Are simulated diamonds and synthetic diamonds the same? Absolutely not! One is really a diamond, and the other isn’t. Though the distinction is simple, it’s one that confuses a lot of people. That’s because all over the jewelry industry, all over the Internet, and all over the grapevine, the two terms are still used interchangeably—but shouldn’t be.
While the problem may be that the terms sound a lot alike, the confusion is pretty convenient for sellers of knock-offs. Lucky for them if you can’t tell which labels describe real diamonds and which ones don’t!
So, here’s the rub:
Here’s a little more to know:
- Simulated diamonds are also known as diamond simulants and include things like cubic zirconia (CZ), moissanite, and YAG. They can also include some natural clear gemstones like white sapphire, white zircon or even clear quartz.
- Synthetic diamonds are also known as laboratory-grown diamonds, laboratory-created diamonds, cultured diamonds, or cultivated diamonds. They are real diamonds but not grown by Mother Nature.
And here is a simple way to help you remember:
- Simulated sounds like similar.
- Synthetic sounds like authentic.
Why Call It Something It’s Not?
Of course, it’s terribly misleading to call stones simulated diamonds when they aren’t diamonds at all. But the term “fake diamond” probably wouldn’t go over well with consumers. For its part, the Federal Trade Commission has at least ruled it an unfair and deceptive practice to use the term synthetic for stones that are not the real deal. Yet that practice persists, particularly online, so buyer beware.
How Will You Know?
Simulated “diamonds” can be gorgeous but do not possess the chemical and physical properties of actual diamonds, so they generally sell for a relatively low cost. If you’re unsure whether a seller is misrepresenting a simulated diamond as a synthetic one, the price tag could be a clue: If it’s unusually low, you might have red flag rather than a great deal on your hands. (Note that we’re not necessarily talking rhinestone-low; the price of a simulated stone could still be in the thousands.) Synthetic diamonds can be cheaper than mined products but not outrageously so. Either way, when you buy a diamond, you should always make sure it is independently certified by a reputable grading agency such as the American Gemological Institute and the American Gemological Society; and have it appraised for insurance by a graduate gemologist.