A common question from jewellery buyers is, “How can I tell if the diamonds are real?”
For centuries, many man-made synthetic materials have been used to simulate the coveted glitter of diamonds, but they are usually easily spotted by trained eyes at a glance.
Diamonds possess an ‘adamantine’ surface lustre – a term describing the highest level of surface shine from a gemstone. A true ‘adamantine’ lustre is very uncommon, thus this unique super-shininess of diamonds makes them easily identifiable when compared to man-made simulants.
What are some other colourless gems out there? Here are some lab-grown and natural alternatives to the ever-popular sparkling diamond.
Cubic Zirconia (CZ):
This is probably one of the most well-known alternatives to diamonds on the market today, CZ is hard, but very brittle and not durable when worn, especially in rings.. CZ can also be made in a number of colours to simulate other coloured gems. CZ is very affordable, but it is not durable, has no resale value, and cannot be passed down as valuable heirlooms.
This synthetically created mineral is a fairly recently created material made from silicon carbide. Although it’s not as common as CZ and can look more like diamonds, moissanite also does not have any resale value and is not durable compared to diamonds or other natural gemstones.
“Paste” or foil-backed glass is a very common diamond simulant, and it has been used in costume jewellery and in fashion for centuries.
Natural Colourless Gems
There are other colourless natural gemstones that can be used to approximate diamonds in jewellery design. White sapphire and white topaz are probably the two best substitutes, but that said, nothing looks quite like a diamond!
White sapphire possesses the superior lustre of corundum, and sapphire is a very hard and tough material, making it very durable for daily wear. However, diamond definitely has more brilliance and scintillation (the burst of rainbow colours from the gem) than white sapphires. White sapphires also tend to look “sleepy” when compared next to a diamond. Thus, while white sapphires may look great when mounted on a ring, you might want to consider something else if you’re looking for a diamond alternative for an engagement ring.
Natural Topaz is the third hardest gemstone – after sapphires and diamonds. It is a sparkly, lustrous natural gemstone, and topaz cannot be synthesized by Man. An advantage of white topaz is that it can be available in large sizes without a high price tag, as compared to diamonds or sapphires which get more and more expensive with increasing carat size. This makes the white topaz a good choice for creating grand pieces featuring large, glittering white gems that do not cost a bomb. Topaz is less durable than diamonds, but still harder wearing than man-made diamond simulants.
When it comes to choosing diamonds or other colourless gems, weigh your options according to your budget, and your priorities to find what fits you best. All colourless gems have a beauty of their own, so choose wisely! If you’re new to gemstones, head down to our fine jewellery boutiques in Mandarin Gallery in Singapore or Pavillion KL in Malaysia to have a chat with us. Our friendly staff are more than happy to walk you through the various options that will fit any budget or design.