How to Tell Real Diamonds From Fake

With the recent addition of synthetics into the jewelry market over the past several years, not only lab grown gems, but other fraudulent diamonds have been sold in the market. Here are some ways to decipher if the gemstone you have is the real deal.

Authentic Diamonds:

Prior to the mid 1950s, the only way to get a hold of a diamond was to bring it out of the ground. Due to the creation process of diamonds, naturally occurring diamonds require the immense temperatures and pressures typically found at 87 to 118 miles below the Earth’s crust to form, as well as an estimated 3.3 billion years cooking time, and lastly sporadically spit up through the surface by geologic and tectonic forces.

The illustrious gemstone had its supply scarcity dissolve with the introduction of HPHT (high-pressure high-temperature) CVD (chemical vapor deposition) which are diamond synthesis methods. HPHT technologies recreates the conditions that are found deep within the earth, and CVD is a chemical process that produces the gemstone.

Other methods of creating diamonds involve detonation synthesis which created nanometer sized diamonds through exploding carbon rich chemicals, the other utilizes intense sound waves but is not as popular as other methodologies.

These synthetically created diamonds are almost identical to the ones found from the earth. Because they were grown in a controlled environment, lab-grown stones are often superior in hardness, thermal and electrical conductivity. Also, synthetically created diamonds do not have the impurities or inclusions that mined diamonds do.

Various types of synthetic gemstones / diamond alternatives:

Cubic Zirconia: The most widely recognized faux diamond in the market since its inception in 1976. Cubic Zirconia. This stone is generated from the crystalline form of zirconium dioxide (ZrO2), CZ isn’t as hard a naturally occurring diamonds, flawless, and mostly colorless although it can be created in a various amount of color shades.

Moissanite: Although it shines like a diamond, almost as hard as a diamond, and has even tricked the discoverer into thinking it was diamond for almost a decade.

Moissanite does not form readily in nature and was first created in a lab by Jons Jacob Berzelius. While the mineral is mostly used in industrial settings, it is regularly employed in costume jewelry as well. Although it is not as prevalent as CZ, there will be instances that people will run across this replacement.

Here are a few simple tests you can use to decipher what is a real diamond.

1. Looking at it.

Authentic diamonds posses a high refractive index which means that light passing through the gemstone is sharply bent by the crystal lattice.

In comparison, cubic zirconia has a prismatic effect, more “fire” which is the term many jewelers and others use in the industry, while diamonds appear more like balls of cotton.

If the gemstone is loose, place it on its head on top of a piece of a newspaper. If you are able to read the print at all, the stones most likely fake. If you look through the top of a real diamond, its high refractive index will prevent you from even seeing the bottom point of the stone.

Also, if you place the gem on top of a dot that is drawn on a piece of plain white paper, it throws a double refraction such as a ghosted image of the dot or you can see a circular reflection within the stone. If you view any of these, the gemstone is not a diamond but most likely a moissanite.

2. Fake Diamonds are “too perfect”

Natural processed diamonds do not have per-ordained quality control, and they often have a mild yellow or brown tinge which will include inclusions within their lattice structure.

You can look at the girdle of the stone, which is the widest point of the cut where the body begins narrowing back into a point. If the girdle is smooth or rounded, the stone is most likely a cubic zirconia.

Diamonds always have flat facets, there also may be several minuscule facets that feel like the outer edge of a quarter, but they are never rounded.

3. Fakes are twice as heavy

Cubic zirconias are more dense, and weigh roughly 1.7 times as much a diamond of the same volume.

4. Fakes Fog Up

If you breathe on a real diamond, it will not fog up. Diamonds are a potent heat conductor, the fog will dissipate instantly. If there is fog, it is most likely a fake.

How to officially tell the difference between synthetics and real diamonds

The easiest and most effective way to ensure that a gemstone is authentic is to have it appraised by Diamond Dream Fine Jewelers in Bernardsville, New Jersey. We follow all the standards of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and will be able to concurrently figure out what type of gemstone it is.

The 4 C’s

  • Color: The amount of color in a typical diamond is measured using a D-to-Z scale, comparing the stone under controlled lighting and precise viewing conditions to an already-graded “masterstone”. According to the GIA, D-grade diamonds have “no hue, like a drop of pure water, and consequently, a higher value.” Z-grade color is, conversely, heavily tinged yellow or brown.
  • Clarity: Clarity measures the number of inclusions and blemishes in the stone on a 11-step scale from Flawless (wherein no inclusions or blemishes are visible under 10x magnification) down to Included, where the inclusions are obvious under 10x magnification and prevalent to the point of affecting the stone’s transparency and brilliance.
  • Cut: According the the GIA website, “To determine the cut grade of the standard round brilliant diamond – the shape that dominates the majority of diamond jewelry – GIA calculates the proportions of those facets that influence the diamond’s face-up appearance.” Using a five point scale from Excellent to Poor, the D-to-Z scale, this is where factors like the stone’s brightness (how well it reflects light), fire (how well it refracts light), and scintillation (how sparkly it is) all come into play, as well as the stone’s overall design and craftsmanship.
  • Carat Weight: The more a diamond weighs, generally, the more valuable it is. One carat is equal to 200 milligrams and can be divided into 100 equal “points.” So when a jeweler says that a specific diamond is a “twenty-five pointer,” that means the stone weighs .25 carats.