Different color variations are due to the presence of impurities. The rarest, and therefore most expensive, is the “pigeon’s blood” ruby, which has a purple tint. This variety gets its unique color due to the presence of chromium impurities.

Another type of stone is star ruby. This gemstone can have any color, but it has an asterism effect. In most cases, stones of this variety are opaque, but sometimes they are transparent, which ultimately determines their cost.

It is mined on almost all continents, but rubies mined in Asian countries are considered the most valuable. In Russia, ruby ​​is mined in the Polar Urals.

Garnet is a representative of a fairly large family of precious stones. The mineral can have different colors, but the classic garnet is red. It was the red hue and shape, reminiscent of the grains of the fruit of the same name, that gave rise to its name.

Garnet has a huge number of varieties of various shades, the spectrum of which starts from classic red and ends with purple.

Pomegranate deposits are scattered across almost all continents. This red mineral is mined in Africa, Tanzania, Russia, and Yakutia.

Rubellite is a variety of tourmaline that comes in a wide range of shades, exclusively within the red color spectrum. The mineral is mainly characterized by a pink tint, which is due to the presence of divalent manganese.

This red gem has a characteristic glassy luster, which is enhanced by its transparent structure. Matte rubellite is somewhat less common. Minerals with a transparent structure belong to class 2 of precious stones. As for opaque minerals, they are not considered valuable. The density of rubellite is significantly lower compared to ruby.

The richest deposits of rubellite are California, Ceylon, and Madagascar. In Russia, stone is mined in Eastern Transbaikalia and the Middle Urals.

Coral – 1 more red gem. This is the skeleton of a marine polyp, whose habitat is tropical seas. It is worth noting that there are more than 200 varieties of corals, but the red ones are considered the most valuable.

The stone is quite fragile, highly sensitive to temperature changes, acids and hot water. In addition, the coral does not have shine, and after some time it becomes covered with cracks. Its composition mainly includes calcium and aragonite. The color of a stone is determined by the presence of impurities in it.

Considering that coral polyps live exclusively in tropical seas, it is mined off the coast of the Caribbean islands, Australia, and New Zealand.

Carnelian is a mineral that has a rich red or burgundy hue. In terms of its chemical composition, carnelian is a red silicate. The mineral has a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale. Due to the high hardness, when a stone splits, a conchoidal fracture with sharp edges is formed. In addition, carnelian has a waxy sheen. Under the influence of hydrochloric acid, the mineral dissolves.

Large deposits of the mineral are located in Brazil, Uruguay, and India. Carnelian is mined in smaller quantities in Russia.

Application

Red gemstones are mainly used in jewelry. Ruby, the most valuable red mineral, deserves special attention and love from jewelers. The cost of jewelry inlaid with rubies can reach several million dollars, depending on the size of the stone.

Some of the above-mentioned minerals are used to make costume jewelry and even counterfeits. In particular, we are talking about rubellite, the cost of which reaches $25 per 1 carat. In addition, decorative ornaments, such as various vases, are made from rubellite.

Red corals are quite expensive. For example, a product with this stone in a precious metal setting can cost several thousand dollars.

As you know, stones are also used for medicinal purposes today. A very popular mineral is garnet. But it is also dear to jewelry makers: if cut correctly, this beautiful mineral can become a piece of jewelry whose cost reaches several tens of thousands of dollars.

Interesting Facts

Ruby has been valued very highly since ancient times. The most expensive red ruby ​​was sold in 1995 for almost 6 million dollars. Its weight was just over 38 carats. But after further processing, despite the reduction in weight, it was sold for $12 million.

In ancient times, garnet was considered a stone of war and strength. The Persians and Romans decorated their armor and weapons with this mineral. In those days, people believed that weapons decorated with garnets would only bring victories. Now the stone has become a symbol of love and fidelity.

Rubellite as a mineral was known back in Ancient Egypt. A unique example in the form of a bunch of grapes belonged to Queen Cleopatra, and then to Caesar. Much later, this particular sample fell into the hands of representatives of the Templar Order. The stone was also used as a magical amulet. The ancient priests believed that he was endowed with special powers that helped to carry out various rituals.

A huge number of legends say that coral has magical powers. For example, the ancient Greeks wore dark red coral jewelry throughout their lives, believing that it would help prolong their life.

In India, people believed that coral enhances the gift of providence, and also makes them wise and prone to making the right decisions.

In Rus’, it was believed that the owner of a coral jewelry would be warned about a possible illness. If an illness began, the stone turned white, and when the person recovered, it turned red again.

Carnelian is considered a symbol of love and prosperity. For example, thanks to carnelian jewelry, men become more confident in their abilities. In addition, owners of such jewelry have excellent intuition and attract good luck in business.

Red gemstones will always be in demand due to their appearance, healing qualities and magical properties.

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