While many women tend to envision diamonds for their engagement ring, the reality is that these beautiful gems aren’t always affordable–especially for young couples just starting out in life. To satisfy the desire for larger, flawless diamonds, more couples are opting for high-grade diamond simulants. Simply put, these gemstones mimic or simulate the look of natural diamonds. Diamond simulants have enabled many women to own beautiful diamond-like stones and even use them as placeholder stones until they are able to afford the real deal.
What are Diamond Simulants?
Not to be confused with synthetic diamonds (real lab created, man-made diamonds), diamond simulants are man-made stones which closely resemble a diamond in clarity, color and cut. In order to be considered a diamond simulant, the stone must be man-made and have the overall look of a diamond. The most common diamond simulants are usually a form of cubic zirconia. Some of these have become quite advanced and may require a jeweler to determine authenticity. However, there are still a few qualities that experts use to determine whether or not the stone is a simulant, such as:
Hardness and Durability: While diamonds register as a 10 out of 10 on the Moh scale (the scale used by gemologists to determine hardness of gemstones), diamond simulants such as cubic zirconia register as 8.25 to 8.50 on the Moh scale. The exception is moissanite, which registers at a 9.25 to 9.50 and the most durable of all diamond simulants.
Brilliance, Color and Cut: Diamond simulants will be slightly more brilliant than natural diamonds and with the exception of only the highest grade of diamonds, simulants are completely colorless and have zero inclusions. Moissanite has additional fire, sometimes with a greenish or greyish tint. As well, because diamond simulants are created in a controlled lab environment, they are literally perfect which distinguishes them from the imperfections of diamonds.
Weight: Diamond simulants, particularly cubic zirconia, weigh approximately 1.7 times more than diamonds. A one carat diamond simulant will weigh more than a one carat diamond–but will generally look the same size. This is one of the most obvious ways to tell the difference between the two.
Settings: In the past, diamond simulants were traditionally set in sterling silver or lower quality gold-plated settings. However, many of the new diamond simulant companies offer high quality gold or platinum settings, distinguishing them from the cheap, stereotypical cubic zirconia rings.
Can you tell the difference between these four stones? Which is the real diamond?
(From left to right: Cubic Zirconia, Diamond, Alternate Diamond Simulant, Moissanite)
Buying Diamond Simulants for Engagement or Wedding Rings
- Although some women may prefer a real diamond for their initial engagement ring, it simply may not be possible financially.
- Many diamond jewelry stores carry “diamond testing technology” and provide information on how to distinguish real diamonds from simulants or “fakes”. Some couples find that because it is so difficult to tell the difference between the two, they do not feel the need to immediately purchase a diamond for an engagement ring.
- A good rule of thumb is to remember that most (if not all) diamond simulants are a form of cubic zirconia. If a young newlywed has an unusually large “diamond” for their age or while in college, it could very well be a diamond simulant. With the higher quality versions being placed in fine settings, there is increasingly less social stigma.
- Shop together for diamond simulants and ensure the bride-to-be is aware that she is not getting a diamond. Many women are happy to have a diamond simulant as a place holder in a fine quality setting, particularly if they know there is the option to upgrade in the future.
- Take special care with diamond simulants by reviewing the care for cubic zirconia.
Where to Buy Diamond Simulants
There are many online companies which sell diamond simulants, although some are certainly better than others. Be sure to note the quality of the settings and if the metal is 14k gold or simply gold plated.
Here are a few of some popular diamond simulant merchants: