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Diamond Simulants: Important Facts You Should Know

Diamond simulants, imitations or diamond alternatives, do you know what these terms really are? Let’s go into details and find out what simulants are made of and how they compare to real diamonds.

WHAT ARE DIAMOND SIMULANTS?

In plain words, a diamond simulant, also known as simulated diamond, fake diamond, faux diamond, diamond imitation and diamond alternative,  is a stone that looks similar to a real diamond.

They are used in jewellery to imitate diamonds, however, they have completely different chemical structure.

Some diamond imitations occur naturally, while others are created artificially in labs.

Among the most popular simulants are cubic zirconia, zircon, moissanite, spinel and white sapphire.

SIMULANTS VS. LAB-GROWN DIAMONDS: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

Many people confuse diamond simulants with synthetic diamonds, however, these two are completely different terms.

Synthetic diamonds have the same chemical composition as real diamonds. The only difference is that they are created in labs artificially.

These diamonds are also referred to as lab-grown, lab-created, cultivated, cultured or man-made diamonds.

People often think that because a diamond is grown in a lab, it is actually fake. That’s not true. The only determinant whether a diamond is fake is its chemical composition and not how it is made.

HOW TO RECOGNIZE A DIAMOND SIMULANT?

Below are the characteristics on which diamond simulants differ from real ones:

  • Hardness: This is one of the most important differences between simulated and real diamonds. Simulants can never come close to real diamonds in terms of hardness. They scratch, crack, chip and break much more easily.
  • Sparkle: Many simulants exhibit a lot more colourful sparkle than diamonds. While this characteristic doesn’t hold for all alternatives, it can help to distinguish cubic zirconia, moissanite and others.
  • Clarity: Since simulants are created artificially, they usually don’t have internal flaws. In comparison, real diamonds have inclusions within their structure which are part of their nature.
  • Colour: Most diamond simulants are colourless.  If you put a simulant next to a real diamond, the first will look very bright and white in comparison.
  • Setting: Simulants are usually set in cheaper metals. You would hardly find a cubic zirconia set in platinum. It will most likely be set in silver, or if set in gold, it will be rather plated than solid. Of course, it’s not necessary for a simulant to be set in cheap metal. But let’s agree, the biggest selling point of a simulant is its low price and it doesn’t make sense to use expensive metal to raise the price of the piece.
  • Price: Perhaps this is the most obvious sign that a stone is a simulant. You would never find a colourless 1-2ct diamond for a couple of hundred dollars, but it is totally possible to find a simulant for that price.

IS IT WORTH BUYING SIMULANTS?

Pros

  • They are not fake of substitutes
  • They are the same as mined/organic diamonds in almost every way
  • The technology is constantly getting better for lab grown diamonds
  • Some individual sellers have a good range of lab grown jewelry to choose from
  • The industry is growing fast
  • Lab grown diamonds form fast
  • Lab grown diamonds don’t rely on as many factors to be produced as mined diamonds
  • The purchase price is usually cheaper than mined diamonds
  • The environmental impact and eco footprint is usually more favorable than mined diamonds
  • Some sellers are quite good with their ethics and conflict free standards
  • Some sellers are quite good with their level of social investment from a portion of their profits (in both developed and developing countries)
  • You can get a guarantee on what you’re buying
  • The purity and clarity grades tend to be quite good from the better sellers like Rise Jewellery

Cons

  • Re-sell price is significantly lower than for a mined diamond
  • Some sellers have a smaller range of diamonds and jewelry to choose from for lab grown diamonds compared to mined diamonds
  • Marketing phrases used by some lab grown diamond sellers can be confusing
  • Some lab grown diamonds still have a high energy usage and carbon footprint
  • There’s still some uncertainty about the raw materials used, waste by-products, disposal and true environmental footprint
  • Can lead to loss of jobs in developing countries that need it
  • There’s alternatives to lab grown diamonds such as recycled and second hand diamonds that might be more ethical and eco friendly
  • Some people have a stigma or romance with mined diamonds
  • Some certifiers grade lab grown diamonds differently to mined diamonds

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