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December 21, 2021
Sapphires are once again in vogue, claiming the spotlight for being one of the most popular choices when it comes to jewellery. Being a precious gemstone, the natural sapphire has won the hearts of many with its immense grandeur and value, its unique properties significantly amplifying its appeal as an ideal diamond alternative. In recent years, man-made sapphires otherwise known as Lab Grown sapphires have garnered attention for possessing compelling characteristics resembling the natural sapphire, resulting in its surge in popularity. This article serves to help you understand and choose between lab grown and natural sapphire. For more information on sapphires, click on this guide on “all you need to know about sapphire”.
As the name suggests, lab grown sapphires are basically real sapphires created in a lab environment using technology that replicates the formation process of natural sapphires. Both natural and lab grown sapphires are composed of the corundum mineral. Hence, the key distinction between a natural and lab grown sapphire lies in its place of origin and its consequent impact on the environment. Lab grown sapphires are generally more environmentally sustainable given that they are created in a controlled setting, as opposed to obtaining natural sapphires which involve mining.
In terms of assessing lab grown sapphires, we look at its hardness, clarity, colour, cut and shape, which allows us to identify what sets it apart from natural sapphires.
Hardness and durability: As lab grown and natural sapphires bear identical physical properties, they both score 9/10 on the Mohs hardness scale. However, the durability of lab created sapphires tend to exceed that of the natural sapphire as they comprise fewer to no inclusions. Inclusions are imperfections commonly present in natural sapphires, which could potentially weaken the stone. Hence, lab grown sapphires are less susceptible to scratches and breakages.
Clarity: In contrast to most natural sapphires which intrinsically contain inclusions, a factor that makes each gemstone physically unique, lab grown sapphires bear a more standardized appearance and typically contain fewer to no noticeable inclusions. This is due to the application of specific quantities of heat and pressure to create a more transparent and flawless looking stone. In terms of sparkle, lab grown sapphires exude a brilliance equal to the natural sapphire, attaining a refractive index of 1.76-1.77.
Colour: While blue is the colour that is most commonly associated with sapphires, natural and lab grown sapphires are available in other “fancy colours” including pink, yellow and orange, ranging from light to dark shades. Lab grown gemstones present more flexibility and options when it comes to colours, they also tend to project a more intense and vibrant shade. Hence, they do not need to undergo treatments to further enhance their colour unlike most natural sapphires. In addition, it is common for secondary hues to be present in natural sapphires.
Cut and shape: Lab-created gemstones allow for a greater versatility when it comes to cuts and shapes, as compared to natural sapphires which are constrained by its intrinsic physical qualities. Natural sapphires tend to abide by specific custom cuts to illuminate the stones’ colour, as such, the way the stone is cut may be limited by its inherent appearance. On the other hand, lab-created sapphires face fewer restrictions and allow more flexibility. Both natural and lab grown sapphires are obtainable in the classic round brilliant cut, or in fancy cuts. Check out our portfolio of sapphires here.
The price of a sapphire gemstone is dependent on its colour and clarity, and most importantly its carat size, which refers to its weight. Lab grown sapphires are often a more affordable option as compared to the natural sapphire. This is because natural sapphires are rare, especially non-treated ones, hence their appeal and demand allow them to generate a higher price and market value. Therefore, if we are comparing a natural and lab grown sapphire beholding identical carat size and quality, the lab grown sapphire would cost less.
With lab grown sapphires being a generally more affordable option, it translates to being able to obtain a larger carat size at a lower price as compared to the natural sapphire. Depending on one’s intended budget, this then opens up possibilities for more elaborate designs when it comes to incorporating these gemstones into jewellery pieces.
In terms of market value, the natural sapphire being a precious gemstone is known to be an ideal investment due to its retention of value through the years. This is especially so for all-natural (non-treated) sapphires, which are of superior quality and are extremely rare. In general, sapphires with fewer inclusions and possess a colour saturation that falls within the medium to medium-dark categories are highly sought after, essentially propelling its price and value.
It is difficult for the layman to distinguish between a natural and a lab grown sapphire due to their identical appearance. As mentioned, natural sapphires contain blemishes and inclusions, while lab grown sapphires appear more transparent and flawless. However, it would often require a trained gemologist and the use of specialized instruments to identify the details embedded within the stone’s clarity and colour that separates the two.
The sapphire you purchase should be certified to verify the gemstone’s authenticity. Always approach a trusted jeweller to have your gemstone professionally evaluated and gain information regarding its carat, clarity, colour and cut, and any treatments it has undergone.
The charismatic appeal of the sapphire, be it natural or lab grown, is apparent from its high demand and withstanding allure. Regardless, both sapphires are indisputably eye-catching and elegant. Depending on one’s personal preference, a few distinguishing characteristics may render one the more ideal option.
Choose Natural Sapphire if:
Choose Lab Grown Sapphire if:
Deciding between a natural and lab grown sapphire, or looking to purchase sapphire jewellery? We are happy to assist! Here at LeCaine Gems, our coloured gemstone jewelry collection comprises conflict-free Natural and Lab Grown sapphire gemstones in blue, pink and orange. These magnificent stones are set with 18k Rose, Yellow and White Gold and Platinum, to create luxurious and exquisite fine jewellery pieces. Rest assured, all gemstones are verified by an authenticity certificate and guaranteed by LeCaine Gems. Should you have any related queries, feel free to contact us or visit our boutique located at 9 Raffles Boulevard Millenia Walk #01-32 Singapore 039596, where we provide our natural and lab grown gemstones for viewing. For more details, follow us on Instagram (@lecainegems) to catch a glimpse of our natural and lab grown gemstones!
Do you wish to create your very own custom-designed jewellery piece? Embark on a Bespoke Jewellery Experience with us! We are committed to creating your desired jewelry piece based on your unique jewelry requirements. Choose from your favourite Gemstone, Moissanite or Lab grown Diamond, and complete it with your choice of metal to achieve the design you envision. Contact us and allow us the opportunity to create your desired jewelry piece for you, with you.
December 01, 2023
LeCaine Gems is a family owned business with years of jewelry experience. Our jewelry are certified authentic and made with high quality stones and real gold. We believe in ethical trades, fair pricing and a dedication to provide you an excellent service.
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