In an interesting change of pace, one of David’s latest videos features his take on synthetic gems!
In the still below, we see his current collection of synthetic ruby, corundum, moissanite, and cubic zirconia sparkling away on the turntable:
With Skyjems’ focus on other types of gorgeous gemstones, David says he doesn’t really have a horse in the race when it comes to synthetic diamonds.
“But anybody who will listen,” he explains, “I will tell them I think synthetic diamonds are basically garbage.”
For context, he goes on to explain his great respect for the technology itself:
“I think they’re going to be amazing when we start using them as phone screens, as watch faces, smart watches – how amazing would it be to have a synthetic diamond smart watch face? It’s not indestructible of course, but it’s pretty darn hard and tough!”
Another great use for synthetic diamonds, in David’s opinion, would be security glass.
“However,” David stresses, “it does not belong in fine jewellery.”
The reason that David has decided to showcase these other synthetic gemstones is because he is excited to share some information that not many people know: synthetic ruby and synthetic sapphire have actually been around for almost 150 years!
“One of the first uses,” he explains, “was growing the synthetic corundum to use in watch parts, because rubies are used in watch parts.”
He speculates that the industry will likely see a shift to using synthetic diamonds as jewel bearings in watch parts, as well.
“I’d be surprised if there weren’t a couple watchmakers already doing that.”
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Believe it or not, synthetic rubies were astronomically expensive when they first appeared 150 years ago. In fact, a lot of platinum jewellery from the early 1900s is often found to feature synthetic rubies or sapphires set alongside natural diamonds.
“At that time,” David says, “they were setting diamonds – you’ll see pieces that have a carat and half of diamonds in them and are incredibly well-made, and they have a synthetic sapphire in them.”
Though they are less popular today, they are still used in modern jewellery.
“I don’t know the exact numbers, but I could pretty much guarantee there’s a heck of a lot more synthetic ruby produced than there is natural ruby mined.”
“But,” he continues, “these are worth, like, a couple of bucks. They really have no value, and there’s no way that they’re going to hold their value. Synthetics will go down in price month after month, year after year.”
David shares that he often has synthetic diamond manufacturers and wholesalers contact him, looking to sell their products. They will offer to send him any stones he wants, with the agreement that he only pays for the stones he actually sells.
“That says to me that even the people who own them and are growing them and are marketing them don’t see any value in them.”
For context, David explains that there is no emerald dealer in the world who will call people they don’t even know and say, “I’ll send you as much as you want, don’t worry about paying for them.”
“It means they don’t see the value in it either,” he says.
As David begins to sift through his pile of synthetic stones, he explains that they are neat to have, and he has even given some away over the years.
“Just don’t pay real money for them!” he muses.
While he doesn’t regret paying a few dollars for his synthetic ruby and moissanite gems, he cannot stress enough that these stones have no place in fine jewellery.
“These all cost me about $200 USD,” he laughs, “and I bought them just to make this video.”
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When it first appeared in the jewellery world, synthetic moissanite was selling for thousands of dollars per carat.
When David began getting calls from clients looking to buy moissanite gems, or custom jewellery featuring moissanite, he started making sure that what they were actually looking for was the synthetic version of the stone rather than the very rare natural gemstone.
“I never actually bought a single stone of moissanite before super recently,” he says. “I don’t like synthetics, I don’t do synthetics. I don’t believe that synthetics and man-made and imitation gems have any place in fine jewellery.”
David reiterates that synthetics simply have no real value over the long-term.
“In my experience, the only way that the price of gemstones goes–with a couple of dips and exceptions–gem prices go up and synthetic fake gem prices go down.”
“I’m sure I’m going to get a lot of heck for this,” he muses, “but I don’t really care.”
Basically, he reiterates, synthetics are useless for his purposes. When manufacturers or sellers reach out to him, he always expresses this opinion to them very clearly as he stresses that he does not want their product.
Oddly, one salesperson responded to his comments by asking David if he doesn’t like making money! The salesperson went on to explain that some people actually want synthetic gemstones, and then asked David, “Don’t you want to make money off of those customers?”
“The answer’s kind of no,” David laughs. “I don’t.”
The salesperson then touted the lack of risk and reiterated the seemingly easy deal where David could take any stones he wanted and would only have to pay for the ones he sold.
David said to the salesperson, “Look, those customers aren’t really going to come back, and in 5 years, what can they say?”
The customer might come back and say that they’d like to upgrade from a 2-carat synthetic diamond to a 3-carat natural diamond. The trouble is, there is no comparison and therefore no equivalent trade-in value for such a transaction. The value of the synthetic diamond will just continue to decrease in value, and combined with the time and effort involved in the sale and design of the piece, it is simply not worth it for David or his valued clients.
David will always stand firm and say that synthetics have no place in fine jewellery–especially the high-quality custom jewellery that discerning customers have come to expect from Skyjems–but he stresses again that their industrial applications are truly amazing as he laughs at the thought of how wonderful it would be to one day have a mobile phone with a synthetic diamond screen, so that it could last him for more than a couple of years without cracking the screen.
Humans are just brilliant for coming up with synthetics, he stresses, but he will continue to say it again and again: they simply have no place in fine jewellery.