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Lab created diamonds, cubic zirconia and other simulants

By Edited Jul 27, 2016 0 2

It never ceases to amaze me how a simple structure made out of carbon atoms distributed in relatively simple manner can produce such a beautiful gemstone like a diamond. Even now, with sophisticated technology we are not able to fully reproduce the diamond structure in laboratory. But, we are dangerously approaching to fulfilling this task. There is no need to spend too many words on why diamond is the king of all semi precious and precious stones and why people sometimes so desperately want to have this glistening jewel in their collections. But instead of talking about genuine diamonds, let us focus on the lab created ones, and find out are they any match for the real jewels?

The above question often pops up when people want to buy a cheaper but equally effective alternatives for diamond jewelry. After all, why spending so much money if there are some artificial specimens with comparable optical characteristic -- stones that cannot be distinguished from the original. Apart from diamonds created in laboratory we should not forget the other option, that is the possibility to purchase diamond simulants. These are stones that only simulate diamonds and include cubic zirconia, some types of garnets, colorless sapphire, and others. Among them, moissanite

stands out as new and truly excellent lab created substitute for diamond. So let us try to see what are the benefits of the laboratory created artificial diamonds, and then compare them with the benefits of the simulants, as well as with the natural stones.

Obviously, when we talk about man made diamonds the biggest benefit is the price. Whereas one carat of natural diamonds embedded in design jewelry can cost thousands of dollars, the artificial diamond of the same size and weight with comparable visual qualities can be found for as low as hundreds of dollars. You can find artificial diamonds even for $20, but those are not really worth wasting your time and money. They are the lowest quality possible. If you are purchasing man made diamonds, then go for the highest possible caliber. Such gemstones are certainly more expensive than the lower classes of created diamonds, but offer comparable style and elegance of their earth-mined equivalents. However, make sure they are set in at least 14 carat gold or platinum. Avoid lab created diamond jewelry combined with sterling silver.

Can one really tell that they are not original? Not really, even the experts would have difficulties to identify them. If produced in established laboratories, such is for example Diamond Nexus Laboratory (DNL), then the process of production guarantees good quality. Such renowned diamond producers even claim that they can obtain bulky pieces of relatively flawless lab diamonds that can be afterward cut in the desired shapes with greatest precision. And one should not forget that diamonds reflect light more brightly when they are proportionally cut. A huge benefit is that the synthetic diamonds can be cut more proportionally, as compared to the world of genuine diamonds where only 10-15 percent of the stones reach the ideal cutting proportions. The earth mined diamonds are hardly ever without a flaw. They are quite often dotted with inclusions and defects, and then the cuts need to be adjusted so that the best part of the stone is preserved.

Another of the advantages of the DNL gemstones is their coating process which makes the diamonds extremely durable and protected. This is done by applying a thin film of corundum at the top surface layers, a process that also increases diamond's visual attractiveness, fire and other optical properties.

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, people with lower budget for jewelry can now really afford to buy man made diamonds set in designer engagement rings, wedding rings, necklaces or earrings. They can bring happiness to their loved ones without fear that someone will recognize the difference. These glaring lab simulated diamonds will dance and scintillate in the light exactly like the natural diamonds -- and their fire and glitter is one of the features that set apart these stones from all the other crystals and gems. All this for just a fraction of the price.

Diamond bracelet


The other option we mentioned a the beginning is obtaining diamond simulants. In this case we no longer with carbon structures on molecular level. Simulated diamonds, just as their name points out, just "simulate" diamonds, whereas their inner crystal structure is something completely different. One of the best known and most often encountered simulant is CZ - cubic zirconia. This stone is a cubic modification of zirconium dioxide. In this crystal form, cubic zirconia is colorless and practically unflawed stone. Its hardness is around 8, which acceptable for a diamond replacement stone, but what makes it so special is its high refractive index almost reaching those of diamond. On the other hand it is comparably heavier stone due to the presence of zirconium which is much heavier than carbon. The popularity of this simulated diamond is huge, since it is readily available and inexpensive. But the CZ almost fails as replacement of diamond, since its different features are obvious even for the untrained eye. This stone is so easy to discriminate. The flashes of colors are different, and the fact that it is so perfectly flawless and colorless also points in the same direction.

On the other hand moissanite, or silicon carbide is one excellent artificial replacement of diamond. Today this gemstone is getting increased and undivided attention in the world of jewelry production. Moissanite even exceeds some of the optical features of real diamonds, to be more precise moissanite possesses more color and more fire than a genuine diamond. You can read more about the properties of moissanite vs diamond here. To find out about how moissanite can be shaped and cut you can also check out my description of emerald cut moissanite engagement rings. One potential pull away from this choice is still the high price of production, which in turn increases the price of the corresponding jewelry.

Synthetic sapphire stones can also sometimes be a good and relatively inexpensive choice. It belongs to the family of corundum stones, where we also find the beautiful red rubies. These stones are readily produced in laboratory without much problems. Therefore they should be available and cheap, but still to be completely honest with you they can hardly match the diamonds in any respect. If you have second thoughts on purchasing diamond jewelry, you should maybe consider buying something in the direction of blue topaz jewelry.

You would be astonished to know that very many people are able to tell the difference between a simulant and a real stone. Therefore, if you are trying to buy an important gift, engagement ring or maybe wedding ring, and still want to lower the costs go for the man made diamonds, or moissanite. The other options are way too risky.
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Comments

Jun 15, 2010 6:24am
Martin
I agree that the best way is to look for quality artificial diamonds, not fake alternatives. There are several gem manufacturers that produce the best possible lab created diamonds, such as Apollo and Gemesis, as well as Diamond Nexus Labs. Depending on whether you'd like to purchase colored or clear gemstones, you would have to choose one over the others, but I am sure they are among the best.
Jun 16, 2010 2:46am
amethyst
Yes, thanks for the input on those companies, which is very much important when considering lab created diamonds vs real diamonds. Those listed are indeed the most important diamonds manufacturers of synthetic (lab-grown) gems, although not all of them grow crystals the same way. Whereas the Apollo Diamond Corporation uses the chemical vapor deposition
method of growing single-crystalline diamond stones in a chamber where a small crystal seed is surrounded by the carbon gas phase, the Gemesis Corporation based in Florida, uses the HPHT method (high pressure, high temperature) - mimicking the extreme conditions under which carbon was transformed into diamond long time ago in the Earth's crust. If we neglect the subtle differences in regard to color and size, the resulting product of both methods is of such quality that it is difficult to tell the difference between those diamonds and the earth-mined ones.
Jun 16, 2010 2:48am
amethyst
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