Synthetic diamonds are becoming more and more popular. But is there a way to tell if a stone is a synthetic or natural diamond? Let’s see how these two types of stones differ and whether you can detect their origin.
How Synthetic Diamonds Are Made
Synthetic diamonds are created out of carbon, using high pressure and high temperature.
In contrast to naturally mined diamonds, synthetics are made artificially, in laboratory conditions.
Synthetic diamonds are also referred to as lab-grown diamonds, man-made diamonds, created diamonds, and cultured diamonds.
How Synthetic Diamonds Are Different from Natural Diamonds
Synthetic diamonds are identical to natural diamonds in terms of chemical makeup and physical properties.
From a consumer’s standpoint, there are two main differences between synthetics and natural diamonds: clarity and price.
Clarity of Synthetic Diamonds
It is natural for diamonds to have internal flaws, which have developed in the process of formation of the stone.
Since synthetic diamonds are created artificially, many of these naturally occurring imperfections can be avoided in the production process. This is why, on average, synthetics have higher clarity compared with most natural diamonds.
Prices of Synthetic Diamonds
Synthetic diamonds are usually cheaper than natural stones. The difference is not big, however.
It is true that it is easier to create a synthetic diamond than dig up a similar natural stone, but since synthetics are still real diamonds, the demand for them is not so much lower as to result in dramatically reduced prices.
How Can You Detect Synthetic Diamonds?
It is very hard to detect a synthetic diamond just by looking at it. Even if you use a loupe or microscope, you won’t be able to find a visible difference. After all, synthetics have the same chemical structure as natural diamonds.
In order to detect a synthetic diamond reliably, you will need special tools that can analyze the structure of a stone on a very detailed level.
Such equipment is usually found in gemological laboratories, which inspect and grade diamonds and other gemstones.
The best way to easily tell if a diamond is synthetic is to look at its grading certificate.
Most major gem labs that grade diamonds include in their reports information on whether a stone is a natural diamond or a result of a synthetic production process.
For example, the reports issued by the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) indicate whether a diamond is man-made.
Apart from checking a stone’s certificate, there is a rule of thumb you can use to figure out whether a stone is likely to be synthetic.
In general, if a diamond is more than 5%-10% cheaper compared with another, natural diamond of the same carat and with the same grades for clarity, color, and cut, then the cheaper stone might be synthetic.
Price is not a reliable indicator that a diamond is or isn’t synthetic, however – it is just an indication of probability. It’s better to rely on the stone’s certificate – yet another reason to prefer certified diamonds over those that don’t come with a grading report.