Myths and legends

Which diamond is more expensive, natural or artificial?

An artificial diamond is a stone almost identical in composition to a natural diamond, grown under special laboratory conditions. Do not confuse artificial diamonds with cubic zirconia and moissanite. If with the last two a natural diamond has many differences that make it possible to identify a fake using even home tests, then in the case of an artificial diamond everything is much more complicated. Let’s try to figure it out.

Artificial diamonds – what are they and how are they made?

The first artificial diamonds were synthesized back in the 50s of the 90th century. But it was only in the XNUMXs that samples were brought to sizes that would be of interest to the jewelry industry. Today there are two main production technologies.

Synthesis of HPHT

The technology of growing diamonds in small capsules under high pressure (from high-pressure high-temperature – “high pressure and temperature”). The raw material is diamond powder, which is dissolved in molten metal flux and then crystallized on a seed. The growing process takes from a couple of weeks to several months. Most HPHT diamonds are yellow, orange-yellow, or brown-yellow in color. By adding inhibitors, transparent and blue stones are obtained, and by adding boron, blue stones are obtained.

CVD synthesis

The technology of growing diamonds using a laser inside a vacuum chamber filled with carbon-containing gas (from chemical vapor deposition). The laser destroys gas molecules, causing carbon atoms to settle on the seed plates. The growth rate is several weeks. CVD technology allows you to grow several samples simultaneously. Most CVD diamonds are brown or gray in color. When nitrogen or boron is added to the chamber, yellow, pink-orange or blue stones are obtained. To obtain clear samples, CVD brown diamonds are decolorized using HPHT technology.

How to distinguish a natural diamond from a synthetic one

Unfortunately, for ordinary people, determining the naturalness of a stone is only possible with the help of special gemological equipment and tests.

Color zoning

  • Colored diamonds grown using HPHT technology have color zoning according to a geometrically ideal pattern.
  • Natural diamonds may also exhibit color zoning, but it will not follow any geometric pattern.
  • CVD diamonds have a perfectly even color distribution throughout the entire sample.

Thus, using a microscope, a gemologist can understand which stone is in front of him based on the type of color zoning.

Metal and graphite inclusions

Due to the peculiarities of the technology, HPHT diamonds often have inclusions of hardened metal, while CVD diamonds often contain graphite. They can only be seen with very high magnification. But HPHT stones react to a strong magnet: up to 95% of samples of such synthetic diamonds have magnetic properties. Thus, the magnet test allows only HPHT diamonds to be “rejected”. A detailed examination of samples under powerful magnifying technology will reveal inclusions of metal and graphite, which will most likely indicate the synthetic nature of the stone.

Note that natural diamonds can also contain inclusions of graphite, ilmenite, magnetite, garnet, malacolite, etc. But, as a rule, these inclusions have a typical “feather” appearance – an experienced gemologist can immediately determine their natural origin.

Interference (deformation) of colors

This test is based on placing the diamond between two polarizing filters at an angle of 90 degrees to each other. Natural stone will exhibit a cross-hatching or mosaic pattern of color interference that occurs due to uneven pressure being applied to the crystal during the growth period. Synthetic stones grown at constant pressure values ​​do not show a color deformation pattern.

Fluorescence

The fluorescence of synthetic diamonds has a characteristic pattern. For HPHT stones it has a cross-shaped shape, and for CVD stones it has a striped pattern. Under a UV lamp, HPHT synthetics often have a green, yellow-green or yellow color, while CVD synthetics are predominantly orange or red. But natural diamonds glow blue.

Figure 1. On the left is a CVD diamond, in the center is an HPHT diamond, on the right is a natural diamond.

A special DiamondView installation allows fluorescence visualization to reveal patterns of crystal growth. Based on the picture, it becomes clear which sample is in front of the gemologist – HPHT, CVD or natural stone. Unfortunately, the cost of installation is so high that they are not found in domestic laboratories.

Figure 2. Cross-shaped patterns of HPHT diamonds when viewed on DiamondView.

Phosphorescence

After turning off the UV lamp, natural stones “go out”, but synthetics (especially HPHT) can glow for more than a minute.

To summarize, we can say that to accurately determine the origin of a diamond, special expensive equipment is needed: refractometers, ultraviolet gemological lamps, polariscopes and microscopes. They cannot be found in all laboratories. Therefore, in order not to guess what kind of stone you purchased, it is better to make purchases exclusively in trusted places.

All diamonds in our showroom are completely natural. They are certified by the independent gemological center of Moscow State University. The stones are accompanied by a certificate indicating the main characteristics of natural stone, as well as a number and a link to the test laboratory report.

In 1893, French scientist Henri Moissan was the first to discover microscopic rock particles in Meteor Crater near Death Canyon in Arizona. At first he thought he had found diamonds, but later found out that the crystals were made of silicon carbide. In 1905, the mineral was named after the scientist, and in 1906 Moissan received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Natural moissanite is a rare stone, and only artificial specimens are currently on sale. The first batch appeared on the market in 1998. Artificial moissanite was created as a “double” of a diamond, but these stones differ in composition and appearance.

Diamond and moissanite. Source: Taylor and Hart

Comparison of moissanite and diamond

Moissanite and diamond can be compared according to 5 main criteria:

  • Hardness – the stone is so easy to split and scratch
  • Luster – how brightly a stone reflects light
  • Color – the change in color of a stone under different conditions and natural or physical characteristics
  • Price – is it profitable to invest in artificial stones? Can they increase in price?
  • Provenance – the sustainability of lab-grown stones versus the energy of natural diamonds

The hardness of a mineral is measured by how easily it can be scratched. The Mohs scale is used for measurements.

Hardness 9,25 out of 10 on the Mohs scale. Moissanite is only slightly inferior to diamond and is suitable for everyday wear in engagement rings.

With a hardness of 10 out of 10 on the Mohs scale, it is the highest of any known mineral. Diamonds are ideal for long-term wear. They are used to make center stones for engagement rings.

The strength of the brilliance depends on the reflection of light on the facets of the gemstone.

The properties of moissanites and diamonds differ, causing the stones to reflect light differently. Some people love the bright, iridescent flare of moissanite, while others have a disco-ball-like, intense sparkle, especially in sunlight. The larger the stone, the brighter the shine.

The unique diamond shine has 3 characteristics. The reflected white light is called gloss; rainbow of colors – dispersion; “sparks” on the surface – scintillation. Together they create a play of light that is unique to diamonds.

This is the natural color or lack of color within the gemstone.

Moissanites are considered “colorless” but can have a yellow or grayish tint under laboratory light. The larger the moissanite, the more noticeable the color.

A colorless diamond does not produce a yellow, brown or gray tint. In any light, a natural diamond does not change its hue. A natural diamond has more than 23 shades of white and more than 100 shades on the fancy scale – fancy colored diamonds.

Moissanites are cheaper than diamonds of the same size. The price depends on the size of the stone and category. The best are Premium and Super Premium.

The cost of a diamond depends on its shape, carat, cut, color and clarity. Natural diamonds are more expensive than artificial ones.

Moissanites are not mined, but created in a laboratory. By doing this, they attract buyers who are looking for an “eco-friendly” gemstone.

Diamond mining disrupts the natural environment. They try to reduce the harmful effects through strict international standards and the synthesis of artificial stones.

Origin of moissanites and diamonds

Jewelry market players track the origin of precious stones. Only those stones that are mined without the use of child labor, outside zones of armed conflict, and are not used to finance terrorists are sold legally.

Moissanites are grown in laboratories, so the origin of each stone is precisely known. Their production is less harmful to nature than the extraction of natural stones. If this is important to you, choose jewelry made from moissanite and recycled metals.

Characteristics of moissanite and diamond

Diamonds are graded on the 4C scale (cut, clarity, color, carat), while moissanites are graded only by color. Premium moissanites are almost colorless and fall in the G or H color range on the diamond color scale. Super Premium stones fall in the highest range of D-F.

Large moissanites are often combined with small diamonds. This is acceptable if the seller communicates this. Unscrupulous sellers may pass off moissanites as diamonds in order to make more money.


Ring with central moissanite and side natural diamonds. Source: Brilliant Earth

Conclusions

The market value of moissanites is overestimated. With the development of technology for growing artificial stones, moissanites will become cheaper. Explored diamond deposits will be depleted in 50–60 years. Natural diamonds will only become more expensive over time.

If you want to purchase a truly natural diamond, give preference to stones whose characteristics are confirmed by international certificates. For example, a diamond’s GIA lab certificate number is engraved on the diamond’s girdle and matches the record on gia.edu. It is the most respected laboratory in the world with the most stringent evaluation criteria. It does not issue reports on artificial diamonds and moissanites.

If you invest in precious stones, take diamonds, they are more reliable.

Subscribe, share and remember – there are no cheap diamonds, chances are it’s not a diamond.

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