< BACK TO THE DIAMOND BLOG MAIN PAGE
04
January 2017

Like? Share!

Diamond Alternatives: How They Stack Up

While DeBeers succeeded in marketing the diamond as the must-have gemstone for romance and commitment, there are diamond alternatives that, for many customers, are good enough to do the job. Of course, precious gemstones, such as rubies, emeralds, sapphires and more, are also a viable option for consumers. Yet, for those who want the look, feel and light performance of a diamond – but without the hefty price tag – here are some diamond alternatives.

Cubic Zirconia

Many people believe cubic zirconia to be man made. Some even call it “paste”. However, the natural form of the mineral zirconium oxide was originally discovered in 1892. At the time, it was not thought to have any value. Throughout the years, scientists continued to experiment with it. Cubic zirconia only really became popular after 1977, when Russian scientists discovered how to grow the crystals using a synthetic process. They called these synthetic stones ‘Djevalite’, and began to market them as simulated diamonds. While this first attempt at diamond alternatives didn’t set the industry aflame, it did pave the road in the late 1980s for cubic zirconia to become vastly popular in costume jewelry, and a cheaper alternative to engagement rings. Today CZ, as it has become known, is enhanced with chemicals that make it appear more like diamond, and also make it harder. One of the major differences between CZ and diamonds is the greater amount of fire given off by CZ, which causes it to sparkle in rainbow colors. New coatings help to dull the fire, which has even caused the CZ to give a false positive diamond reading when placed under a Raman spectroscope. CZ can also now be colored to give the appearance of fancy colored diamonds or precious gems.

White Zircon

Although the name sounds similar to that of cubic zirconia, white zircon is a natural material, known as zirconium silicate, which can also be purchased as an alternative to the costly diamond. Colorless in its pure form, white zircon is found in places such as Cambodia, Burma, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Australia and East Africa. Compared to other precious gems, and particularly its look-alike cousin the diamond, white zircon is much cheaper. It can also rival diamonds with its brilliance, and comes in a large array of colors. And because zircons are natural, they can often contain inclusions or other flaws just like diamond.

Swarovski Crystals

Swarovski is the brand that is credited with first making crystals popular and even acceptable as diamond alternatives in jewelry. Swarovski Crystals are not gemstones. In fact, they are not even really crystals. They are a form of glass that’s made at high temperatures by melting silicon oxide powders with lead to form what is known as lead crystal. A man made stone, produced in Austria specifically for Swarovski, these precision-cut crystal glass pieces are combined with lead in order to make them harder, and less likely to scratch or chip, similar to the makeup of a diamond.  The lead also gives the crystal a more sparkly appearance than ordinary crystal. When referring to Swarovski Crystals, they are commonly called Simulated or Imitation Diamonds.

Moissanite

Moissanite can be natural or synthetically made. It was initially discovered in its natural state in 1892 by French scientist Henri Moissan, who found particles of the gem in a crater site in Arizona formed by a fallen meteorite. However natural moissanite is extremely rare. Since then, scientists have found a way to recreate its properties artificially, using silicon carbide. Moissanite is generally more sparkly than natural diamonds and gives off more fire. Moissanite is artificially created, so it does not contain any inclusions, and can often, under certain lighting, present a greenish or grayish tinge. Unlike diamonds, moissanite is not graded on color. When compared to a diamond on the standard diamond color spectrum, it is often regarded as similar in color to a GIA certified K grade diamond.

So how to diamond alternatives stack up against the real thing? Check out the comparison chart:

chart-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Subscribe to the Diamond Blog

Get the latest technology, grading and retail news straight from the source, straight to your inbox.


MORE FROM THE DIAMOND BLOG

The State of the Diamond Industry in 2019: Challenges & Opportunities

Today, the diamond industry is more complex and dynamic than ever, and technology has only deepened the challenges faced by industry players at every stage of the diamond pipeline. At Sarine, our technologies scanned more than 70 million diamonds in 2018, enabling us to take a broad consideration of the changes happening now in the […]

3 Retail Technologies & Trends that are Changing the Consumer Experience

Recent years have seen a spike in the number of retail stores that are closing down. In 2017, there was a record-setting estimate of approximately 102 million square feet of retail space that went out of business. Retailers worldwide are facing significant challenges, and the main culprit is the internet. We live in a world that […]

The Sarine Diamond Journey™ Provenance Report Goes to Africa

Recently, it was announced that a leading diamond manufacturer in Africa, Schachter & Namdar, has adopted the Sarine Diamond Journey™ provenance reports for its two exclusive diamond brands – Brilliant Rose and Proudly South African. This announcement comes at a time when diamond traceability and provenance are the fastest-growing issues in the diamond industry. Today, […]

5 Diamond & Jewelry Trends for 2019

We’re already well into the year, but 2019 is shaping up to be a bold one in diamonds and jewelry. Designers are pushing the envelope with new, creative styles, and reaching back to revive retro trends. Whether it’s a new fancy diamond shape, an engagement ring worn on the pinky, or a chunky chain of […]

SPECTRUM – Diamond Industry News #28

Love is in the air in this edition of SPECTRUM, Sarine’s monthly roundup of diamond industry news and trends. This week, we are celebrating Valentine’s Day with a great piece about how to choose the perfect engagement ring from Good Morning America, and a showcase of 15 gorgeous Valentine’s jewelry gifts, compiled by Business Insider. […]

The History and Future of Lab Grown Diamonds

In 2015, photographer Dillon Marsh undertook a fascinating project to demonstrate visually just how much natural diamond has been extracted from a diamond mine during its entire lifetime. In one dramatic example, a photo of the Kimberley mine in South Africa – also known as the “Big Hole” – is juxtaposed with a CGI rendered […]

The Importance of Diamond Provenance in a Data-Driven Age

In breaking the frontiers of the diamond industry, from manufacturing to retail, technology must strive to reach beyond what it can do today, to the potential of what it can achieve tomorrow. At the same time, technological development that brings true change must be in lock-step with the state of the industry at the current […]

3 Ways Artificial Intelligence Affects Your Life (That You May Not Be Aware Of)

What is “artificial intelligence”? Since the very beginnings of computerization, the concept of artificial intelligence has captured the imaginations of science fiction writers and movie makers. Today, fantasy is already reality, and artificial intelligence, or AI, is implemented in a wide range of everyday applications and devices. As the technology becomes more sophisticated, and as […]

How Technology Has Advanced the Diamond Industry: Sarine Celebrates 30 Years

This year, Sarine is launching celebrations for 30 years in the diamond technology business. When Sarine was established, in the late 1980s, technology in the diamond industry was in its very earliest stages. The kinds of technologies used today by diamond manufacturers and gem labs all over the world, such as inclusion mapping, automated rough […]

How Diamonds Are Produced

After the long natural formation process deep in the earth, the diamond is extracted from the mine in its rough, raw state, and begins on its next journey – to become a polished diamond.   From mine, to jewelry store, to the engagement ring finger of its eventual owner – every diamond undergoes a long […]