*Do note that our writings are based on our personal opinion and only serves as a reference or guide.
In this article, we will explain the difference between synthetic diamonds and diamond simulants, and what are the pros and cons of buying each type.
Synthetic diamonds are man-made diamonds. They have the exact same properties of a natural diamond, the same chemical structure and hardness etc. However, because their grown conditions can be controlled, synthetic diamond producers have been able to develop synthetic diamonds with perfect 4C's. Also their durability most often will be better than natural diamonds due to the lack for inclusions.
Image Courtesy: Gia.edu
There are two main types of synthetic diamonds:
1. HPHT: These are diamond grown in high pressure high temperature environments. Some experienced gemologists are able to differentiate them as they have an oddly hazy appearance (as of developments today). This hazy appearance is different than the milky/cloudy appearance caused by fluorescence.
2. CVD: These are grown by carbon vapour as its names suggests. These diamonds require advanced gemological testing equipment only available in some laboratories and can no longer be differentiated without it. They look as good or even better than a natural diamond.
If you would like a diamond and its resale value does not matter to you, in our opinion synthetic diamonds will then be a good cost savings option that is also environmentally friendly.
In the market...
Natural diamond prices have been falling as some unethical dealers have started to mix synthetic diamonds in bags with natural diamonds to capitalise on the fact that not all diamonds will be tested and graded in the laboratory. This results in the fall of consumer confidence and hence prices.
Simulants are NOT man-made diamonds, to be exact they are just materials that look like diamonds, regardless of being man-made or not. Anything that looks similar in appearance, even glass, is called a simulant. Simulant is the trade term for the word 'lookalike'
Hence, the term ‘Synthetic Diamond Simulant’ hence means, a man-made stone that is a diamond lookalike, but not an actual diamond or a synthetic diamond.
Natural Diamond Simulants: Topaz, White Sapphire, Goshnite, Quartz
Synthetic Diamond Simulants: Cubic Zirconia, Synthetic Mossanite, Synthetic Rutile, YAG, GGG, Glass, Plastic
Most of these materials, other than Synthetic Mossanite, YAG and GGG can be easily differentiated with unaided eyes.
In the Market...
Many brands are marketing themselves as a cheap alternative to diamonds while having the same colour, clarity and even better cutting. While they are of course cheaper than natural diamonds, in our opinion, they may not actually be worth the few hundreds, or maybe thousands that they are sold for.
We applaud some famous brands such as ORRO, Pandora and Swarovski who sell synthetic diamond simulants (man-made diamond lookalikes) and are upfront with their products.
However in our experience, we have had some companies that omit the word simulant in marketing themselves, hence confusing the product as synthetic diamonds. Do note that synthetic diamonds are diamonds (same chemical structure and hardness) just that they are lab created.
Often enough, some companies do not disclose what exactly the simulant is (except for Moh’s hardness), as doing so may drop the perceive value of their products
Disclosing might change a consumer willingness to purchase at the price they offered as even glass, plastic, synthetic moissanite, etc., of which, do not hold any value is also called a synthetic diamond simulant. Other simulants, including sophisticated man-made ones (YAG, GGG, etc.) are also not valuable in our opinion.
Like synthetic diamonds, simulants have no value in the resale market. Hence it is important to understand the value of buying these products. Also in buying synthetic diamonds, while they may be at a fraction of a cost, but the actual cost of a high quality synthetic diamond is not exact cheap, and definitely does not hold value in the resale market.
If you would like a beautiful stone that holds value, we would always recommend coloured gemstones instead as those are actually rare and rises in value over time for top quality stones.
Head back to our Ultimate Diamond Buying Guide to learn about the other components of diamond grading.