What's the difference between natural, synthetic + imitation gemstones?

What's the difference between natural, synthetic + imitation gemstones?

Natural gemstones have two origins: mineral (found in rocks, pebbles and gravel) and organic (found in animals and plants) both of which allow natural evolution of the stone itself.

Synthetic gemstones are formed in laboratories and are man made, whilst natural gemstones are sourced from all over the planet – mines, seabeds and the like. Their structure is however similar to that of their natural counterpart.

Imitation gemstones are similar in look to precious or semi-precious gemstones but are made from cheaper materials (for example glass, paste). Their physical properties are also different to the stones that they try to imitate. Imitation stones are usually easier to differentiate from natural than synthetic stones. Such stones as cubic zirconium, rock crystal, colourless topaz and moissanite, for example, imitate diamonds.

A key difference between all three is price – in general the natural variety is more expensive (though cultured pearls are more expensive than freshwater). Knowing and identifying the difference  between the three categories is essential.

We wouldn't stock synthetic or imitation gemstone jewellery, though they can be useful to show as model.

Our natural gemstone range of jewellery can be found here.

If you'd like to know more, or would like us to help you with an enquiry, do make contact.

Ask Jacobs More

Article by Adam J

Adam J

Adam's been working at Jacobs since 2003, has a professional jewellers diploma and looks after the business as whole.