Diamonds are the most valuable gemstones on earth, but they are also relatively rare. Approximately 130 million carats of diamonds are produced each year, which isn't much when you consider that the planet Mars alone contains an estimated 140 billion carats of diamonds.
If you want to buy more than one diamond, but your budget is low, what can you do? Diamond simulants – gemstones that closely resemble diamonds in appearance – can be used to give the same glitz and glamor as the real thing at a fraction of the cost.
What Is a Diamond Simulant?
A diamond simulant is an artificial gemstone that looks like a diamond but does not have the value of the real thing. A diamond simulant can be made of either glass or carbon, though the latter is much less common than the former.
In recent years, the most famous diamond simulant has been cubic zirconia (CZ), which sparkles like diamonds do but can't quite replicate the perfect brilliance of real diamonds. However, CZs are cheaper than diamonds, so they are commonly used as an affordable substitute.
How to Distinguish Simulated vs. Real Diamonds
The most common means of identification is to test for thermal conductivity. Real diamonds are not great conductors, while many Simulated Diamonds are even better than copper.
It's also possible to distinguish them by their composition; pure carbon has no impurities, and diamonds should have none. However, it's difficult to distinguish between simulated diamonds with lots of impurities and synthetic ones because any impurities introduced in production will be there.
Instead, examine other features; real gems are usually visibly imperfect when examined closely instead of pristine-looking Simulated Diamonds.
Diamond Simulants Colors and Shapes
Diamond simulants come in many different colors and shapes. Some, like cubic zirconia, are designed to look exactly like diamonds, but others are used for their other properties.
For example, primarily clear and colorless moissanite has been advertised as an alternative to a diamond because it sparkles more brightly than even some of its natural alternatives.
The difference between a diamond simulant and a real diamond can be easy to distinguish if you know what you're looking for: With magnification, most simulants won't have tiny flaws or inclusions that make them not quite as flawless real diamonds.
Are Diamond Simulants Harder Than Diamonds?
Simulants are, naturally, softer than diamonds. While diamonds are ranked between 10 and 10.5 on Mohs' hardness scale, simulants sit closer to 8.
An interesting reason why most shoppers wouldn't be able to tell the difference in hardness is; that they did: The durability of any given piece of jewelry depends on its composition and fabrication.
Diamonds have more internal carbon atoms than most other gems, and these interlocks make them resistant to scratches and other external damage. Simulants aren't nearly as durable as diamonds, with fewer interlocked molecules in their crystal structures.
Is Simulated Diamond Good Quality?
Simulated diamonds are only diamonds in composition but not in color. However, if you use them to decorate your engagement ring, it should last as long as any other diamond; simulated diamonds are hard and durable.
The quality of the simulated diamond is also good enough for jewelry making. If you're wondering whether or not to choose simulated diamonds over real ones, consider that one big advantage of using a simulant is its price.
What Is the Difference Between a Simulated Diamond and Cubic Zirconia?
While both are used to imitate diamonds, several differences exist between simulated diamonds and cubic zirconia.
First, while they look almost identical from afar, you'll notice that simulated diamonds have a much more vibrant shine than CZ when you move them into the sunlight.
Additionally, it will be much harder to scratch simulated diamonds than CZ, which can easily become scratched by even small amounts of friction.
However, there is one main similarity: no matter what type of stone you choose for your ring or jewelry, you'll always want to make sure that it has been set by an expert jeweler so that it holds up well and doesn't fall out in any way.
Is a Simulated Diamond a Real Diamond?
No, it's not. But many people ask if simulated diamonds are real because their price is much lower than that of natural diamonds. Simulated diamonds look like real diamonds and cost about 1% to 5% of what natural diamonds do.
They're made with one of two materials: cubic zirconia (CZ) or moissanite. Although they aren't expensive, cubic zirconia and moissanite should not be confused with each other or with genuine stones because both can fool an untrained eye.
Real diamonds are expensive and difficult to acquire. So, a jeweler should always examine a stone before it's purchased to make sure that it is what it claims to be.
Diamonds are forever, but not all diamonds are created equal. The best way to avoid confusion and get a great deal on an authentic stone is to educate yourself on what differentiates real from fake. Check out Siebke Hoyt infographic to find out what makes up your diamond and how you can spot a fake instantly.