There are typically three different types of gemstones. Here’s a look at each of them.
Natural gemstones are gathered or mined (depending on stone) and cut/faceted, and polished. The rarity, color, size, and level of hardness will determine the price. People who do the labor mining and gathering often won't be paid an equitable wage, especially when the stone is more expensive. This isn't true for every gemstone, but sometimes the original sources are hard to trace. Buying from stone dealers and lapidarists, rock cutters and collectors, can be an option.
Lab-created stones do not have the same carbon footprint, but do have the same properties as natural occuring gemstones because they are created using the same chemical composition. The main difference is that lab-created gems are grown and manufactured in laboratories under controlled environments.
Simulated or faux gems are closer in materials to glass. They are created more for color and sparkle, but do not share properties or composition.
Sustainability can be a focus in choosing your designs, using heirloom gemstones or lab-created stones may not always be part of the your choice. Sometimes being attracted to a piece of designed jewelry is as important as its carbon footprint. Yet, knowing can help in your decision, especially if the description gives you information of its creation.
Whether your selection is made by sustainability, having less, reusing Grandmother's heirlooms, or finding your heart's desire, try buying from real artists or local businesses. Ask questions, be informed, and enjoy your works of art that represent who you are!