Diamonds are a necessary component to some of the sleekest looks on the market. Gold chains are great, but if you can add some diamond pendants or earrings, too, you’ll really be able to maximize your style.
The problem is that diamonds are some of the rarest, and therefore most pricey, gemstones used in jewelry. Pure diamond gems can cost thousands of dollars depending on the caratage, and these are usually only reserved for the most elite.
However, you’ve probably seen a ton of necklaces and bracelets that look like real diamonds but don’t come close to the steep price. These are synthetic diamonds that can be produced at a fraction of the cost yet look identical.
So before you break the bank on a diamond ring, take a look at some other options.
History Of Diamond Simulants
Diamonds were extremely rare up until the 19th century. Even after large deposits were unearthed, only a few major companies remain incontrol of the diamond market. This means that prices for diamonds have remained very high and continue to rise as time progresses. Diamonds are only valued because of their cost, not because of their appearance.
So in the early 20th century, when fashionable trends shifted towards the use of diamond gemstones in everyday apparel, only the elite populations could really fall in line with the status quo. This led jewelers to come up with cheaper alternatives to diamonds that were more accessible yet just as beautiful.
Chances are, you already own a pair of earrings or a watch that uses diamond simulants because a gem-encrusted piece would probably cost you as much as a second mortgage. But unless you’re a trained gemologist, you’d never know the difference.
What Are Diamond Simulants?
When cultivating alternatives to diamonds, gemologists wanted to maintain that beautiful dispersion of light that makes a diamond gemstone so mesmerizing. Not many materials can really replicate this except for one very popular diamond alternative.
Cubic zirconia is a cubic crystalline form of zirconium dioxide, which under high heat, can create crystal formations that are perfect for jewelry. It has almost the same properties as a real diamond, only it’s much more affordable and can be personalized more easily.
Even jewelers can’t tell the difference between cubic zirconia and authentic diamond with the naked eye: they have to use a special magnifier called aloupe. They have the same appearance, a similar weight, and are nearly as durable as real diamonds. You can see exactly how great cubic zirconia looks in thisClustered White Tennis Bracelet, and you’d never know that this isn’t the real thing.
Cubic zirconia isn’t the only diamond simulant. Glass is another common alternative because it captures the same light dispersion of a real diamond. The problem with glass is that it is not durable, making it easily prone to scratches and blemishes.
Another diamond simulant that is becoming fairly prominent is moissanite. This, again, has a nearly identical appearance to a true diamond at a lower price. However, its rarity still makes it much more expensive than a cubic zirconia crystal.
How Is Cubic Zirconia Made?
Cubic Zirconia begins in powder form as zirconium dioxide. When melted for hours with stabilizers like magnesium and calcium at nearly 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit, crystals begin to form.
These crystals are then cut, polished, and ready to be used in jewelry and other goods. And while some labs might differ in specific methods, they generally utilize the same process. This is a similar operation to how real diamonds are constructed, so jewelers can craft these gems very similarly.
Real diamonds are formed through extremely high heat and excessive force. The first artificial diamonds were made through a process called High-Pressure High Temperature, which mimics the chemical reaction that diamonds undergo beneath the earth’s surface. Recently, however, synthetic diamonds use a practice called Chemical Vapor Deposition, which tends to be more inexpensive and convenient. This lets you have more options than ever before.
How Do They Compare To Real Diamonds?
Diamonds and their alternatives are described using the same terms. These indicators define the way that the gemstone will look, subsequently determining their market value. They’re known as the 4 Cs, and they’re a good way to look at how alternative diamonds can be even more worthwhile than the real deal.
The cut of a diamond is the most important factor in assessing it. The more precise a diamond’s cut might be, the more that it can typically be worth. When thinking about diamond simulants, this same rule applies, as each crystal must be crafted based on a specific look and appearance.
There are many different cuts, and each has a unique prestige unlike any other gem on the market. You’ve probably seen a round cut before. These are common cuts because theyreflect light throughout its crystals, making for that signature look that captures the essence of elite status.
Though, if you want to add even more glimmer, you might want to go for something like theseSilver Princess Cut Diamond Earrings. This cut will really turn heads, as its edges show that its wearer isn’t afraid of being bold.
There are many other types of cuts, and there is really nowhere to go wrong. Every single shape and style has its own benefit that would only serve to max out your style. Fortunately, simulated diamonds can be cut exactly the same way as real ones, so you’ll never run out of options.
Pure diamonds might have natural characteristics that would downgrade the value. An internal mark is called an inclusion, whereas an external characteristic is called a blemish. Finding a diamond without impurities is extremely rare, though most can only be seen with a magnifier.
Cubic zirconia, when compared to diamonds, is almost always flawless, meaning it comes without impurity. This is because diamond is a natural material that can innately come with blemishes, whereas cubic zirconia is a synthetic material that can be manufactured without imperfection.
This is yet another reason why diamond simulants are a great choice as opposed to real diamonds, as they are virtually perfect pieces that have a high-quality presentation.
Diamonds come in many colors, most ranging from light yellow to light brown. And even though diamonds can take on a number of hues, jewelers have no control over how these stones will naturally appear in the environment.
However, cubic zirconia and other diamond simulants have the advantage of being able to be manipulated and amended in any which way. Cubic zirconia gems can take on any hue imaginable, from pink, green, blue, and purple. This gives crafters freedom when crafting new pieces.
In general, pure materials don’t give crafters as much freedom. Pure gold, for example, can never be anything other than its signature brassy color. This is great, but sometimes you might want something with a bit more personality. Combining gold with other materials can yield colors like thisClustered Tennis Chain in Rose Gold, which has a unique appearance that its pure counterpart would not be able to match. Synthetic diamonds are no different.
This refers to the diamond’s physical weight. One carat is equal to 200 milligrams, making this the most objective part of diamond and diamond simulant assessment. However, this is one of the most recognizable characteristics, as it can be difficult to determine a gem’s cut, clarity, and color with the naked eye.
This makes caratage important when you’re looking to buy your next piece. Gems with a lower caratage are subdued and nuanced. These are great options, but if you really want that “wow” factor, consider jewelry withhigh caratage to really get people talking.
The only reason that diamonds are expensive in the first place is that a few companies made a monopoly on the market: it has nothing to do with their appearance. As you’ve now seen, most synthetic diamonds have a lot more benefit as opposed to the real thing, especially when considering their influence over fashion trends.
Cubic zirconia is a popular diamond simulant because it mimics the cuts, is virtually flawless, can be colored at will, and is much less expensive than a true gem. Some of your favorite celebrities probably wear cubic zirconia, but you’d never know.
So before you shatter your bank account on a diamond ring, think about the alternatives that will look just as good without being too pricey.