Perhaps you've heard of diamond simulants, also referred to as diamond imitations, but do you know what these stones really are? Let's see what simulants are made of and how they compare to real diamonds.
A diamond simulant is a stone that looks similar to real diamond and shares some of its characteristics. Although simulants are used as diamond imitations, they have a different chemical structure from real diamonds. Some simulants occur naturally, while others are created artificially. Examples of popular diamond simulants include cubic zirconia (CZ), moissanite and rhinestone.
Here are some of the other names used to refer to diamond simulants: simulated diamond, fake diamond, faux diamond, diamond imitation.
Many people confuse synthetic diamonds with diamond simulants. However, these two terms have different meanings.
Synthetic diamonds are actually real diamonds that are created in a lab. Unlike simulants, these stones have the same chemical structure as natural diamonds, and sometimes, synthetics have superior physical properties.
Synthetic diamonds are also referred to as lab-grown, lab-created, cultivated, cultured or man-made diamonds.
People often assume that just because a diamond is referred to as man-made or lab-grown, it is actually fake. Although a lot of diamond imitations are also lab-created, whether a diamond is fake is determined by its chemical structure, not by how it is made.
The only way synthetic diamonds differ from natural diamonds is that synthetics are created artificially.
So, how can you tell if you are dealing with a diamond imitation? Here are the characteristics on which simulants differ from real diamonds:
Hardness - This is perhaps one of the most universal differences between imitations and real diamonds. Simulants generally cannot come close to diamonds in terms of hardness: Simulants scratch, chip and crack more easily.
Sparkle - Compared with diamonds, many imitations exhibit a lot more colorful sparkle when lit. While this difference does not hold for all fakes, it is one of the characteristics that help to distinguish cubic zirconia and other simulants from diamond.
Clarity - Diamond simulants that are created artificially usually don't have internal flaws. Natural diamonds, on the other hand, have inclusions that were embedded within their structure at the time of the formation of each stone.
Color - Most diamond imitations are usually created colorless. In fact, they are so colorless that if they were to be graded on the diamond color scale, they would receive the highest grade. Although completely colorless diamonds exist, they are extremely rare. That's why if you put most imitations next to a real diamond, most of the time, the fake will look noticeably brighter and whiter.
Setting - Diamond simulants are usually set in cheaper metals. For example, instead of being set in platinum, an imitation will most likely be mounted in silver. If an imitation is set in gold, the metal will most likely be plated rather than solid. While it is not necessary for a simulant to be set in a cheap metal, the biggest selling point of a fake is its low price, and for jewellery sellers it doesn't make sense to raise the price of imitation pieces by using an expensive metal.
Price - This is usually the most obvious sign that a stone is a simulant. Real diamonds of decent size and quality usually cost thousands of dollars, whereas imitations are sold for a fraction of that.
If you see a colorless and flawless 1 or 2 carat stone with a price tag of a couple hundred dollars or less, then this is most likely a fake.
There are a lot of materials that are used to make imitation diamonds. It is good to be familiar with the most popular of them so that you can recognize them as simulants when you come across them.
Here are some of the most commonly sold diamond simulants: cubic zirconia, zircon, moissanite, rutile, glass, spinel, YAG (yttrium aluminium garnet), GGG (gadolinium gallium garnet), white sapphire, strontium titanate, DiamondAura, Diamonique.
Before you decide whether to buy a simulant, you should at least be informed about what you can expect of such jewellery.
Keep in mind that since imitations are not as hard and durable as real diamonds, over time, you will be able to see signs of wear. Your simulant will scratch, and at some point, it will become dull.
There is nothing wrong with buying diamond imitations as long as you are aware that they are not real diamonds.
The main attraction of diamond simulants is that they are a lot cheaper than the real deal, so if an imitation works for you, you don't have much to lose by buying one anyway.