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Diamond Simulants vs. Synthetic Diamonds

Diamond Simulants vs. Synthetic Diamonds

We are facing a world where advanced technology gives rise to increasing options for consumers. It used to be enough only to know the 4Cs of a diamond as a buying guide. It is no longer just about authenticity. Now, we also need to learn the different types of diamonds offered in the marketing. Let's learn about two significant types of today: diamond simulants and synthetic diamonds.  

Diamond Simulants
Source: thediamondauthority.org

Diamond simulants are stones that imitate the appearance of a diamond but are different in chemical composition and physical properties. Simulants can be produced by laboratory-created or natural materials that closely resemble diamonds which are also called "stand-ins". In the case of diamonds, various natural and created materials have been used as stand-ins for centuries. Examples of natural materials are colorless quartz, topaz, sapphire, beryl, zircon etc. Lab created materials include high-leaded glass (rhinestones), cubic zirconia (CZ), moissanite and YAG (yttrium aluminium garnet).

Diamond simulants meet the needs of consumers who want affordable fashion accessories. These consumers are not concern of value and authenticity. The quality of diamond simulants jewellery varies widely base on the price tag. But they are generally priced lower than synthetic diamonds. However, luxury brand fashion jewellery has a price league of its own. Brand supporters will be willing to pay a high price and they sometimes cost even more than (non-luxury brands) natural gems fine jewellery. 
Synthetic Diamonds

Source: Lightboxjewelry by De Beers

Synthetic diamonds are real diamonds. They are identical in chemical composition, optical and physical properties to natural diamonds. Except that synthetics are created in laboratories where a controlled environment mimics the conditions of natural formation. In labs, synthetic diamonds may be grown in weeks, unlike natural diamonds, which take billions of years to form.

There are several terms used in the market: Lab-grown, lab-created, cultured, cultivated diamonds. Sophisticated testing equipment is needed to distinguish synthetic vs. natural diamonds because they have the same molecular structure. Even gemolgoists cannot tell them apart through microscope and simple test tools. There is a growing market for synthetic diamonds due to various reasons. Supporters prefer synthetic diamonds because they are "conflict free" and more "environmentally friendly".

In May 2018, De Beers shocked the industry when it decided to enter the synthetic diamonds market to cater to the millenials' growing acceptance for man-made diamonds. De Beers' move is strategic at the same time, to create a clear distinction between lab-grown diamonds and natural ones. Before De Beers' entry, synthetic diamond was priced at $4,000 per carat vs. an equivalent mined diamond at $6,000 per carat. With Dee Beers launching its gem-quality synthetic diamond at only $800 per carat, it successfully widened the market pricing discount gap between synthetic diamond and natural diamond from 29% to 42%.
Will the natural diamonds market be at a threat? Will they eventually be replaced by the synthetics because of the changing needs of the millenials? We cannot really be sure of the answers in this fast-pace, ever changing society. Technology has changed the way we lived. One classic example is the way we listen to music from cassette tape to CD to now digital music and entire industries were phased out in the process.

Time will eventually reveal the answers to the questions highly debated about synthetic diamonds.

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