As lab diamonds and diamond simulants continue to rise in popularity, this growing interest brings an increased number of questions!
There is a lot of confusing and conflicting information about the difference between diamond simulants and lab created diamonds. Despite what you may have heard, diamond simulants and lab created diamonds are not the same. To help you sort through any confusion and better understand your options available, we’ve created a complete guide to understanding the difference between lab diamonds and diamond simulants.
What are diamonds?
Diamonds are a mineral composed of pure carbon that creates a crystal. A natural mined diamond is formed naturally, from high temperatures and pressures beneath the Earth’s crust. It is one of the hardest naturally occurring minerals on earth, meaning that a diamond holds up extremely well over time and is highly resistant to surface scratching and breakage. This durability makes a diamond an ideal choice for an engagement ring center stone.
What are simulated diamonds?
Diamond simulants are gemstones manufactured to look like diamonds but are both visually and compositionally different than diamonds. Simulated diamonds, such as cubic zirconia (CZ) or moissanite, look like diamonds but are not real diamonds. Simulants do not have the same chemical and physical properties as diamonds and therefore sell at a lower price point. Simulants can be distinguished from natural or lab grown diamonds using only the naked eye due to their fiery sparkle.
What are lab created diamonds?
Our lab created diamonds are grown from the tiny carbon diamond seeds of pre-existing diamonds. Advanced technology – either extreme pressure and heat or a special deposition process known as CVD – mimics the method of natural diamond formation. Brilliant Earth’s lab created diamonds have the same physical, optical, and chemical properties as natural mined diamonds. Even when using professional gemological equipment, lab created diamonds are nearly impossible to differentiate from natural diamonds and can only be identified with extensive scientific testing using specialized equipment. Lab created diamonds are more affordable than natural diamonds of comparable size and quality and are a sustainable choice for a diamond engagement ring as they require no new mining.
What’s the difference between simulant diamonds and lab created diamonds?
Unlike diamond simulants, lab created diamonds have the same physical, chemical, and optical properties as natural mined diamonds and are considered real diamonds. Lab diamonds are visibly indistinguishable from natural mined diamonds without specialized equipment to detect minor traces in the difference in crystal growth. Diamond simulants such as moissanite or cubic zirconia (CZ) are physically, chemically, and optically different from lab diamonds. They are visually distinguishable from lab diamonds with the naked eye due to their fiery sparkle and rainbow refractions. Lab diamonds rank a 10 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness making them one of the hardest and most durable minerals on earth. Moissanite ranks 9.25 and cubic zirconia ranks 8.5, making them both durable simulants suitable for everyday wear, but more susceptible to surface scratching and wear over time.
Lab diamond engagement rings are an affordable alternative to natural diamonds as they cost 30% less on average compared to natural diamonds of similar size and quality. Lab created diamonds are graded and vary in price based on based on shape, carat, cut, color, and clarity. Diamond simulants such as moissanite, are lower in price of both lab and natural diamonds and vary in price only based on size and whether the stone is Premium or Super Premium.
Today, diamond simulants such as cubic zirconia and moissanite are synthetic stones manufactured in laboratories. They are made to simulate diamonds but are compositionally and optically different from diamonds and can made from several different materials and gemstones.
Diamond simulants can be differentiated from diamonds due to their optical properties. Moissanite for example, is double refractive while a diamond is single refractive. This causes the moissanite to emit a fiery rainbow sparkle that is easily differentiated from a diamond with the naked eye.
The cost of many popular diamond simulants is often much lower than both natural and lab diamonds. Simulants are an attractive cost-friendly option for many couples as you can create your dream engagement ring without veering outside your budget or compromising center gemstone size.
As most popular diamond simulants are lab grown using advanced technology, they require no new mining to produce and are a sustainable option.
Pros of Diamond Simulants
- Simulants are an affordable option for many couples as they cost significantly less than both natural and lab diamonds.
- Most diamond simulants are a sustainable option as they are lab grown and require no new mining.
- If you love sparkle, many diamond simulants have a different refraction pattern than diamonds that emits a heightened fiery brilliance.
Cons of Diamond Simulants
- Although most simulants are suitable for everyday wear, they are not as durable as diamonds and are more susceptible to surface scratching and wear over time.
- Many diamond simulants emit a rainbow sparkle that is noticeably different from a diamond. The larger in size of the simulant gemstone, the more noticeable that it is not a diamond. Although this can be a con for some couples, simulants are increasing in popularity and their unique sparkle is beloved my many.
Lab Created Diamonds
Lab diamonds are grown in highly controlled laboratory environments using technology that duplicates the conditions under which diamonds naturally develop. Brilliant Earth’s lab created diamonds have the same physical, optical, and chemical properties as natural mined diamonds.
To the naked eye, lab diamonds emit the same sparkle and optical properties as a natural diamond. The only way to differentiate the two is by using specialized equipment that can detect traces in crystal growth.
Lab created diamonds offer excellent value and are slightly more affordable than natural diamonds of comparable size and quality. They are a more affordable option for couples to create their dream ring without sacrificing their design preferences or budget.
Lab diamonds are a sustainable choice as they require no new mining.
Pros of Lab Created Diamonds
- Lab diamonds give off the same fire, scintillation, and sparkle as natural diamonds and are indistinguishable with the naked eye.
- Lab diamonds cost less than natural diamonds of comparable size and quality.
- Lab diamonds are an ethical choice that requires no new mining.
- Lab diamonds are compositionally the same as natural diamonds and hold the same quality and durability properties.
- Lab diamonds hold their value extremely well throughout time and are prized heirlooms.
Cons of Lab Created Diamonds
- Although each lab diamond holds its own unique characteristics like a natural diamond does, some may not see lab diamonds as rare or “one-of-a-kind” as mined diamonds.
- While lab diamonds do hold their value over time better than simulants, natural diamonds ultimately hold and often increase their value over time at the highest rate of any gemstone.
Simulant Diamond FAQs
Are simulated diamonds worth anything?
Diamond simulants can be a stunning alternative to diamonds but are not compositionally and optically the same as diamonds, meaning that they often do not hold their value as well over time.
Is a simulated diamond good quality?
Many popular diamonds simulants on the market today are extremely durable and are suitable for everyday wear. It is important to do your research on the different properties of each diamond simulant to determine which is most suitable for your unique lifestyle.
Is a simulated diamond a cubic zirconia?
Although cubic zirconia is a widely known simulant, there are several other options for diamond simulants. Diamond simulants such as moissanite and white sapphire are becoming increasingly popular diamond alternatives.
Are you interested in learning more about lab diamonds and diamond simulants? Share your questions with us on our Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments below! You can also schedule an in-person or virtual appointment with one of our jewelry specialists to learn more!