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Home > Education > Diamond Simulant Myths

 
Top Diamond Simulant Myths

If you are in the market for the diamond look, but not the diamond price, you will almost certainly encounter rather large stretches of truth (or flat out lies) during your shopping process.  

While its unclear what brings so many fraudulent claims to the diamond simulant market, arming yourself with some basic education can help ensure you don’t fall prey to deceptive marketing. 

Thus, we present the most common misrepresentations and relevant answers in the diamond simulant market.


1)Our simulant is not CZ:   

If the seller does not clearly identify what their diamond simulant is, you can very safely assume it is a form of CZ.  There are certainly differences in quality and appearance of CZ (due to formulaic modifications and cooling modifications), and the cutting/polishing will affect final appearance, but unless specifically told otherwise, you can very safely assume it is a type of CZ. 

The only two main-stream simulants that currently have significant changes to that statement are moissanite (which is silicon carbide, with no CZ component), and Asha, which is a CZ core encased with an outer amorphous diamond coating.

There are other types of product used as diamond simulant (including glass, YAG, and white sapphire) but CZ is by far and away the most popular diamond simulant because it does a very good job of imitating diamond, and regardless of brand name, you should assume that CZ is the case unless provided evidence otherwise.

2)Our CZ has carbon in it:  

No one has shown the ability to produce an optically clear form of CZ that includes any significant levels of carbon.  Hence, all claims like “our CZ contains 30% carbon” have always proven to be false and deceptive claims, largely designed to inflate the customers perception of their diamond simulant.  

We spent a good deal of money conducting SEM (scanning electron microscope) testing on a number of competitors who made this claim and proved they were false. Further, if any competitors do make such claims in the future, we will certainly put their product to the test and post independent testing results.

Asha uses the fact that carbon and zirconium are drastically different sizes to allow the amorphous diamond (carbon) to infuse/penetrate into the upper layers of the CZ core, so it does contain carbon diamond bonds via the coating process.  However, that is very different than claiming a significant percentage of carbon is naturally mixed in as part of the CZ formula itself, which has yet to be done.

3)We sell "perfect man-made diamonds"...and "Science has made perfect synthetic white diamonds a commercial reality": 

There is no commercial seller on the market today able to produce and offer to the public true lab-grown white diamonds, much less perfect (i.e. flawless and colorless) ones.  

When it does happen, you can also expect the pricing will be thousands of dollars per carat (cheaper than natural, but diamond is diamond and it has value), and not $100/ct.  Cutting costs for diamond can easily run $100+/ct alone, so just that cost ensures true lab grown white diamond for the gem market will not go below that.  

If a seller is telling you that you are buying a lab grown white diamond, ask for an independent grading report.  Otherwise, you can be very sure you are buying a simulant deceptively represented as a lab diamond.  Related to that, it is against FTC regulations to market a diamond simulant as "diamond", "synthetic diamond", "man-made diamond", etc.  

You can purchase real yellow, pink and blue lab-grown diamonds (in limited quantities and for smaller sizes), but not white.  See http://TakaraDiamonds.com and http://DiamondsCultured.com for two sites with legitimate, lab-grown diamonds.  

4)Moissanite comes from outer space, mined on the moon, etc:   

All moissanite available for sale is produced in a laboratory, just as all CZ is produced in a laboratory. 

Moissanite (silicon carbide) was first discovered on a meteorite, but the amount was negligible.  Hence, the moissanite in jewelry use is technically "synthetic moissanite". Similarly, CZ has been found in very small amounts naturally occurring and thus CZ for jewelry is also "synthetic CZ".  

However, for both moissanite and CZ, because the natural amounts are so incredibly small, the synthetic term is normally dropped.

5)Adding an amorphous diamond coating doesn't make any difference

A frequent claim of competitors to Asha who don't have the resources to produce their own amorphous diamond coating, here are some sample photos that will quickly show that an amorphous coating can make a significant change to the optical characteristics:


Note the mirror like finish of the coated coupon, which reflects the pink sapphire held over it.

More details on the amorphous diamond coating used in the Asha can be found here.

6)Our moissanite is whiter than other moissanite.

Technically, there is only one supplier of moissanite (Charles & Colvard, see www.moissanite.com) and they have always refused to color grade, so its basically luck of the draw what you get. 

There are some claims about proprietary heat treatment for making it whiter being done by some sellers, but as a general rule, the only way to get whiter moissanite is to buy a large lot, color grade them yourself, and send back the ones you don't want. However, C&C hates when you do that...

7)All CZ is the same

CZ can be made with different dopants, and can be produced to a number of different quality grades depending on quality and % ratios of the different ingredients. The cooling process, and of course, the actual cutting and polishing also impact its final appearance. 

All CZ has  the same primary ingredient (zirconium) and therefore shares common strengths and weaknesses, but to say they are all the same is like saying all wine is the same because all wine is made from grapes.

8)Our simulant is not CZ and we'll prove it by showing how it is heat tolerant

A recent TV article about the Australian simulant maker Gordon Max impressed a lot of customers because they stated that their simulant was not a type of CZ, and to prove it they torched a "ordinary" CZ, and then appeared to do the same thing to their simulant.  The CZ turned yellow but their simulant didn't.  What gives?  

First, remember myth #1 above.  If they won't tell you what it is, you can safely assume its CZ.  This was validated by an independent composition analysis done by Gary Holloway which showed that their simulant has the exact same composition as a Signity Star CZ.

But, how then did their CZ stand up to the heat that another CZ turned yellow with?  It was done with standard magic, otherwise known as sleight of hand.  Basically, they really heated the "ordinary CZ", but by keeping the torch far away from the Gordon Max, and rapidly moving the flame back and forth to avoid heat buildup, made it look as though the Gordon Max was being heated when in fact close inspection shows it was not.


CZ being heated...note the tip of the tweezers turning 
bright red due to heat, and how close the flame is. 


Gordon Max being "heated".  
Note how far away the flame is, the fact that the tip of the tweezers remains black (cool).  
What you can't see from the still photo is that they vigorously move
 the flame around to further avoid any heat build up.  

9)Just like diamond, our simulants are so hard they will even cut glass:

Many simulant makers like to act as if cutting glass is an impressive feat, or something that only diamonds can do (and hence imply their simulants are as hard as diamond).  

However, glass is not that hard compared to most crystals - only 6 on the Mohs scale of hardness (Diamond is 10, Sapphire/Ruby are 9, etc), and thus the ability to cut/scratch glass would pretty much be a given.        

The use of cutting glass as a test if it is a diamond or simulant probably hearkens back to the early days of diamond simulants, when the most common simulant *was* glass.  Thus, seeing if it could cut/scratch glass would actually be a valid test (150 years ago) to differentiate between a glass simulant and diamond.    


Note: This is an article still in progress, and your feedback is welcome.  

Please visit our message board thread discussing this article here. 

Copyright BetterThanDiamond.com, 2005.   Asha is our registered mark.

Asha® is our registered mark 
Content and images, copyright 2007, BetterThanDiamond.com