Diamonds are the hardest natural substance on earth and has many applications. Rough diamonds which are not of very high quality are used for many industrial purposes. But diamonds are much sought after when they are sold as beautiful gemstones to be mounted on rings, earrings and necklaces. A diamond of brilliant cut, clarity and which does not have any inclusions usually cost a lot. However, if you are thinking of purchasing diamonds then natural diamond is not your only option. If you go to any jeweler, you will be bombarded with terms like synthetic diamonds, man-made diamonds, diamond simulants, lab created diamonds and cubic zirconias. If you do not understand these terms and what each term actually signifies, then there is a high probability that you might get cheated.
Difference between Synthetic Diamonds and Cubic Zirconia
Natural diamonds or real diamonds are mined from the bowels of the earth. Natural diamonds are made up of carbon atoms in a lattice formation. These rough diamonds mined from the mines are cleaned, cut and polished to perfection before they are presented as gemstones. Synthetic diamonds, also known as man-made diamonds or lab created diamonds, are made in a lab by simulating the same temperature and pressure conditions that are present inside the earth's crust which leads to the formation of a natural diamond. Diamond simulants like cubic zirconia and rhinestone are imitation diamonds. Diamond simulants might mimic some of the visual characteristics of a real diamond, but it has none of its material properties. Any good jeweler can distinguish a diamond simulant from a real diamond.
Because both synthetic diamonds and cubic zirconia are man-made, therefore there is a lot of confusion regarding the properties of these diamonds. In the debate of synthetic diamonds vs cubic zirconia, the most important difference between the two is in the way that they are manufactured. While cubic zirconia is made by treating zirconium dioxide to high temperature inside a furnace, synthetic diamonds are produced with carbon crystals in the laboratory under a highly controlled temperature and pressure situation. As we all now diamonds are the hardest substance on the Earth. In a Mohs hardness scale synthetic diamonds register a hardness of 10, which is same as that of natural diamonds. On the other hand cubic zirconia registers a hardness of just 8.3 on the Mohs hardness scale.
Synthetic diamonds have the same thermal and optical properties as a natural diamond. However, because of a lower refractive index and higher light dispersion properties, they have more fire and less brilliance which gives them away as diamond simulants. Synthetic diamonds are produced in the laboratory and as such, some amount of impurity mainly nitrogen and boron are sometimes found in the diamonds. This gives synthetic diamonds a slightly yellowish tinge due to presence of nitrogen impurity and a bluish tinge due to boron impurity. But cubic zirconia can be manufactured without any such problem and you can find them transparent and colorless. However, exposure to sunlight over time, can make cubic zirconia turn gray and cloudy. Synthetic diamonds can be created without inclusions up to a size of 6 carat. But cubic zirconia can be made into much bigger size.
But the most notable of all difference is in its price. Whereas a cubic zirconia costs $20-40 per carat, a synthetic diamond costs upwards of $500 per carat. Before buying a diamond whether man-made or natural, always insist on a diamond certification to avoid getting cheated.