What is a Simulated Diamond? A Comprehensive Guide

February 25, 2024
What is a Simulated Diamond?

In the world of fine jewelry, diamonds have long been celebrated for their brilliance and rarity. However, as consumers become more cost-conscious and environmentally aware, simulated diamonds have surged in popularity. But what exactly is a simulated diamond, and how does it compare to its natural counterpart? This comprehensive guide is designed to shed light on everything you need to know about simulated diamonds, ensuring that the term what is a simulated diamond is demystified.

What is a Simulated Diamond?

Simulated diamonds, also known as diamond simulants, are stones that mimic the appearance of real diamonds but are made from different materials. Unlike natural diamonds, which are formed over billions of years under the Earth's crust, simulated diamonds are created in a lab. They are designed to replicate the look and feel of a diamond at a fraction of the cost.

Properties of simulated diamonds

Below is a table outlining some key properties of simulated diamonds:

Property Description
Composition Made from materials such as cubic zirconia (CZ), moissanite, or high-quality crystal.
Hardness CZ: 8.5 on the Mohs scale; Moissanite: 9.25 on the Mohs scale (compared to 10 for natural diamonds).
Refractive Index CZ: 2.15-2.18; Moissanite: 2.65-2.69 (higher than diamond, leading to more brilliance).
Heat Conductivity CZ: Poor; Moissanite: Similar to diamond, can conduct heat.
Brilliance Offers vibrant sparkle and brilliance, closely resembling natural diamonds.
Cost Significantly more affordable compared to natural diamonds, making them a cost-effective alternative.
Environmental Impact Minimal environmental impact as they are typically lab-created, reducing the need for mining.
Ethical Considerations Ethically sourced, providing a conflict-free alternative to n

The Nature of Simulated Diamonds

Simulated diamonds are meticulously engineered to emulate the visual characteristics of natural diamonds. However, it is crucial to understand that while they may look similar to the untrained eye, their physical and chemical properties differ. Natural diamonds are composed of carbon atoms arranged in a crystal structure known as diamond cubic, a configuration that lends diamonds their legendary hardness and brilliance. Simulated diamonds, on the other hand, are made from various materials, each selected for their ability to mimic the clarity, color, and sparkle of real diamonds.

Materials Used in Simulated Diamonds

Several materials are commonly used to create simulated diamonds, with cubic zirconia (CZ) and moissanite being among the most popular.

  • Cubic Zirconia: CZ is a synthetic crystalline substance used extensively for its diamond-like appearance. Despite its lack of hardness compared to natural diamonds (8.5 on the Mohs scale versus 10 for diamonds), CZ's brilliance and crystal clarity make it a favored choice for those seeking the diamond look without the diamond price.

  • Moissanite: Another prevalent material, moissanite, is composed of silicon carbide and is nearly as hard as a diamond, scoring 9.25 on the Mohs scale. It is prized for its exceptional ability to refract light, often giving it a more vibrant fire (the display of colors) than a natural diamond. Moissanite's creation was inspired by natural silicon carbide crystals, first discovered in meteorites, making it a cosmic tribute to the quest for diamond alternatives.

See Our Moissanite Engagement Rings

The Creation Process

The process of creating simulated diamonds is as fascinating as the end result. For cubic zirconia, the method involves melting powdered zirconium oxide and zirconium dioxide together at extremely high temperatures, then cooling the mixture to form crystals. The crystals are then cut and polished to resemble the facets and brilliance of a natural diamond.

Moissanite requires an even more sophisticated process, often involving the transformation of silicon and carbon into a durable crystal structure through a combination of heat, pressure, and a catalyst. This process not only replicates the appearance of diamonds but also comes remarkably close to matching their durability and brilliance.

Natural Diamonds vs. Simulated Diamonds

Characteristic Natural Diamond Simulated Diamond (e.g., CZ, Moissanite)
Composition Pure carbon arranged in a diamond cubic crystal structure Cubic Zirconia: Zirconium dioxide (ZrO2); Moissanite: Silicon carbide (SiC)
Formation Formed over billions of years under high temperature and pressure beneath the Earth's crust Created in a laboratory environment using advanced technological processes
Hardness 10 on the Mohs scale, the hardest mineral known CZ: 8.5 on the Mohs scale; Moissanite: 9.25 on the Mohs scale
Refractive Index 2.42 (high dispersion of light, resulting in significant sparkle) CZ: 2.15-2.18; Moissanite: 2.65-2.69 (higher than diamond, leading to more brilliance)
Heat Conductivity Excellent (used as a distinguishing feature) CZ: Poor; Moissanite: Similar to diamond, can conduct heat
Cost Significantly higher, varies based on the 4 Cs (Cut, Color, Clarity, Carat) Much more affordable, offering a cost-effective alternative to diamonds
Environmental Impact Mining can be environmentally damaging and is often energy-intensive Minimal environmental impact, as no mining is required
Ethical Considerations Concerns over conflict diamonds and labor practices Ethically sourced, providing a conflict-free alternative

Benefits of Choosing Simulated Diamonds


The affordability of simulated diamonds stands out as a significant advantage. They offer the luxurious appearance of diamonds without the hefty price tag, making them an attractive option for budget-conscious shoppers.

Environmentally Friendly

Simulated diamonds are also considered a more eco-friendly choice. The process of mining natural diamonds can be harmful to the environment, whereas creating simulated diamonds in a lab significantly reduces ecological impact.

Ethical Considerations

The diamond industry has faced criticism over ethical issues, including labor practices and conflict diamonds. Simulated diamonds provide a conflict-free alternative, appealing to consumers who prioritize ethical considerations in their purchases.

How to Identify Simulated Diamonds

While simulated diamonds are designed to resemble real diamonds closely, there are ways to distinguish between the two. Professionals use specialized equipment to test for refractivity, hardness, and other properties unique to natural diamonds. For the everyday consumer, subtle differences in sparkle and the way light is refracted can also hint at a stone's true nature.


Understanding what a simulated diamond is involves recognizing both its aesthetic qualities and the values it represents. These stones offer a sustainable, ethical, and cost-effective alternative to natural diamonds, without compromising on beauty. Whether you're planning a proposal, searching for a special gift, or simply treating yourself, simulated diamonds present a sparkling option worth considering.

The brilliance of a stone is not solely defined by its origin but by the joy and beauty it brings to those who wear it. Simulated diamonds, with their combination of dazzling appearance and conscientious benefits, are indeed a modern gemstone choice for the informed consumer.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Simulated Diamonds

What are simulated diamonds?

Simulated diamonds are stones that mimic the appearance of real diamonds but are made from different materials. They are often created in laboratories to replicate the look and feel of natural diamonds.

How do simulated diamonds differ from natural diamonds?

Simulated diamonds are created in a lab using various materials like cubic zirconia (CZ) or moissanite, while natural diamonds are formed over billions of years under the Earth's crust. Simulated diamonds are also more affordable and environmentally friendly compared to natural diamonds.

Are simulated diamonds as durable as natural diamonds?

Simulated diamonds like moissanite are nearly as hard as natural diamonds, scoring 9.25 on the Mohs scale compared to diamond's 10. Cubic zirconia (CZ) is slightly softer but still suitable for everyday wear.

Do simulated diamonds sparkle like real diamonds?

Yes, simulated diamonds are designed to replicate the sparkle and brilliance of natural diamonds. They often have a high refractive index, resulting in excellent light dispersion and sparkle.

Are simulated diamonds ethical?

Simulated diamonds are typically considered ethical as they are created in laboratories without the need for diamond mining. They offer a conflict-free alternative to natural diamonds, addressing concerns about unethical mining practices.

How can I distinguish between simulated diamonds and natural diamonds?

While simulated diamonds closely resemble natural diamonds, they may have subtle differences in sparkle, clarity, and hardness. Professional gemologists can use specialized equipment to differentiate between the two, but to the untrained eye, the differences may be minimal.

Are simulated diamonds suitable for engagement rings?

Yes, simulated diamonds are often used in engagement rings and other fine jewelry pieces. They offer a cost-effective option for couples looking for the beauty and sparkle of diamonds without the high price tag.

Do simulated diamonds come in different shapes and sizes?

Yes, simulated diamonds are available in various shapes and sizes, just like natural diamonds. They can be cut and polished into popular shapes such as round, princess, oval, and cushion, among others.

How do I care for simulated diamond jewelry?

Simulated diamond jewelry should be treated with care to maintain its sparkle and brilliance. Avoid harsh chemicals and store them separately to prevent scratches. Regular cleaning with mild soap and water or a jewelry cleaning solution can help keep them looking their best.

Can simulated diamonds be customized for specific designs?

Yes, simulated diamonds can be customized to fit specific design preferences. Whether it's for an engagement ring, pendant, earrings, or other jewelry pieces, simulated diamonds can be cut and set according to individual tastes and styles.

About The Author

Author's Name

Emma Rae

Emma Rae, a distinguished Canadian jewelry writer, boasts over five years of expertise in the industry. Known for her deep understanding of jewelry design and trends, she's a credible and authoritative voice. Her insightful writing, featured in top jewelry magazines and online platforms, showcases her passion and respect for craftsmanship. Emma engaging and knowledgeable articles have earned her recognition and trust in the jewelry fashion world.



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