A lot of us are interested to learn more about lab created sapphire. Now these are being widely used even for the jewelry making with the heightened price point of natural gemstones.
White sapphire makes a special case within the buyer community as white sapphire is an effective replacement for diamond engagement rings too.
Thus let’s take a deep look into this man made mystery.
Making of Synthetic Sapphires
At first the synthetic sapphires were made to address the industrial needs and usage of sapphire. Sapphire scores a 9 in Mohr’s scale which gives them unique hardness properties.
This hardness is exploited in multiple industries ranging across electronics, abrasives, laser products and even communications related products. The synthetic sapphires are made and consumed in thousands of metric tons per annum in these industries.
There are mainly two methodologies to make synthetic sapphire
This has been the most historical method of making synthetics. Popularly known as flame fusion technique or Verneuil method. Czochralski method also falls in to the melt process little different from former mentioned.
As the name itself suggest this involves melting of the material and during the process of systematic cooling, the crystals are grown.
The sapphires or the corundum are grown in a matter of days with this method. The process and the materials used during the melt process allows it to be sold at a lower rate.
An advanced way of making the synthetics. Notably two methods known as flux growth and hydrothermal growth.
Flux growth involves dissolving the growth materials in a solution and cooling. Whereas hydrothermal method involves creating the natural crystal growing environments in a lab.
These two methods are quite expensive and take up to a year, may be more to produce the stones. However the synthetics made of solution process has superior quality in terms of the evenness of corundum properties and color distribution.
Lab Created Sapphire Vs. Natural Sapphire
As long as the chemical and material composition is concerns both are the same. The hardness score is 9 therefore even the lab created sapphires can withstand the tear and wear to the same extent as natural sapphire. The only difference is the process that was involved to create them.
However there is a notable difference when it comes to diffusion treated synthetic faceted sapphires. This process involves infusion of color giving materials on to the surface of a cut synthetic gemstone. These synthetic sapphires will exhibit colors only on the surface of the stone and cannot re-cut or re-polished.
These diffuse treated synthetics are easy to identify through lab testing and it display the color concentrations at the facet lines and gradle edges.
How Much are Lab Created Sapphires Worth
Lab created sapphire made through melt process are valued very low at bulk purchasing. Price per carat sometimes falls down only to few dollars or even less.
However the synthetics made through flux or hydrothermal methods are comparatively expensive up to few hundred dollars per carat where blue corundum being the highest priced.
The rough material before cutting and polishing is always valued less compared to faceted synthetic sapphires.
However consumers should be careful in buying the gemstones not to be deceived by synthetics for a price of a natural sapphire.
US Federal Trade Commission regulates that all synthetic sapphires must disclose the nature of the gemstone throughout the supply chain. But still better be safe than sorry.
Lab Created Sapphire Colors
Most prominent lab created sapphires come in colorless or white, blue, red (ruby), pink and orange. High color intensity, particularly of the blue synthetic sapphire are tough to create, thus becomes expensive in making.
Many lab created sapphires are thus now creating easy to make colors like white or pink. White synthetic sapphire do have a certain amount of demand due to the usage in engagement rings but secondary to natural or synthetic diamonds and natural white sapphire.
The above mentioned color diffused synthetic sapphire can be less expensive and not the best synthetic counter part of natural gems to make jewelries. These color diffused stones based on an originally colorless lab created sapphire exhibit less transparency and visual appeal.
Lab Created Sapphire vs. Diamond
There is no direct comparison between these two. But a lot the consumers eager to know about the precious stones either natural or synthetic that can replace the diamonds for an engagement ring.
Therefore it’s good to discuss few frequently asked questions particularly about the synthetic white sapphire as a contender for engagement rings.
Do Lab Created White Sapphire Look Like Diamonds?
Lab created white sapphire have the most close resemblance to a diamond. However it depends of the purity of the stone. Even the natural white sapphire has a distinct look of silver lust and absence of the fire of a diamond.
But synthetic white sapphire sparkle to a greater elegance with it’s brilliance though the absence of fire will make it more silver like.
Do Lab Created White Sapphire Get Cloudy?
Naturally found white sapphire is inherent with a seemingly cloud like display properties, primarily due to its inclusions. It also attracts dirt and oil quite a lot compared to other precious stones, thus requiring a lot of cleaning.
Lab created white sapphire however may differ in its transparency and milkiness depending on the level of inclusions. If there are no inclusion and if the white sapphire is pure, it will look colorless like glass. Colorless lab created sapphire are widely used for scratch proof windows in different industries, even in aerospace.
The magnitude of industries that use synthetic sapphires has evolved and grown in recent past creating a surge of demand. The portion of it used for jewelry making is very little volume-wise and value-wise.
However there is still a significant portion of synthetic sapphires in the international gem market driving down the price point of the natural sapphires to a certain extent. The existence of both natural and lab created sapphires is thus needed for the sustainability of the industry by spreading across different affordability levels.
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