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.
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. However, unless specifically told otherwise (with some form of actual proof), 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 (Click here to see the images).
The Amorphous Diamond Coating also offers:
Currently there is only one grade of Moissanite available: VG or Very Good.
MoissaniteCo.com has developed an enhancement process to whiten Moissanite gemstones, but it is exclusively available through their website.
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.
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.
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