How to Tell if a Diamond is Real or Fake

Diamonds touch the heart of even the most indifferent to jewelry people – the beauty of this stone is magical. Even if there is no desire to acquire a jewel for your collection, you want to stop for a while in the eternal bustle and admire the brilliance of the edges, the depth of the glow, the delightful play of radiance and diamonds. Their beauty is mesmerizing, as is the cost of stones of excellent quality, cut, shape. Alas, the jewelry world is not always as flawless as these precious stones, unpleasant surprises and attempts to pass off completely different stones as diamonds take place. It is not difficult for jewelers and gemologists to recognize a fake, but the buyer often has to rely only on the data in the product certificate.

Avoiding dishonest deals is actually not that difficult if you know how to distinguish a diamond from other similar stones. In this review, we will compare the characteristics of the most famous doubles of a diamond using examples: we are sure, even guided by the photo and faced with a choice in real life, you will learn to notice the most characteristic signs that you are facing a fake.

What stones are trying to pass off as a diamond

We want to make a reservation right away: there are legal analogues of diamonds in the world of jewelry, and this does not mean that the stones are fake. Cubic zirconia artificially created and lesser known moissanite are more or less similar to diamonds and conscientious sellers always indicate the characteristics of stones in the certificate. There is plenty of information about cubic zirconia, like the stones themselves, but moissanites, from the group of natural carbides, are extremely rare in their natural form and cost a lot, so their synthetic counterparts are more common.

In addition to cubic zirconia and moissanite of any origin, colorless topaz or leucosapphire (a colorless stone of the corundum group) can be roughly similar to diamonds under the best conditions. Attempts to pass off rhinestone as a diamond were also encountered in the non-professional jewelry world, but the properties of this stone are so far from the look of a cut diamond that the seller’s cunning was exposed in the first seconds after the display of the mineral or jewelry with it.

Sapphire and topaz have a distinct natural heavenly hue, characteristic of these stones in their natural color – shades of blue, blue. And if in diamonds the reflections of such a spectrum are also well pronounced, then in corundum and topaz the color penetrated into the whole stone, and not only remained on the edges. Rock crystal, on the other hand, does not have a third of the refractive properties of light, which is observed in any diamond, even not of the highest quality.

Methods for checking diamonds

If you carefully consider the photo examples, the first and most significant difference between natural stones and artificial ones is their purity. Natural origin will always be distinguished by the presence of any kind of inclusions inside a diamond (and any other stone), small cracks, so-called “curtains” and other defects will be noticeable, without which no natural stone can do. It is impossible to create such inclusions in synthetic stones, artificial analogs are always transparent, do not have a single defect.

On some natural stones, such marks of nature are visible without magnification, but if you intend to purchase a diamond or a finished product with it, arm yourself with a small magnifying glass with 10x magnification. Such a device is quite inexpensive, a few hundred rubles, it is offered under the name “binocular magnifier”, but it will come in handy many times in life and not only when buying diamonds.

In addition to a magnifying glass, which will instantly reveal the secret of the origin of the stone by increasing the inclusions in it, you can define a diamond using … letters. Yes, you will need any printed text on a light background, even a black line will do. Even the letters on a business card can be seen through cubic zirconia, but reading with a diamond will fail. Moissanite has different optical properties, and depends on the type and quality of polishing of the girdle – the effect of double vision can be observed.

What happens if you look through cubic zirconia and a diamond on the line

Another reliable and simple method will help you distinguish a diamond from moissanite: you need a bright flashlight, water, a white sheet and a plastic cover. Water in the lid, stones in the same place, shine a flashlight from above so that the reflection of diamonds and moissanites passes onto the paper. The sparkle from diamonds will resemble the flame of a gas burner on a home stove, while moissanites, having a brightness one quarter higher than diamonds, will show long rays with a wide range of colors.

And another popular and effective way to check a diamond in front of you or not is a transparent glass of water.

If a diamond is immersed in water, it will be impossible to see it in a glass. It is not true.

The diamond in the water does not give reflections, but the very edges of the stone are clearly visible. Diamonds’ analogs – cubic zirconia and moissanite – will give colored glare at a certain incidence of light.

For the most meticulous and principled buyers, we can recommend a simple and inexpensive device, a tester that focuses on the heat and light radiation of stones. In popular online stores, such devices are sold for a very reasonable price, less than 1,000 rubles, and the effectiveness of the device is quite enough to determine a diamond or other stone in a second. There is a limitation: no household tester recognizes diamonds larger than a carat.

How to distinguish a diamond from cubic zirconia

It is not difficult to distinguish between a diamond and cubic zirconia placed next to it, if you have already had a similar experience or are a jeweler, but there are still characteristic features available to everyone, without the use of complex equipment.

All the same unnatural transparency and complete absence of any kind of defects inside the stone – the first and unconditional exposer of synthetic diamond analogues. Cubic zirconia, in addition, and unclear, if you look at it in the light. If a large stone is used in an adornment, it is impossible to be mistaken with its origin: cubic zirconia does not look so airy, it does not even have a play of light that is close in quality to a diamond, and the radiance of the edges is not so luxurious in color.

Nevertheless, it would not be entirely correct to devalue the beauty of cubic zirconia, since it is these stones that most often accompany sapphires, emeralds, rubies, and other precious and semi-precious stones. It is very beautiful and at the same time practical, since the cost of the product is reduced, but the attractiveness of the appearance is not.

Cubic zirconias and sapphiresRuby with cubic zirkoniaGT emerald and cubic zirkoniaTopaz with cubic zirkonia

Note! If it is quite simple to recognize cubic zirconia in a large stone, then with a small size you should be more careful. You can check the diamond in front of you and cubic zirconia without instruments if you breathe on the stones. A natural diamond, even a small one, will not fog up, and a characteristic haze will appear on cubic zirconias.

How to tell a diamond from a moissanite

The fogging test can also be applied to moissanite, and this is the first thing that an artificial stone will give out. If natural cubic zirconia does not exist in nature, this is the development of physicists, then with moissanite everything is more complicated. There are natural and synthetic stones. An artificial analogue of moissanite is more common, and stones weighing half a carat can be purchased for $ 100-150. A beautiful shine when properly cut is brighter than a diamond, and adds beauty to the flawless purity of moissanite, as it should be for synthetics. She also gives out the artificial origin of the stone. Even the shape of the cut does not affect brightness and clarity.

Moissanite on the left, diamond on the rightMoissanite on the left, diamond on the right

Finding a piece of jewelry with natural moissanite is not easy, and few people benefit from giving it off as a diamond – prices per carat are practically equal. Natural moissanite with a diameter of more than 2 mm has not yet been found, and if a larger stone is in front of you, it is definitely not natural moissanite, but whether it is a diamond or not, you need to sort it out separately. Remember? The easiest way is to breathe on a rock. The diamond will not fog up.

Like cubic zirconia, synthetic moissanite is often used as companions to precious stones, and due to the brighter play of light, moissanites very favorably emphasize the beauty of natural stones. This synthetic analogue of a diamond with precious stones of the corundum group looks especially beautiful.

Moissanite framed by rubiesGT emerald and two moissaniteSapphire and moissanite

But any analogue is just a replacement for the original, its imitation, and if there was any opportunity in the world to create an artificial stone that exactly repeats the properties of a diamond, its value would not be so high

How to tell a diamond from a rock crystal

This stone has no gem value, the mineral is a common type of quartz and has its own properties. Crystal purity is the main drawback of rock crystal, since the mineral does not have it, and samples with high transparency are rare. Nevertheless, as in the case of cubic zirconia, through the rhinestone, you can look into the light, recognize contrasting text or images. The stones can be identified by the muddy girdle (remember, this is a cut in the middle around the entire circumference), they are characterized by the effect of “gas pollution” – looking at the mineral, one can notice accumulations of tiny inclusions.

In addition, rather large minerals are used in rock crystal jewelry, and the stones themselves can be recognized by their characteristic barely noticeable “haze” inside.

How to tell a diamond from glass

You can safely apply all the methods listed in the review earlier – they apply equally to determining the difference between diamonds and glass fakes. Although, to be honest, no one is trying to pass off glass as a diamond these days: why, if there are inexpensive cubic zirconias and moissanites that more plausibly imitate the cut of diamonds? It will take more time and money to create a fake diamond from glass than to synthesize artificial stones of excellent quality.

Checking a diamond for authenticity in a laboratory or by a specialist

If you buy a ready-made jewelry or accessory with a diamond, a gemological certificate or product passport must be attached to it. This procedure is established by law in Russia, the need for expertise is determined by the weight of the diamonds. Up to 1 carat, as a rule, a store tag or a certificate in the form of a selling organization is sufficient, but the request for examination for diamonds up to a carat is a personal choice of the owner.

Stones over a carat undergo a mandatory examination according to one of the standards. The GIA certificate is valued all over the world – having such a diamond passport in your hands, no country in the world will have any problems with confirming the characteristics of a jewel, and the characteristics of the stone are described in the document with utmost precision.

If you really want an accurate assessment from an expert, you shouldn’t go to a commercial lab. In such companies, the characteristics of the quality of stones are deliberately overestimated in order not to lose customers who may not like a high enough rating. Independent laboratories and institutes are the best choice and the most accurate results of diamond verification for authenticity and quality.

It so happened in the jewelry world that the certificates of Hong Kong, Israel, Russian commercial laboratories are not trusted. While American grading standards and Russian government centers, by contrast, have proven the validity of diamond grades.

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