In recent years, the popularity of lab-grown rubies and sapphires has surged in the market. More and more people are turning to online sources to purchase these beautiful gemstones. However, there is a potential pitfall for buyers – the risk of unknowingly acquiring synthetic corundum instead of genuine lab-grown rubies. Both of these gemstones share remarkably similar physical properties, but the difference in value is very large， making it challenging to differentiate between them with the naked eye. In this article, we'll guide you on how to distinguish between lab-grown rubies & sapphires and synthetic corundum to ensure you make informed purchasing decisions.
What is Synthetic Corundum?
Synthetic corundum is the product of meticulous scientific processes that replicate the conditions under which natural gemstones form. Primarily utilized to create rubies and sapphires, synthetic corundum offers affordability and controlled attributes.
Materials and Composition: Synthetic corundum begins with aluminum oxide (Al2O3), the mineral's primary constituent. It is through the precise manipulation of this material that gem-quality corundum crystals are grown.
Coloration: In the creation of synthetic rubies and sapphires, trace elements play a pivotal role. Chromium is introduced to yield the fiery red of rubies, while iron and titanium result in the brilliant blues of sapphires. This controlled process allows for the consistent production of gemstones with specific colors.
Growth Methods: Flame fusion and flux melt are the principal methods employed in growing synthetic corundum. Flame fusion involves melting powdered aluminum oxide and allowing it to crystallize upon cooling. Flux melt, on the other hand, dissolves aluminum oxide in a molten flux before crystallization. Both techniques aim to replicate natural geological processes under controlled laboratory conditions.
Uses: Synthetic rubies and sapphires find their way into various applications. While they are used in jewelry, their applications extend to industrial tools, electronics, and scientific research. Their affordability and consistent quality make them an appealing choice in these sectors.
What is Lab-Grown Rubies and Sapphires
Lab-grown rubies and sapphires are a fascinating blend of science and nature, involving the creation of gemstones through the natural growth of corundum crystals under controlled conditions.
Starting Material: Unlike synthetic corundum, lab-grown rubies and sapphires start with natural corundum seeds or fragments. These pieces are carefully selected for their potential to grow into stunning gemstones.
Growth Conditions: The cultivation process seeks to mimic the geological environments that foster the formation of natural gemstones. High pressure and high temperature are applied over extended periods, allowing the corundum crystals to slowly develop.
Coloration: The coloration in lab-grown rubies and sapphires occurs naturally, based on the trace elements present in the original material. This leads to a spectrum of colors that mirrors the diversity found in nature.
Growth Methods: Methods such as the flux method and the hydrothermal method are employed to encourage the growth of the gemstones. In the flux method, the selected seed is immersed in a mixture of powdered material and flux, which then crystallizes as it cools. The hydrothermal method involves placing the seed in a high-pressure chamber with a mineral-rich solution, allowing crystals to grow over time.
Characteristics and Uses: Lab-grown rubies and sapphires share many physical and chemical properties with their natural counterparts. They are considered genuine gemstones, prized for their authenticity and ethical sourcing. These gems find their place in the jewelry industry, offering consumers an alternative to traditional, mined stones.
In conclusion, the distinction between synthetic corundum and lab-grown rubies and sapphires is profound. While both processes harness modern technology to create beautiful gemstones, they do so through different means. Synthetic corundum involves carefully controlled growth to achieve specific colors, while lab-grown rubies and sapphires guide natural growth under controlled conditions. Understanding these differences allows us to appreciate the beauty and diversity of these gemstones, whether they are crafted in a laboratory or nurtured through the marvels of nature.
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