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How to distinguish real diamonds from fakes?

There is always a way to tell if a diamond is real. After all, those who have ever bought jewelry with a diamond were inevitably lost in doubt about the origin of the expensive stone. Indeed, counterfeit jewelry has been known since ancient times. It’s just that each of them reveals itself in some way. Examining a stone yourself or with the help of a specialist means guaranteeing a profitable purchase without deception. Using simple techniques, you can verify the authenticity of a single diamond or a piece of jewelry set in a setting.

What stones are passed off as diamonds?

  1. Doublet – the beautiful name hides a real fraud. A small natural stone is cleverly glued to a cheaper one used as the base of the insert. Checking under a magnifying glass or instruments will not immediately detect the substitution. Special tests or analysis by an experienced technician will be required.
  2. Fianit – budget artificial diamond based on zirconium dioxide crystals. It is inferior to the natural prototype in hardness, but differs in physical and optical properties. Small stones are very difficult to distinguish from precious stones.
  3. Moissanite or synthetic silicon carbide is so close to diamond in chemical composition that it sometimes deceives instruments and testers. Its weak point is the refraction of light, which is brighter than that of diamond edges. A stone that is too shiny should immediately arouse suspicion, but the final verdict will only be given by a comprehensive study in the laboratory.
  4. Crystals Swarovski contain an analogue of crystal. Thanks to professional processing, they reflect light very well. They are distinguished from a diamond by their unique cut, physical structure and features of the same play of light.
  5. Leucosapphire – artificially grown colorless sapphire. More in demand for the laser and computer industries, but may attract the attention of unscrupulous jewelers. It often retains a bluish tint and is not hard enough to reach diamond standards.

It is generally accepted that stones of artificial origin are almost impossible to distinguish from natural ones. In fact, a careful examination can already suggest the true nature of the gem.

Check a diamond at home – top 11 ways

Water, air, fire and healthy skepticism, like the legendary elements, will help you distinguish a real diamond. It is much easier to examine a single stone, but there are also quick checks for mounted gems.

  1. Visual inspection is the first step towards determining the authenticity of a processed diamond. The edges of the crystal should be clear, sharp, without rounded corners, abrasions, or chips. Such defects are typical for soft stones that are tried to be passed off as jewelry diamonds.
  2. Under a magnifying glass you can notice dark spots, inclusions, dots. This is the normal state of the gemstone. Features of natural origin do not exclude distortions in color and crystal structure. Artificially synthesized minerals will appear perfectly pure. The presence of elongated channels also does not favor the experimental sample. True, such a check requires some experience in gemology.
  3. Play of light diamond deserves special attention. It is not characterized by birefringence of rays, but some artificial analogues present themselves this way. Too bright a rainbow shine may also indicate a cheap fake.
  4. How to check a diamond if it is set in a jewelry setting? When the bottom edge is not covered with metal, it should be brought close to the printed text. A real stone does not allow the text to be read, remaining opaque and grayish. For rings and earrings, you can also check whether human skin is visible through the gem when the item is worn.
  5. Thanks to the properties thermal conductivity Diamonds resist heat for a long time. If you hold a stone in your hand, it will not warm up immediately.
  6. Contrary to popular advice, treated diamonds are visible when immersed in water. But this is a good way to calculate doublets. In the water, the boundary between the glued pebbles is very clearly visible, no matter what quality composition the scammers use.
  7. Smooth diamond edges do not retain liquids. So you can try breathe on the stone and watch the perspiration. If this method seems unreliable, a drop of vegetable oil should be applied to the surface of the stone. After this treatment, it will be able to adhere to glass, but synthetic analogues will not.
  8. Real diamonds are invisible in x-rays. If possible, you can check it in the appropriate laboratories.
  9. The weight. Natural stone with the same dimensions is much lighter than artificially created cubic zirconia. This can be checked on a high precision scale.
  10. When planning to buy diamonds frequently, protect yourself as much as possible. Purchase Diamond tester – a special portable device that quickly and effectively determines the authenticity of jewelry. The only limitation is that the size of the analyzed stones should not exceed one carat.
  11. An interesting test can be carried out using improvised means. Prepare a white sheet of paper, a plastic cap, some water, and a flashlight. A lid filled with water with a stone inside is placed on paper. In bright light, the reflection of the stone’s edges will appear through the plastic. On a diamond they resemble the flame of a gas burner. Very long rays reveal the artificial nature of moissanite, which is almost indistinguishable visually.

What not to do when checking a diamond

No matter what tricks are used, checking a diamond for authenticity at home is realistic. But not every method is reliable and safe for decoration. A careful, responsible approach will be required.

It is highly recommended not to hit the supposed diamond with a heavy object or try to cut glass with it. Yes, natural stone has fantastic hardness, but it can crumble from a sharp blow. This warning also applies to sandpaper – it may contain industrial diamonds and will damage any jewelry stone.

The hydrochloric acid test is also not one of the available testing methods; it is unsafe. Heating a match or lighter with an open flame will only reveal certain varieties of cheap stones.

Another additional evidence of authenticity can be the frame. Only high-grade gold and platinum can frame true diamonds. But they are even more vulnerable to chemical compounds and physical effects.

How do jewelers determine the authenticity of diamonds?

In the gemological laboratory, specialists have a whole range of instruments, techniques, and comparative tables at their disposal. The main indicators that allow you to determine the synthetic nature of the stone or fundamental differences in the chemical composition:

  • electrical conductivity, which accurately determines the artificial origin of the sample,
  • the reflectivity will immediately detect fake jewelry, but is vulnerable to additional coatings on the surface of the stones,
  • mass (applicable only for uncut stones) in a special solution shows the differences between different types of minerals,
  • Microscopic examination at high magnification will reveal all the flaws and signs of the true nature of the stone.

The jewelry may be carefully separated into its component parts before analysis. This is necessary to study the insert more carefully. The supposed diamond goes through tests along with moissanites, cubic zirconias, and synthetic corundums.

Electrical conductivity, reflectance and other physical characteristics are determined with special instruments. The mass is checked by immersion in reagents or on ultra-precise scales. The structure of the faces, the nature of the inclusions, and the features of the play of light are studied under a microscope.

For the most persistent buyers, services are provided to accompany a specialist during the selection of a stone. As a result, there will be no doubt about the authenticity and origin of the diamond.

Buy diamond jewelry with real stones

When purchasing earrings, a bracelet or a diamond ring, the most reliable guide will be the reputation of the jewelry store. Buying a diamond means investing in the future. Therefore, you can only entrust this mission to a trusted seller. Help in choosing a store or online platform will be provided by reviews and verdicts of independent product tests.

The quality of the diamonds is recorded in the accompanying documents of the product. The label contains information about the name of the stone, the number of inserts, the type of cut, as well as the characteristics of the facets themselves; carat weight of stones, color code and defectiveness index.

Large diamonds (over 0,5 carat or 5 mm in diameter) are sold only with a certificate of standard from GIA or institutions with similar credentials. A number matching its passport data is applied with a laser to a certain place on the stone itself. This information can be checked under a good magnifying glass.

Diamond is the king of all precious stones. It has the highest value in jewelry. Its rarity and high cost have given rise to many imitations and fakes. We tell you what minerals a diamond can be confused with and how to check its authenticity at home.

What does a diamond look like?

Most often it is a completely colorless crystal, but there are also blue, blue, red, pink, green and even black specimens. The most expensive stones are transparent, light blue, with bright fantasy shades. Jewelers value pure crystals that contain little or no impurities. Thanks to this, they are transparent and allow light to pass through without distortion or fading. A properly cut diamond begins to play with multi-colored lights as soon as light falls on its surface. Hitting the crystal from different sides, the light is reflected inside the stone and exits through the top face.

Unique properties of diamonds

  • Hardness. Diamond is the hardest of all minerals, with a Mohs hardness rating of 10. This stone never leaves scratches, but it can leave scratches on other surfaces.
  • High refractive index – about 2,5. This indicator actually indicates the speed of light moving inside matter. For example, for water it is 1,333. This means that light travels 1,333 times slower in water than in vacuum. A high refractive index means that light rays travel slowly through the medium, filling the crystal. This is what causes the deep shine of a diamond.
  • High dispersion caused by high refractive index. When refracted, white light is split into its components. This is why a diamond plays different colors.
  • High reflectance – about 2,4 (the value is related to the refractive index, but is considered separately). 17% of the light that hits the surface of the crystal is reflected. If the reflectance is between 1,85 and 2,6, the mineral is said to have a diamond luster. If the indicator is lower, the gloss is called glassy.
  • High thermal conductivity – 900−2300 W/(m K). This is the highest figure among all solids.
  • Luminescence is an important property for determining the authenticity of a diamond in a laboratory setting. Under the influence of cathode and X-rays, a diamond begins to glow in different colors – blue, green, yellow and red. Some varieties of diamonds can also exhibit this property under ultraviolet rays. X-ray luminescence is often used to find diamonds in rock.
  • Isotropy is the same properties in all directions. Some crystals that look similar to diamonds are anisotropic, meaning they have different properties in different directions (for example, double refraction). This helps jewelers distinguish fakes.
  • Resistance to change. The diamond does not fade, does not change color and properties over time. If the stones on the old jewelry in your home collection have become cloudy, chipped or scratched, they are not diamonds.

What can a diamond be confused with?

The same cutting methods make different stones look similar. Without experience in jewelry, other clear crystals may be mistaken for diamonds. Among them:

  • Colorless topazes;
  • Rock crystal (quartz);
  • Zircon;
  • Glass;
  • cubic zirconia;
  • Moissanites;
  • Diamondites.

All of these stones are actively used in jewelry, but should not be passed off as real diamonds. Let’s talk about each of the listed crystals and separately dwell on their differences from diamonds.


Topaz is a fluorinated aluminum silicate valued for its deep blue hue. Jewelry with topaz also uses blue and especially rare pink topazes.

But colorless stones are also found in the deposits, which are not very highly valued. The only reason a mineral can be confused with a real diamond is its transparency. Other properties vary:

  • Topaz is an anisotropic crystal characterized by birefringence;
  • Mohs hardness – 8;
  • The refractive index is about 1,6, which is why the dispersion is significantly lower than that of diamond;
  • Gloss – glassy;
  • Topaz may change color over time if stored in improper conditions (for example, direct exposure to sunlight).

If you have seen with your own eyes how a diamond shines, it will not be difficult to distinguish it from topaz even at home. To do this, just shine light on the crystal. In the case of topaz, the refraction of a deep diamond play of light will not work.

In laboratory conditions, topaz is tested in a refractometer – a special device that measures the refractive index of light. But experienced gemologists can distinguish such fakes with the naked eye.


Rock crystal is a transparent variety of quartz, and from a chemical point of view, it is pure natural silicon dioxide. Its properties:

  • Anisotropy;
  • Mohs hardness – 7;
  • Refractive index – about 1,55;
  • Low dispersion;
  • The shine is glassy.

Quartz is one of the most common minerals in the earth’s crust. It is mined in large quantities and is inexpensive. Rock crystal can serve as an imitation of diamond, but it is extremely difficult to confuse them. An experienced jeweler identifies quartz by eye. For accurate research in laboratory conditions, the stone is tested in a refractometer.

The mineral’s properties are very similar to topaz, but it is not as hard and therefore more susceptible to scratches. Rock crystal jewelry needs careful storage to prevent mechanical damage.


Glass is one of the most ancient and versatile materials that can also be used in jewelry. It has two properties that can make it look like a diamond:

  • Transparency;
  • Isotropy.

But in terms of other properties, these are completely different materials. Glass has a very low hardness – 6-7 according to Mohs. This makes it unstable to scratches and chips. The refractive index of ordinary glass is about 1,5. Swarovski crystals add lead, which increases the index to 1,7, but the luster still remains glassy and the dispersion is low. A good gemologist determines in a few seconds that he is holding glass in his hands and not a precious crystal.


From a chemical point of view, zircon is zirconium silicate. This is a transparent crystal that has the following properties:

  • Isotropy;
  • Hardness – 7-8 according to Mohs;
  • Refractive index – up to 1,96;
  • Luster – glass or diamond depending on the refractive index;
  • Dispersion is moderately high.

Colorless zircon can look so similar to a diamond that even a professional cannot tell them apart with the naked eye. An experienced gemologist only needs a magnifying glass to determine the authenticity of a stone. But in some cases, serious laboratory research may be required.

Transparent zircon is not used as often as colored zircon. Typically the crystal is golden yellow in color, but brown, yellowish green and sky blue stones are also found.

cubic zirconia

Previously, we described natural stones that actually occur in nature. But cubic zirconia is an attempt to imitate diamond, and a very successful one at that. This can be seen from the properties of cubic zirconia:

  • Isotropy;
  • Mohs hardness – 8;
  • Refractive index – up to 2,25;
  • Dispersion – high;
  • The shine is diamond.

Cubic zirconias exhibit a slightly less deep play of light – approximately like a diamond with a significant number of inclusions. It is very difficult to distinguish cubic zirconia from a diamond at home. Jewelry examination requires careful research.

Cubic zirconia in jewelry is an excellent substitute for a real diamond: it is distinguished by its low cost and beautiful diamond shine. The only drawback of these stones is that they are not so hard. They have a higher Mohs index than glass, but over time, scratches and chips may appear on the surface of the stone. Therefore, it is important to store the jewelry correctly to minimize mechanical damage.


Natural moissanite is a very rare mineral with high dispersion and a true diamond shine. Its refractive index reaches 2,66 – higher than that of diamond.

But in nature, moissanites are extremely rare, and the resulting crystals are very small. Therefore, it is almost impossible to find real moissanite in jewelry. However, according to some data, this mineral is widespread in space, and in the future the situation may change.

In the meantime, synthetic moissanite (carborundum) is widely used in jewelry – one of the most successful imitations of diamond. Chemically, it is silicon carbide, which has:

  • High hardness – 9,25 Mohs;
  • Diamond shine;
  • High thermal conductivity.

Because of this, it will be impossible to distinguish an imitation from a real diamond at home. Even standard diamond detectors will identify the material as diamond. Good gemologists distinguish imitation by certain characteristics using a magnifying glass.

The main differences between carborundum and diamond:

  • Hardness is 0,75 lower.
  • The purity of synthetic stone, on the contrary, is higher: there are no inclusions and defects, which are almost always found in real crystals.
  • The dispersion is 2,5 times higher, so the imitation has a stronger play of light.
  • Synthetic stone exhibits anisotropy: in laboratory conditions, birefringence can be seen.
  • Carborundum has low heat resistance. Even with slight heating it begins to exhibit a thermochromic effect: starting at 65 °C the color changes. Real diamond maintains a stable color.


This is another imitation with very high performance. The crystals are grown under special conditions, so the finished samples are free from defects common in real diamonds – microcracks, opacities and foreign inclusions. Diamonds are transparent and can be of absolutely any size and shade.

Imitation itself is not a fake unless the manufacturer tries to pass it off as a real diamond. Synthetic crystals adorn many stylish products that are not as expensive as diamond ones.

How to determine the authenticity of a diamond at home

Craftsmen offer different methods of home inspections, but in reality, none of them gives a 100% guarantee. There are two working methods: experimenting with water and scratching the glass.

Experiment with water

Safety for stone: high

The light refraction of a diamond is much higher than that of water, so it is clearly visible in water. Stones with low light refraction are “lost” in it.

Pour water into a transparent glass and place the mineral in it. If its outline is barely visible, it is not a diamond, but glass, rock crystal or natural topaz. Their refractive indices are 1,5−1,6, which is very close to water.

To distinguish a real mineral from imitations, shine a light on the glass. A diamond in water gives off a glare similar to a flame. Cubic zirconias and moissanites will shine with multi-colored rays with a rainbow effect.

Heating the crystal

Safety for stone: high

This type of authenticity test is based on the diamond’s high thermal conductivity. If you hold it in your fist and hold it for a few minutes, it will remain cold. Simulations have lower thermal conductivity, and therefore will heat up during such an experiment.

How to distinguish a diamond from a fake

If you want a definitive answer, consult an expert gemologist. He will carefully examine the stone and not only tell you whether it is a genuine diamond, but also tell you its market value.

To be sure of the authenticity of the stone, buy diamond jewelry from trusted jewelry stores. With your purchase, you will receive a product certificate, which will indicate all the significant parameters of the stone – color, clarity, weight and cut shape.
How to check a diamond for authenticity?

How to check a diamond for authenticity Diamond is the king of all precious stones. It has the highest value in jewelry. Its rarity and high cost have given rise to many imitations and fakes. We tell you what minerals it can be confused with.

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