Diamonds have long been celebrated as symbols of luxury, love, and timeless elegance. But as we move further into the 21st century, a fascinating and innovative trend is emerging in the world of gemstones – simulated diamonds. These astonishingly beautiful creations challenge our traditional conceptions of value and authenticity, making them a subject of curiosity and debate among jewelers and consumers alike.
So, what exactly are simulated diamonds, and how do they compare to their natural diamonds? Are they merely cost-effective substitutes, or do they possess their own unique allure?
What are Simulated Diamonds?
They are often confused with synthetic or lab-grown diamonds. They consist of materials that mimic the appearance of a natural diamond but do not possess the same chemical, physical, or optical properties. They’re crafted to look like diamonds to the untrained eye, but when assessed under gemological tests, their distinct differences are revealed.
Are Simulated Diamonds Real?
In essence, while these diamonds are tangible and real in their own right, they are not “real” diamonds in terms of composition or intrinsic value. Unlike natural or synthetic diamonds, which have the same carbon-based crystal structure and physical properties, simulated diamonds are materials made to merely imitate the appearance of a diamond. They do not possess the identical chemical, physical, or optical properties of diamonds.
Quality and Characteristics of Simulated Diamonds
The allure of these diamond imitations lies in their amazing sparkle and affordability. But to truly appreciate and differentiate them, one must delve deeper into their quality and characteristics.
Composed of Different Materials
Unlike natural or lab created diamonds which are carbon-based crystals, simulant diamonds are composed of different materials. Cubic Zirconia, for instance, is made from zirconium dioxide, while moissanite is made of silicon carbide.
Has a Different Type of Brilliance and Fire
Its dispersion of light into color is different compared to real diamonds. For instance, moissanite can often display more fiery sparkle and rainbow colors than natural diamonds. This can be both an advantage for those who love more colorful sparkles and a telltale sign for those familiar with genuine diamonds.
Prone to Scratches and Abrasion
Diamonds are renowned for being one of the most durable minerals, ranking a 10 on the Mohs scale. While some simulants like moissanite come close (with a rating of 9.25-9.5), others like cubic zirconia rate significantly lower at around 8. So overtime, these popular diamond simulants may get marks and lines.
Natural diamonds often come with inclusions, tiny imperfections inside or on the stone, which are formed due to intense heat and pressure over millions of years. Simulant diamonds, especially those that lab diamonds, typically have fewer inclusions, often presenting a beautiful clarity. While this might seem advantageous, the lack of these natural identifiers can sometimes make them easily distinguishable from natural diamonds to experts.
One of the most distinguishing features is the cost. Simulated diamonds have significantly lesser price than natural or synthetic diamonds. This price difference makes them a favorite choice for those wanting the appearance of diamonds without the hefty price tag.
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Simulated Diamonds vs Real Diamonds
The market now presents both natural and lab-created diamonds and their simulated counterparts. To make an informed decision when choosing between them, it’s crucial to understand the fundamental differences.
Origin and Formation
Real diamonds are carbon structures formed deep within the Earth’s mantle under extreme heat and pressure over millions of years. Even lab-grown or synthetic diamonds, while created using controlled processes, have the same carbon-based crystal structure as their natural counterparts. On the other hand, simulant diamonds are made of materials like cubic zirconia (zirconium dioxide) or moissanite (silicon carbide) that mimic the appearance of diamonds.
Real diamonds rank a 10 on the Mohs scale of hardness, making them the hardest known material while the other ranks an 8 or less.
For real diamonds, the natural diamond mining industry has faced criticism for its environmental impact and, in some areas, ethical concerns like conflict diamonds. On the other hand, non-natural diamonds usually have a smaller environmental footprint and don’t come with the ethical dilemmas tied to mining.
Types of Simulated Diamonds
There are various types of this alternative to diamond. Some of these are the following:
Arguably the most popular diamond simulant in the market. Made from zirconium dioxide, this crystalline material offers a natural brilliance at a fraction of the cost.
It is discovered in a meteor crater and initially thought to be diamonds from the stars. It displays a high level of brilliance, often outshining diamonds with its fiery rainbow sparkles.
Considered as a colorless gemstone, making it a subtle alternative to diamonds.
Yttrium Aluminum Garnet (YAG) and Gadolinium Gallium Garnet (GGG)
Once popular choices for diamond simulants, these garnet varieties have mostly been overshadowed by the rise of CZ. However, they lack the decent hardness, making them less ideal for daily wear jewelry.
Simulated Diamonds vs Lab-Created Diamonds
Both offer alternatives to traditionally mined diamonds, yet they are fundamentally different in nature, value, and composition. Here are the differences between diamond simulant and lab-grown diamonds:
Composition and Origin
Simulant gemstones are crafted to mimic diamonds in appearance but are not formed of carbon crystals. On the other hand, synthetic diamonds share the same physical, chemical, and optical properties as mined diamonds. However, they’re grown in controlled laboratory environments using specialized equipment.
Physical and Optical Properties
Simulated diamonds can look similar to diamonds to the untrained eye, they differ in hardness, refractive index, and other properties. On the other hand, lab-created diamonds have the same hardness, brilliance, fire, and scintillation as their mined counterparts.
Longevity and Durability
Lab-grown diamonds share the same hardness and durability as mined diamonds, making them ideal for everyday wear, engagement rings, and heirloom pieces meant to last generations. Meanwhile, simulated diamonds can become scratched over time, losing captivating sparkle.
Advantages and Considerations
The most evident advantage of simulated diamonds is their cost-effectiveness. They offer the sparkle reminiscent of real diamonds but at a fraction of the price, making them an affordable alternative to a broader audience. They also require little maintenance as they are more resistant to dirt and oils than their natural counterparts.
However, one of the things you must consider before purchasing one is that these diamonds don’t hold intrinsic value. Their resale value is minimal, and they’re not considered investment pieces. They are also less preferable to use as engagement rings.
Simulated Diamonds FAQs
How long do simulated diamonds last?
The longevity may vary from the type of simulant diamond. For instance, moissanite, with its impressive hardness close to that of real diamonds, can last for generations with proper care, retaining its brilliance and fire. On the other hand, cubic zirconia, though beautiful, tends to show signs of wear after a few years, becoming susceptible to scratches and a potential dulled appearance, especially with daily wear.
Will simulated diamonds fade?
Generally, high-quality simulated diamonds, such as moissanite, maintain their sparkle and clarity over time and are unlikely to fade. However, other simulants like cubic zirconia can exhibit a clouded appearance after prolonged exposure to certain elements, such as lotions, oils, and household chemicals.
Discover the Sparkling World of Simulated Diamonds with Willyn Villarica
Simulated diamonds offer an enchanting, cost-effective alternative to natural diamonds, presenting an array of options for every taste and budget. From their diverse characteristics to the nuances of their care, understanding simulated diamonds is key to appreciating their unique charm and potential place in your jewelry collection. If you want to know what type of diamond you have, consult with Willyn Villarica Jewelry, an expert jewelry appraiser.
Ms. Willyn Villarica holds a certification as a gemologist and is a recognized appraiser in the Philippines. Uniquely, she stands as the sole representative from the Philippines in the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers. Visit NAJAappraisers.com for more information.
Willyn Villarica is your trusted partner for jewelry appraisal services, catering to clients around the globe. Our expertise and commitment to excellence ensure accurate and reliable assessments of your precious gemstones. It’s important to note that while we offer our services worldwide, clients are responsible for covering all travel expenses. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to have your diamonds expertly graded by Willyn Villarica. Send your inquiries or book an appointment now. Email us at email@example.com or through our Facebook (Willyn Villarica Jewelry) or Instagram (@willynvillarica_jewelry) accounts.