Fake Gems

Reporter: Sophie Hull

If you want to stand out from the crowd any red carpet aficionado will tell you - it's all about the bling. It's flaunted on the fingers, ears, necks of Hollywood's most prominent - but in most cases even they baulk at paying top dollar for a sparkler. "These coloured gemstones are 90 to 95% less expensive than the natural gemstones."

Alana Chang from Moi Moi jewelery is showing off the latest rocks to give priceless gems a run for their money at less than a tenth of the price. The last substance to cause this kind of a buzz in the jewelry world was Moissanite - a mineral made not mined to shine just as bright as it's natural inspiration. And, much like moissanite, convincingly impersonates a diamond - these so called "created" gem stones mimic the exact qualities of emeralds, rubies and sapphires.

"These created coloured gems are exactly the same as natural gems they're just created in a controlled environment they're the same chemically structurally optically and physically. Only a trained gemologist will be able to tell the difference."

Mother nature may have made only limited amounts of natural gems, but unless you have a microscope and a trained eye it's impossible to decipher the difference from these man made ones. The crystal structure, chemical composition and appearance is identical to the naturally occurring stones. Only the price isn't.

A 3ct emerald set with white gold and diamonds would cost around $30,000. But the man made version will shine just as brightly for $2700. You could expect to pay $20,000 for a sapphire ring or a more manageable $1,800 for the artificially created version. Again with rubies: the look of a $30,000 dollar jewel can be bought for less than $3,000.

"There's nothing wrong with any of these products as long was there's full disclosure and people are aware of what they're buying and they're paying the appropriate price there's nothing wrong with any of it." Roy Cohen from the Diamond Certification Laboratory of Australia says as long as you know whether your gem came out of the ground or out of a laboratory there's no harm done. The problem arises when people think they've bought a priceless natural original only to find out thousands more can be made just like it.

"If you're going to be spending any sort of substantial amount of money on any gemstone and it's supposedly natural you have to have supporting documentation from a lab that is capable of detection" adds Roy. "I don't like to use the word fake but I use the word synthetic. They are man made synthetic products they are not natural they might have all the ingredients of the natural product but they are man made synthetic."

For women who'd like to give the impression of wearing the most expensive of gems - will the term "moissanite is a girls best friend' ever catch on? "Most women like to wear jewellery for the way it makes them feel not really to impress others so there's nothing that really substitutes the real thing" says Roy.

For more information on Moissanite and Coloured Gemstones visit www.moimoi.com.au , call 02 9261 0200 or visit Moi Moi fine Jewellery at Level 2, Shop 16, Queen Victoria Building, Sydney.