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Chatham – Architects of the Gem Growing Industry

Offering a wide range of created gemstones of the very best cut and color

A Legacy

The 8th Wonder of the World

We all took chemistry in high school. And while a small handful of us aced it with flying colors, I think it’s safe to say most were just happy we didn’t burn the school down!

Well, did you know that back in the 1920s there was a young boy so fascinated with chemistry that even a minor explosion rattling his San Francisco neighborhood didn’t stop his continuing exploration? Young Carroll Chatham attempted to recreate the failed diamond-growing experiments of French Chemist Henri Moissan from the 1890s.

Eventually, young Chatham shifted his focus from diamonds to emeralds, which grow at lower pressures. His persistence and his determination earned him one of the greatest achievements in science. In 1938, he succeeded in growing the first gem-quality emerald crystal in a laboratory.

Flash forward to the present. This year marks the 80th anniversary since Carroll Chatham revolutionized the gem growing process and changed the jewelry industry.

Chatham gem growing san francisco

A Look

Plant and It Will Grow

Beginning with emeralds, Chatham has added a wide range of lab-grown gemstone varieties to our repertoire.

Rubies came in 1958 and during a two-decade period, a variety of sapphires were born. Something most people don’t realize is that Tom Chatham, Carroll’s youngest son, successfully grew colorless diamond rough sometime in the 1990s, finally achieving his father’s lifelong dream!

Today, Chatham gemstones are known for their superior quality thanks to the continuous technical refinement over our 80-year history. By duplicating the conditions deep within the Earth, including temperature, pressure and chemical makeup, our laboratory can grow gemstones over a year’s time. These created gemstones are physically, optically and chemically identical to their mined counterparts. The only difference is that the gem growing process took place above the ground, rather than below. This simple explanation is key in discussing the differences between Chatham gemstones and mined gemstones when speaking to consumers.

Our incredible technology allows us to provide our retailers with museum-quality gemstones for a fraction of the price. And we offer rare gemstones that are difficult to find in nature, stones such as Alexandrite and Padparadscha. At Chatham, we put quality above all else. We cut away about 80% of the rough to deliver only the best of the best, yielding flawless clarity and intense color.

Cutting and shaping a colored stone takes amazing skill and our team includes some of the industry’s top gem cutters. To ensure the most attractive color when you look at the stone ‘face up,’ our cutters consider many factors, such as the orientation of the rough. This is especially important with gemstones that have strong pleochroism, like Alexandrite, to enhance its color-change phenomenon. Each of our master cutters undergoes a rigorous training program to learn the skills needed to hand cut each of our gemstones with absolute precision.

We offer another stone that comes in a range of colors, delivering sapphires in blue, pink, yellow, champagne, and padparadscha (Orange). The standard color is medium, which satisfies the mainstream clientele. But we also cut light and dark stones, which gives you a wider array of options. One of the big perks of lab-grown stones is the ability to cut unusual shapes and sizes that would otherwise be impossible with mined counterparts. We offer custom cuts through special orders, while our on-hand inventory consists of a multitude of calibrated shapes and sizes.

Chatham gem growing stones timeline

A Lifestyle

Made For Millennials

Another great benefit of wearing Chatham is that we guarantee our stones for life. That’s right! If your Chatham gemstone were to ever chip or break under ordinary circumstances, Chatham will gladly repair or replace the item (at our option) at no charge.

For today’s generation, this is especially important. Millennials are an active age group living an active lifestyle: running marathons, training at Crossfit, hiking, biking, and more. They want to wear their jewelry comfortably knowing that if something ever happens to it, they could easily get it repaired.

Millennials also care deeply about the Earth as they lead the green movement. These shoppers say sustainability is one of their purchasing drivers, and studies show that they’re even willing to pay more for a product that comes from a company committed to social and environmental awareness. And while it’s a misconception that lab-grown gemstones are 100% green since we do utilize energy to grow, it is true that we leave a light carbon footprint on the planet as a result of our gem growing.

Eighty years ago, Chatham pioneered the gem growing process, modernizing the jewelry industry with bold discovery. Since then, we have earned the respect and the support of our colleagues across the board. Honorable men like Mr. Carroll Chatham, Mr. Tom Chatham and today Mr. Harry Stubbert have led Chatham to success. Throughout this time, authenticity and transparency have been the cornerstones of who we are and what we do. We pride ourselves on our offerings and stand behind our products and our name. Our growing methods and business efforts were founded on these ethical principles and we continue to abide by them today.


How do Chatham gemstones sell in your store? Let us know in the comments below!

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