What are the Best Fake Diamonds?

What are the Best Fake Diamonds - ESENCIAL engagement ring Luxuria
What are the best fake diamonds? The simple answer is those that closely resemble natural diamond in appearance. In the photo above are the stylish Luxuria® GLITTERATI pair shaped drop earrings and ESENCIAL diamond simulant engagement ring.

Market interest in fake diamonds has skyrocketed in recent times.   We believe faux diamonds will continue to gain popularity in 2020 and well beyond.

So, why are people buying fake diamond rather than the real thing?   The answer surprisingly is not simply because natural mined diamond is expensive.   The answer is because imitation diamond is a perfect solution for a number of problems.

For example, guys are buying fake diamond engagement rings to make a surprise marriage proposal with.  Why?   Because they don’t want to risk spending thousands of dollars on an engagement ring she may hate.  Often it’s a temporary ring for her to wear until the “real” ring is found – ideally together.   Or sometimes both have agreed diamond ring money is better spent elsewhere, a down payment on a future home for example.   As long as the love is not synthetic – many ladies are happy for their rings to be.

Further, fake diamond rings also solve a travel problem.    You want to travel with a ring but don’t want to risk losing your real diamond one.  Every year thousands of Americans lose wedding bands and engagement rings whilst vacationing.   You don’t want to add to that statistic!   Leave your precious ring in a safe at home and use a faux diamond travel ring instead.

So let’s now answer the question, what are the best fake diamonds?  Which ones are worth spending money on and which should be avoided?

What is fake diamond?

Before answering the question on what are the best fake diamonds we should first define what fake diamond are.

A fake diamond is a stone that looks similar to real diamond.  It may share some of the optical or other characteristics of a diamond but chemically it is different.

Fake diamonds are variously called diamond simulants, diamond imitations or diamond accents.  Some simulants occur naturally, while others are created artificially.  Examples of popular created diamond simulants include cubic zirconia, moissanite, rhinestone and crystal.   Examples of naturally occurring simulants include Quartz, Zircon, Topaz and white sapphire. 

It is important not to confuse diamond simulants with synthetic diamond.    Synthetic diamond while created in a lab is actually chemically identical to natural diamond.   Synthetic diamond is still expensive with gem-quality man-made stones selling for $800 to $4000 a carat.  For more details on the differences between simulants read this article.   “Diamonds Simulants & Synthetics – Differences Explained”  

Simulants from Luxuria - Engagement Rings
Photo 1: What are the best fake diamonds? One contender is Cubic zirconia. Cubic zirconia dominates the diamond simulant market. This is because of its low cost, durability, and close visual likeness to diamond.

What defines a good fake diamond?

There are a number of determinants you should consider to decide what makes a good fake diamond.    What are the best fake diamonds combines both objective and subjective considerations.

In principle, a high quality faux diamond resembles the real thing as closely as possible.   The resemblance should be in terms of both physical properties and appearance.

Furthermore, the very best imitations should be nearly as hard as diamond so they are not easily damaged.

The best simulated diamonds should be cut in the same fashion as real diamond.  The diamond cut is the most important element to consider when buying a diamond simulant. The cut is the biggest factor in creating sparkle and fire.   Without a high cut grade even a natural mined diamond of high quality can appear dull and lifeless.

High quality fake diamonds should also be colorless.   After diamond cut, diamond color is the second most important characteristic to consider when choosing a diamond.   The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) grades diamond color on a scale of D (colorless) to Z (light yellow or brown).   The highest quality diamonds are colorless being D color.   Those of lower quality have noticeable color, which manifests as pale yellow in diamonds.

Finally, as with real diamonds, clarity is also very important.    Diamond clarity is the assessment of small imperfections on the surface and internally.   Look for fake diamonds that have no inclusions or any obvious inclusions visible to the naked eye.

What are the Best Fake Diamonds?

 Using the above determinants together with price we assess what are the best fake diamonds.

Cubic Zirconia

Price Guide $$

Because of its low cost, durability, and close visual likeness to diamond, CZ is widely considered as one of the best faux diamonds.

Since its market entry in 1976 CZ quickly dominated the diamond simulant market and it remains the most gemologically and economically important simulant.  Cubic Zirconia is a cubic form of zirconium oxide that is created in a laboratory, thus it is not a mineral.  Synthesized zirconium oxide, cubic zirconia, is hard falling between 8 and 8.5 on the on Moh’s Scale of Hardness.    This is hard enough to scratch glass.

Like natural diamond gemstones, cubic zirconia stones are graded.  They are graded according to carat, color, clarity and cut.  The scale used is A to AAAAA, A being the lowest and AAAAA being the highest. While 5A is the best grade among machine-cut CZ, even higher grading is possible via hand-cut. Hand-cut cubic zirconia quality is dependent on the technique and the experience of the professional cutting the stone.

The best cubic zirconia stones are precision cut with round cut stones sometimes featuring the hearts & arrows (H&A) pattern.   The optical symmetry of the dark arrows creates an exaggerated contrast and distinction between the whiter areas and the darker areas.   This helps create “white flashes” much like real diamond does.   

Further CZ stones are often colorless (a perfect D color) and flawless in clarity (equiv. to IF or FL grade).   Indeed, its perfection that’s the most common giveaway that cubic zirconia is not a real diamond.

What are the Best Fake Diamonds a CZ ring from Luxuria
Photo 2: Cubic zirconia (CZ) comes in a variety of colors. Seen here is a limited edition canary diamond simulant engagement ring from the Luxuria® brand

The disadvantage of CZ is that it is not as hard as some other diamond simulants like Moissanite.  While CZ is slightly harder than most semi-precious gems its surface can still be scratched.  When too many scratches accumulate on its surface, cubic zirconia loses its original brilliance.

Moissanite

Price Guide $$$$

Moissanite is popular and widely considered a gem in its own right. Today most moissanite is synthetic. Moissanite is considered one of the best faux diamonds.  While more expensive than CZ it is typically only 1/10th of the price of natural diamond.

Moissanite in its natural form remains very rare, so today most moissanite is lab created.  Moissanite is regarded as an excellent diamond alternative, with some optical properties exceeding those of diamond.  Its lower price and less exploitative mining practices necessary to obtain it make it a popular alternative to diamonds.

A key advantage of Moissanite over other diamond simulants is its hardness.   On the Mohs scale of mineral hardness it is a 9.5, with a diamond being a 10.   While not as hard as diamond it is still one of the hardest substances on earth.  This means moissanite is very suitable for everyday wear and a good option for an engagement ring.

While diamonds are graded on the 4 C’s scale (Cut, Clarity, Color, Carat), moissanites are graded solely on color.   There are three grades of moissanite available today: colorless (D-E-F range), near-colorless (G-H-I range) and with faint hues of color (J-K range).  While some moissanites are labeled as “colorless”, the gems can still project a yellow or grayish hue in certain lights.

Moissanite Engagement Rings - pear shape - Luxuria
Photo 3: What are the best fake diamonds? Many consider Moissanite as the best alternative to diamond. A key advantage of Moissanite over other diamond simulants is its hardness.

The disadvantage of Moissanite is its light management.  Moissanite has a refractive index from 2.65 – 2.69, which is much higher than a diamond.  Moissanites handle light differently from diamond, creating what is termed as “bi-refringance”.  Basically, light waves are split inside the crystal and their velocity becomes unequal, thus things appear doubled in appearance. 

The end result is that Moissanite does not look identical to a diamond when examined closely.  Diamonds emit a combination of colorless sparkle (centre), rainbow sparkle (edges), and flashes of white light.   Moissanite on the other hand can sparkle too much and a giveaway is its flashy nature.   Subjective opinion is divided.  While some buyers adore this splash of color, others say the stone resembles a disco ball more than a diamond.  This effect is only heightened when the size of the Moissanite stone increases.

Crystal / Glass

Price Guide $

Crystal glass as a diamond simulant has been made popular by the Swarovski brand.  Swarovski crystal is a man-made precision cut crystal glass.  It is known as a diamond simulant because it closely resembles diamond.  Manmade crystals are seen carrying various names including ‘rhinestone crystals’ and ‘diamantés’.

When Swarovski crystal was invented, it had better sparkle than other types of crystals. One reason it had improved sparkle is the addition of lead.   Strictly speaking Swarovski Crystal isn’t a gemstone or even a crystal.  Instead, it’s a form of glass that’s made at high temperatures by melting silicon oxide powders with lead to form what is known as lead crystal.  The lead content serves to increase the crystals refraction index to more closely resemble that of a diamond.

The crystals are often further enhanced by coating the glass with an Aurora Borealis or AB coating that gives the surface a rainbow like appearance to simulate dispersion from a diamond.

What are the Best Fake Diamonds a Crystal ring from Luxuria
Photo 4:  What are the best fake diamonds?  Man made crystal glass can optically look like diamond but can scratch quite easily.   It is beautiful but not suitable for everyday wear.

The disadvantage of lead crystal is its hardness and its relatively lower refraction index.   Swarovski crystal has a Mohs hardness of between 6 and 7.   This is well below other diamond simulants such as cubic zirconia and moissanite.   As such crystal is susceptible to scratches and chipping from wear and tear.  Swarovski crystal becomes cloudy as it collects scratches over time and It’s not considered suitable for everyday wear.  

Further the refraction index of glass is from 1.5 to 1.7 well below that of diamond at 2.4.   As a result glass does not have the brilliance of diamond.

White Sapphire

Price Guide $$$$$

White sapphire is regarded as another great material to use as a diamond imitation.  White sapphires are often used as a diamond substitute thanks to their lack of color and lower price than diamonds.  From a color and cut perspective, a sapphire ring offers a similar look to traditional natural diamond.  

Unlike cubic zirconia, moissanite and crystal, white sapphire is a natural simulant.  Sapphire is a member of the corundum family, a precious gemstone.  Best-known in its blue color variant, they occur in other colors, including gray and black, and they can be colorless.  White sapphire is a great option for someone looking for a stone from the earth, rather than a cultured lab-grown stone.

In most cases, white sapphires are actually yellow or grey stones that have been heat treated or chemically treated, meaning that they undergo a specific process to achieve their clear color.

White sapphire is hard, being 9 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness.  This makes the stone durable enough for everyday wear.

The disadvantage of white sapphire is that they offer much less brilliance and fire than natural diamond.  Although they’re clear in color, white sapphires usually exhibit a cloudy white hue, which is a giveaway that they are not diamond.   Another giveaway is that when placed side by side with a diamond the sapphire has much less visual sparkle.  This difference is particularly obvious in bright, direct light and is due to sapphires lower refraction index.  Despite this white sapphire is a unique type of natural gemstone with its own appeal, popularity and history.

Which faux diamond should I choose?

In answering the question – what are the best fake diamonds we’ve weighed various options against key determinants.   The best fake diamonds need to resemble the real thing as closely as possible.  This means they should be hard and comparable to a real diamond in cut, color and clarity.   What defines a good fake diamond is simply that the naked eye can’t easily tell the difference.

What are the best fake diamonds?  The answer is cubic zirconia, moissanite, crystal and white sapphire.   

We note for the record that other options are available to.   These options include white topaz, zircon, rutile, spinel, and synthetic garnet.  However these simulants either don’t closely resemble diamond or lack hardness and therefore can be easily scratched or chipped.   We recommend these options are avoided.

The best fake diamonds are CZ, moissanite, crystal and white sapphire.   Which you should choose is really up to you.  Having laid out what we feel are the strengths and disadvantages of each – the best fit may depend on your lifestyle, budget, and philosophy. 

Want to learn more?

Looking for a fake diamond ring that looks so real only a jeweler can tell the difference?  Check out this article “Why not fake it until you can make it with high quality fake diamond rings”

Don’t want anyone else to know that you are wearing faux diamonds?  Follow our guide and no one will ever know that beautiful ring you’re wearing isn’t the real McCoy.  “Fake but Fancy: How to Buy Fake Diamonds No One Will Question!”

What is the difference between simulant and synthetic diamonds?   In our article “Diamonds Simulants & Synthetics – Differences Explained” we reveal all.

Who are we?  Luxuria Diamonds is a brand which markets engagement, birthstone, cocktail and dress rings made from natural diamond, semi-precious gemstones, synthetics and simulants.  Luxuria® is a professional member of IGS (USA).   To read more about us please click here:  https://www.gemsociety.org/business/luxuria-diamonds/