Know Everything About Diamond Stimulants

The high price of gem-grade diamonds has created a large demand for materials with similar gemological characteristics, known as diamond simulants or imitations. Simulants are distinct from synthetic diamond, which unlike simulants is actual diamond, and therefore has the same material properties as natural diamond. Enhanced diamonds are also excluded from this definition. A diamond simulant may be artificial, natural, or in some cases a combination thereof. While their material properties depart markedly from those of diamond, simulants have certain desired characteristics—such as dispersion and hardness—which lend themselves to imitation. Trained gemologists with appropriate equipment are able to distinguish natural and synthetic diamonds from all diamond simulants, primarily by visual inspection.

The most common diamond simulants are high-leaded glass (i.e., rhinestones) and cubic zirconia (CZ), both artificial materials. A number of other artificial materials, such as strontium titanate and synthetic rutile have been developed since the mid 1950s, but these are no longer in common use. Introduced at the end of the 20th century, the lab grown product moissanite has gained popularity as an alternative to diamond.

In order to be considered for use as a diamond simulant, a material must possess certain diamond-like properties. The most advanced artificial simulants have properties which closely approach diamond, but all simulants have one or more features that clearly and (for those familiar with diamond) easily differentiate them from diamond. To a gemologist, the most important of differential properties are those that foster non-destructive testing, and most of these are visual in nature. Non-destructive testing is preferred because most suspected diamonds are already cut into gemstones and set in jewelry, and if a destructive test (which mostly relies on the relative fragility and softness of non-diamonds) fails it may damage the simulant—this is not an acceptable outcome for most jewelry owners, as even if a stone is not a diamond it may still be of value.

Following are some of the properties by which diamond and its simulants can be compared and contrasted.