Suppose you have ever tried getting a diamond piece from a jewelry store. In that case, you may have probably glanced at a piece of jewelry that looked identical to a diamond but with an elevated level of brilliance. These are called simulated diamonds, they look like diamonds, and they also reflect light like real diamonds, so you would be forgiven if you mistake these items for real diamonds because we all make this same mistake at first. After all, you need to have some basic knowledge of diamonds to tell the difference.
These beautifully crafted stones look very similar to diamonds, but they do not possess the same chemical or physical properties as diamonds; this makes them a cheaper alternative to diamonds, and because of the lower prices, it gets a lot of purchases, especially from customers who cannot afford real diamonds. The good news is- that it is illegal to market simulated diamonds like Cubic zirconia and Moissanite as real diamonds, so you are sure you would not get ripped off.
Before getting a simulated diamond, you need to become familiar with what simulated diamonds are, how they are made, and the characteristics of simulated diamonds. This article is packed with useful pieces of information about simulated diamonds. If you own a piece of jewelry but are unsure if it is real or simulated, this article would help you better understand diamonds and simulated diamonds and tell them apart easily. Before we get started, let us look at the definition of simulated diamonds and how they are produced.
What Is A Simulated Diamond?
A simulated diamond or a diamond simulant is sometimes referred to as an “imitation diamond” or “diamond imitation.” Still, it is a gemstone in its own right, and it isn’t trying to be an imitation of real diamonds. Still, unfortunately, it has geological characteristics similar to diamonds, which makes it a diamond lookalike.
If you know a thing or two about diamonds, you may have heard about synthetic diamonds or lab-grown diamonds; well, simulated diamonds are not the same as synthetic diamonds. Although the two stones are made in the laboratory, they are made with different materials. Synthetic diamonds are formed with the same materials as natural diamonds, while simulated diamonds are made of entirely different materials. The most commonly used diamond simulants are moissanite and cubic zirconia, but other diamond simulants include; topaz, colorless quartz, sapphire, and beryl. These stimulants have these stimulants been in use for centuries.
Examples Of Simulated diamonds
Numerous gemstones have been used as diamond simulants for centuries now, they closely resemble Diamonds, but they are not. These substances are made out of varying materials, but the prices are always cheaper than actual diamonds. Because of the affordability of these gemstones, there is always demand for them.
Below, I’ve listed some popular diamond simulants, and I’ve also gone further to explain their composition and appearance for clarity.
Perhaps the most popular simulated diamond in the market, Moissanite comes very close in appearance to real diamonds, so you would often get to see it on many engagement rings.
Moissanite is a naturally occurring silicon carbide, and Henry Moissan first discovered it in 1893. Moissanites of today are usually made in the laboratory because it is rare to get a naturally occurring silicon carbide large enough to produce even a one-carat gemstone.
2. Cubic Zirconia
Cubic zirconia is also a popular diamond simulant, and it makes for a cheaper synthetic diamond option; you may not find them on engagement or wedding rings most of the time, this is because it is not so durable, and it doesn’t provide as much aesthetics as diamonds.
Cubic zirconia (C.Z.) is zirconium dioxide (ZrO2) in its cubic crystalline form. Naturally occurring Cubic zirconia was discovered in microscopic grains, which were included in metamict zircon by German mineralogists M. V. Stackelberg and K. Chudoba in 1937.
Zircon ( chemically known as zirconium silicate) is a naturally occurring mineral that is crystalline and takes the shape of a prism. Its main components are zirconium silicate and zirconium (the chief ore). It typically takes a brown hue and a translucent gem quality. The chemical formula for zirconium silicate is ZrSiO₄.
The first sighting of zircon was in 1789 by German chemist Martin Heinrich Klaproth.
Topaz has a chemical formula of Al2SiO4(F, OH)2 because it is a silicate mineral of fluorine and aluminum. Topaz is naturally colorless, but it may become pale blue or anything from golden brown to yellowish-orange because of impurities; you can also find topaz in other colors like purple, deep blue, pale green, pink, or reddish-orange when they are treated with heat.
The first-ever topaz stone was discovered in 1737 somewhere in Germany; fast forward three years to 1740, and a large gem was spotted in Brazil.
Rutile sparkles a lot because it has one of the highest refractive indices at visible ranges; most of the rutile stones today are artificially engineered in the laboratory (synthetic Rutile). In its natural form, Rutile is an oxide mineral composed of titanium dioxide (TiO2).
Natural Rutile can be found in heavy mineral sands, and it is derived by surface mining and dredging of these sands.
Spinel is a hard glassy mineral that can be found as octahedral crystals with varying colors, and its major components are magnesium and aluminum oxides. It has a chemical formula of MAl2O4.
Naturally, Spinel was thought to have been mined in Afghanistan between 750 and 950 A.D., while synthetic Spinel was not produced until the mid-1800s; synthetic Spinel is not made by flame fusion as many thought; rather, it is made by flux growth.
Between Simulated Diamonds & Natural Diamonds
Just by the names, you would know that simulated diamonds are different from natural diamonds, but the question would be, “what makes them different?”. At first glance, someone new to jewelry may not spot the difference between simulated diamonds and natural diamonds; you may even think simulated diamonds like Moissanite and synthetic Rutile are more authentic than natural diamonds because they have more brilliance (reflects more light) than natural diamonds.
But by examining these stones closely, you would discover that they have different optical and physical characteristics; even chemically, they are different. If you are not a diamond expert, you may be wondering how the experts easily tell apart from real diamonds from simulants. Because diamond simulants are numerous, with each having its unique properties, it may not be easy to differentiate natural diamonds from simulants.
So to properly understand how diamond simulants are different from natural diamonds, we need to take a closer look at one of the most used stimulants in the market and ascertain what makes it different from a real diamond.
Moissanite Vs. Diamonds
Moissanites are very beautiful, and they would easily pass for real diamonds if proper scrutiny isn’t carried out. They reflect light similarly to real diamonds, but some people think it is too reflective to be a diamond; most people are diamond experts.
If you are about to get a piece of jewelry, but you are unsure if it is a real diamond, a synthetic diamond, or Moissanite, this article is for you. Below are some characteristics that differentiateMoissanitee from natural diamond. Even if you are not a certified gemologist, you can still get good-quality jewelry pieces every time you visit the jewelry store. Some of these characteristics can be noticed at first glance, while others may require some time to discern.
The price – The first and obvious difference between Moissanite and diamonds is the price of these jewelry pieces. Authentic diamonds are way more expensive than simulated diamonds, and Moissanite is no exception. If you are in the grocery store and want to get a large stone that isn’t so expensive, then getting Moissanite would be the best option because a moissanite gem is worth one-tenth of a naturally occurring diamond.
Brilliance and fire – After the price difference, the appearance is the next big difference between Moissanite and diamond. If you are new to jewelry, you may not notice any difference at first glance. Still, after close observation, you would notice that they sparkle more than diamonds ( may not be noticeable on small stones, but larger stones over 5mm would notice the difference). This is because Moissanite has a higher refractive index of 2.65, whereas diamonds are 2.42 (“refractive index” is a term used to measure how a gemstone bends light). Moissanite also has a fire of 0.104, whereas diamonds are rated at 0.044.
Hardness – The hardness of gemstones is measured using the Mohs hardness scale, and with diamonds being the hardest material on earth, it is no surprise that it is ranked number 10 on the Mohs hardness scale (10 being the strongest). Moissanite follows just behind diamonds as the second hardest gemstone on earth, with a Mohs scale rating of 9.25. It is important always to remember this fact. However, you may not be doing a hardness test when you go to the jewelry store to get jewelry, you can get to measure the weights, and Moissanite weighs slightly lesser than diamonds (15% lesser).
Durability – given that diamond is the hardest material on earth, it withstands wear and tears more efficiently than other gemstones making it suitable to be worn every day. Moissanite, however, is also durable in its rights, but after regular use, you would notice visible scratches and abrasions that would not occur in real diamonds.
Color – naturally occurring Moissanite can be found with a yellow or green hue. Still, thanks to hardworking manufacturers and cutting-edge technologies, you can now get good-quality moissanite gemstones that are colorless. On the other hand, diamonds are naturally colorless, but you can get different colored diamonds like red, brown, yellow, pink, and blue.
When diamonds sparkle, they give back while lighting reflections, but when moissanite does the same, you will notice a rainbow-like reflection (some people call it the “disco ball light”).
Should You Get A Simulated Diamond?
Diamonds are beautiful, they make a statement in the fashion world, but apart from women flaunting these expensive stones on the runway, you would also get to see diamonds on engagement rings across the world. However, some people would rather pick a more sparkling and cheaper diamond alternative. Here’s what to consider when getting a diamond simulant;
- Many people wear jewelry, and a diamond piece is something everyone would want to have in their possession. Apart from diamonds’ beauty, it is also appreciated (by people who like to make a profit off their jewelry pieces).
- If you have enough financial backing to purchase a diamond, I recommend getting one instead of settling for something cheaper. Still, if you are not financially capable of affording a diamond, you should get a diamond simulant because it is very cheap compared to mined diamonds. (they cost as little as $50 to $200)
- Getting a simulated diamond is more eco-friendly than getting a mined diamond. These stones are usually crafted inside the laboratory; they are not mined, so they do not have any footprints in the environment.
- Moissanite would pass a diamond test. Unlike other gemstones, if you get moissanite, you can confidently undergo a diamond test and come out smiling because moissanite conducts heat efficiently, and most diamond testers detect thermal conductivity.
When getting a ring for that special occasion, the first thing that would come to mind would be a shiny new diamond ring. Still, unfortunately, not everybody has the financial capacity to purchase a diamond confidently. If you want something that looks and feels like a diamond, getting a simulated diamond would be the way to go.
Before you purchase a simulated diamond or even a real diamond, it is always good to consult a diamond expert, especially if you are new to jewelry.