As one of the most popular and well-known colored gemstones, rubies have graced many famous pieces throughout time and command some of the highest prices per carat in the market. As a result of the demand and a limited supply of gem quality stones, alternate options for rubies have long been sought after with various simulants and synthetics reaching the mainstream. Knowing the difference between simulant and synthetic rubies is important to guarantee you are making an informed decision with your jewelry purchase.
While many terms can be used to describe a synthetic gemstone, all of these terms are meant to define a gemstone that is created in a laboratory. No one specific process creates a synthetic gemstone, the one link is that they are created artificially. So in reference to that, they may be called artificial, manmade, lab-made, lab-grown, or some other variation of these terms.
Some synthetic gemstones are made to be chemically and visually identical to their natural counterpart. In the case of a synthetic ruby, the same inclusions and flaws found in a natural ruby can be replicated, making it very difficult to distinguish between a synthetic and natural ruby.
Other synthetic stones are meant only to imitate the natural stone and not attempt to replicate. It is often why they are called “created” gemstones as well. It is important to work with dealers that are sure to offer these distinctions and not attempt to mislead consumers.
Gemstones are generally understood to be simulants when they are intended to “look like” another gemstone. This can occur in a few different ways. As we’ve seen, synthetic rubies are also a form of simulated rubies because they are pieces meant to appear as rubies. Other natural stones or even pieces of colored glass can be simulated rubies as well.
For example, a garnet or piece of red spinel may be cut to look like a ruby and passed off as such with a misleading name. In most instances, it has become a more common practice for semi-precious stones like garnet and red spinel to be sold as simulated rubies as they are much more economical and offer something of a similar color of red.
With information on ruby simulants and synthetics covered, we next return to the real deal and explore the history of mining rubies, as well as the leading ruby-producing countries. We start with an overview of Geology & Mining Techniques.