Chemistry in the Development of Synthetic Gemstones

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  • Topic: Gemstone, Diamond, Diamond simulant
  • Pages : 3 (1068 words )
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  • Published : July 11, 2006
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Synthetic Gemstones

Throughout history, gemstones have been reserved mainly for royalty and families who were very wealthy. People who could not afford them often sought ways to have the things that they desired. The practice of imitating jewels and gemstones has been around almost as long as they have been coveted. This is true as far back as the "Ancient Egyptians who feigned gemstones with glass and glaze, because genuine were too expensive and/or too rare" (Schumann, 242). One of the earliest imitations to resemble turquoise, prized by the Egyptians, and some 7,000 years ago they constructed a turquoise-colored ceramic substance, termed faience, that was used for beads, amulets, pendants, and rings (Matlins and Bonanno, 227). Also, blue glass gems were found in King Tut's tomb (Matlins and Bonanno, 227). It is fair to say that imitation gems have been around for quite awhile. Not only have the poor made them, but also royalty such as King Tut, because the "real thing" was just too rare to get a hold of.

Glass and other substances have been used to imitate gemstones for a very long time. It wasn't until recently that an actual gem was synthesized using a special technique developed by a French chemist A.V. Verneuil. Verneuil created the flame fusion process in 1883 where he synthesized the first gemstones. He "succeeded in producing gem quality synthetic rubies in 1888" (Schumann, 243). His method melts powdered aluminum oxide with some other additives, which include a dye. The molten parts form into a pear shaped boule. Although there aren't any crystal faces, the crystal structure is the same as the natural gem. Synthetic blue sapphires were produced in 1910 and sometime later, colorless, yellow, green, and alexandrite-colored sapphires were perfected (Schumann, 243).

Synthetic diamonds have always been a sought after item, mainly because of their price and rarity. However, their price and scarcity are totally artificial. The diamond seller DeBeers...
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