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How To Tell a Real Diamond From a Fake Diamond

Published by MarlowsDiamonds at Nov 06, 2023

Choosing a diamond engagement ring is an exciting step in your journey towards ever-lasting love. It's not about selecting a piece of jewellery; it's about finding a symbol that encapsulates your lifelong commitment. The centrepiece of any engagement ring is the diamond, which shines as the emblem of your timeless relationship.

Navigating the vast world of diamonds can be daunting, especially when trying to differentiate between real and fake ones. There are many diamond simulants available offering the same appearance but lacking the authenticity and significance of a real diamond.
In this comprehensive guide, we explain how to tell if a diamond is real or fake with both professional and at-home methods. This way you can ensure you are investing in a genuine diamond for your engagement ring.

Diamond Authenticity Explained

The allure of diamonds has captured hearts for hundreds of years. What sets these stones apart from all other gemstones is their unique characteristics, resulting in their signature sparkle and brilliance. Understanding the special differences that make a diamond authentic can help you discern between real and fake diamonds.

Real Diamond Characteristics

Here we highlight the characteristics of real diamonds:

  • Hardness: Ranking 10 on the Mohs scale, diamonds are the hardest known natural material. This unparalleled hardness makes them resistant to scratches, contributing to their durability.
  • Sparkle:Diamonds boast a high refractive index, which means they bend light powerfully. This bending of light enhances their overall sparkle and brilliance.
  • Dispersion: The dispersion quality of diamonds refers to their ability to break light into its spectral colours. This phenomenon results in the mesmerising fire, or play of colours, that diamonds exhibit.
  • Crystal Structure: Diamonds have a cubic crystal structure. This geometrical formation adds to their overall strength and the way they interact with light.
  • Composition: Diamonds are predominantly composed of carbon. This unique carbon arrangement gives diamonds their distinctive hardness and brilliance.
  • Thermal Conductivity: Diamonds are exceptional heat conductors. Their rapid heat dispersion creates a cool touch, resulting in their common reference as “ice”. 
  • Density: With a high density, diamonds have a distinctive weight to them. This attribute is often used in tests to verify their authenticity, as they will typically sink in water.

Common Diamond Simulants

Diamond simulants, or fake diamonds, are materials that resemble diamonds in appearance but differ in their physical and chemical properties. To the untrained eye, these simulants can be mistaken for the real thing, especially when set in an engagement ring.

Two of the most well-known diamond simulants are moissanite and cubic zirconia. Moissanite is a popular diamond simulant that is almost as hard as diamonds. While they share some visual similarities with diamonds, a trained eye or the right equipment can distinguish them based on their doubled refraction pattern and slight colour differences.

Cubic zirconia is made from zirconium dioxide, making it much softer than both diamonds and moissanite. Cubic zirconia, over time, might become scratched or lose their brilliance compared to real diamonds. When compared side by side with a diamond, cubic zirconia lacks the depth and the intricate light play exhibited by genuine diamonds.

Other simulants in the market include white sapphires, zircon, and even glass, each with its unique set of characteristics. Given the variety and quality of diamond simulants available, it's crucial to be informed and vigilant. By understanding these differences, you can ensure that you are receiving the value and authenticity you desire.

How To Tell If a Diamond is Real: Professional Assessments

If you are looking for the best way to tell a real diamond from a fake, consulting professionals is a smart step. The jewellery industry offers a few ways to ensure a diamond's authenticity.

Let's explore some of the most reliable methods:

Certified Jewellers

Seeking advice from a certified jeweller can save you both time and potential disappointment. These professionals have the training and expertise to identify subtle differences between genuine diamonds and their simulants. Certified jewellers will also have access to state-of-the-art equipment that can assess a diamond's authenticity with precision.

Beyond just ensuring authenticity, certified jewellers can offer tailored advice. Whether you're unsure about the right cut, clarity, carat, or colour for your budget, these professionals can guide you. This ensures that you not only choose a real diamond, but a diamond worthy of the beauty and meaning of your love.

Diamond Certification

Perhaps one of the most reassuring aspects when purchasing a diamond is its certification. A certification will outline the stone's quality, origin, and authenticity. When you buy certified diamonds, you can trust that the diamonds have been authenticated by a reputable Gemological institution, such as GIA.

Trusted Diamond Stockists

Where you buy your diamond from can also have an impact on its authenticity. Choosing reputable stockists ensures that you're not only getting a quality stone but also the assurance that it's genuine.

How Can You Tell if a Diamond is Real at Home?

While some popular at-home methods, like the scratch test, might seem convincing, they come with their pitfalls. Take the well-known scratch test for example. This test involves running the diamond along glass, such as a window, and if the diamond leaves a scratch, it means that it is genuine. However, this test is not accurate as many other gemstones, such as moissanite, can scratch glass.

If immediate professional evaluation isn't a possibility and you are concerned about the legitimacy of your diamond, here are a few at-home tests to try:

The Water Test

One of the simple tests for distinguishing real diamonds from their imitators is the water test. Diamonds, being carbon crystals, have a unique density from other gemstones and simulants. This density means that diamonds have a certain weight for their size, causing them to quickly drop when placed in water.

To conduct the water test at home, fill a glass with water. Carefully drop the stone into the water. A real diamond, due to its high density, will sink almost instantaneously to the bottom. Simulants, being less dense, will often float or sink more slowly.

The Fog Test

The fog test is a quick and easy method to tell the legitimacy of a diamond at home. Diamonds have efficient heat dispersion, meaning that any warmth on the surface of a real diamond will quickly dissipate.

To perform the fog test, hold the diamond or your engagement ring between two fingers and breathe on it, as you would to fog up a window or a mirror. A genuine diamond will clear up almost immediately after you've stopped breathing on it. If the fog remains for several seconds, it's an indication that the stone might not be a genuine diamond.

The Newspaper Test

Another intriguing method to test a diamond's authenticity is the newspaper test. Diamonds are renowned for their brilliance and sparkle because of their high refractive index. When light enters a real diamond, it gets refracted in various directions, making it nearly impossible to see through clearly.

To perform the newspaper test, place the diamond face down on a section of newspaper with clear, printed text. Use a well-lit environment and ensure the diamond is not placed on large fonts or headlines. If you can read the text, it's likely not a genuine diamond.

Are Man-made Diamonds Real Diamonds?

Man-made diamonds, or lab-grown diamonds, are real diamonds. Both lab-grown and natural diamonds are made of carbon atoms arranged in a crystal structure. This structure gives diamonds their characteristic hardness, brilliance, and other physical properties. While their origin differs, the core composition and attributes of lab-grown diamonds remain identical to mined diamonds.

Lab-grown diamonds have gained popularity for many reasons. They offer an ethical alternative, as their production doesn't involve mining or potential environmental degradation. They also come with a smaller price tag, making them an appealing choice for those looking for a beautiful diamond within their budget.

Why Use a Real Diamond for Your Engagement Ring?

In a market teeming with convincing diamond alternatives, you might question the value of investing in a genuine diamond. When it comes to marking a milestone as significant as an engagement, there are compelling reasons to choose a real diamond.

Timeless Love

The durability of real diamonds sets them apart from diamond simulants. Their resistance to scratches and daily wear ensures that they remain as brilliant as the day they were purchased. This lasting quality makes them not just a symbol of enduring love, but also a potential heirloom to be passed down through generations.

Long-term Value

Over time, diamonds often keep or appreciate in value, making them both a symbol of love and a sound investment. In contrast, many simulants depreciate quickly and don't offer the same long-term value. When choosing a token to represent a lifelong commitment, the durability and value of a real diamond make it an unrivalled choice.

Symbolic Significance

Genuine diamonds have an unparalleled and timeless allure. While simulants might mirror their appearance, they lack the rich history and unique formation story that each real diamond possesses. This adds symbolic depth to the commitment it represents, making the engagement even more meaningful.

Choose Your Perfect Certified Diamond at Marlow's Diamonds

If you are searching for genuine diamonds, you can rely on Marlow's Diamonds. Our GIA-certified diamonds guarantee quality and authenticity for your diamond engagement ring. The signature sparkle of diamonds paired with our spectacular designs ensures you will find the perfect emblem of your love.

Get in touch to discuss our certified diamonds with our expert jewellers.

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