What’s the Difference Between Natural, Synthetic, and Imitation Gemstone?

Vibrant green emeralds, sparkling sapphires, bold rubies—gemstone engagement rings are consistently rising in popularity, and we’re loving all these gorgeous pops of color. A white diamond might capture a classic look, but these vibrant jewels are a sure way to stand out from the crowd. 

A love for color might have you browsing engagement ring gemstones, or maybe you’re researching gemstone quality. Before you align with one of the many stone varieties, it is important to understand gemstone origins and how they apply to your soon-to-be ring.  

Let’s break down the difference between natural, synthetic, and imitation gemstones:

June Collection Azure Ring 

Precious vs. Semi-Precious

A gemstone’s hardness is measured on the Mohs scale. This universal method ranks a stone’s durability from 1-10 (10 being the hardest). For example: a diamond, commonly known as the hardest naturally occurring substance on earth, ranks a 10. All other gemstones will rank lower in durability as the scale descends.

Each stone holds a unique set of chemical properties, and durability determines a stone’s potential for everyday wear. This is where the terms “precious” and “semi-precious” apply. Of all the unique varieties, four stones exceed their peers in quality, rarity, and durability: diamond, ruby, sapphire, and emerald. All other gemstones are considered “semi-precious”, as they rank lower on the Mohs scale.     

One of a Kind Collection Ring


Natural Gemstones

A natural gemstone is a stone that was formed organically in the earth—with the exception of pearls, which are formed underwater. These stones are commonly considered the most valuable.

When a gemstone is graded, its unique imperfections are assessed under magnification. The more “perfect” a stone, the higher its value. However, perfection isn’t always the ultimate goal. Many buyers delight in a gem’s imperfections, as they capture a unique feel or tell a romantic story.   

June Collection Willow Ring


Synthetic Gemstones

Synthetic gemstones are formed in a lab with the exact same processes that produce natural gemstones. Because these processes are manufactured, synthetic stones yield a lower price tag than their natural predecessor.   

So, are synthetic gemstones “real” gemstones? Absolutely—these stones hold the exact same chemical composition as natural gemstones and have a unique set of imperfections. The only difference is their place or origin. Because they are not mined from the earth, synthetic gemstones hold a unique appeal for eco-conscious individuals or budget-conscious buyers.



Imitation Gemstones

Imitation gemstones are a fabricated substance that mimics the qualities of a real gemstone. Usually crafted with materials like glass, plastic, or ceramics, these “stones” are mass produced and lack all the beautiful qualities and durability of a real stone. 

Imitation gemstones are prone to breaking and notoriously unsuitable for everyday wear. We do not work with imitation gemstones at June because they do not meet our quality standards.

June Collection Cypress Ring


What is Gemstone Treatment?

When a stone is formed, procedures beyond traditional cutting and polishing are often required to deem it suitable for fine jewelry. Gemstone treatment is a process that enhances the color and qualities of a stone. For example: bleaching, coating, pressure, or heat treatment are common enhancement processes that improve a stone’s shape and appearance.  

Most of these processes are incredibly common and should not raise concern. However, every buyer should know if their gemstone is treated in order to practice proper care and maintenance long term.

June Collection Lark Ring 

Gemstone Engagement Rings

Colored gemstones are a beautiful addition to engagement rings. And like any big decision, research ensures confidence in this meaningful investment. Whether it’s a luminous opal, an alluring onyx, or a vibrant green emerald, consult with your jeweler if a certain stone is suitable to your lifestyle and attainable within your price range.


With a dedication to fine jewelry crafted from quality materials, June creates modern heirlooms made to last. Shop our collection or create a custom ring with our design team.