A lot of people are interested in how simulated diamonds and real diamonds can be compared. This article looks into the similarities and differences between diamonds and simulants. You will learn how to tell them apart, as well as how to decide whether to opt for an imitation or the real thing.
Most Popular Simulated Diamonds
The stones most commonly used as diamond simulants are cubic zirconia and moissanite.
Other popular simulated diamonds include white sapphire, zircon, and rutile.
Spinel and synthetic garnet are also used as diamond imitations.
If should be noted that diamond simulants are different from synthetic diamonds (or lab-grown diamonds).
Synthetics are man-made, but they have the same chemical makeup as real diamonds.
Simulated diamonds, in contrast, are not made up of carbon and have properties that are different from those of diamond.
Comparing Diamond Simulants and Real Diamonds
When comparing a simulated diamond with a real diamond, you should focus on how they are similar and different in terms of their most relevant characteristics: clarity, durability, brilliance, color, and price.
Simulated vs. Real Diamonds: Clarity
Diamond clarity refers to how many visible imperfections there are in a stone, as well as how prominently they are located. It is natural for diamonds and other gemstones to have such flaws.
The most common simulated diamonds have higher clarity than real diamonds. This is because these simulants are usually created in a lab, in a process designed to reduce as much as possible the number of inclusions (flaws) in a stone.
Some of the simulated diamonds created synthetically are cubic zirconia, most of the moissanite available on the market, synthetic garnet, and synthetic rutile, among others.
Clarity can help you recognize a simulant – if a stone is too clear and is also pretty cheap compared with similar-clarity diamonds, then it is most likely simulated.
(Synthetic diamonds are also clean, but their prices are close to those of natural diamonds, not a fraction of them.)
Simulated vs. Real Diamonds: Durability
Diamond is the hardest gemstone, and any simulant cannot really compete with it in this respect. This is why you should expect simulated diamonds to be less durable than the real thing.
For example, cubic zirconia is significantly softer – it is rated at around 8.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness (diamond is a 10), and that’s why it scratches more easily.
Most simulated diamonds are not much harder, if at all – many of them have a hardness rating in the 7.5-8.5 range.
Moissanite stands out as one of the hardest simulated diamonds – its Mohs hardness grade is 9.5. White sapphire is a close second – it is graded 9.
So, if you see a stone that has accumulated a lot of scratches and whose edges are smooth instead of sharp, you most likely have a simulant – real diamonds don’t wear and scratch in such a way.
Simulated vs. Real Diamonds: Brilliance and Sparkle
Many simulated diamonds are no less brilliant than real diamonds. For example, cubic zirconia and moissanite have a lot of brilliance, and their sparkle is greater than that of diamond.
The brilliance of simulants differs from that of real diamonds, however. If you look at the two examples mentioned above – moissanite and cubic zirconia – you will see that their sparkle is more colorful compared with that of diamond.
Abundant brilliance and colorful sparkle are some of the giveaway signs of a simulant – if when compared with a real diamond, a stone sparkles in visibly more colors, then it is likely a simulated diamond.
Simulated vs. Real Diamonds: Color
Most simulated diamonds are similar in color to real diamonds – i.e., reasonably white, or more precisely, colorless.
(By the way, most natural diamonds are yellowish in color, and those that have no such tints are very rare and therefore expensive.)
Some simulants can be quite colorless. For example, you can find cubic zirconia or white sapphire that has no yellowish hues.
Other simulated diamonds, although with a decent color, cannot match the most colorless diamonds in this respect.
For example, moissanite tends to have some yellow tints – they can be very subtle but are still stronger than what you would see in diamonds of the highest color grade.
Simulated vs. Real Diamonds: Price
One of the biggest differences between simulants and real diamonds is price – simulated diamonds are much cheaper, often selling at a fraction of the price of a real diamond.
This is also one of the ways you can tell that you are being offered a simulant – if the price of a stone is much lower than that of an equally big diamond that looks similarly clean and colorless, then the cheaper stone is most likely not a diamond.