Gem Tips for Etsy Shoppers

Thank you to Mary of Sandcastle Jewels for today’s post! (You’re a gem, Mary!!)

maryEtsy is a great place to find beautiful gemstone jewelry. But I believe that the more you, as a buyer know, the happier you’ll be with your Etsy finds. This month I’ll sort out some basics…When is a Synthetic gem Real? Is it Natural…or Genuine? And what the heck does that mean?

Walk in to any jewelry store, or scan any online equivalent and you’ll see the signs.
Genuine Ruby…Real Sapphires…etc. So that means your stone was brought in from the mine, cut, polished & set, right? Well, maybe. And maybe not. Here are some terms to look for.

Untreated – Well, that one’s pretty straightforward. It means that, other than cutting and polishing, your stone was left just as it was created in nature. These stones are most sought after and typically carry the most monetary value. And for some gems (Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald and even Diamond) they are very rare. In my February post, I’ll talk about gem treatments.

Natural – This is going to be a stone that is mined from the ground, and may have had some industry standard treatments in addition to cutting and polishing. Fortunately, there are many natural stones in lots of different price points to be found here on Etsy and elsewhere.

Synthetic/Lab Grown – This is where people get a little nervous. But there’s good news. True synthetic stones are started from natural gemstone “seed” or rough. In a controlled environment, natural processes are mimicked and the crystals grow as they would in the Earth, without the impurities that can mar their beauty.The result is a gem that is the same chemical composition, crystalline structure and appearance as a perfect natural gem, virtually flawless. The stone would test as a natural stone, but the cost would be much less. So when you walk into that jeweler or visit that online store, the sign that says Genuine Ruby or Real Sapphires is not technically a lie. A reputable jeweler will tell you up front, knowing that in terms of investment, synthetics typically don’t hold the value of natural stones, BUT THEY DON’T HAVE TO. So, if it matters to you, by all means, ASK. If you just want a near flawless gem that is very affordable, Synthetics may be for you. I’m in the group that thinks they are a little “too perfect”, so I don’t sell them, but they’re a viable option.

Simulant – This one is almost always going to be a man made stone that will visually match a real gem, but is chemically & structurally different. Simulants can be glass, stone, resin or whatever. CZs are simulants. Moissanite is an expensive, sought after stimulant that has been marketed extremely well.

So there you have it. Most of us buy jewelry because it’s beautiful. Any of these options can be just that. But before you buy, really read the description. Look for key words like Natural & Untreated. Know that Genuine may mean something different to you than it does to the seller. And don’t be afraid to ask your Etsy seller before you buy.


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