Properties of Diamond Simulants
Diamond simulants, like cubic zirconia and moissanite, often appear in jewelry. See how the properties of real diamonds compare with popular imitations.
2 Minute Read
This information, in conjunction with our article on distinguishing diamonds, can help you separate diamonds from their imitators.
Identifying Synthetic Diamonds
Until relatively recently, gem-grade synthetic diamonds rarely appeared in jewelry. This is changing. Consult our article on identifying synthetic diamonds for advice on distinguishing natural or mined diamonds from their lab-created counterparts.
Interested in this topic?
This article is also a part of our Diamond Specialist Certification Course, in the unit Distinguishing Diamonds from Simulants and Synthetics.
Properties of Natural Diamonds vs. Diamond Simulants
|Properties||Natural Diamond Type Ia||Natural Diamond Type Ib||Natural Diamond Type IIa||Natural Diamond Type IIb||Moissanite||Cubic Zirconia|
|RI||2.417||2.417||2.417||2.417||2.648 - 2.691||2.15 - 2.18|
|Dispersion||.044||.044||.044||.044||.009 - .104||.058 - .066|
|Optic Character||Isotropic||Isotropic||Isotropic||Isotropic||Uniaxial +||Isotropic|
|SG||3.515||3.515||3.515||3.515||3.17 - 3.22||5.56 - 6.00|
|Hardness||10||10||10||10||9 ¼||8 - 8 ½|
|Cleavage||Perfect, four directions||Perfect, four directions||Perfect, four directions||Perfect, four directions||None||None|
|Absorption Spectra||Dark line at 415 and 478 nm, often more||Increasing absorption towards blue end||Variable, usually 504||Variable||No sharp bands, strong absorption below 425||Not diagnostic|
|UV||Colorless stones, inert to strong, usually blue (LW) Weaker (SW)||Variable, can be inert, usually blue or yellow||Variable, can be inert, often red||Inert but phosphoresce after exposure to SW UV||Brownish yellow, (LW)||Greenish/yellow or orangish/yellow (LW) Yellow (SW) Colored CZ varies|
|Girdle Surface||Waxy, polished or granular||Waxy, polished or granular||Waxy, polished or granular||Waxy, polished or granular||Frosted, polished or striated||Frosted or polished|
|Facet Junctions||Sharp||Sharp||Sharp||Sharp||Sharp or slightly rounded||Sharp or slightly rounded|
|Electrical Test||None||None||Very Weak||Strong||Frequent, variable intensity||None|
|Inclusions||Bearding, crystals, planar graining||Bearding, crystals, planar graining||Bearding, crystals, planar graining||Bearding, crystals, planar graining||Bearding, crystals, planar graining||Gas bubbles, negative crystals, unmelted powder|
|Properties||GGG||YAG||Synthetic Spinel*||White Sapphire||White Topaz||Glass|
|RI||1.970 - 2.03||1.823 - 1.843||1.720 - 1.740||1.757 - 1.779||1.609 - 1.637||1.40 - 1.70|
|Birefringence||None||None||None||.008 - .010||.008 - .010||None|
|Dispersion||.038 - .045||.028||.020||.018||.014||.009 - .098|
|Optic Character||Isotropic||Isotropic||Isotropic||Uniaxial -||Biaxial +||Amorphous|
|Pleochroism||None||None||None||None if totally colorless||None if totally colorless||None|
|Luster||Vitreous to subadamantine||Vitreous to subadamantine||Vitreous to subadamantine||Vitreous to subadamantine||Vitreous||Vitreous|
|SG||7.01 - 7.15||4.50 - 4.60||3.52 - 3.67||3.90 - 4.10||3.49 - 3.57||2.30 - 4.50|
|Hardness||6.5 - 7||8.25 - 8.5||7.5 - 8||9||8||5 - 6|
|Cleavage||None||None||None||None||Perfect, 1 direction||None|
|Absorption Spectra||Not diagnostic||Not diagnostic||Not diagnostic||Not diagnostic||Not diagnostic||Not diagnostic|
|UV||Moderate to strong, pinkish orange (SW)||Inert to moderate orange, (LW) Inert to weak orange, (SW)||Occasionally, weak green (LW) Moderate to strong chalky or greenish blue, (SW)||Natural: Inert to moderate red to orange (LW & SW)Synthetic: inert to weak, blueish white (SW)||Not diagnostic||Not diagnostic|
|Girdle Surface||Frosted or polished||Frosted or polished||Frosted or polished||Frosted or polished||Frosted or polished||Frosted or polished|
|Facet Junctions||Slightly rounded||Sharp or slightly rounded||Sharp or slightly rounded||Sharp or slightly rounded||Sharp or slightly rounded||Rounded|
|Inclusions||Gas bubbles||Gas bubbles, curved striae||Gas bubbles||Natural: Silk, crystals, fingerprint, hexagonal banding. Synthetic: bubbles, curved striae, flux||2 & 3 phase||Bubbles, swirl lines, concave facets|
Compliments of the International Gem Society.
* Colorless natural spinels are extremely rare. Should you encounter a colorless spinel as a diamond simulant, it's very likely synthetic.
For information on diamond color treatments, see our article on HPHT diamonds.
International Gem Society
Diamond Value, Price, and Jewelry Information
What Customers Value Most in the Jewelry Insurance Buying Experience
An Interview with “Diamond Wizard” Maarten de Witte: Part 4
An Interview with “Diamond Wizard” Maarten de Witte: Part 2
Void Reaver Gem Design for a Lab-Created Alexandrite
D20 Gemstone: a Dungeons and Dragons-Inspired Design
Variscite Value, Price, and Jewelry Information
Interview with Justin Prim and Victoria Raynaud: The Dynamic Duo That Built a Multifaceted Business in the World of Gems
When you join the IGS community, you get trusted diamond & gemstone information when you need it.
Get started with the International Gem Society’s free guide to gemstone identification. Join our weekly newsletter & get a free copy of the Gem ID Checklist!