Mined natural diamonds are undoubtedly the most elegant and sophisticated gems that can be used for just about any kind of jewelry.
They are your best option as a ring’s center stone, an accent to your earrings, or a pendant to your necklace. There is no jewelry setting that a diamond won’t fit in.
But, diamonds are expensive and can be pretty tricky to shop for. There are 4 Cs you need to understand first to make sure you’re getting what you are paying for. Not everyone can afford a diamond, and not all who have the money are willing to spend it.
Fortunately, diamond alternatives are around to offer beauty and elegance for a fraction of a diamond’s price. These are white-colored gems that resemble diamonds at first glance. They look so much like diamonds that some prefer them to natural diamonds.
This article will discuss colorless gemstones that can mirror mined diamonds and the best diamond alternatives you can choose.
Table of Contents
What Are Diamond Alternatives?
Diamond alternatives, or diamond simulants, are objects that have geological characteristics similar to those of mined diamonds. They may be synthetic, artificial, natural, or in some cases, a combination thereof.
These gems’ material properties depart markedly from those of diamonds. However, they have specific desired characteristics like dispersion and hardness. These are what separate them from a natural diamond.
In any case, these diamond alternatives are designed to simulate a diamond appearance sans the expensive price tag and ethical concerns that it comes with.
What are the Best Diamond Alternatives?
The high cost and poor investment value are two of the popular reasons why some prefer diamond alternatives to mined-diamonds. Also, the majority of shoppers now go for more eco-friendly and ethical jewelry pieces.
We listed down different kinds of diamond alternatives you can choose from, from lab-grown stones to natural gemstones that could pass as a diamond.
- Lab Grown Diamonds
- Lab-Made Gemstones
- Cubic Zirconia
- White Natural Gemstones
- White Sapphire
- White Topaz
- And Much More!
Lab-grown diamonds are 100% real. Consumers prefer them to mined diamonds since they are eco-friendlier and are conflict-free.
Chemically, physically, and optically, they are just like the natural diamond. They possess the same crystal structure and exquisite sparkle but with a lighter price tag. Thus, they are becoming a popular diamond alternative, and top diamond jewelers like James Allen offer them in their listings.
At first look, there is no way to tell the difference between a lab-grown diamond and a mined one. But, there are two ways you can tell them apart.
Using a magnifying glass, check to find a tiny laser inscription on the girdle, or the widest part of the diamond that forms its outline from a top view. Most lab-grown diamonds have engravings that identify them as lab-made.
Diamonds also have a lab report inscribed on the girdle. If you check the laboratory website, you may input the number to see the report, confirming whether your gem is mined or lab-made, plus other information about the diamonds.
If you can’t see anything on the stone’s girdle, a visit to a professional or a gemological lab can help you determine what kind of diamond it is.
Don’t get it wrong. Lab-made gemstones are different from lab-made diamonds. They are lab-made white gems that vary widely in terms of cost, durability, and appearance. But, before diving into lab-made gemstones, be sure to do your research first.
We listed some white lab-made gemstones in the market now.
Lab-grown moissanite is a diamond alternative that presents quite an attractive price point with almost the same beauty and durability as a diamond. While a professional jeweler could tell the difference between a moissanite and a diamond, your friends wouldn’t.
Presently, lab-made cubic zirconia is the most famous diamond mirror image. With a lighter price tag, it can contend diamond in brilliance and fire. However, cubic zirconia comes short in durability. It is highly likely to scratch or even break and can be porous too. If word regularly, it will absorb oils from your skin and will dull over time.
Glass has been used in jewelry for a long time. Single-handedly, it is brittle and unimpressive with low color or brilliance. But, if treated with additives, it can become colorful, more lively, and durable. Glass with additives are called artisanal glass. This material has been cut and polished as gems.
The most famous example of artisanal glass is Swarovski’s glass gems.
While they are almost as lovely as diamonds, they break easily. They are so soft that even household dust can graze them. If you are looking for a diamond alternative for a ring, glass isn’t a good choice. It will scratch and knock from normal wear and will lose its beauty just as quickly.
White Natural Gemstones
Colorless gemstones have been used since the olden days. They are among the most common colors for gems since they effortlessly blend in beautifully with any outfit, skin tone, metal, setting, or occasion.
These stylish and classic gemstones are beautiful for any jewelry, making the list of best diamond alternatives complete.
Sapphires played a significant role in the 14th century when royal families would use the “ring of betrothal.” They were primarily used as engagement or promise rings. They were very famous that they were more expensive than diamonds during the 18th and 19th centuries due to demands.
In those times, diamonds were flooding the market, making sapphires seem rarer. Since then, prices have returned to normal, making white sapphires a preferred gem to the traditional diamond.
Sapphire is the second-hardest natural gemstone. It comes in at a nine on the Mohs hardness scale, with the diamond at a 10. Having said that, sapphire is good at handling scratch and is damage resistant. White sapphire is more economical than colored ones due to demand and because they are rare.
While sapphire possesses excellent durability, white sapphire can’t match a diamond’s scintillation. The difference in this category will be noticeable that diamond simulation can only go so far. Still, there are jewelry buyers who prefer the fainter appearance of white sapphire to diamond.
If you are looking to make savings on your engagement ring, topaz is a good choice. It is durable yet incredibly inexpensive and offers a casual grey-white sparkle.
White topaz boasts a refined and sophisticated look that comes in different shapes and sizes. It marks an eight on the Mohs scale. Thus it is pretty hard and can cope up with scratches and scrapes. This means it can stay beautiful for a long time – just like a diamond.
When you first look at a white topaz, you may think they are white when they are, in fact, colorless. But, topaz tends to show a glossy appearance and may look milky if impurities are inside. Despite that, it has a price tag your budget will get along with. White topaz is far more practical than other white gems.
The reason for their affordability is their commonness. Plus, they are not as exceptional as diamonds. Overall, white topaz is a good choice for a diamond alternative, but expect to see a grey-white sparkle that is far different from a natural diamond’s sparkle and fire.
White zircon is an exceptionally transparent, colorless, semi-precious gem from the Nesosilicates mineral family. No, they should not be confused with the synthetic cubic zirconia.
This gem’s outstanding brilliance and dispersion contribute to its long history of being a diamond simulant. Appearance-wise, zircon comes closer to diamond than any other natural gemstone. But, when it comes to durability, zircon is significantly more brittle. It easily chips and chafes with normal wear.
Nonetheless, white zircon is reasonably priced and readily available, so in case it gets damaged, replacement is easy.
Quartz, or rock crystals, are among the most common gemstone minerals, making a very affordable diamond alternative. Although its appearance will never match that of a well-cut diamond, some lapidaries can polish them so fine that they can look better than an average diamond.
Still, quartz comes short in the durability department. Over time, it will accumulate cuts and nicks.
Goshenite comes from the same mineral family – beryl. While it may sound unfamiliar, goshenite is related to emerald, aquamarine, and morganite. They are all different colored assortments of the same mineral, except goshenite is the colorless beryl.
This gem comes close to being durable but doesn’t show as much sparkle, brilliance, and fire as a diamond. Thus, it may not make a very realistic diamond lookalike. If you are looking for a more practical, natural, sizeable white stone that will last, goshenite is a good option.
Another gem that is becoming an increasingly famous diamond alternative is opal. While they are not perceptibly similar to diamonds, they have a remarkable display of colors that make them unique.
Opal scores between 5.5 and 6.5 on the Mohs scale and, although they are not in the same range as diamonds when it comes to hardness, they can rival them in terms of brilliance. Opal is available in a wide range of colors – from colorless to milky white, dark grey, brown, orange, red, and blue.
What makes opal unique is its ability to present magnificent displays of color that can transform from red to green, blue to violet, and everything in between. While you can have two visually and compositionally alike diamonds, two opals would never match – so every opal is distinctive.
Moreover, opals are inexpensive and are good quality stones. They are 14 times less expensive than diamonds.
Another stone hailing from the beryl family, which we’ve mentioned earlier – Morganite is a durable diamond alternative that presents a distinctive dash of color to any jewelry piece. Morganite rose in popularity around the 19th century when the famed Tiffany gemologist, George Frederick Kunz, named it after a New York banker, John Pierpont Morgan.
This stone scores 7.58 on the Mohs scale. It is recognized for its toughness, clarity, brilliance, and luster. It complements every skin tone gorgeously and pairs nicely with almost any type of metal, specifically rose gold.
Morganites costs only a fraction of the price you would pay for a diamond ring of the same carat, but these stones can be hard to find and can be a factor not to pick as a substitute.
Why Choose A Diamond Alternative?
Diamonds are both expensive and complicated to shop for. As we’ve mentioned earlier, to make sure you are getting value for your money, you must have a good understanding of a diamond’s 4 Cs – carat, color, clarity, and cut. These Cs determine its beauty and corresponding price.
Should you find the right diamond with all the ideal Cs, it may not be what your budget can afford.
Besides, diamonds, as with most things, may not be every person’s eye-candy. Sometimes, shoppers realize they prefer other gemstones that carry more meaning. Are you looking for a stone that will nicely complement the ring setting you have in mind? Would you want to surprise your fiancé with a center stone that is in the shade of her favorite color?
Then, a diamond alternative is what you might be looking for.
A lot of times, these diamond alternatives are almost similar to diamonds. They offer nearly the same beauty, sparkle, and brilliance. Diamond alternatives like white sapphires, topazes, and zircons can make for a bold statement – let alone they have their unique characteristics too.
Shopping for Diamond Alternatives
There are a lot of natural and lab-grown white gems that can pass as a diamond alternative. All of them vary in terms of price, durability, and appearance. Before finally deciding on a diamond alternative you want to go with, be sure to do your research first.
You must understand that getting a diamond alternative means getting a gemstone that resembles a diamond but is not really a diamond.
The gems listed above may be diamond simulants or lookalikes. While they look pretty much like a mined diamonds, they possess distinct physical and optical properties. As long as you know what you are buying and the retailers are truthful about what they are offering, you’ll find a suitable diamond alternative for you.
Bottom Line: What Diamond Alternative Should You Pick?
So, which diamond alternative should you pick?
Only you can decide which is right for you. Does it appear to be something you like? Does it look strong enough to keep up with your lifestyle? Are you looking to keep it for a long time? More importantly, will it not break your bank?
Consider these factors when picking a diamond alternative. Based on research, lab-grown moissanite offers the most value for your money. A lot of times, moissanite and diamond are hard to tell apart.
For natural mined gemstones, no alternative comes close to looking like a diamond. The closest is the white sapphire which has the most brilliance among natural diamond alternatives. Plus, durability is not compromised with this gem.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q: How are lab-grown diamonds made?
A: There are two ways laboratories create lab-grown diamonds – HPHT, or high-pressure, high temperature, and CVD, or chemical vapor deposition.
The first method imitates the way mined diamonds naturally form in the earth – with carbon exposed to extensive heat and pressure. With HPHT, scientists mimic these environmental factors by subjecting carbon to intense heat and pressure within a lab.
CVD, on the other hand, uses natural gasses to produce lab-grown diamonds. In this process, scientists begin with a diamond seed – a tiny piece of a diamond. This seed is positioned in a sealed chamber filled with elements like hydrogen and methane. This chamber gets heated to the highest temperature, generally through microwave technology. This process stimulates the gas and causes a lab-grown diamond to form around the diamond seed.