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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.


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Actually there is no confusion. Because the lab diamond it is REAL diamond with same specifications as nature ones. The diamond stimulants - just glass cut to sparkle.


What is Gordon Max selling exactly? As their "diamonds" do sparkle for a long time. Thanks!


Actually, diamond siuntamls are usually CZ and rhinestones. Diamond siuntamls do NOT pass diamond tests because the only simulate the LOOK of a diamond to the naked eye, not the properties. The definition of a diamond simulant is as follows: Diamond simulant has the same meaning as imitation and refers to any material that has the appearance of diamond but does not posess the characteristics, atomic structure, chemical composition or physical properties of natural diamond.


Excellent article. I am facing some of these issues as well.

herve leger keyhole halterdress

I personally am very curious about this subject but was put off by the lack of proper information. Needless to say, your blog has turned me around. I am more than satisfied now.

pólipos endometriales

Hmm it seems like your blog ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so I
guess I'll just sum it up what I wrote and say, I'm thoroughly enjoying your blog.
I too am an aspiring blog blogger but I'm still new to the whole thing. Do you have any helpful hints for beginner blog writers? I'd certainly appreciate


I'm looking to buy a engagement ring without breaking the bank what is the best choice that is closest to a real diamond?

Kathleen Bender

In your opinion, what is the best quality simulated and/or synthetic diamond?


Moissanite vs. CZ:
I have a 2.5 ct. Radiant cut Ziamond. Don't go there. It's just straight CZ; no coating or altering and the cuts in the stone smooth out over the years and the stone begins to look like plastic -- Their settings are nice, but they just put cheap CZs in them. You would do better buying your own setting and then a loose CZ. New Orleans Jewels is the same. I looked into getting a Moissanite to replace the stone and had a lengthy discussion with Charles & Colvard. Once a Moissanite (even the Forever Brilliant sub-brand) gets over about 1.5 carats, it is too yellow to compare to a diamond. The rounds and cushions are better than any other cut, but still noticeably yellow. If you don't mind having a fake that compares to a j-k or l-m-n diamond, go for Moissanite. My reason for wearing a fake is simple. Although I want a large diamond on my hand, I have always found more important things to spend our money on. My husband said he would replace my real 1/2 carat diamond with a 1 carat on our 10th anniversary and the cost of a VVS H-I stone was so high, I said: Get me a CZ in a good gold setting and I'll be happy. Let's take that money and buy a boat for the family. So that's what we did. I have never regretted it, but am still looking for something to replace my Ziamond stone with (they have replaced the stone twice in 10 years).


Thanks for the explanation but i would like to find out more about Nano Simulated Carbon Diamond(nscd diamond)is it a fake also? i'm about purchasing this from a seller. your help will be appreciated. Thanks

Eva Holtzer

I am admiring Spektralyte "Lab-Created Diamond" at a shop in Sarasota, FL. They are the exclusive Distributor of this product and call them Created Gems II. After reading your blog, I am wondering if they are really CZ's. What do you think of "Spektralyte" and if it is CZ is it a better product than one can purchase in a dept. store?


What's the truth about simulant diamonds NSCD? Its a good quality?


Hi. Useful article. Do you know anything about Agape simulant diamonds? They say they do not use cz or you know what they use and is it worth the money? Thanks

diamond lover

Great post! I love this blog, keep up the awesome work here!


Hi, thank you for the extremely insightful info. I noticed many of the post/comments are a few years old. I'd like to know your thoughts on the best diamond stimulants in today's market and if you can provide a few names? Also I'm looking into purchasing an agape 3k emerald cut diamond for 299. What are your thoughts on agape? The company informed me that their stimulants are not cz and for proprietary reasons they can't reveal the material composition. 300 isn't a large sum, but I don't want it to have shine, luster , scratch issues in future. Thx in advance.


Out of all popular gems, i am fall in love with moissanite. Its cheaper than diamond but looks beautiful as well.

Harjinder Paaji

Great and a very useful blog for me. I am very much benefited after reading this blog. Thank you so much for sharing.

Tasha - Jewelsinme

I have enjoyed reading all of this information. I'm just lurking around, while doing side glances at my beautiful moissy. I was in the same boat with everyone else wondering what to do while wanting a large stone. Granted, I still spent about $1,200 for a 1 carat halo moissanoite in 14k white gold, but it is to die for. I don't even try to tell people it's a diamond. I'm so proud of myself for getting it, making this decision, researching it, I tell everyone it's a moissanite. And why THEY should get one too haha. I come across as obnoxious I'm sure.

For the color, in an over-cast day, it does have a slightly different hue. People call them moody. Well guess what? I"m moody too, just gives me something in common lol. It's still not an ugly color. Just a slight off color, but it still sparkles so brightly, I feel great just looking at it.

In doors it has a slightly different look sometimes. Sort of looks wet. Like it glistens instead of shines.

Those times make up for about 15% of my moissy entertainment though. The rest of the time it just looks blinding white, and be-so-jealous-of-me gorgeous. I am in love and never feel the need to buy another diamond again honestly.

Although, the little bitty diamonds around my ring compliment it nicely. So thank you, Diamonds, for that! :D


I love this Topic because i learned a lot. I made fun with reading these comments!


Which is better? Moissanite vs Diamond vs Cubic Zirconia?

Denny's Comment

Which is better is judgement issue and the answer depends on your shopping requirements, especially price. Just be sure you know what you are purchasing and whether the price difference is worth it to you.

Debbie Dawson

Hi. I've been looking for a new ring to where when traveling.
I have found a company, name is Vancaro.
What do you think about their products?

D Dawson

Denny's comment

All I know about this company is what I see when I Google the name. Their products are too cheap to be quality gemstones or metals. You are going to get an item that is probably worth their low price but do not expect them to be durable or the quality implied by the color enhanced photos on their website.

Jean Harris

Tell me about the "Arctic Star" sold in the state of Utah with a lifetime gaurentee. Customers swear it never clouds. Jeweler says its costs 699.00$ a carat. It is advertised as a diamond simulate.
Thank you

Denny's comment

Diamond simulants are not diamonds and generally are CZs with different branding. You can buy CZs for a few dollars a carat so you have to ask what you are getting different that is worth the 100 times increase in price.

What I find a little troubling is that "Arctic Star" is also the name of a diamond exploration company in Northern Canada. Diamond simulant companies do everything they can to confuse consumers by using the word "diamond" or in this case using the name of a diamond exploration company in their advertising even though they are not selling diamonds.

rosie leong

What do you think of Gordon Max simulated diamonds? Are they the top end of such diamonds? They claim to have a hardness of 9 and D colour, of 1FA clarity?

Denny's comment

We only sell GIA graded natural diamonds so have no experience with this brand of diamond simulants or their man made diamonds. These are different products so do not confuse them or their advertising claims.

Jan Akervall

I just bought a ring from Agape for My wife, and thought it was syntetiskt diamonds. After reading through the description that came with the product U got suspicious its actually CZ. Please clarify

Denny's comment

Agape advertises itself as a simulated diamond so it is definitely not a synthetic (man-made) diamond.


Thanks for sharing this kind information this is really very unique information. I like your post,it is too informative and thank you for share.

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