If you’re in the market for some low-cost but attractive-looking pieces of jewelry, you may find simulated diamonds interesting. Also known as diamond simulants, these materials only look like diamonds but have completely different optical, chemical, and physical properties. Both natural gems that look like diamonds and laboratory-grown gems (known as “synthetic” gems) fall under the category of diamond simulants. There are various natural materials that gemologists have used for centuries as diamond alternatives. Lab-grown diamond simulants are relatively new to the market. Which one should shoppers buy? Let’s explore how these imitations compare against the real deal.
Simulated Diamonds vs. Authentic Diamonds
Different diamond simulants have different properties, so comparing them, in general, is difficult. The only thing diamond shoppers need to know is that diamond is and will always be harder than any natural or lab-grown simulant. Diamond scores ten on the Mohs Scale, making it one of the hardest gems/minerals on the planet. In contrast, diamond simulants aren’t half as hard and extremely prone to wear, tear scratches, and abrasions. So, be prepared for your diamond simulants to falter in quality and luster after repeated use. Different diamond simulants also have different densities and “fires.”
The Best Lab-Grown Simulants
Shoppers looking for the best quality simulated diamond rings may find lab-grown or synthetic materials appealing. These “fake” diamonds are designed to possess similar chemical, optical, and physical properties to natural diamonds. Natural simulants don’t have such similar features. Synthetic diamond simulants are cheap, easy to clean, and easily available. The lab-created Cubic Zirconia (CZ), for instance, scores 8.5 on the Mohs hardness scale and is extremely easy to clean. Despite being colorless, flawless, and having greater fire than diamond, CZ is still not as durable as diamond, and it loses its brilliance and color over time. Synthetic moissanite, another popular lab-created simulant, scores 9.25 on the Mohs hardness scale and is probably the hardest diamond simulant in the market. Moissanite is colorless, extremely clear, and durable. But, moissanite also looks “artificial” under certain lights.
Natural Material Simulants
Here are some natural materials that are used as diamond simulants – beryl, zircon, sapphire, topaz, and colorless quartz. Zircon is the most popular natural stone diamond simulant. With a Mohs hardness rating of only 6 to 7.5, zircon may not be as durable as a diamond, but its history is definitely as interesting. Widely suspected to be one of the oldest natural stones on earth, this rather brittle material has its fair share of fans.