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Gemstone Specimens for Education

The Education Specimens are great for students with GIA, Gemmology Association of Great Britain, Gemmology Association of Hong Kong Gemmologists and collectors who want to know more about lab-grown stones from different periods and some of which are no longer in production.


This series comprises –


Diamond Simulants Set – a box set of 12 pieces of diamond look-alike specimens which used different materials or production methods.


Emerald Set – this set as at Sept 2020 includes all commercially available varieties produced by Gilson, Chatham, Inamori, Biron, and divers Russian companies using various methods.


Full line Opal Set – this set includes all commercially available varieties produced by Gilson, Kyocera and some Russian companies as at September, 2020.


We also supply the preceding stones in loose stone with specific features (such as different kinds of inclusions) upon request.

Diamond Simulants Set.Emerald Set.Full line Opal Set

More About Simulated Gemstones

What are simulant gemstones?

Simulant gemstones are also known as imitation gemstones and are not the same as synthetic or lab-grown gemstones, due to their difference in composition. They are physically and chemically different, constituted of man-made material that can be from natural or artificial origins. They can look like lab-grown gemstones but are faux gemstones that are significantly cheaper than lab-created or natural stones.


Artificial gemstones that are lab-grown are real and hold identical chemical composition and optical and physical characteristics as natural gemstones which grow naturally in the earth and are mined.


Emeralds, rubies, sapphires, padparadschas, alexandrites, diamonds and opals can all be imitated. Imitation gemstones can be used to meet the high demand for their look-alike properties, but at a much lower price than lab-grown or natural gemstones. These faux gemstones can be mass-produced and used in artwork and fashion jewellery, where it is cheaper to make finished pieces quickly and to create a lower price bracket in the markets.

What are simulant gemstones_

Photo credit: Laboratoire Francais De Gemmologie

What are imitation gemstones made of?

What are imitation gemstones made of

The top view and back view of simulant soude rubies.Photo credit: H. A. Hanni/SSEF

Imitation gemstones can be made up of many different materials whose compositions are completely different from that of natural or lab-grown gemstones.

Cubic Zirconia

One of the most common imitation gemstones used as diamond replacements since  1980. It has more fire but less brilliance than the real gemstone, but can be made colourless with high clarity. There are very few imperfections, close to none and simulant diamonds have a Moh hardness level of 8.5. It is not as durable as a natural diamond and will turn yellow over time, but is hard-wearing and can be produced in a range of colours.

Cubic Zirconia is made in a metal chamber with zirconium oxide and is heated to the melting point. Crystals grow at the bottom when the melt is moved away from heat and solidifies.


Becoming increasingly common, this is an alternative diamond simulant that can be replicated to be almost colourless. Moissanite was introduced in the 1990s and is harder than cubic zirconia with a Moh hardness level of 9.25. It is considered to be one of the closest diamond look-alikes with greater fire and brilliance than that of a natural diamond.

Moissanites are doubly refractive in comparison to natural diamonds and don’t have the yellow or brown tinge other faux diamonds have.

Synthetic Spinel

Synthetic spinel can mimic many natural gems including zircon, sapphire, aquamarine and peridot. It can be made in a wide variety of colours that makes it popular with birthstone jewellery. Simulant spinel is made using the flame fusion method, a melt process that keeps the same chemical composition throughout. A high-temperature flame is applied to powdered chemicals that drop and melt onto a rotating platform to produce this very hard substance.

Synthetic Rutile

The primary use of synthetic rutile is as a diamond replacement, but it is rarely used. It resembles the look of the real gemstone and is created using the flame fusion method. Imitation rutile was introduced in the late 1940s and can be made into different colours during the growth process with the use of added chemicals. This faux diamond has a slight yellowish tint, unlike moissanite.

Strontium Titanate

This diamond simulant is rarely used since its initial popularity in 1950  and it is a colourless imitation gemstone. It is also created using the flame fusion method, but has four times the optical property of a natural diamond, meaning it has greater fire than its natural counterpart.

What are imitation gemstones made of?


Yttrium Aluminium Garnet (YAG) and Gadolinium Gallium Garnet (GGG) are cousins both made from man-made materials. YAG and GGG are available in many colours and were introduced in 1960. They are rarely used and do not have a natural counterpart, but resemble a natural diamond.


One of the oldest form of simulants that is commonly used because it can be made into any colour. This imitation gemstone is a popular substitute and is better suited towards gemstones with less brilliance.  It can easily imitate amethyst, aquamarine, and peridot. Glass also has the ability to replicate phenomenal gemstones with colour-changing or pattern-play properties, such as opal and cat’s eye. Fusing layers of glass together can also create faux tortoiseshell, malachite, or agate.


A cheaper and less durable version than glass more commonly used in inexpensive fashion jewellery. Plastic has the ability to create convincing faux amber, pearl, coral, jade, turquoise and lapis.

Quench Crackled Quartz

This imitation gemstone is occasionally used to replicate natural gems including rubies, sapphires and emeralds. Thermal shock treatment can be applied to natural colourless quartz which creates cracks that can be dyed. Sudden contraction from hot to cold makes this possible, but the fractures and dye can easily be seen under a microscope.

Ceramic Beads

A non-metallic specimen that is fired at a high temperature. Ceramic beads are occasionally used to create non-faceted gemstones, such as lapis lazuli and turquoise. The ceramic process involves heating fine powder that re-crystallises under pressure and hardens to produce a solid material.


Yittrium aluminum garnet (or YAG) . Photo credit: GIA

Discover More

FAQs on Imitation Gemstones

What is a good imitation gemstone?

A good imitation gemstone can resemble the colour and clarity of its natural counterpart with similar hardness and durability level.

Are simulant gemstones real?

No. Simulant gemstones are not real, they are imitations, and the focus is on creating a look-alike appearance to its natural or lab-made counterpart. Imitation gemstones are cheaper than lab or natural ones because they are physically and chemically different.

How long do gem simulants last?

It depends on what material the simulant is made from. As simulant gemstones are just look-alike gemstones and are not made with the same chemical composition, their physical properties differ. Often the materials used to create a simulant gemstone to make it look real are inferior, so they are not as durable when it comes to use and wearability.

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