A Survivor's Guide to Jewelry Buying - Stone Origins
As we’ve gone through different metals, we’ve learned about hardness, durability, properties, and color. The next part in understanding jewelry comes to stones. Diamonds, rose quartz, garnet, turquoise, and many more are all available for jewelry and come with their own unique shapes and colors. But to start us off on this new journey, it should be understood where stones come from. There are natural, laboratory grown, and man-made stones available to jewelers which are all fairly widely accepted and used.
Natural minerals are formed in the crust of the earth over thousands of years. With the correct ingredients, pressure, and heat, a mineral will crystallize. These crystallized minerals are harvested or mined all around the world through various methods including open pit mining, underground mining, river wash mining, and open sea mining. Diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds are all considered to be precious stones. Although beautiful, the harvesting and mining of these and other natural minerals has a colorful past with some unethical twists and turns that more individuals are now considering when buying jewelry.
Laboratory grown, or synthetic, stones are also widely available. Starting with sapphires and rubies, stones have been grown in a lab since the late 1800s. At a fraction of the price of natural stones (and at a much higher quality), lab grown stones are chemically identical to natural gems. Additionally, synthetic stones are far more ethically made and harvested than their natural cousins. Another plus is these stones can be cut specifically and can be curated to enhance the refraction of light.
Lastly, man-made, stones are made to look like natural stones but do not chemically match the stones they replicate. These imitations often come in colors and combinations not found in nature like cubic zirconia, opal, spinel, and multiple others. They usually are resin or epoxy based while tending to be a little softer than lab grown or natural minerals.
Stones and where they come from are important to discuss when choosing the style, color, and preference you’re seeking. Seeing how a sapphire looks in a specific setting compared to a diamond can help the decision making process as well as educate on the best stone for your lifestyle.