Experts in the jewelry trade know the differences between real diamonds, synthetic diamonds, and simulated ones. Unfortunately, consumers do not know exactly how to tell them apart and what exactly to buy. Despite popular belief, synthetic diamonds and simulated ones are not the same things, and today we will talk about simulated diamonds and analyze everything you need to know about them.
What are Simulated Diamonds Exactly?
According to experts’ definitions, a simulated diamond is a gemstone that looks like a natural diamond but features a different chemical structure and, consequently, altered physical properties. Also known as diamond simulants, these gems are clearly more affordable than natural diamonds, they can occur naturally, and they often replace genuine diamonds when people want to wear beautiful jewelry while they keep the real stones safe.
Some may argue that simulants are fake diamonds – and, if you compare them to the natural (and even synthetic ones), they are. Nevertheless, what makes the difference between a natural diamond, a lab-made one, and a simulant? Let us learn more!
Natural vs. Synthetic vs. Simulated Diamonds
Natural diamonds come from diamond mines. They are the most precious natural gems on Earth, and before you can display them in sophisticated jewelry, experts clean the stones, cut them, and turn them into sparkling pieces of wonder. When they occur naturally, diamonds feature the highest level of hardiness found in gemstones, bright sparkle, impeccable clarity, shades of color, and flaws. Remember our guide to baguette diamonds? There precious stones have an accentuated luster, they stand out from the, albeit, small diamond crowd.
In comparison, synthetic diamonds are not fakes. By synthetic diamond, we mean a gemstone that features the same chemical composition and physical properties of a real diamond, the only difference being that the former comes from a laboratory and not Mother Earth.
People often make the mistake of considering a synthetic diamond as -fake- “ but when it comes to these stones, it is not important how they make it (in a lab), but what it contains. Synthetic and natural diamonds share the same chemistry and properties, the former being, of course, cheaper than the latter. According to some, synthetic diamonds satisfy the need for ethics regarding human rights and environmental exploitation in comparison to real diamonds (and especially blood diamonds).
The core of the problem is the following: how can we tell simulant diamonds from real/synthetic ones and what do we buy exactly? To answer such questions, we should look at the factors differentiating these gems from the rest.
• Hardiness: real and synthetic diamonds are hard (almost impossible) to scratch or tear; by comparison, simulant diamonds are easier to chip, scratch, cut, or crack;
• Shine and scintillation: while some simulants shine as bright as real diamonds, many show a more lifeless scintillation; lab-made or Earth-made diamonds display a more colorful and fiery sparkle than most imitations;
• Clarity: all real diamonds have flaws; simulants look too clean, and they present no imperfections whatsoever;
• Color: completely colorless diamonds are quite rare and extremely expensive. If you place an imitation next to a real diamond, you will see the fake shining whiter and brighter than a real diamond. Sometimes, simulants look so colorless and so bright they appear more like glass and crystal than natural gemstones. Moreover, you can look at a gem against the light – if it displays flashes of all rainbow colors, it is most likely an imitation.
• Heat retention: veritable diamonds dissipate heat; if you want to tell a simulant over a natural diamond, breathe on the stone. If the stone remains foggy or retains your breath’s moisture, you have a simulant on your hands;
• Price: while diamond prices depend on the stones – quality and size, you will not likely find a veritable diamond in a good cut and around one carat for less than a couple thousand dollars. If a stone is big, colorless, transparent, sparkly, and cheap, you are looking at a simulant.
Most Popular Diamond Simulants
Far from us any intention of demonizing simulated diamonds. On the contrary, the modern jewelry industry and trade would be nowhere without them. Contemporary jewelry designers include diamond simulants in pieces that feature real gemstones, pearls, precious metals, and so on with taste and refinement. Some jewelry would be impossible to approach – price tag wise – if it would feature solely natural stones.
The issue of diamond simulants arises only when some people want to sell imitations instead of the real deal. The bargain of a lifetime does not exist when it comes to diamonds. If a piece of jewelry sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Otherwise, modern jewelry features beautiful diamond simulants in exquisite designs, and we will look at some of the most popular:
• Cubic Zirconia – it is the closest gem to a diamond regarding hardiness and brilliance; however, it scratches faster than a real diamond and looks less clear when dirty. You need to keep the stones clean.
• Moissanite – it has more fire than a real diamond and is the hardest of the simulants on the market. Sometimes it can display a fuzzy appearance due to the juxtaposition and doubling of the facets.
• White (Colorless) Sapphire – While it is not as bright, transparent, and fiery as a real diamond, it is durable and makes a beautiful center-stone in a modern ring or necklace.
Other diamond simulants include YAG and GGG, spinel, rutile, or the trademarked stones by the names of DiamondAura or Diamonique. If you see such names and abbreviations, you should know they are simulated diamonds.
What Should You Expect from a Diamond Simulant?
As long as you know you are buying diamond simulations, there is nothing wrong with paying money for these gems. As we said, many argue in their favor because of their production ethics, great looks, versatility and availability for the jewelry industry, affordable prices, and, ultimately, their safety. You can wear diamond simulants every day, turn heads with your classic or contemporary jewelry, and sleep peacefully knowing nobody is trying to break your house or your bank for your gems.
On the other hand, you have to know what to expect from such gems:
• Since they are less resilient to aging, scratches, cracks, and mechanical accidents, you should always be careful with how you handle and wear them;
• You need to keep them clean, as they lose shine when dirty; in time, they may become dull if you do not offer them proper maintenance;
• Large, flashy simulants do look fake for the trained eye; if you buy jewelry featuring diamond simulants, pick smaller stones and stone combinations.
Diamond simulants come with significant advantages – ethical, financial, aesthetical – and they do seem to replace slowly and progressively veritable or synthetic diamonds in everyday, contemporary jewelry designs. However, real diamonds are always a smart long-term investment, although they seem to have lost their appeal and hype as of late. After all, the urban-savvy woman of our times does not take her diamond necklace to a business meeting. By contrast, simulated diamonds style up precious jewelry, are extremely wearable on all occasions and make chic and affordable pieces for women of all ages.