Are there synthetic jewelry-quality gemstones that are up to snuff?

There’s a thread about the DeBeers monopoly which has brought up for me something I’ve considered for a while - namely, yeah, some gemstones are worse than others but a lot of them are damaging to people in one way or another. If I ever get married, I don’t even want a diamond - sapphires are more my thing. I’ve heard a lot lately about the quality of modern lab-made gems, but are they really as good (or better, really?) than the thing you dig out of the ground? And are they cheap? If I wanted to get, let’s say, a sapphire engagement ring, maybe one of those nice square or rectangular cut dealies with diamonds on either side, how much would that run me in manmade and would it be virtually indistinguishable?

Synthetic stones are usually better; it is the lack of defects that give them away. In the case of sapphires, you can get a synthetic stone of any color you wish. A high quality synthetic is about 10-30% of the price of a natural stone. Some sapphires are hard to duplicate-a light blue ceylon sapphire is a hue that is hard to match

Also, if anybody has dealt with a reliable supplier of high quality manmade jewelry, links would be appreciated.

You can’t tell a CZ from a Diamond just by looking at it, by the un-aided eye.

Yeah, you can, if one is next to the other.

That’s not exactly true, as most CZs have a complete lack of color, and as ralph124c says, a complete lack of defects.

Although it does make me wonder why thy don’t just add some copper or sulfur and introduce some defects to make them less perfect, and therefore, more special.

Heartily recommended. They custom made my engagement ring with Moissanites (manmade silicon carbide crystals that are virtually indistinguishable from diamonds) and a mined Tsavorite garnet*, but they offer lots of manmade quality gemstones as well.

Nice work at a reasonable price – they beat the nearest competitor quote by 30%. You can use their live chat function to do custom design on the fly (they will send you mockups as you go). They also work with a variety of metals including yellow & white gold, platinum and palladium.

*synthetic emerald would have been cheaper but they had a blue tone I didn’t care for.

Something like this? Cultured sapphire + side moissanites + white gold = $600
(note: picture shows emerald but comes in cultured sapphire as well, same price)

Compare to comparably sized mined sapphire + side diamonds + white gold = $1,500

And it would be virtually indistinguishable in appearance and durability.

Chatham is the big name in created stones; the first to develop many techniques and generally top quality. Even created stones have quality grades, they’re not identical.

With synthetics, I think the question is not how close it looks to the real thing, but whether or not you like the stones. (I mean, this isn’t Maupassant’s necklace we’re dealing with here. You’re not trying to fool people. You want to get a ring you like at a price you can afford.)

When the time comes, go to a reputable jeweler and ask him/her to get some unset created sapphires for you to look at. If you’ve picked out a setting first, even better, because then s/he can get the appropriate size and shape. I once had my heart set on a designing a ring with a sapphire cabochon, and when I saw the cabochons in person, I didn’t like them and went with a faceted stone. (And if I’d gone with a created stone, I could have gotten a much bluer sapphire. I’m not sure what grade the stone was that I bought, but it’s pretty dark.)

Most CZ are obviously not diamonds just from a cursory glance if you’ve had any training whatsoever.

A second for moissanite.

*Cubic zirconia is so optically close to diamond that only a trained eye can easily differentiate the two.[citation needed] There are a few key features of cubic zirconia which distinguish it from diamond, some observable only under the microscope or loupe, for example:[citation needed]

* Dispersion, with a dispersive power greater than diamond (0.060 vs. 0.044) the more prismatic fire of cubic zirconia can be seen by even an untrained eye.

* Hardness, cubic zirconia has an 8.5 to <9.0 on the Mohs' hardness scale vs. a rating of 10 for diamonds.

* Specific gravity, cubic zirconia crystals are heavyweights in comparison to diamonds; a cubic zirconia will weigh about 1.7 times more than a diamond of equivalent size.

* Flaws, contemporary production of cubic zirconia is virtually flawless,[citation needed] whereas most diamonds have some sort of defect, be it a feather, included crystal, or perhaps a remnant of an original crystal face (e.g. trigons).

* Refractive index, cubic zirconia has a refractive index of 2.176, compared to a diamond's 2.417.

* Cut, under close inspection with a loupe, the facet shapes of some cubic zirconias appear different from diamonds.

* Color, or more precisely, the lack thereof: only the rarest of diamonds are truly colorless, most having a tinge of yellow or brown to some extent. By comparison, cubic zirconia can be made in most cases entirely colorless: equivalent to a perfect "D" on diamond's color grading scale.

* Thermal conductivity, cubic zirconias are thermal insulators while diamonds are among the most efficient thermal conductors, exceeding copper. This makes telling the difference between diamond and cubic zirconia quite easy for those with the right instruments.*

Santo Rugger is correct when he sez that CZ can be made colorless and diamonds usually have color, but CZ can be made in any color.

Star sapphires.
Linde synthetic star sapphires vs real star sapphires.
The synthetic ones have crisper stars and need less light to see them.

CMC +fnord!

CZ is way sparklier, as even that Wikipedia quote agrees.

Isn’t that a good thing? Don’t you want sparkly?

IMHO, the look is kinda vulgar.

Similar thread on synthetic gemstones.