Author: Mirabel Zou
Editors: Vincent Chang, Yan Xi Chen, He-Hanson Xuan
Have you ever wondered why the same crystals can be sold at such drastically different prices? Well, the cheaper one might be a synthetic crystal. A synthetic gem is made in a laboratory, but it shares virtually all the chemical, optical, and physical characteristics of its natural mineral counterpart. They are not mined, but are still indeed crystals.
In contrast to what most may think, synthetic crystals are more beautiful and sparkly than traditional gemstones. Since they are given the right ingredients, time, and facilities to grow, they form shapes and colors more perfectly - almost too perfectly. Because of how similar the gems look, there are strict guidelines on how they are marketed and sold to avoid fakes. However, the types of gem also affect their rarity on the market. For example, the creation of synthetic diamonds is rarer than that of emeralds.
The ways to create these synthetic gem materials in the laboratory fall into two major categories: melt or solution. In melt processes, the chemical composition of the melt is the same as the resulting crystal. A common melt process is the “Flame Fusion” process. It involves melting powered chemicals through high-temperature flames, which would then fall onto a rotating pedestal, forming synthetic crystals. In contrast, for the solution processes, the solution or melt has a different chemical composition than that of the resulting crystal. An example is Flux growth, which provides the best gemstones because it creates an identical internal structure to mined gemstones.
So, are synthetic crystals just fake crystals? It depends on how you view it. Since lab-grown crystals have the same chemical properties and look better than their natural version, they can be regarded as superior counterparts. Essentially, people are willing to pay 50 or 100 times the price for an inferior product. However, many people are focused on how it is made and its commonality. Each natural gem is uniquely made different by nature over millions of years. Everyone wants to pay to own a piece of nature’s fascinating creations, making them highly expensive and popular.
Synthetic crystals are becoming more widely known and might even take over the jewelry industry someday. But in the end, the choice between synthetic and natural is up to the discretion of the beholder. __________________________________________________________________________________
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