Blue Diamond Sells for $7.98 Million
2.28-carat Diamond Discovered at State Park

Synthetic Diamonds or Diamond Simulants: Why the Confusion?

Syntheticdiamondyellow There seems to be a great deal of confusion about the words man-made, synthetic, simulated, and simulant as they related to diamonds.  I get regular questions about the differences from clients and visitors to my blog and website.  In addition, I see many articles written online that have added further confusion by incorrectly using the various terminologies.

One of the reasons for this confusion is that many of the companies that are selling fake diamonds purposely use misleading terminology in the descriptions of their products.  Many marketers work very hard to not say what their product really is (cubic zirconia for example) while making every effort to imply their product is just a different form of diamond.

The distinction starts with a basic fact:  Diamonds are diamonds and all other materials are not diamonds.  Diamond is one of the three natural forms (amorphous carbon, graphite, diamond) of the element carbon and has the following physical properties:

  • Hardness of 10 as measured on the Mohs hardness scale
  • Density averages 3.51
  • Cleavage in 4 directions
  • Refractive index is 2.4
  • Dispersion is 0.044
  • Luster index is 17.2%

There are two types of diamonds: natural diamonds and synthetic diamonds.

Other terms used to describe synthetic diamonds include cultivated, cultured, man-made, Some of the brands of synthetic diamond include Apollo, Genesis, Adia Diamonds, New Age Diamonds, Tairus, and LifeGem, and Chatham

While natural diamond is typically used for jewelry, the lower quality stones are used for industrial purposes such as saw blades and drill tips.  Most synthetic diamonds are used for industrial purposes but as the brand name synthetics improve their products, increasing numbers of synthetic diamonds are now used for jewelry.

Diamond simulants are materials that look like diamonds but do not have the physical properties of diamonds.  These diamond simulants, also known as simulated diamonds, can be made by nature (white sapphire, quartz) or man-made (cubic zirconia, moissanite, glass, yttrium aluminum garnet).

The manufacturer and retailers of moissanite typically market it as a unique material, not to be confused with diamond.  While they often compare moissanite’s characteristics with diamond, the advertising is very specific that the material is moissanite.  That is not often the case with cubic zirconia.

Cubiczirconia Much of the confusion in recent years stems from the marketing of the various brands of cubic zirconia.  Every brand touts itself as the best diamond simulant while usually avoiding admitting the material is cubic zirconia.  As a result, the shopper who reads the advertising about these brands is not sure what material they are considering and often confuses them with synthetic diamond.  Just because cubic zirconia is man-made and therefore synthetic, does not make it synthetic diamond.  However, when you read the marketing literature on the various brands of cubic zirconia, it is obvious that those companies try to confuse shoppers into thinking they are some form of diamond.

Some of the more recognized brands of cubic zirconia are:

It is easy for a gemologist to determine the difference between diamonds (natural or synthetic) and diamonds simulants (fakes) but it is not so easy to determine the true type of material from the marketing ads.  I hope that the discussion above will help to sort through the misleading marketing descriptions.  It is important for consumers to understand the terminology so they can make an informed decision on what stone is correct for their particular requirements.

If you have questions about particular synthetic diamond or diamond simulant products, please leave a comment below.  I will research the produce and respond to your comments with whatever assistance I can provide.  If you have a question, chances are other consumers have the same question and we want to help shoppers avoid making expensive mistakes whether they are buying diamonds or diamond simulants.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Freckles, First, let me confess that I am not an expert in this area and I'm sure people like Denny can offer more experience. My company does web design and business consulting and we recently took on a Diamond Hybrid distributor - won't plug them here - but we've taken a good look at scientfically measured comparisons. Obviously CZ is the low end; I believe Moissanite to be middle ground given some tendancy to discolor but otherwise is a great product. The better Diamond Hybrids that use an ADT process appear to be getting closer and closer to the standard of a mined diamond. For people seeking truly "green" and "conflict free" these make a very reasonable choice - and I know Stuller does carry these. With your father-in-law in the business, you are well aware that a simulant is not at all the same thing as a diamond. But my company does believe that the better quality diamond hybrids are frequently better cut and are getting close to the "wear" and "feel" of mined diamonds. Best of luck with your purchase.


I have just purchased a 2 ct Asha Simulated diamond. It looks gorgeous and white until I get it into sunlight and it shows up a range of pale blue to gray to green. Is this supposed to happen? I have a small genuine diamond to compare the color with and it is very noticeable.



I too am looking for a man made diamond but not a cz....What site should I go to where I can get an amazing diamond thats not fake looking?

Have you heard of is this a cz too?

Denny's Response

The site you mentioned does not tell you what their “simulated diamonds” are other than to say they are not Moissanite. When some one advertises a stone as simulated diamond and says it is not Moissanite, it is usually some version of cubic zirconia. They say the refractive index is 2.18 to 2.23 which is extremely close to CZ, which is usually listed as 2.15 to 2.18.

A good rule of thumb is if they do not say what the material is assume it is cubic zirconia. Sellers of Moissanite are proud to say it is Moissanite. Sellers of synthetic diamonds are proud to say it is a man-made diamond. Sellers of cubic zirconia use vague descriptions and marketing hype to hide the fact that they are selling CZ.

Back to your original question about where to buy a man made (synthetic) diamond. You must be looking for synthetic diamonds, not simulated diamonds. We only sell natural diamonds so do not have recommendations for retailers where you can purchase synthetic diamonds.


I was wondering if you have any info. regarding Ive read some of the posts and you mentioned that a hybrid diamond might be a better choice than a CZ or Moissanite. Im looking for the stone that will be the most durable and look most like a real diamond. Is the MiaDonna a real hybrid?

Denny's Response
Thanks for the question about MiaDonna Diamond Hybrid. I had not heard of that brand before so I checked out their web site. Here are my observations:

1) They classify themselves as a “diamond simulant” which means the material is not a natural or synthetic diamond.

2) They say they are not CZ or Moissanite but they do not tell you want the material really is.

3) The term “diamond hybrid” is most commonly used for the material that is produced by Diamond Nexus Labs. Since the description of the material at MiaDonna reads very similar to the description of the material at Diamond Nexus Labs, I would assume that MiaDonna is simply another brand of the Diamond Nexus Labs material given that Diamond Lexus says their process is proprietary. Diamond Nexus Labs has created many blogs, web sites, consumer reviews and other marketing materials claiming its uniqueness but test show that it is simply cubic zirconia with diamond “dust” impregnating the surface.

4) I found one review of MiaDonna diamond hybrids that said the material is a form of amorphous diamond, which is man-made and composed of a multitude of tiny diamond crystals all aligned together. However, the Asha® is the only diamond simulant in the world that employs a patent pending form of "Amorphous Diamond." If the MiaDonna is another brand of Asha® or Diamond Nexus Labs® they should say so rather than playing this “guess what I am” game.

5) I have not personal experience with any of these companies but am always concerned by marketing claims like “optically and physically virtually identical to a mined diamond” because the word “virtually” is a matter of opinion. Some could argue that glass, cubic zirconia, quartz, white sapphire, etc. are virtually like diamond too.


Hi,I find that Diamonds and diamond stimulants are too expensive. Some diamond stimulants are more expensive than natural diamonds. Is it a good idea to purchase russian brilliants, Carat, or Diamond Nexus Lab stones? I am looking for something that looks like a real diamond and will continue to look that way. I am also looking to get a larger size... around 3ct.Does anyone know enough about these 3 companies to give me an answer?

Jay Lina

Hi, My bf wants to get me a 2ct diamond ring but I think it's a waste of money since marriage is not about the ring but about the love. I would rather get one of those Russian stimulants, Carat stones, or Diamond Nexus lab stones. Has anyone seen them? Do they really look like a natural diamond to the naked eye as their website suggests? Will they really maintain their fire and clarity for a lifetime? I really would like to know from someone else who knows more about these stones than I do. At first, I thought they were diamond stimulants but some of the blogs here say they are CZs. Now, when I go to the departments stores I see CZs.... large ones for $20 or $30.... they look cheap and are obviously fake. Are the Russian brilliants, Carat stones, and Diamond Nexus lab stones the same as these cloudy cheap looking deparment store stones? If I have one on will it be obvious to the naked eye that I am wearing a fake?

Thank you

Denny's response
It is certainly your choice as to do about a ring. As you mentioned, the ring is not the marriage so there is no real need for a ring at all. If you do want to wear a wedding ring, you have to decide what style want. Some of our clients get diamond bands which are less expensive than a large solitaire. Other clients get colored gemstones (sapphire, ruby, garnet, etc) with small diamonds, which is a lower price way to go.

My one caution with going with a large cubic zirconia is that if you ever do want to get a diamond, you might not be able to afford that size and people might notice that you have a smaller "rock" on your finger. We have seen this happen to several couples who started with such a big "fake" stone that they never could get close in size with a real diamond.

While I can claim to be a diamond expert, I am not a diamond simulant expert because I have not seen the various brands of products you mentioned. Since those stones are basically free, I would focus more on the mountings they come in. Even a real diamond looks "fake" if it is put in a low quality mounting. On the flip side, a well cut cubic zirconia can look nice in a quality mounting. With the exception of Moissanite that advertises it self as a diamond alternative, most diamond simulants are some form of cubic zirconia.

It is hard for shoppers like yourself to know which brand might be better because almost all the "testimonials" you find on their web sites or on other web sites are planted comments by the company promoting the brands. You will probably get your best advice from real people who have worn the various brands for several years to see what happens in terms of scratches, color change, etc.

The diamond hybrids that use the ADT(Amorphous Diamond Treatment) process are intriguing in concept but without seeing them in person and hearing how stable and durable they are over time, I just can not make any recommendations


Which is a better Moissanite or Diamond hybrid?


My question is about a local jewelry store, Krissie's Created Gems. They sell a product that they call spektralyte. They call it a lab-created diamond and gem alternative. I'm having a hard time finding out anything about it, and it would be a great help if you could shine any light on the subject. Thanks.

Denny's Response
I did a quick Google search for Spektralyte and only found references related to Krissie’s web site. The web site only describes Spektralyte as “a beautiful lab-created diamond and gem alternative whose beauty is matched only by its affordability. All of our stones replicate D-rated diamonds (perfect clarity and cut).” When a retailer does not disclose the composition of its diamond simulant material, a safe bet is to assume it is cubic zirconia. While no gem has “perfect clarity and cut,” this inference together with the claim of “D-rated” further points to cubic zirconia. If you assume this material is cubic zirconia, I do not think you will be disappointed.



My question is simple, which is the best diamond "alternative". I've heard do many different names, the diamond hybrid, moissanite, diamond alternative, yadda yadda. They're all made in a lab, but some are made from diamond material, I don't know. There's even one site that says moissanite tends to have more of a yellowish brownish tint to it and can't be white. It also said that the best choice is a Diamond Hybrid.

I just need guidelines in order to turn to the best one. I don't want to give money to the awful mining overseas but I also want the best "alternative" I can get (and hopefully it's cheaper as well).

Any simple information you can give me or straight forward sites you can offer would be a HUGE help!! :)

Thank you so much!

Account Deleted

Im very much confused on what diamond to buy either synthetic or the natural one.. May I know what is the differece between the Two? and what instruments are used to detect synthetic diamond stones?


Hello Dennis, I have enjoyed reading the comments posted here, as well as your very informative remarks. I may be unique among your posters in that I had a real diamond and "upgraded" to a moissanite.

I know that you are here to sell diamonds and not moissanite, but since some of your posters have expressed some question about the endurance of moissanite, I hope you will allow me to relate my experience with moissanite, which has been very favorable.

To give this some context and perspective, my original diamond was .50 carat VVS1 D stone. Unfortunately, it was either intentionally or mistakenly exchanged with a lower quality stone (.50 VS2 L) when I took it in to a jeweler for a crown repair. It was never recovered.

That experience rather tainted my desire for a real diamond, especially one of such quality. In the wake of that, we opted to replace the entire ring and mounted a beautiful 7mm (1.25 carat equivalent) moissanite. Every so often I see a slight yellowish tint but the fire and sparkle it eminates more than makes up for it. I wear it day and night and have done so for the past 8 years. It has never changed color, sparkle or luster and I receive compliments on my ring constantly. I couldn't be happier with a moissanite.

I really appreciate that you have this forum to educate people on the varying diamond simulants. If I had one suggestion, it would be to also advise people of the importance of having their diamond certification (if they purchase a real diamond) on hand and verify everything before turning it over to any jeweler.

Thanks again for this forum, and carry on!


Can you recommend a good source for synthetic diamond wedding sets? My husband and I want to upgrade my rings after many years together, but between college tuition, home improvements, and a blasted economy, a "real" diamond just won't work. I want something substantial, 2 ct. center or 2.5 ct center - a full wedding set and a high profile. I THOUGHT I had found something perfect on Diamond Nexxus, UNTIL I found out more information. Is Moissanite the way to go? Help!


Someone briefly posted a comment about Lannyte, but I did not see a response. I have heard that Lannyte is a good simulant for those who cannot afford a diamond. It is harder than a CZ but less expensive than moissanite. Any thoughts? Plus, I am looking for an alternative to a fancy yellow diamond and I think that CZ's look "fake" in yellow.

Denny's Response

I would suggest you consider a yellow sapphire as a beautiful yellow gemstone.

tungsten wedding bands

I also noticed that most of the companies who produce synthetic diamonds have extensive wait lists for customers wanting their white colored synthetics,i could say that you have a nice blog those diamond was totally elegant.

by: rhianne


Thanks so much for the information. I have come across this brand called Brilliant, in London, but couldn't find any info about what material they use to make diamond simulants. Do you have any thoughts? Many thanks.


Hi your article was very informative, but i have a question about one particular retailer in london called brilliant diamonds, i have been in the store and when i spoke to the sales assitant she was very confusing, i asked her if the stones were cz or lab grown diamonds and she said they were lab grown diamonds but they start off and cz and then technology is added which seems very confusing so i asked her again and she said they were lab grown diamonds however when i read the website the wording says that they are simulated diamonds the website is
could you please clarify whether these are lab grown or cz

Denny's Reply

Thanks for visiting my blog at and your question about simulated diamonds.

The website you mentioned says the stones they sell are simulated diamonds so you should assume they are just some variety of cubic zirconia (CZ). The other common diamond simulant is Moissanite and retailers selling that product are quick to point out that it is Moissanite. It is only the retailers selling CZ that try to avoid saying they sell CZ and use carefully worded marketing phrases to make it sound better or different than it is.

Cubic zirconia is grown in a laboratory so don't get confused by the term "lab grown." If the person said they are "lab grown diamonds" they are incorrect because those are synthetic diamonds, not simulated diamonds.

Once again, if the advertising says "simulated" then the material is generally either CZ or Moissanite and if they do not say it is Moissanite, then you should assume it is CZ.


My boyfriend and I have been looking into DNL (Diamond Nexus Labs) because he wants to propose soon but wants a substantial ring. I told I don't mind if it's fake as long as no one can tell. Do you know how good the quality is with DNL? Thank you!



I purchased a Lannyte "diamond simulant" about three years ago. $250 for a 2 carat pear shape. I had several jewelers compliment me on the quality of the cut. The stones have a lifetime guarantee against chipping/cracking/breaking. After these three years I took my ring back to have the stone replaced because it indeed has little chips on the face, as well as numerous scratches. The setting and shipping costs are my responsibility. Overall it is nice not having to worry about an enormous expensive gem on my finger... and I can replace it for little cost if it becomes damaged. Please be aware that the jeweler you purchase the stone from has to be the place where it is replaced and reset.


Denny - sincerely, many thanks for the most useful blog on this topic on the entire web. You've probably saved me a dozen research hours.

I have a couple of questions regarding moissanite, as for cost reasons (whilst not completely limited financially) I think I may go for a 6.5mm(1 carat weight) brilliant round cut stone, which I intend to set in platinum in the Tiffany's Bezet Round style (where the girdle is gripped with a round platinum band, showing the bottom of the diamond). Your comments about its superior durability helped me decide that this may be a better option than a 'coated' CZ from Diamond Labs.

1. Are there any online retailers whom you believe to be particularly reputable for quality of cut (which I understand is all important)? I am based in the UK.

2. The only concern that I have about this material is the dullness and lack of opacity that other posters have mentioned. Is this a valid concern from your experience?

3. Is there a practical difference between the durability of coated CZ (which I believe rates Moh 9.0) and moissanite (which I believe is Moh 9.5)?

Denny's Response:
1) Since I am a diamond retailer in the United States, I do not have any recommendations for Moissanite retailers in the UK.

2) Since we sell diamonds and not Moissanite, I can not offer any have any personal judgements on that material's appearance relative to diamond. I can only present information I find on researching the subject.

3) While the Moh hardness scale has numbers like 9 and 10, the hardness of a 10 is actually four times as hard as a 9. Therefore a 9.5 rating is probably twice as hard as a 9, which makes it significantly harder.

Sylvia Hall

I hope you can help me out. I recently purchased a "diamond simulant" ring from CARAT* in London, England. As I was in the store and saw the ring, I was very impressed with the similarity to my real diamond ring which I was wearing. I was assured absolutely by the sales assistant that CARAT* stones are not CZs, but are lab created "mineral ores" which are somehow processed to look like real diamonds. I have read that the stones this company sells are CZs and other articles have said they are not CZs. I hope that I have not been misled and paid a lot of money for a stone I was told was NOT a CZ. Could you please clarify? Thank you in advance.

Denny's Response:
As the web site notes, CARAT* is a brand of CZ.


hi.. I would like to verify if Russian Diamond or Russian simulated diamond is also categorised as CZ? Thanks!

Denny's Response:
As the web page explains, Russian Brilliant is a brand of CZ. Since Russia is one of the primary rough diamond producers, there are "Russian" diamonds but my guess is that you are asking about Russian Brilliants or a similar name for a brand of CZ.


According to Diamond Nexus Labs their stones ARE NOT cubic Zirconia. Here is a transcript of an online session I had with DNL:

deanna.nelson: Hello, welcome to Diamond Nexus Labs. My name is DeAnna, how may I assist you today?
Visitor: Are your diamonds Cubic Zirconia?
deanna.nelson: No they are not, a CZ is a two element stone made up of Oxygen and Zircon where as our stones are made up of an element of Carbon plus eight other elements.
Visitor: Is there a specific name for the material your diamonds are created from? I'm just researching to determine the best investment.
deanna.nelson: Our stones are called a diamond simulant. If you would like to go to this web page you can, it explains what our stones are made our of and it also compares them to a CZ

I checked out their site and found that DNL stones are made of many more elements than a CZ. Here is their info on the composition of the DNL stones:

Chemical Composition:
CZ or cubic zirconia contains just two elements: zirconium and oxygen. Diamond Nexus gemstones are comprised of (in order of atomic weight):
Carbon (C)
Sulfur (S)
Iron (Fe)
Calcium (Ca)
Cobalt (Co)
Nickel (Ni)
Yttrium (Y)
Zirconium (Zr)
Gadolinium (Gd)
Hafnium (Hf)

Although there is Zirconium in the composition there are many more elements than a CZ. As a result DNL stones are diamond simulants, accoring to DNL.

Just wanted to clear up the DNL and CZ issue. This blog states that DNL is a brand of CZ. I wanted to go to the source and find out.

Diamond Solitaire Rings

Men made diamonds are in huge demand, and if you have proper knowledge about the Diamonds then anyone will get confused as it is really very difficult to differentiate between men made diamonds and natural diamonds specially for the people who are not enough educated about diamonds.

Jayne Archery

Hi, i bought a pair of Gordon Max Stimulated Diamond earring this week (US$1140 for 1.9 ct each, pearl shaped stones set in 18K plated gold).

The folks at the shop were unable to answer my questions on the refractive index of these 'diamonds' and suggested that i check out their website.

You mentioned that with the exception of Moissanite that advertises it self as a diamond alternative, most diamond simulants are some form of cubic zirconia.

Denny’s Reply:

Whether you paid too much or not depends on how much you like the earrings. From a material standpoint, cubic zirconia only costs a few dollars for two-carat size polished stones. If the mountings are plated and not even true 18 karat gold, they are actually costume jewelry. If you had asked if $140 were too much to pay I would have probably said yes so with a price tag of $1140, the answer would definitely be that you paid too much. Of course, I base my opinion solely on the information you provided and without seeing the items.

If you wanted cubic zirconia earrings, you would be better off buying the loose stones and having them set in real gold mountings so the mountings would at least be durable and keep their shine. Pear-shaped, faceted white cubic zirconia measuring 12 x 8 mm (two-carat diamond size) cost about $10 each. There is nothing wrong with wearing cubic zirconia earrings but there is something wrong with paying too much for them.

If your hypothesis is true, can i ask for your opinion: Is the price i've paid for the pair of CZ too high? should i have gone for Moissanites instead?

heart diamond rings

more common gemstones used as jewelries are the diamonds, but diamonds are expensive and not everyone afford to buy jewelries made of diamonds. Thus, jewelries producers are slowly moving towards using mystic topaz gemstones to produce jewelries like engagement ring because topaz is cheap. jewelries are expensive and luxurious item, but with more innovation of jewelries using other gemstones, jewelries are now made affordable.

The comments to this entry are closed.