Synthetic Stones


There have been substitutes for diamonds for many centuries. These were Cubic Zirconia or moissanite or something similar. Though these were sometimes reasonably valuable gems in their own right they were worth much less than a genuine diamond, so could be considered counterfeits. This situation with substitutes has been complicated with synthetic diamonds.


The feasibility of lab grown diamonds came to fruition in about the year 2000. The popular press of the time predicted that synthetic lab diamonds would soon be grown at inconceivably low cost, and the industry was set to change. Of course this prediction proved false. Synthetic diamonds are on the market, but relatively few labs produce them. And while there price actually is lower than a naturally occurring diamond, the difference isn’t all that great. A synthetic diamond is still about two-thirds to three quarters the cost of a natural equivalent.


The distinction to be made here is a legal one rather than chemical or gemmological. Synthetic diamonds are made of the exact same substance as natural, organic diamonds, and have the same atomic structure. The distinction is their origin – a factory or the geological processes of the Earth. And of course the origin is not written on the gemstone itself. So how do we tell the organic from the synthetic?


Complicating the matter is the terminology. Many of the substitutes for diamonds, such as cubic Ziconias, are labelled as simulant diamonds. This is a term that is accurate and acceptable, and there is no problem if the gem is sold at a suitably low price. Unfortunately, the words Synthetic and simulant sound too similar. It is too easy to confuse the synthetic diamonds with simulant diamonds, especially if bought online. Given the huge price difference this is an issue to be wary of.


Genuine natural diamonds should always be labelled and sold as such. Failure to do so is literally criminal. Synthetic diamonds should be labelled appropriately, and understood to also be genuine, but lab grown. And priced a little less than a natural equivalent. Simulants are a totally different gemstone, costing far less than an actual diamond.