Let’s paint a word picture. You’ve met someone and hopelessly fell in love. And what follows is the burning urge to pop the question that triggers butterflies in the guts of every human. Plus, you want to make a lasting impression and spare no expense. Or maybe you’re on a budget but still want the best for the woman you love. And in both situations, one thing comes to mind- buy a stunning engagement ring.
But you’re met with one problem- you don’t know jack about telling a real diamond from a fake one. And even if you walk into a certified jewelry store or seek average-priced gems at a pawn shop, you’re a novice at noting the gem’s authenticity. But don’t panic, because this problem is common with every person.
The truth is diamonds are incredibly precious, which is why they command a hefty price tag in every store you find them. But like everything else with a high value, there are cases where knockoffs are made. So long as there’s a booming trade for these gems, there will be those who seek to exploit unwary buyers by presenting imitations at the price of real diamonds.
So, it helps together with the right information when shopping for a mounted diamond. And here, we’ll explore what it is, the types you can find, and how you can be certain that what you’re about to pay top dollar for is the real deal.
What is a Mounted Diamond?
A mounted diamond is one that’s already set onto the ring before it’s purchased. You buy the stone plus whatever material it’s set on as one item and not as a loose diamond. And the price of the diamond is combined with that of the metal it’s mounted. As such, the cost of mounted diamonds varies, depending on whether they’re set on platinum or gold rings.
Diamonds are mounted in four styles, namely;
Solitaire: The most popular style where the stone is mounted in an elevated position on four or six prongs. It may also come in a bezel setting, where most of the diamond is enclosed by the prongs.
Halo: Smaller stones surround a center stone, forming a halo around it. This setting offers you more value for a lesser price by investing in smaller diamonds.
Three-Stone: Here, three diamonds of chosen sizes and colors are set on either prong or bezel mounts. Most expensive diamond rings are mounted in this manner.
Side Stones: A ring is mounted with a diamond, using the prong or bezel setting, but the metal band is further engraved with more stones. The choice of color and size is also subjective to the designer’s perceptions.
The unique designs, quality of metal bands, size, color, and the number of diamonds employed in each mouth technique determine how pricey the ring turns out.
Why the Need to Test a Mounted Diamond?
You may have wondered if it’s necessary to check whether a mounted diamond is real or not. Well, the answer is yes, and for tons of reasons, like these below;
- Imitation Diamonds Exist
Not all mounted diamonds are natural, meaning not all of them to develop deep in the earth’s crust. Today, numerous labs have mastered creating manufactured diamonds with qualities surprisingly similar to the original material. These lab-created or synthetic diamonds are no less valuable than real ones, but if you aim to purchase or own a natural diamond, it’s best to confirm this nature before buying the ring. Regardless, synthetic diamonds are just as ‘real’ as natural ones, except they didn’t form by natural action.
- Other Similar Gemstones Exist
Because of the high price of real diamonds, numerous other gemstones are prepared to mimic them on rings. These stones can share similar color, reflectivity, sparkle, and be polished to look like real diamonds. A common example is a moissanite, a shiny gemstone easily mistaken for diamonds. Others include white topaz, white sapphire, and cubic zirconia- a regular and cheaper alternative to diamond in rings.
Because these situations exist, a close examination of a mounted diamond is essential, regardless of whether you’re purchasing a new ring or inherited one from your family.
Identifying a Real Mounted Diamond
Whether you patronize an authorized jeweler or shop online, you should know the methods of indicating whether a mounted diamond is real or not. But before you delve into the physical test (which involves getting the jewelry at hand), a good pre-plan method is to confirm the pricing accuracy. Diamonds are categorized according to the Four C’s- Cut, Carat, Color, and Clarity. And each category gives the diamond a unique identity and determines how it’s priced, making it easier for you to note when a gem of lesser quality is being portrayed at a higher cost. To emphasize, let’s highlight these factors.
This factor refers to the diamond’s proportional sculpture and influences how the gem plays with light. And this light effect is expressed using three terms; brilliance (how much it sparkles), dispersion (how the light rays break down into spectrum colors), and scintillation (the colors you perceive as the gem is moved back and forth through light. The cut is an important element in determining a diamond’s grading quality, and various jewelry retailers own their unique grading system. But the Gemological Institute of America offers what is considered the most widely accepted grading system and categorizes the cut quality from Excellent to Very Good, Good, Fair, and Poor. And the higher the cut grade, the costlier the diamond will be.
This factor refers to the diamond’s internal purity, and its grading involves two features; blemishes and inclusions. External impurities are called blemishes and result from wear and tear and the diamond’s cutting process. As such, they include examples such as scratches across the gem’s table, tiny nick abrasions along the facet corner, small chip-like nicks, and tiny, dot-like pits on the stone’s surface.
Inclusions, however, are the natural impurities that come with the diamonds from birth and include enclosed minerals and crystals, feather fractures inside the stone, dust-like, clustered pinpoints, and cavity spaces left after the gems have been polished. Inclusions and blemishes are examined under a 10x microscope, with the latter being almost invisible unless to a skilled eye. And the diamond’s grade quality is indicated by how many impurities are found, so fewer inclusions and blemishes equal higher clarity grading.
According to the GIA Clarity Scale, 11 grades exist to determine a diamond’s purity. And these indicate whether the diamond’s clarity is high or low as the scale progresses from high to low. The levels include Flawless (FL) and Internally Flawless (IF), the highest and rarest clarity grading ever. You’ll also find diamonds rated Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS2 and VVS2) and Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2),which are considered high-quality gemstones. And Slightly Included (S1 and S2), and Included (I1, I2, and I3), are on the average to low rating on the scale.
Diamonds are naturally colorless, but you can note certain colors in many stones. And these shades are compared with stones of similar hues to confirm their color quality. As a rule, the general color grading scale starts from D to E and F, G and H, I and J, and finally, K to Z. D is considered the highest grade color-wise on this scale, with E to H coming close. G to J are rated ideal for average quality purchase at the best value. Color is especially important when dealing with stones of larger carat weight.
Most people easily think about diamonds when they hear this term, but not everyone understands what it means. For starters, a diamond’s carat is its weight, measured at 0.2 grams per unit, and is different from a gold karat, which refers to gold purity. And it’s used to calculate the overall price of the diamond. This factor is highly misunderstood, as many believe a higher carat directly indicates a diamond’s quality, which isn’t true. And even when a diamond has a higher carat, its quality may look dull if the cut grade is low. Still, diamonds with larger carats will cost more than smaller carats of similar cuts, clarity, and color grading. And a carat is split into 100 points, so the measurement is more accurate, meaning a 40-point diamond automatically weighs 0.40 carats. Surprisingly, most jewelry diamonds weigh no more than one carat.
These four factors are combined individually in each gem to determine the price. And combined with the type of mount and setting it’s on, you can tell how it would be priced. Knowing how these combinations work is the first step to ensuring that your supplier isn’t trying to trick you. And once that’s done, you can skip to the numerous methods for confirming a mounted diamond’s authenticity.
Proper Testing for Mounted Diamonds
While one test may help solidify your certainty in a mounted diamond’s authenticity, it’s good to take multiple others to be double or even triple sure. And below are some of the most commonly used methods of confirming whether the gem mounted on your band is a real diamond.
The Fog Test
Take the ring and lift it, so the mounted diamond is at one centimeter from your mouth. Then, fog the stone like a bathroom mirror, and watch how the fog reacts on the stone. A real diamond rapidly dissipates heat, so the fog will disappear within one second if the stone is authentic. But if it remains, then your gem is probably not a real diamond.
The Mount and Setting Test
Quality and real diamonds are equally mounted on quality materials, and observing the stone’s material can help you tell if it’s authentic. Real diamonds are commonly set on high-quality metallic jewelry like white gold, platinum, or yellow gold. They mostly come in halo or side-stone settings; both are considered the most complicated and sophisticated styles.
You can also note the marking in the ring the diamond is mounted. You should see inscriptions that start with PT (for platinum) or numbers that end in K (indicating the gold karat of the ring). Most high-quality rings come with numbers 585, 770, 900, and 950, meaning the mounts are made from platinum or 10K, 14K, and 18K for gold. But a mounted gem on a band with markings like CZ or .925 indicates that the stone is cubic zirconia, or the ring is Argentium Silver, and therefore not likely a real diamond.
Using a Loupe
Do you know that small magnifying device found in jewelry stores? Well, you can also use it to check if your mounted stone is a real diamond. This tool is called a loupe and is commonly employed to observe a diamond’s clarity. You can purchase a loupe online or from a reputable jewelry store or borrow one from your local jeweler. And through the loupe, you can note inclusions and blemishes in a diamond- which would be absent in a fake one. But this option works best if you know how to identify these impurities, so the best option is to pair this test with multiple others to be extremely sure. Also, when using this method, consider a loupe with at least 20x magnification for best performance.
Using a Heat Probe
A heat probe tests the diamond’s authenticity by measuring the stone’s heat dispersion capacity. And while your trusted local jeweler can offer you free testing if you wish, you can also purchase a quality heat probe online or from trusted hardware stores. The test works by sending a small amount of heat through the stone, after which a light indicator tells whether the diamond is real or not. This method is a sold way of confirming if the mounted gem is authentic, especially after all previous tests have given such an impression.
The Electrical Conductivity Test
You should note that some mounted imitation diamonds may pass the heat probe test due to closely similar properties with the real deal. It’s why the combo tester comes as a more efficient method of confirming whether the stone is a real diamond. While the heat probe only uses thermal conductivity to confirm authenticity, the electrical conductivity test offers a more accurate result, as diamonds’ efficacy for conducting electricity isn’t the same as most imitation stones, like moissanite.
The X-Ray Test
Suppose you have a professional diamond testing laboratory in your area. Then, you can strike an agreement with them to help check its authenticity by subjecting your mounted gem to an x-ray test. The reason is real diamonds don’t show on x-rays due to their radiolucent molecular arrangement. You can also carry out this text in an x-ray imaging center if they permit it.
Ask for its Certification
If a mounted diamond is real and bought from a certified jeweler, the stone would come with a certification document from professional bodies like the GIA, AGSL, PGGL, OR LGP. It may also carry a Kimberly Process certificate and other documents from the region it was mined, polished, and mounted to express its legal sale and authenticity. Also, an independent appraisal document can come with the stone, but it should only be considered if the appraiser is affiliated with the above professional organizations. If you own the diamond in your family, this certificate would be a part of the stone’s complete collection. But if you’re purchasing it from a store or online, ensure the seller is legit and has these certificates.
Ask a Reputable Gemologist
If you have a mounted diamond ring but aren’t sure if the stone is the real deal, you can tender it to a reputable gemological institute or professional for appraisal. These people will help evaluate the diamond’s makeup and give you a detailed report that tells if it’s real or fake. If you’re working with an institute, ensure that it’s one you can trust and hold accountable, like the Gemological Institute of America. And if it’s an individual, ensure they’re highly qualified and have them test the diamond in your presence.
While you have a professional help you check the authenticity of your mounted diamond; it’s also wise to ask them the right questions. This helps you get a deeper idea of how valuable the stone is and gives the professional an impression that you know what you want. Make inquiries like the stone’s origin, if it’s natural or lab-grown, possible color alterations or added treatments, and its compatibility with its grading documentation.
Tests You Shouldn’t Run
Not all tests will suit mounted diamonds, and when testing such types, it helps to know the methods you should avoid. As such, never use the following processes to check the authenticity of a mounted diamond;
Heat Test and Scratch Test- These types can damage the stone.
Sparkle Test and Flashlight Test- Inconclusive as the ring’s color can affect the diamond’s color reflection. Also, diamonds and well-crafted moissanite can give off similar sparkles.
Mounted diamonds make rings and other jewelry shine through, plus they add a pricey value to regular metals. But not all mounted diamonds are natural, while some may also be lab-grown. It’s why you need to find out whether the stone on your ring is 100% diamond, so you can be confident in whatever price tag you find or put it. And here, we’ve shown you numerous methods to h=make that happen, so consider them the next time you have such a need.