Emerald Comparison - Natural v. Chatham Lab-Grown

With its distinct green color, emeralds have long been held as symbols of rebirth and linked to the spring season. 

Ancient Egypt is home to the first known emerald mines, and Cleopatra is the OG emerald fanatic. Claiming to be the reincarnation of the Egyptian goddess, Isis (Caesar would later erect a golden statue of Cleopatra as Isis in a Roman temple), Cleopatra’s passion for emeralds wasn’t just skin deep: she believed emeralds had healing powers, as well as properties of fertility and rebirth.

While Egyptians linked emeralds with healing abilities and fertility, Ottoman sultans believed they imparted faithfulness and unchanging love on its wearer. The green gemstone was also thought to invigorate the body, calm the mind, imbue wisdom upon its wearer, and even bestow the ability to see the future. In a way, the mystical fascination with Cleopatra parallels a historical fascination of emeralds.

And whether you believe these or not, emerald sure is a beauty to be behold. We're here to ponder: are emeralds any greener on the other side?

As a member of the largely known beryl family, emerald is the green to greenish blue variety, sister to gemstones such as aquamarine and morganite. (Photo Courtesy LEFT: Eric Welch/GIA)

Green is the associated color of many valued things in life--nature, wealth, health, etc.--because of which, emeralds are a highly valued gem both figuratively and economically. It is, in our opinion, most beautifully captured on authentic vintage or antique-inspired jewelry settings, especially with accents of yellow gold.

Inclusions, or imperfections that can lower the clarity grade of an emerald, are a natural part of the character of emeralds and to be expected.

As GIA best states it, "three-phase inclusions in Colombian emeralds contain tiny crystals of rock salt, liquid, and a bubble of gas." (Photomicrograph Courtesy RIGHT: Nathan Renfro)

Lab-grown Emerald

And just as we so briefly introduced Proud Pioneer of Lab-Grown Gemstones Chatham Laboratories in the Ruby and Blue Sapphire Comparisons, we repeat here for your convenience:

Founded 75 years ago, Chatham is recognized as the leader of laboratory-grown gemstones, with a large selection of rubies, blue, pink, white, and yellow sapphires, emeralds, padparadscha, alexandrite, aqua blue spinel, and diamond. So recognized that they are in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution and the collection of the Gemological Institute of America.

These gemstones have the same physical, chemical, and optical properties as mined gems do. Chatham does not “make” gems, but rather controls the environment so that crystals can grow naturally: recreating the conditions in which gems grow in the earth. So the reason why they look real is because they are! They're just grown in-lab.

One great benefit of owning a Chatham lab-grown gem is that it does not have the many "inclusions" that natural gemstones contain. Inclusions are known to create durability issues and may cause breakage and cavities. Chatham's master gemstone cutters actually cut away 80% of the rough crystals to select only the best color and clarity; less inclusions, more durability.

Because they're grown in-lab under a controlled environment, all of Chatham's gemstones produce the most vividly saturated color possible and are neither enhanced nor color treated as a result. 

See our example of the Lab-Grown Emerald below.

the breakdown


  • Natural means rare, unique in nature--such as one's love for another.
  • Inclusions are imperfections that some like to embrace as part of the mined gem culture, proof each gem is one of a kind
  • Classic, has an old world charm to it
  • Comes with a story


  • Grown with the same physical, chemical, optical properties as natural
  • Consistence in quality and color, not enhanced or color-treated
  • More durable, same hardness.
  • Little to no inclusions!
  • Cost savings--sometimes dramatic, other times modest
  • Smaller carbon footprint

Can you tell the difference visually from looking at both?

feel free to message us if you have any questions. We are happy to assist.