What are Diamond Simulants?
Diamond simulants are materials whose external appearance matches that of real diamonds very closely. Unless examined by an expert in very close quarters, these simulants are virtually indistinguishable from the real diamonds. Fake or synthetic diamonds are unlike the originals which have a crystalline carbon structure and belong to a diverse group of minerals.
Diamond simulants go back as far as the 1920s' when synthetic forms of Spinel like Lustergem, Corundolite, Radient and Magalux were discovered. Between the 1940s'and the 1970s', Strontium Titanate variants like Fabulite and Diagem, synthetic variants of Sapphire like Diamondite, Diamondette, Thrilliant and Jourado Diamond, synthetic forms of Rutile like Java Gem, Rainbow Diamond, Rutania, Titan Gem, Java Gem and Diamothyst, garnets of Yttrium Aluminum and Gadolinium Gallium like Diamonte, Diamonaire, Geminaire and Diamone, etc had a stronghold on the global markets of diamond simulants.
Cubic Zirconia (CZ) and Moissanite
In recent years, a new class of diamond simulants has emerged that has significantly raised the quality and production benchmark set in the manufacture of synthetic diamonds of the yesteryears. One of the most common diamond simulants is Cubic Zirconia (CZ). Discovered in the year 1976, this material lies second best only to Moissanite in the faux diamond industry. It is usually mixed with a stabilizing agent like Calcium Oxide or Yttrium Oxide and is readily available in the market in a variety of colors and clarity gradations. Grade-D or colorless Cubic Zirconia is the most expensive of all as it is the toughest to produce. Diamond has a relative density that is lower than Cubic Zirconia and this can be used as an effective test in distinguishing a CZ diamond from an original one using a device called a hardness pen. It is also heavier, acts as a thermal insulator and produces a characteristic yellow-green color when exposed to ultraviolet light of the short wave type.
Moissanite is brighter than a diamond and therefore it is a bit more difficult to distinguish it from diamonds when compared with CZ. It is chemically known as Silicon Carbide or just Carborundum in short. Its discovery in the year 1906 in a crater containing fragments of a meteorite won Dr. Henry Moissan a Nobel Prize. So, in a way this substance is truly out of the world. Its intrinsic properties enable it to pass off as a real diamond with minimal human effort and processing techniques. Buyers can easily be fooled into buying Moissanaite replicas of diamonds. The best part about this material is that it can be looked upon as the most perfect diamond replica. Natural diamonds tend to have a rough surface and black inclusions too at times. But, Moissanite is just brilliant. It has no cosmetic defects and ranks very high on an aesthetic scale.
Some of the other diamond simulants seen today include Zirconium Silicate or Zircon, White Topaz, Synthetic Rutile, White Sapphire and YAG (Yttrium Alumimun Garnets). Synthetic and polycrystalline diamonds are also manufactured today using methods like CVD (Chemical Vapor Deposition) under low temperature and pressure conditions.
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