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A diamond simulant, otherwise known as an imitation diamond, is a kind of gem that has similar characteristics to a traditional diamond. However, it’s important to note that diamond simulants are usually not real gems. 

While they simulate the appearance of natural diamonds, they aren’t, in fact, true stones. Instead, they are often made of materials including glass and cubic zirconia. These materials help them appear virtually indistinguishable from natural stones to the naked eye, but they are atomically different. However, there are still a few key ways you can tell simulant diamonds apart from the real deal.

How to Tell the Difference Between a Natural Diamond and a Diamond Simulant

When you have a simulant diamond, it will appear to closely resemble a natural diamond. But if you look closely and know what you’re looking for, it can be relatively easy to spot the differences between the stone types. Four key elements you can examine when determining whether a stone is a diamond simulant or not include the stone’s hardness, its fire and brilliance, its color, and its clarity.


The hardness of a stone is probably the most important characteristic it can have when you’re trying to determine whether a stone is a simulant or real. This is because true diamonds are one of the hardest materials on Earth. They have a rating of ten on the Mohs scale of hardness, which indicates that diamonds are one of the hardest naturally occurring minerals in known existence.

Natural diamonds, because of their hardness, are incredibly difficult to scratch, and they almost always have near-perfect facets that lend to their beauty. Diamond simulants, on the other hand, are often riddled with external flaws including scratches and chips. They break far easier than natural stones, and the markings left behind on them show just how fragile they are in comparison.

Fire and Brilliance

Diamonds are considered beautiful for many reasons, not the least of which is their fire and brilliance. The fire and brilliance of a diamond can greatly affect its value. 

This fire and brilliance is often determined by the cut quality of any given stone. A real diamond will have a high refractive index that helps it shine more brilliantly. Typically, this number ranges from 2.417 to 2.419 with dispersions of 0.44.

Diamond simulants, on the other hand, have incredibly close refractive indexes and dispersion rates. And because the rates are so close comparatively, the stones often appear to be somewhat lifeless. 

Note that this may not be true of all diamond substitutes as some cubic zirconia and moissanite can have significant amounts of sparkle. This makes them more valuable than other diamond simulants as they more closely resemble true diamonds.


The color of a true diamond is often tinted with yellow or brown as the shades are naturally occurring in real stones. Imitation gems and simulants, on the other hand, are often perfectly colorless. This makes fake stones look much more bright and white when compared to natural gems which can help buyers tell the difference between the two.


The clarity of a simulant diamond will also be much more flawless in appearance than real diamonds. Diamonds will always have unique internal and external characteristics that occur in nature. Lab-grown and simulant diamonds will not have these unique factors because they are developed in a controlled environment.

Note that this doesn’t mean simulant diamonds will always be perfect. They can still contain minor flaws and inconsistencies, but they will be much more uniform and unlike the flaws you will see in a real diamond.

Key Takeaways

Diamond simulants are a great alternative for jewelry shoppers on a budget. They are very beautiful stones with clear coloring, excellent clarity, and a far cheaper price tag than their naturally occurring alternatives. However, keep in mind that these simulant stones will often be more susceptible to damage and less brilliant than true diamonds.

Talk to one of our top-tier jewelry experts today to discuss which stone option would work best for you.