What is the Difference Between Natural and Lab-Grown Padparadscha?

Difference between natural and lab grown padparadscha

Padparadscha is not mentioned very frequently. These gemstones are very rare and unusual sapphires with very few in circulation. It has a brilliant blend of orange and pink colors. Hence, making it very attractive to those familiar with the gem.

The difficulty in sourcing natural padparadscha necessitated the need for lab-grown padparadscha. Natural padparadscha is mined in only three places in the world. This is a limited supply given the high demand for the gem by its lovers.

What is Lab-Grown Padparadscha?

Lab-grown padparadscha is produced by recreating the natural environment in which natural padparadscha is formed. However, in this case, this "natural environment" is made in a cultured laboratory.

Once the appropriate chemical and environmental conditions are met, the gemstone crystals will begin to form over the course of a year. The length of growing time varies depending on the gemstone’s shape. These created gems, like lab-grown padparadscha by BIRON®, generally possess the same physical and chemical qualities as the natural padparadscha.

How Is Lab Padparadscha created?

Padparadscha is one of the rarest of sapphire family. There are various ways to grow the padparadscha in laboratory. In particular, two methods have proven to give higher quality of padparadscha: the Czochralski growth and flux method.

The Czochralski Process

The Czochralski process is conducted by melting all the required nutrients in a crucible. Afterwards, a thin seed of sapphire is briefly introduced into the molten blend in the crucible. This thin seed of sapphire is then quickly removed at a controlled rate. One disadvantage of this method is that it is expensive and complicated.

The Flux Method

The flux method can be regarded as the solution-growth method. In this process, the sapphire seed is dissolved with flux. Flux is usually introduced to help dissolve the nutrients faster. As the dissolved material cools, the crystals begin to form.

Two materials that must be introduced in this process are chromium and iron. These elements help to give padparadscha its unique pink and orange color. However, it is vital that these elements are added in controlled quantities.

Padparadscha is one of the rarest of sapphire family

Differences between Lab-Grown and Natural Padparadscha

The difference between the lab-grown and natural padparadscha is often tricky to spot. It usually takes expertise and special tools to identify lab-created padparadscha. Some of the most common tools used in recognizing a lab-grown padparadscha include:

  1. Natural stains: Only expert gemologists are able to check the natural stains of the gemstones by using Raman spectroscopy.
  2. Carbon dating: It is a method to identify the gemstones’ age.

Difference Between Lab-Grown and Natural Padparadscha

To the untrained eye, there is no difference between lab-grown padparadscha and natural padparadscha. While this is close to the truth, it is not exact. Lab-grown padparadscha is slightly different from the natural padparadscha.

One difference between the natural and lab-grown padparadscha is the absence of natural stains in the lab-grown padparadscha. The environment in which the natural padparadscha is formed is uncontrolled and unpredictable. As a result, several elements get mixed in the gem while still in the molten state. Such stains and inclusions often form and solidify with the crystal. Hence making it a permanent constituent of the natural padparadscha.

On the other hand, the lab padparadscha is grown and created in a controlled laboratory environment. As such, only the required elements are included in the production of the padparadscha, so the gems look so perfect with no inclusions.

Conclusion

Factually speaking, the lab-grown padparadscha is in no way inferior to the natural gem. By implication, when you own a lab-grown padparadscha, you own a real padparadscha.

The only padparadscha that can be regarded as a fake is the imitation padparadscha. Unlike the lab-grown padparadscha, these imitated versions are simply a "look-alike".  They copy the original padparadscha's look without its chemical constituents. Hence, they are prone to eroding and discoloration after a short use time.