Natural Sapphires vs. Lab-Created Sapphires: What's the Difference?

Natural Sapphires vs. Lab-Created Sapphires: What's the Difference?


What's the difference between natural and lab sapphires? Molecularly, not a whole lot. There's the misconception that "lab-created" means "fake" or "simulated" but the fact of the matter is that natural gemstones and lab-grown ones have the same chemical and physical properties and are ultimately composed of the same organic minerals.

Blue sapphire handmade engagement rings by Dana Walden

The core difference between natural and lab-created gems, is that a natural gem originates within the earth and is mined from the earth, while a lab-created gem is carefully engineered in a laboratory during an expedited time period using the same mineral components as natural stones.

To be perfectly clear: A lab sapphire is not fake or simulated; it is formed using an expedited process in a laboratory instead of forming over many, many years in a natural mine. 

Since lab-grown sapphires are engineered under controlled circumstances, this creates a special opportunity in terms of value. Gem quality natural sapphires are quite rare and take a great deal of time to fully form, making them extremely costly. Not to mention, it takes considerable resources to responsibly mine natural gems, as well. So, you pay a premium for the time and effort that goes into the process of mining natural sapphires, while lab-grown gems can be had at a lower price. Here's an example from our own catalog:



Our popular Alexandra blue lab sapphire and diamond ring was inspired by a similar design that Dana & Rad spied at a Christie's auction in NYC. That particular heirloom ring had a price tag that was well into the 6-figure range. Meanwhile, a 4-carat natural blue sapphire ring on the mass market can generally be had for a starting price of about $25,000 - $35,000.

For our Alexandra ring, we source high quality, richly-hued lab sapphires; our gems are relatively flawless and have all the ideal characteristics of a top-quality natural gem; this is because Dana & Rad personally hand-select the highest quality specimens. Ultimately, only a gemologist can tell the difference between a natural and lab-created sapphire. 

Our lab-sapphire Alexandra ring starts at about $4600, representing the apex of attainable luxury for fine jewelry lovers everywhere.

Sapphire Facts

Sapphires (both lab and natural) are rated a 9.0 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness. The only gemstone harder and more durable than sapphires are diamonds, making sapphires extremely durable for everyday wear. Courtesy of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), here are some additional facts:

  • Sapphires are in the mineral family Corundum.
  • Sapphires can be mined in every color but red (a red stone in the Corundum family is a ruby). 
  • Non-blue sapphires like the ones featured in our AURA OF SAPPHIRES line of engagement rings are known as “fancy sapphires.”
  • Sapphires are so durable that synthetic sapphire is often used for the windows of spacecraft.

All Dana Walden jewels are ethically handmade with responsibly-sourced gems and conflict-free diamonds. All fine metals are eco-friendly with no new mining impact. To view any DW design or learn more about our custom engagement ring process, book an appointment with Dana and Rad.



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