How to Tell the Difference Between Natural and Synthetic Diamonds

Diamonds are one of the most expensive natural materials in the world, and like all expensive things, mankind constantly seeks to clone a cheaper, mass-produced version. The first synthetic diamond was produced in the 1950s in Stockholm, Sweden. Known by the unromantic term “diamond grit”, synthetic diamonds are largely created for industrial purposes such as drill bits, cutting blades and heat sinks in electronics.

Loose diamonds

Synthetic diamonds are a far cry from natural diamonds, which are the most valuable precious gemstones on earth and are virtually indestructible. Diamonds are traditionally given in an engagement ring, fulfilling the promise that “diamonds are forever”.

How are Natural Diamonds Created?

Natural diamonds are made of carbon, a chemical element which becomes an intensely hard and lustrous stone when put under intense pressure and heat for 1 to 3.3 billion years. Rare and precious, it’s no wonder that the best quality diamonds command the highest prices. When expertly cut with facets, diamonds flash with a bright intensity of light from their inner core, giving them their radiant natural beauty.

How are Synthetic Diamonds Made?

In comparison, synthetic or cultivated diamonds are manufactured in laboratories using artificial processes. The high-pressure high-temperature (HPHT) process attempts to replicate the natural formation of diamonds in a much speedier 10 to 12-week process. This method takes a tiny chip of natural diamond and bathes it in graphite and a metal-based catalyst, causing it to grow.

Synthetic Diamond Hydraulic Press

The second method for making synthetic diamonds is the equally unromantic chemical vapour deposition process (CVD). This again submits a tiny diamond “seed” to a chemical process in a vacuum with hydrogen gas and methane.

Both these processes produce synthetic diamonds that are cheaper but inferior in size and quality to natural diamonds. This is acceptable for manufacturing and technology, but the integrity, romance, value and uniqueness of a natural diamond can never be recreated in a chemical process.

How do Synthetic and Natural Diamonds Compare?

Due to their identical composition, it can be hard even for diamond experts to tell the difference between the best synthetic diamonds and natural diamonds without scientific testing. However, synthetic diamonds have a lower density than real diamonds and they have double refraction, separating the beam of light that passes through, while natural diamonds are singly refractive.

Diamond comparaison

Other differences are the size of diamond. The largest synthetic diamonds are just three carats, but most are two carats. Once cut, they become a single carat. This doesn’t even come close to the largest cut diamonds in the world – the Star of Africa I at 530 carats, or the Star of Africa II at 317 carats.

Why Natural Diamonds are the Best

Many artificial diamonds have a yellow or brown hue due to the irradiation process, the intensity of heat and the use of boron. Natural diamonds are graded according to cut, colour, clarity and carat (size) with the highest quality diamonds being colourless.

Every natural diamond is unique due to tiny inclusions or characteristics which can only be seen under high magnification while synthetic diamonds are perfect. The thought that every natural diamond is a one-of-a-kind creation from Mother Nature gives it special significance.

All these facts are the reason why we only sell natural diamonds. We believe that when you choose a piece of jewellery for a loved one to treasure forever, it should be the very best. While a synthetic diamond may be 20-40% cheaper than a “real” diamond, the saving is hardly offset by what it lacks.

A natural diamond will always be a precious rare gemstone; it will never decrease in value and will always be a wonderful natural creation that took billions of years in the making. When it comes to giving a ring that symbolises your love, a synthetic diamond will never match the real thing.