What you need to know about diamond simulants:
  • These can be any synthetic or natural gemstones or any other substances used as a substitute for a diamond. (e.g. cubic zirconium, glass, rock crystal).
  • Advanced techniques in the production of these fakes pose a risk to the untrained eye (and sometimes even the trained one) when attempting to distinguish simulants from diamonds.
  • Selling or presenting simulants as diamonds, (even as synthetic diamonds) is fraudulent.
  • The risk of encountering simulants in the market, is still greater   than the possibility of being confronted with synthetics or treated diamonds. However, the availability of synthetics and treated diamonds are on the increase.
  • Diamond Simulant Buying Traps
The following simulants may be presented to you as diamonds:

Artificially produced simulants (Synthetic Simulants)

  • Cubic Zirconium (CZ): This is frequently encountered, often of good clarity and cheap.
  • Synthetic Moissanite: Is seen less frequently than CZ, is more difficult to identify, also more expensive.
  • White Synthetic Sapphire.
  • Synthetic Spinel.
  • Artificial Garnets: (The so called GGG and YAG) Not seen too often.

Natural gemstones that are used as simulants:

  • Natural Sapphire
  • Topaz
  • Zircon
  • Rock Crystal

Other creations

  • Manmade Glass
  • Compound Stones/Doublets: a thin slice of diamond is glued onto a simulant.

**The list is not complete but represents the most commonly occurring fakes.

Identification of Simulants and Awareness

  • There is a big financial risk in buying a fake diamond. Therefore, adhere to basic sound and safe principles when buying diamonds:
  • Remember a polished stone can hide a lot. Specific testing is required to separate simulants from diamonds, particularly in the case of polished stones. Do not rely on self testing unless you know what you’re doing, rather consult someone with the necessary expertise.
  • As far as practical, only buy diamonds certified by recognized grading laboratories. (For very small diamonds, the cost of having it graded and certified may sometimes outweigh the risk of buying a fake).
  • When in doubt about the origin of the certificate or the description of the diamond, get advice before you buy.
  • Be aware of the existence of simulants and be alerted if the price sounds “too good to be true”.

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(Fanie Weyers : May 2017)