Angelina Jolie, Elizabeth Taylor, Cleopatra, and Venus; emeralds are the gems of goddesses. In fact, the earliest emerald mines are believed to be none other than the legendary “mines of Cleopatra” in Egypt. The conquistadors later discovered the highest quality emeralds the world has ever seen in the mines of Columbia. Unfortunately, these Muzo and Chivor mines were known for unfair working conditions and violence. Earth-mined emerald’s complicated past is one of the reasons some people prefer lab-grown emerald instead.
However, there are many other benefits to purchasing a lab-grown emerald. While lab-grown emerald is a relatively new scientific discovery, its popularity is rising fast as a sustainable jewelry option. Not to mention its affordability for potentially high-quality emeralds. As a result, there’s a lot of competition in the lab-grown industry.
To make an educated purchase, it’s important to know the difference between earth-mined, lab-grown, and simulated emerald. In truth, all these options have their pros and cons when it comes to the May birthstone. Therefore, you should know all the facts before deciding which option is right for you. With this in mind, let’s discover 8 reasons why Chatham lab-grown emerald is an excellent choice as the May birthstone.
1. Lab-Grown Emeralds are Real Emeralds
First, lab-grown emeralds have the same physical, chemical, and optical properties as mined emeralds. In fact, Chatham doesn’t “make” gems. Rather, we control the environment, so crystals can grow naturally. In other words, we recreate the conditions in which gems grow under the earth. Therefore, the only difference is where they are grown—in a lab instead of under the earth.
However, terms like “lab,” “man-made,” or “created” are often used to refer to imitations that are not real emeralds. Consequently, it can be difficult to know exactly what product you’re getting. For example, an emerald cubic zirconia is man-made but it’s an imitation emerald. Therefore, it’s not a synthetic or lab-grown emerald because it’s not actually an emerald.
Additionally, the different qualities of lab-grown emeralds on the market today can confuse shoppers. For example, flame fusion or pulled synthetics are also marketed as lab grown. Though, these gemstones are grown using an inexpensive process that takes a matter of hours instead of months.
In the flame fusion process, powdered chemical ingredients are melted into a large block in an hour. Due to how they’re made, flame fusion gemstones don’t have natural crystal faces. Consequently, they’re not the same as mined gemstones from a crystallography perspective. In fact, the flame fusion gemstones’ crystal structures look disoriented like glass.
In contrast, Chatham lab-grown emerald takes about a year to grow. As a result, our flux lab-grown emerald has an identical internal structure to mined emeralds. That’s why we think it’s worth devoting a year to letting our emerald crystals grow. Accordingly, the crystal structure of our lab-grown emeralds results in the same brilliance and reflection as earth-mined emeralds.
2. Lab-Grown Emeralds Keep the Earth Green
Another key point is the effect mining gemstones and diamonds has on the earth. Certainly, it’s no secret that mining creates long lasting impacts on the areas where these activities occur. But growing these precious gems in a lab creates the exact same materials the earth is ripped open to harvest. Not to mention, there are also countless unspeakable human rights violations involved in mining gemstones.
More specifically, territorial disputes for the prized Colombian emerald mines led to what’s commonly referred to as the “Green Wars.” Unfortunately, these violent battles in the 1980s claimed the lives of more than 6,000 people. In light of this, choosing lab-grown emeralds is the most socially responsible choice when it comes to your jewelry.
One of the benefits of lab-grown gemstones is they have less impact on the environment compared to earth-mined gems. This is due to their inherent differences, including the following:
- Lab-grown gems don’t require moving large amounts of earth.
- They eliminate the chance of drinking water pollution.
- It’s true that crystal growers use energy and chemicals derived from the earth. However, the carbon footprint of crystal growth is still a small fraction of gemstone mining.
How Chatham Grows Green
Again, different gemstone growers use different growth methods. As the pioneer of lab-grown gemstones, Chatham has remained the world leader in this industry for over 80 years. But it all started with Carroll Chatham’s first emerald-growing experiment in the 1920s. That’s right, Chatham got its start with this famous green gem. Later, Chatham began steadily growing emeralds and perfected his secret lengthy process in 1938.
To explain, this process takes about a year to grow emerald crystals from start to finish. First, we begin with an earth-mined seed of fine Colombian emerald with perfect color. Then, we create a controlled environment rich in chromium to give our crystals a rich green hue. This causes the crystals to grow larger and cleaner than the emeralds grown under the earth.
One of Chatham’s key secrets is how we maintain 1200 degrees Celsius for a year without any variances. In short, we achieve this feat through the efficiency of our flux furnaces. While this invention was meant to create stability, it also saves power. As a result, our production energy in dollars is about 5 cents per carat.
In addition to saving power, Chatham also reuses and refines these platinum crucibles along with much of our other equipment. Plus, we recycle our flux material as a part of our proprietary mixture. To this end, we purchase it from chemical companies in its purest form. This purity is called five 9’s. That means any chemical we acquire is 99.99999% pure. Best of all, it means this flux chemical doesn’t wear out or get contaminated. Instead, only the elements that make up a gemstone get consumed. Take the case of emerald, where beryllium, alumina, silica, and a pinch of chromium for color get used.
But Chatham doesn’t stop at sustainably growing gems.
Chatham Plants a Tree for Every Jewelry Piece Sold
Chatham also has a long history of support for environmental preservation, education, and gemological research. In fact, Chatham’s continuous contributions exceed $1,500,000 of gift and kind.
One of the ways we give back to our planet is by planting a tree for every piece of Chatham jewelry sold. For this purpose, we partnered with One Tree Planted, a non-profit dedicated to global reforestation.
To be sure, we plant trees because Chatham cares deeply about the planet. So, naturally, we want to create a business that gives back to nature. Most importantly, trees themselves are vital to our ecosystem by providing the following services:
- Cleaning our air and water.
- Creating habitats for biodiversity.
- Contributing to our health and wellbeing.
- Creating jobs for social impact.
Since Chatham was born in the state of California, this is where Chatham focuses its reforestation efforts. At the same time, California has faced severe droughts, wildfires, and a bark beetle infestation in the last 5 years. With all this damage to California forests, we want to support the diverse plant species native to this region.
When you purchase Chatham lab-grown emerald jewelry, you’ll also receive a Chatham Certificate of Authenticity. On this Certificate, you’ll notice a One Tree Planted stamp verifying that your purchase plants a tree. Now you can wear your emerald jewelry confidently, knowing it helps the earth stay as green as the emerald itself.
3. Chatham Lab-Grown Emeralds are the Highest Quality Emeralds on Earth
Another advantage of Chatham lab-grown emeralds is they look as beautiful as the finest mined emeralds. This is due to our careful control over the growing environment as well as our high standards for quality. To put it another way, growing emerald crystals in a lab is a bit like making ice in your freezer:
First, you place the starter material, water, in a container. Then, you put the container into a controlled environment: your freezer. If you create the right conditions of temperature and time, then ice crystals will form.
As a result, the freezer ice will usually be cleaner and more perfect than lake ice. But it’s still ice, just like the ice that forms in nature. In a way, what we do is a sophisticated high-tech version of freezing water to form ice.
After our rough is finished growing, it has a garden of inclusions that grow along with the crystal. However, when we cut the gemstones, we cut away 80% of the rough. This results in faceted emeralds that are essentially flawless in clarity and highly saturated in color. In comparison, earth-mined emeralds are almost never flawless. That’s why you’ll almost always find emeralds in the emerald cut: it loses the least weight.
Can You Tell the Difference? Lab-Grown Emeralds vs. Mined Emeralds
Again, Chatham lab-grown emeralds are real emeralds nearly identical to those found in nature. As a result, it can be difficult to tell them apart from high-quality earth-mined emeralds. Only a certified gemologist using a powerful microscope can spot the difference.
Since Chatham is at the forefront of full disclosure, we do what we can to help gemologists separate the two. To this end, every gemological laboratory in the world has reference samples of Chatham lab-grown gemstones. To aid in this identification, we contribute samples and updates to laboratories whenever a new Chatham lab-grown gemstone is released.
However, most jewelers have never seen an earth-mined emerald as high-quality as a Chatham lab-grown emerald. In reality, most earth-mined emeralds are oiled to fill cracks, disguise flaws, and enhance color.
In contrast, Chatham lab-grown emeralds are never enhanced or color treated. Instead, we strive for the best qualities and colors found in nature. This means lower quality emeralds are not released for sale. Plus, saving carat weight is never a consideration when we cut our emeralds.
Therefore, the easiest way to tell the two apart is by identifying telling flaws or treatments in an earth-mined emerald. For example, if you see eye-visible inclusions or filled-in gaps and cavities, then you’re probably looking at an earth-mined emerald. Likewise, if the emerald isn’t rich in color, then it’s not a Chatham lab-grown emerald.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of fakes and scams on the internet. To avoid being taken advantage of, always purchase your emeralds from a reputable retailer. This goes for purchasing earth-mined as well as lab-grown emeralds. Similarly, there’s often fake emeralds marketed as Chatham emeralds on sites like eBay and Etsy. To ensure you’re buying from a Chatham Authorized Retailer, please check our Store Locator.
4. Lab-Grown Emeralds Embody Everything Green
Nature at its finest overflows with the lush green of plant life also seen in emeralds. Accordingly, they are symbols of health, life, and growth. On account of May being in the heart of spring, emerald is the perfect May birthstone. Moreover, it emphasizes the rebirth and renewal of the spring season.
However, mining emeralds strips the earth of its vitality. But, as explained earlier, there is a green gemstone that leaves the earth a little greener. What better way to celebrate the beauty of nature than with Chatham lab-grown emeralds? Indeed, growing these gems in a lab makes them a better representation of nature, life, and growth. Though, emerald’s deeper meanings come not only from nature but from the gem’s rich history as well.
For instance, the ancients connected emeralds to Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty. Back then, it was said to protect lovers from unfaithfulness. In like fashion, Hinduism associates green with the heart chakra. This makes emerald a symbol of the heart and universal love. For all these reasons, another name for emerald is “The Stone of Successful Love.” As such, it’s a popular gem for couples and engagement rings.
These sacred gemstones were also symbols of fertility and immortality. As a pharaoh, known to her people as a god, Cleopatra likely favored these gems to emphasize her divinity. Not only does these “Jewels of Kings” encompass royalty, but also wit, eloquence, and foresight. Along these lines, emerald is associated with the May Zodiac signs—Gemini and Taurus. And so, it’s said to bring peace, inspiration, and protection to those born in May.
5. Lab-Grown Emeralds Save You Green
As mentioned before, lab-grown emeralds save you money as a more affordable option to earth-mined emeralds. Undeniably, the savings are so significant that it’s our fifth reason they are the ideal May birthstone.
Surprisingly, saving money with lab-grown emeralds doesn’t mean sacrificing quality. On the contrary, Chatham lab-grown emeralds are better quality than most earth-mined emeralds for reasons explained previously. But, for the price difference, it’s important to compare a lab-grown and mined emerald of the same size and quality. In short, the price difference can be as much as $100,000 per carat!
Plus, the price difference increases the larger the emerald. As a result, you can afford a larger lab-grown emerald that’s better quality than an earth-mined emerald. So, impress your friends and go for that grand emerald piece you always wanted. After all, no one will be able to tell the difference since Chatham lab-grown emeralds are real emeralds too.
6. Chatham Lab-Grown Emeralds Last for Life
Not only are Chatham lab-grown emeralds higher quality for less, but they also last a lifetime with the proper care. As with any emerald, you always run the risk of damaging the stone when you wear it. For this reason, people usually save their precious emerald jewelry for special occasions.
However, Chatham’s Lifetime Warranty for all of our color gemstones means you can wear your emerald jewelry as everyday elegance. If your emerald chips or breaks under ordinary circumstances, then Chatham will gladly repair or replace it at our option. Moreover, all Chatham gemstones and fine jewelry are held to the highest standards before they’re sent out. However, if any defect in the workmanship or materials becomes apparent, the Certificate of Authenticity provides a one-year manufacturer’s warranty.
While Chatham lab-grown emeralds should last a lifetime, they are still precious gemstones that need proper care. Furthermore, they have the same hardness as mined emeralds—7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale. But since Chatham lab-grown emeralds have fewer inclusions than most mined emeralds, they are naturally more durable. With this in mind, normal wear and tear is excluded from the lifetime warranty.
If you question whether your damaged jewelry is covered under our warranty, then we can assess the damage. To do this, please return the piece along with the sales receipt to the store from where it was purchased. Then, your Chatham retailer will expedite the item to us for immediate servicing. If we find a replacement gem is needed, then we’ll take into consideration and honor the original size and weight.
How to Take Care of Your Lab-Grown Emerald
Just like earth-mined emeralds, Chatham lab-grown emeralds make beautiful heirlooms that can be passed down from generation to generation. However, to preserve your lab-grown emerald for the next generation, you should take proper care of it.
As mentioned before, Chatham lab-grown emeralds are very durable and resist scratching. However, emeralds are not as hard as diamonds, rubies, and sapphires. Because of this, you should keep your emerald jewelry separate from these stones and other emeralds to avoid scratching them. Likewise, you shouldn’t wear your emerald jewelry when doing housework, gardening, or playing sports.
Again, Chatham lab-grown emeralds can be treated exactly like earth-mined emeralds because they are real. However, unlike earth-mined emeralds compromised by filled fractures, our emeralds are safe to clean ultrasonically or with steam. But if your lab-grown emerald jewelry only needs a light cleaning, you don’t have to take it to a jeweler. Instead, you can also clean your emerald at home with warm, soapy water and some gentle scrubbing.
7. Lab-Grown Emeralds Make Emerald Jewelry More Accessible
On top of our exceptional quality and value, Chatham is excited to make luxury emerald jewelry more accessible. Before, luxury emerald jewelry was out of reach for the average shopper. But now, a fashionista can afford that emerald necklace she always wanted with Chatham lab-grown emeralds.
Over the years, style icons and fashion goddesses wore emerald jewelry to shine in the spotlight. Among those names were Elizabeth Taylor, the Duchess of Windsor, Jacqueline Kennedy and Angelina Jolie. Today, Chatham brings these gems of goddesses to you in designs worthy of the red carpet. Coupled with lab-grown diamonds and 14K yellow or white gold, lab-grown emerald has never looked more elegant.
Better yet, we cut our emeralds in a wide variety of shapes almost impossible to find in their earth-mined counterparts. These include Chatham exclusive shapes like the flame and onion cut that you won’t find anywhere else. Whether you’re looking for something classic or more unique, Chatham’s Emerald Collection has styles for every modern woman.
8. Lab-Grown Emerald Jewelry is the Perfect May Birthday Gift for Her
Indeed, nothing unleashes a woman’s inner goddess like emerald jewelry. But those born in May have even more reason to wear this famous fashion gem as their birthstone. For a meaningful May birthday gift she’ll love, you can’t go wrong with Chatham lab-grown emerald jewelry. Here’s some popular lab-grown emerald jewelry pieces that are perfect for a May birthday gift.
Since there’s nothing more personal than her name, celebrate all that she is with this sterling silver initial pendant. She’ll adore her initial in this unique and elegant script highlighted by lab-grown diamonds. To make it even more meaningful, her birthstone or signature color adds interest to the piece. As seen in this initial pendant, lab-grown emerald in Chatham’s exclusive tapered baguette cut accentuates the curve of the letter.
If you’re shopping for an emerald goddess who likes some sparkle, then this 14K white gold pendant will not disappoint. From Chatham’s Sticks & Stones Collection, this pendant features lab-grown emerald in Chatham’s exclusive elongated baguette and pear cut. Fashioned together with swirls of lab-grown diamonds, this unique design elevates any outfit with divine elegance.
Another option perfect for a May birthday gift pairs lab-grown emerald with 14K yellow gold. If she prefers a warmer gold tone, then this lab-grown emerald ring will go perfectly with her style. For the finishing touch, lab-grown diamonds decorate the stylish split shank as it wraps around the classic century-cut lab-grown emerald.
More Lab-Grown Emerald Jewelry
The above designs are only a few popular selections of our lab-grown emerald jewelry. However, every modern woman has her own personal tastes. With this in mind, Chatham’s Emerald Collection includes designs ranging from minimalist to maximalist. Plus, Chatham’s exclusive shapes enhance designs for a unique look you can’t find anywhere else. To find the lab-grown emerald fashion piece that suits your style, browse Chatham’s extensive Emerald Collection.
In conclusion, Chatham lab-grown emeralds make the ultimate May birthstone for the many reasons explained above. First, lab-grown emeralds are 100% real emeralds. But secondly, they are also a more sustainable jewelry purchase. This is especially true since Chatham plants a tree for every jewelry piece sold. Thirdly, Chatham lab-grown emeralds are the highest quality emeralds on earth. On top of all this, lab-grown emeralds signify nature, life, and growth. Along these lines, lab-grown emeralds’ sustainable origin magnifies their deeper meaning.
Even better, Chatham offers luxury emerald jewelry at a more affordable price than earth mined emerald jewelry. To enhance this investment, Chatham lab-grown emeralds are covered by Chatham’s Lifetime Warranty as well. As if this wasn’t enough, Chatham’s Emerald Collection offers high-end fashion as everyday elegance. Furthermore, Chatham helps you keep up with the latest fashion trends in your favorite green gem. Indeed, we continuously update our collections with new styles, so there’s always fresh fashion for your wardrobe.