• Sunay Gandhi

De-cluttering Synthetic vs Simulated Diamonds

Updated: Aug 10, 2021

Until a few years back, your customers only had one choice when purchasing diamond jewelry, Natural Diamonds. With new technological advances, an alternative is available with synthetic (lab-grown) diamonds, which has confused consumers. Simulant diamonds further compound this confusion. The confusion arises due to the lack of understanding of the difference between the terms synthetic and simulant. Therefore, it is necessary to de-clutter the crucial difference between the two. To help your customers make an informed purchase.

Synthetic diamonds created in the 1950s are an excellent choice for someone desiring a diamond but leery of the cost. Not only are lab-created diamonds indistinguishable to the human eye from their natural counterparts. They are, in fact, chemically and physically the same as diamonds. Oddly enough, the only difference is that mined diamonds have small quantities of nitrogen interspersed throughout the gem, while lab-created diamonds do not.

The only component of a diamond is carbon. A carbon graphite “seed” is put under high temperatures and vast pressures (HPHT), causing the carbon to melt and harden into a diamond. We can also expose the seed graphite to carbon-containing gasses such as methane in a process called Chemical Vapor Deposition, or CVD. Those gasses are heated until they turn into plasma, and the carbon from the gas grows on the seed carbon, forming the diamond. Each method creates real diamonds, with up-front pricing significantly less than a mined diamond.

Simulants diamonds are different stories; they are not diamonds at all. The term simulant describes them well as they simulate the look of diamonds. However, they are not diamonds. Simulants are materials with a striking resemblance to diamonds in their appearance but lack the same properties. One can label anything from a manufactured gem to one extracted from the ground a stimulant. There are at least thirteen different types of stimulants, and we will review three of the most well-known alternatives.

Cubic zirconia has been the most popular replacement since the 1970s and is a fraction of the cost. Not as strong as diamonds, this crystal is denser and has uses in optics, lasers, and jewelry. A close relative of it and naturally mined in Sri Lanka for over 2,000 years, zircon comes in various colors, including clear. However, the blue varietal is considered most valuable.

Moissanite is another simulant almost exclusively made in labs. The only other deposits found on earth are from meteorites, leading to their rarity. Moissanite is composed of silicon and carbon. It is nearly as hard as a diamond but is more brilliant and less likely to get greasy.

White sapphires can also be mined or made in a lab. While clear in their coloration, they do not have the luster and hardness associated with diamonds. As a result, they can, over time, require many more cleanings.

As your customers examine their options, you will find that many alternatives are available. But none of them match up to real diamonds, be it natural or lab-grown.

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