The diamond trade is a business subsector that had seen a long boom period, and for a good reason. Diamonds are as beautiful as they’re valuable, so it’s no surprise that everyone wishes to get their hands on one. And the biggest patronizers of diamonds? Women! Flashing a massive stone on an engagement ring to friends and family is one of every dreamy girl’s life highlights.
So, it’s normal to find people constantly seeking attractive diamond options for purchase. But the price factor plays out in most cases, and not everyone can afford the heavy number of zeros these gems command. Luckily, the diamond industry has secured numerous varieties so that everyone can be included in this fashion. And one of the most peddled options for the enthusiast is a composite diamond.
But if you’re new, this term can be as confusing as curious. It’s why we’ll take the time to explore what a composite diamond means, how it’s prepared, and what to look out for if you’re choosing one. We’ll also offer you the good and the bot so good angles that come with buying composite diamonds. Your final decision becomes more accessible and more driven by knowledge than impulse.
Before we dive into the topic of composite diamonds, it’s expected that we first touch what diamonds in general are. These highly-priced stones are mineral crystals that formed billions of years before humans discovered to walk its surface in the earth’s crust. Diamonds were created from carbon atoms subjected to centuries of extreme pressure and temperature in the earth. And these stones were pushed close to the minable areas of the earth’s surface by rising magma, which destroyed some of them during the process.
Diamonds rank first as the hardest natural substance on earth and are considered the most popular gemstones. And they’re employed in jewelry and industrial applications as well. Man first discovered these stones in their natural environments of alluvial gravel, kimberlite pipes, and glacial tills. And today, most diamond mining facilities are built around these areas, and vast amounts of the earth are excavated to produce these pricey stones.
The gemstone market used a series of factor rating procedures to classify diamonds, and the universally accepted method involves analyzing the 4Cs of a diamond- color, cut, clarity, and carat. Color is a natural factor that occurs in diamonds, by which the stone is graded based on how much hue it displays. You’ll find diamonds in varying shades, with the white and steel grey types being the most valuable. And in the case of clarity, a diamond is classified based on how many impurities (inclusions and blemishes) it carries or can be noted.
However, cut and carat focus on the diamond’s carving and weight. The former is a huge determinant of how impressively a diamond refracts light, and it’s also the leading indicator of how big the stone appears. But while it may make a gem look more extensive, the carat is the final tell whether it’s worth the price weight-wise.
Besides natural diamonds, you can also find varieties that are lab-made. These types are lab-created diamonds produced from a diamond seed and carbon coating. This mixture is then exposed to environmental factors similar to those found under the earth in areas where diamonds initially formed. The entire process is carried out in a controlled chamber, resulting in a lab-engineered gemstone with equally physical and chemical attributes to their mined counterparts.
Lab-created diamonds are cheaper than natural ones and offer the same aesthetic and character qualities. But there are also other items used to imitate the allure and appeal of natural diamonds for a much lower price. These options are called simulated diamonds or stimulants and are imitations derived from other crystal minerals. Simulants offer alluring semblance to diamonds like sparkle and brilliance and when cut, can almost pass as the actual stones to the inexperienced eye. And the most popular types include natural and cultured gemstones like moissanite, cubic zirconia, white sapphire, strontium titanate, and zircon.
Composite Diamonds- Definition and Types
When most people hear about diamonds, their minds quickly think of the single stone sitting on a metal ring worn by women on their way to the aisle. But not all diamond rings are designed with such a setting. Another style of making gem-based jewelry exists and has spun a distinct overview for these stones. And this category of stones is referred to as composite diamonds.
A composite diamond is definitive by name and means several small stones arranged to appear large. The stones can either be tightly packed, so they look like a giant gem or arranged such that each small diamond exhibits its distinct beauty. Composite diamond rings differ significantly from traditional single-stone diamond rings, highlighting one stone elevated or embedded into a metal setting. Instead, they feature a more clustered format and combine multiple gems to produce a more sophisticated appearance.
Composite diamonds commonly feature two distinct designs, namely;
- Doublet- Two stones fused to look like one, and
- Triplet- Three stones fused to look like one.
But other designs may involve more than three stones, with some options carrying as much as 12 to 15 small diamonds in one cluster. The gems may also be of equal or varying sizes and can even come in different colors to enhance beauty. Depending on the customer’s preference and budget, the diamonds may also comprise natural or cultured stones. And they can also be made from simulants- an intelligent option with this style of designing diamond rings.
Carat and Composite Diamonds
As previously mentioned, diamonds are classified and evaluated based on the 4Cs of the characteristics; cut, color, clarity, and carat. And though the requirements remain the same for the first three, carat is analyzed somewhat differently when dealing with composite diamonds. Let’s quickly go over what carat means in diamond trading to clarify this statement.
The carat is the unit of measuring a diamond’s accurate weight. And as a rule, diamonds are graded per carat to ensure fair trading. One carat of a diamond is equal to 200mg or 2.0g, regardless of how large the diamond appears. But by default, a typical one-carat diamond should be around the size of 5.60mm to 6.60mm in diameter, subjective to its cut grade.
The weight would be calculated based on the single stone on a traditional solitaire diamond. But when dealing with a composite diamond, the rule is slightly altered. Instead, the combined weight of all the stones is considered the total weight of the diamond itself. This method brings about a unique way of weighing composite diamonds, known as carat total weight (CTW or CTTW).
Using the CTW method, a jeweler can give you an accurate description of how heavy the collective weight of a composite diamond will be. Bear in mind that the unit doesn’t consider the presence of other gemstones on the jewelry. CTW is only used for diamonds in a composite design and combines their total weight regardless of whether they’re all-natural, simulants, lab-made, or a mixture of all three.
Pricing Composite Diamonds- Carat vs. Carat Total Weight
Carat and price often go hand in hand when dealing with solitary diamonds, though it’s not the only factor used to determine the stone’s value. After the cut, color, and clarity quality have been graded, the stone is finally placed at a price per carat. After considering all factors, your diamond’s price will significantly rise the heavier it becomes. Two stones of equal cut, clarity, and color will come at varying costs once their carat weights are different.
But when handling composite diamonds, this isn’t usually the case. Because the stones are smaller, their carats are significantly lower. At such sizes, their cost is also lesser, and the combined weight doesn’t necessarily spike the final price of the composite diamond. What you’ll pay for, say, a 3-carat solitaire diamond isn’t the same as six 0.5-carat composite diamonds of equal quality.
Merits of a Composite Diamond
The rise of composite diamonds has given so much hope to such people, allowing them to own these attractive gemstones on jewelry. And today, many can quickly join the composite bandwagon for many reasons. And some of the most observation perks include;
One main reason why most people don’t own diamonds is that their prices are staggering. On am average, quality diamond rings cost as low as $6,000- way more than some can manage to spend on jewelry. But composite diamonds eliminate this obstacle by providing cheaper alternatives, thus expanding the market to lower-income people. And it gives you an almost similar quality for such low prices.
For instance, a 2-carat solitaire diamond can be placed at $25,000, which isn’t so far-fetched in the market. But it’s equally interesting to know that you can get an option of four 0.5-carat diamonds for as low as $6,000! This means each small diamond is presented at $1,500- a price noted as lower than the default unit of measurement.
2. Similar Effect
While one diamond sitting on a ring is impressively attractive, you can get a similar effect using a composite diamond. Most designs feature small stones glued together such that it’s hard to tell that they’re individual gems in one place. Of course, this factor is more convincing when diamonds of equal cut, color, and clarity are used. And they’ll barely look any different from.a.solitare stone to most people!
3. Option to Mix
With composite diamonds, you’re not obligated to use only one type of diamond to achieve full effect. You can fuse natural and manufactured stones in one setting or combine real diamonds with simulants. And these options give the final effect more sparkle and radiance while also significantly reducing the price.
4. Flexible Designs
Solitaire diamond jewelry mostly has a fixed set of designs, with the signature effect depending on the one stone on its setting. But with composite diamonds, the possibilities are almost limitless. You could form patterns and shapes of various kinds in a cluster or combine numerous colorful gems for more pop. You could also create a design around a solitary diamond or enhance its presence by using smaller diamonds of a different shade around it.
The point is that the variety option is more comprehensive with a composite diamond. And because it’s.so flexible, jewelry and rings made like this offer a more casual appeal. This perk makes them more applicable to numerous wardrobe options than solitaire rings, which give a more formal vibe.
Drawbacks of Composite Diamonds
As great as composite rings are, though, they don’t come without a dark side. And while the pros of this style of diamonds can be convincing, it helps to note the cons that also come with them. A few examples are listed below;
1. High Maintenance
With a solitaire diamond, cleanups and maintenance are much more accessible. Because you’re dealing with one diamond, it’s easy to get into whatever crevice surrounds it. But with a solitaire diamond, there are just too many spaces and corners to get through, and many tiny stones add more complexity to the process. This means you’ll spend more time and effort during cleaning and may hire professional help to attain satisfactory results.
With each unique design comes a new maintenance challenge and eventually more cost. Note that it’s made of a cluster of smaller diamonds, meaning each stone is embedded in its setting. Losing one gem may require cutting a new one from scratch, mainly because of its unique size and shape. And these different needs rack more repair expenses.
2. Less Allure than Solitaire Diamonds
One large diamond will encourage more refraction, reflection, and light scattering due to its larger surface area. And this is a factor that even the most sophisticated composite diamond of equal weight can’t beat. Multiple smaller gems only encourage reflection, but not the other two properties.
3. No Certification
The stones used in composite diamonds are so small that they barely warrant certification. Most jewelers won’t take such tests since they cost money, and the expenses won’t be made back from gems less than one carat. So, it’s hard to display confidence in a composite diamond’s authenticity without the necessary certification most solitary stones possess.
4. Low Resale Value
The demand for composite diamonds is relatively low, and one main factor is that the stoned are usually below one carat. This also worsens after combining the possible lack of certification and initial low-cost price. And since buyers can’t be sure of what they’re getting, they may not be encouraged to put money down for it. And those who do won’t pay you enough to make a profit or break even.
Should You Buy a Composite Diamond Ring?
Deciding to purchase a composite diamond falls back to preference and a complete understanding of its highs and lows. On the plus side, these gems are great for getting more size at less price, as they appear more significant than their cost seems to suggest. This factor makes it easy for almost anyone to own composite diamonds without spending a fortune instead of solitaire options. They also offer almost unlimited opportunities to enhance their appearance, pattern, and design. And they’re more appealing to a casual fashion statement, making them perfect for everyday wear.
But if you must buy one, note that the resale value is relatively low, as the small stones used in its cluster are below one carat. Also, these diamonds cost more to repair and maintain, plus you can’t be sure of the diamond’s quality since they barely come with any certification. You could be wearing a cluster of moissanite while thinking it’s a natural diamond.
The best way to buy a composite diamond is by eliminating the possibility of an investment return from it. Also, prepare to keep it as pristine as possible to reduce the chances of regular gem replacement and maintenance. Another ideal way is to purchase composite diamonds with fewer stones- doublet and triplet designs are easier to clean, as are single-center stones surrounded by a halo of smaller ones. These types are also great quality composite stones with cost-saving advantages.
Because diamonds can be quite expensive, other options like composite diamonds are available for budget-friendly needs. And these types are a great addition to your wardrobe and fitting for formal and casual situations. Still, they come with advantages and disadvantages that you must grasp before picking one. But once you’ve fully understood how they fare, you can enjoy good value for money, excellent fashion flexibility, and the comfort of knowing you own a diamond piece in your jewelry set.