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What is a simulated diamond?



Marilyn Monroe was right in saying that diamonds are a girl’s best friend. They still are, but with the cost of living going sky-high, many people go for more affordable options. What many people downplay as fake diamonds is a personal choice for some.

Simulated diamonds are one of these choices. They are also passed off as real diamonds by scammers because of their uncanny resemblance to diamonds. We asked Emily from Fergus James about simulated diamonds and here's what she tells us:


What is a Simulated Diamond?

A simulated diamond is a man-manufactured crystal formed with different substances. It simulates the natural diamond in appearance without replicating the physical properties of the natural gemstone.


Several types of simulated diamonds are present in the market today. All of them are proclaimed to simulate the real diamond perfectly. Sometimes scammers sell them off as natural diamonds because of their appearance. However, a diamond expert can identify them right away by assessing their attributes like clarity and color.


Natural diamonds contain certain inclusions and hues, and they reflect the light in a specific way. Whereas, since simulated diamonds are crafted in a controlled, human-created environment, they are set out to be flawless. They resemble the optical characteristics of a natural diamond but differ in the physicals.


How are Simulated Diamonds Formulated?

A simulated diamond is created in a process known as ‘skull melt’. The materials are exposed to extreme heat inward out. The outer area of the materials remains cooler while the inner one melts. It forms an outer crust, called ‘skull’—hence the name skull melt. Along with the exposure to extreme heat, the compound is mixed with a metal oxide stabilizer.


The compound takes the form of isometric cubic crystals after the addition of the stabilizer. The heat is switched off and the product is left to cool under controlled conditions. It hardens over time and crystallizes. The crystals are devoid of layers and imperfections. They appear as naturally mined diamonds and are hard, clear, and use the same proportions like that of a natural, perfectly cut diamond. It can even replicate the same brilliance like that of a natural gemstone.


Examples of Simulated Diamonds

The most popular simulated diamond is cubic zirconia. The powdered zirconium is molten after which zirconium dioxide is added. The mixture is exposed to extreme temperatures. Another popular diamond simulant is Moissanite, manufactured by silicon carbide. This gem comes in both colorless and colored (green and yellow tints) forms. Another crystallizing agent to create simulated diamonds is Aluminum Oxide.


Are Simulated and Lab-Created Diamonds the Same?

Simulated diamonds are different from lab-grown diamonds. They comprise multiple substances and atoms and just resemble the diamond in appearance. Whereas, lab-grown diamonds, although human-made, are actual diamonds composing carbon diamonds. They resemble the natural diamonds not just in appearance, but they also replicate the chemical and physical features of the earth-mined gems.


Lab-made diamonds are produced by exposing the ‘seed’ to extreme heat and pressure in an enclosed chamber. The chamber assimilates the growth process of natural diamonds. Methods used in this process include high-temperature high-pressure and chemical vapor deposition (CVD). HTHP employs high pressures and high temperatures to disband the graphite present inside the started seed while the CVD uses methane or other carbon-rich gases to inculcate a carbon source.

As for the simulated diamonds, they are not real diamonds and have a very different composition. Still, many people confuse the two, and this confusion is leveraged by the scammers selling knock-offs. A lab-grown or synthetic diamond is like a real diamond in every way, be it optimal, chemical, or physical while a simulated diamond only looks like a diamond.


Then Why Do We Call It A Diamond?

Admittedly, it is misleading to call simulated gems a diamond. However, calling something a ‘fake diamond’ does not bode well for its marketing and branding. Many people actually opt for these ‘diamonds’ because they offer the same look and brilliance without putting a hole in their wallets.


How to Differentiate?  

The first sign a diamond is simulated and not a real one is its price tag. If it is lower than the standard price, there is a chance the diamond is simulated. Synthetic or lab-grown diamonds are cheaper than natural ones but not insanely so. Moreover, ensure that you get a credible grading certification while buying a diamond. It also shows the source of the diamond as well as other characteristics.


Another sign that the gem is a simulated diamond is that it can retain heat and is too clean.


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