Spinel Specialist Mini Course
Properties of Diamond Simulants
Purchase Spinel Specialist Mini CourseSpinels make beautiful and versatile jewelry stones but have been long overshadowed by other gem species. In this course, you'll learn all about this underappreciated gem, from how they form to how to identify and distinguish natural from synthetic spinels. You'll also learn what to look for when buying a spinel, whether you're looking for a collector's piece or a stone for an engagement ring.
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.
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.
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