Buyer Be Aware: Cultured Gems

September 16, 2008 § 2 Comments

If you’ve heard the phrase “cultured” gemstone or “cultured diamond”, chances are you’re one of the first. The Federal Trade Commission has made sure you won’t be the last, however.

Despite a petition submitted to the FTC by Jewelers Vigilance Committee and jewelry trade associations, the FTC has decided that use of the word ‘cultured’ is acceptable when referring to a laboratory-created gemstone. One caveat, the marketers must include one of four terms meant to clarify the origin of the stone: (laboratory created, laboratory-grown, manufacturer-created, synthetic)

Most consumers these days are at least somewhat familiar with the word “cultured” when related to pearls. It’s a term used to describe pearls that are implanted with a piece of shell, returned to salt water, and then taken when there is enough nacre built up to satisfy the ‘grower’. Laboratory grown diamonds and colored gemstones are, scientifically speaking, as real as the diamonds mined from the earth. Lab-grown stones are generally less expensive, are more clear (have less inclusions), and are much more ecologically sound for our environment. Still, people are more inclined to want the ‘real’ stone.

It’s important to remember that the term ‘cultured’ still refers to lab-grown or synthetic stones, and these stones are as real and genuine as the gem mined straight from rock. Its simply grown under more ideal conditions in a much shorter span of time.

Cultured gems are not fakes, and are often more technically ‘perfect’ versions of gemstones. A diamond is still a diamond at a molecular level, regardless of whether it is mined or laboratory-grown, and synthetic does not mean your stone is fake.

Of the Earth Artisans often recommends laboratory grown stones for customers who can’t afford the more expensive, mined versions. We also sell these gems to die-hard environmentalists, as the stone is frequently more ethically sourced.

My advice: think about what is important to you with regards to your jewelry, then talk to your jeweler about what options you are most comfortable with. Or email my husband or myself, and we’ll be glad to discuss these (and many other) issues.


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