Difference between a Lab-Created Sapphire and a Natural Sapphire

Updated on June 28, 2018

They say a diamond is a girl’s best friend. Nonetheless, gem lovers who are mesmerized by a sapphire’s magnificent blue hue would beg to disagree. A sapphire is considered to be the second most precious gemstone in the world and is thought to take millions of years to form. However, through the aid of modern technology, man has come up with ways to easily produce this sparkling beauty. These man-made products are called lab-created sapphires, which are considered to be the same as the real thing. So how, now, do we differentiate natural sapphires from the lab-created ones? This article will provide you with a list of differences for you to distinguish one from the other.

Summary Table

Lab-Created SapphireNatural Sapphire
Man-made in a carefully controlled environmentNaturally created, Earth-made
Easily madeRare and difficult to mine
Has all the characteristics of a high-quality gemstone and is almost flawlessNaturally has inclusions or flaws
Does not have a wide variation in color and usually made to appear with the exact color preferredComes in a variety of colors depending on the region it is mined from
Less expensiveMore expensive

Definitions

lab-created sapphire
A lab-created sapphire

Lab-created sapphires are made using corundum and are grown within carefully controlled settings. The lab environment is set up to simulate the high pressure and heat coming from the earth, which is responsible for creating this precious gemstone.

Natural sapphire
Natural sapphire

Natural sapphires are made when high-pressure heat from the earth interacts with aluminum oxide – a mineral more commonly known as corundum. This natural gemstone is valued for its rarity and remarkable blue color, making it the second most coveted gemstone next to the diamond.

Lab-Created Sapphire vs Natural Sapphire

The main difference between a lab created sapphire and a natural sapphire boils down to the way it is made as well as the characteristics of the gemstone. Both types of sapphires are made of corundum, which is also known as aluminum oxide. However, lab-created sapphires are man-made in a carefully controlled laboratory environment while natural sapphires are naturally made by the earth over millions of years. Hence, lab-created sapphires are easier to make compared to the natural ones which are scarce and hard to mine.

A lab created sapphire has all the high-quality characteristics of the natural gem and is more flawless with hardly any imperfections. The sapphire is made by simulating the earth’s heat and high-pressure effects on corundum. This process creates a very hard and durable gem which does not easily scratch or chip. In terms of color, a lab-created sapphire has less variations and usually appears in the specific color intended for the stone, which is blue.

A natural sapphire, on the other hand, usually has flaws or inclusions. Inclusions pertain to other gases or small minerals trapped inside the gem as it was formed by the earth. Natural sapphires usually have a wide color spectrum appearing in different shades of blue, and some in purple, violet, pink, yellow, or orange. The distinct colors are related to the regions where these natural sapphires are formed and mined.

Lab-created sapphires are considerably less expensive than the natural ones. A natural sapphire, being a natural stone, provides higher equity in the jewelry market. This is supported by the fact that this natural gem is rare and difficult to mine, along with the accompanying higher labor costs. A natural sapphire with no inclusions is considered the most precious and is tagged with a premium price.

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