Man-Made Diamonds, A Buyer's Guide

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It seems nearly impossible to watch TV or open a newspaper without seeing something about man-made diamonds. For hundreds of years science has tried to create a perfect synthetic diamond. Finally, 21st-century technology has made that prospect a reality.

There are many reasons to purchase synthetic diamonds instead of the mined variety. The prices charged for mined diamonds are, in the very best verbiage, an illusion. To put it more bluntly, Cecil Adams, in his award-winning newspaper column "The Straight Dope" says: "Diamonds are a con, pure and simple." Diamond prices are largely controlled by the DeBeers diamond cartel, and they are not a fair reflection of diamond scarcity. Additionally, studies show that one out of three diamonds sold in the US today has been altered to artificially increase its value. Further studies have shown that on average a couple pays 40% too much for their diamond engagement ring.

Beyond deceptive pricing, there are the issues of "blood diamonds", forced child labor, and a myriad of other disturbing diamond facts.

Recently, socially conscious celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Minnie Driver, and Angelina Jolie have made a vocal issue of wearing only synthetic diamonds to the many gala events they attend.

Good synthetic diamonds are virtually indistinguishable from the mined variety, but without the baggage, and additionally, they cost thousands of dollars less. But, which synthetic diamond is the best choice?

There are many types of man-made or synthetic diamonds available. The choices are numerous, but unbiased information is scarce. Here is an overview and comparison of the synthetic diamonds currently unavailable on the market:

Cubic Zirconia

The grandfather of simulated diamonds, Zircons are available widely. In their best examples, CZ's are actually a fairly decent diamond replica. Unfortunately, the commodity-like availability and vast differences in quality have made the stone synonymous with low-cost fashion jewelry. Perhaps a good choice for cheap bling, but not for fine jewelry. Many sources are available, a decent one is: czfanasy.com

Russian Diamonds

Including Russian Brilliants, Russian Stars and others, they are in fact nothing but high quality cubic zirconias. This is not mentioned prominently on their web sites and they will only cop to it when pressed.

Russian Diamonds are a fine jewelry selection and are usually mounted in quality precious metal settings.

Russian Brilliants are one of the best and oldest sellers of "Russian Diamonds" available at: russianbrilliants.net

Moissanite

Moissanite is a lab-created mineral that is a very good diamond stimulant. Moissanite has been on the market as a fine jewelry choice since the early 90s and has picked up quite a few fans. Moissanite is a hard mineral that, like diamond, will cut glass. There are a couple of minor downsides to moissanite however. First, it is quite expensive, (though still cheap compared to diamonds) usually priced about 250 per carat for good samples.

Secondly, moissanite does not have the same optical qualities as diamond and there are several indicators that make them easy to spot with the naked eye for an experienced practitioner. It is difficult to produce a pure white moissanite and they often appear slightly green when viewed in natural light. Also, moissanite has significantly higher radiance and brilliance factors then natural diamond, causing them to appear "too sparkly" to some. Overall though, moissanite is a beautiful synthetic diamond choice.

"Moissanite From the Sky" at fromthesky.com is a good source of fine moissanite jewelry.

Diamond Nexus

Diamond Nexus gemstones are the result of a fairly new scientific advancement in processing technique, and have only recently been available in the United States.

Diamond Nexus gemstones are excellent diamond stimulants and come very close to matching the properties of mined diamonds at many different comparison points. They cut glass, being virtually identical to diamond on the Mohs (hardness) scale. They refract perfect "hearts and arrows" and have radiance and brilliance readings extremely close to flawless diamond.

White Sapphire

Sapphire is the second hardest natural mineral on the Mohs scale, surpassed only by diamond. They are, unlike the others in this review, a natural stone. Their radiance and brilliance are not up to the standards of diamond however. Nevertheless, quality white sapphires are a good diamond alternative.

Gemisis Cultured Diamond

Gemisis diamonds are beautiful and almost perfect diamond replicas. Unfortunately, they are not available in a clear, white color, so they are not a good choice for traditional diamond settings. However, if a yellow, orange or pink diamond is what you crave, Gemisis offers stunning choices in beautiful precious metal, fine-jewelry settings.

Recap:

Synthetic diamonds offer many advantages over the mined variety. You can buy with confidence, knowing that you are getting exactly what you paid for, and have not been the victim of diamond pricing chicanery. If you are concerned with the world around you, you can have a clear conscience, knowing that your money has not contributed to the support of an unethical and abusive industry.

However, there are many choices of synthetic diamonds, with varying degrees of quality. Take a little time to review the seller's information to get a clear idea of what the science is behind the gemstones you are buying.

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