How to Spot Fake Diamonds And Other Simulants

flow of precious gems

Fakes Look As Good As The Real Deal

From a financial standpoint, the acquisition of a diamond easily lies within the price range of acquiring a new car. Yet, the value of goodwill associated with a diamond ring is almost incomparable to anything else from a groom’s perspective. 

Given the amount of money involved in a jewelry transaction, it is only natural for people to worry about the authenticity of their diamond purchase. After all, you are going to place this token of love onto the finger of the person you are going to spend your life with.

For many consumers, spotting a fake diamond might sound like a difficult task since the majority of people have no gemological knowledge. However, it isn’t that tough to identify the fakes once you learn what to look out for. Here are some tips and tricks to help you get a good and genuine deal.

Get Professional Help From Appraisers And Gemological Labs

The diamond industry is not struggling and probably won’t experience a declining situation anytime soon. They have cartels that maintain the value and apparent rarity of diamonds by controlling supply to the market.

Back in the 1960s, a potential threat to the market of natural diamonds emerged when synthetic stones were first introduced. Fearing such a scenario to occur and to regain consumer confidence, the world’s largest diamond cartel, Debeers, invested huge amounts of money into research and developing gemological equipment for accurate identification of synthetic diamonds..

Fast forward today, every major gemological institute is well equipped with advanced equipment to detect synthetic stones accurately. As the analytical equipment becomes more affordable with better technology, more and more small time labs and private appraisers now have access to proper gemological tools too.

For a consumer, the best form of assurance to buy diamonds which have independent grading reports from labs like AGS or GIA. A reliable grading document not only subjects the diamond to a vigorous test, it also provides a correct representation of the diamond’s qualities (4Cs).

Reputable online vendors like WhiteFlash and JamesAllen offer GIA/AGS graded diamonds in their inventory. Besides excellent service, you can examine diamonds in magnified images and videos to see exactly what you will be getting.

Inspect the Gemstone for Imperfections And Inclusions

With huge leaps in technological advancement, scientists and engineers can now create artificial diamonds which cannot be differentiated from a natural diamond with the naked eye. This is why you need to inspect the diamond with a loupe or microscope to help you ensure the diamond’s authenticity

Unless you are buying a flawless stone (if this is the case, you are probably rich enough to hire an army of gemologists to ensure its authenticity), ask your jeweler for help in examining the stone under magnification. You want to accurately identify any characteristic inclusions and blemishes of the diamond. If these details matches up with the information shown in the grading report, that’s a good sign.

Diamonds Disperse Heat Intensely

professional gemologist examining gemstone

It’s Best to Leave It to Professionals

Unlike cubic zirconia (the most commonly used material for simulants), diamonds possess a very quick and intense heat dispersion. Here’s a simple test you can perform by yourself.

First of all, you have to clean the gemstone’s surface with a cloth to remove any layers of oil or dirt. Next, place the stone in front of your mouth and try to fog the surface by breathing on it.

Unlike a mirror or other simulants, a real diamond should not be fogged by the heat from your breath – at least the fog should disappear by the time you could actually notice the change. Cubic zirconia stones will usually fog spectacularly and require some time to dissipate the heat exerted on them.

A word of caution: this is not a scientific test and may be unreliable depending on the environmental conditions you are in.

Cubic Zirconia vs Diamond – Should CZs be Disregarded Entirely?

The relationship of real diamonds with CZ “fakes” would be best described using a car analogy. Diamonds range from Porsche Boxsters to top-notch Ferraris whereas CZ stones are the Toyota Priuses of jewelry. Even though most people may dream of driving Ferraris, some people are very happy with driving their reliable Priuses.

The problem arises when unethical jewelers try to package these Priuses as if they were Ferraris. That is, cubic zirconia jewelry should not be sold as diamonds or be used to mislead consumers. The point I want to bring across here is that you should be paying the correct amount of money for the type of product you receive.

To be safe, the process of identifying fake diamonds is best left to the experts. No matter how many amateur tests you perform on an unknown stone, there would still be a possibility of errors occurring and misjudged sentiments.

The bottom line is, you should not even think of buying a diamond if it does not have a proper GIA or AGS certificate. When in doubt, you should hire an independent appraiser to examine the stone and seek professional advice.

cubic zirconia fake diamonds

Getting insanely cheap deals – is it too good to be true?

The Easiest Method From a Consumer’s Perspective

Perhaps the easiest method which involves the least cost is to purchase a simple diamond tester ($10-$15) from eBay. Based on the simple principle that diamonds are super conductors of heat, modern testers with copper touch probes can be used to analyze the heat conductivity of an unknown gemstone.

This method is so easy to use that within seconds, common simulants like CZ or strontium rutile can quickly be identified. While a diamond tester can eliminate 95% of the known “fakes”, it doesn’t detect another modern day simulant called moissanite. This is because moissanite exhibits physical properties similar to that of diamonds and requires you to perform an additional step to confirm its identity.

On the next page, I will show you how to identify and differentiate moissanite from a real diamond based on an optical property called double refraction. Once you learn to do that, you would be well equipped with the knowledge to avoid fakes and simulants.

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