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Don’t be fooled by the rocks

Diamonds come in different ‘sparkles’, so it’s imperative to know if what you’re buying is Lab-grown, cubic zirconia, moissanite or natural

Team LoveDiamonds by Karina

The diamond industry has been booming for decades, and there are many reasons why. Here are five things that will continue to drive demand for diamonds.


A lab-created diamond is “grown” inside a lab, using cutting-edge technology that replicates the natural diamond-growing process. The result is a man-made diamond that is chemically, physically, and optically the same as those grown beneath the Earth’s surface. Lab-created diamonds are eco-friendly, ethically sourced, and competitively priced.

There are two processes used to create lab-grown diamonds:

  • The first process is called Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD). A “seed crystal”, which is a very small diamond seed, is placed in a small chamber. The chamber is then filled with gases that are heated. Once the gases reach the right temperature, layers of carbon begin to form on the seed crystal. This causes the seed to grow and create a square-shaped diamond crystal.
  • The second process is called High-Pressure High Temperature (HPHT). This is meant to replicate the earth’s process of forming natural diamonds. In this process, natural graphite is placed in a large machine that crushes it with extreme pressure and temperatures. Under these conditions, the graphite turns into a diamond.
  • You cannot tell the difference between a CVD and HPHT diamond with the naked eye. Both methods create a real diamond that is chemically and physically similar to natural diamonds. When it comes to grading Lab-grown Diamonds, the same 4 Cs: Colour, Cut, Clarity, and Carat are applied.

Cubic Zirconia (CZ)

Cubic zirconia is a man-made mineral made of zirconium dioxide. CZs can appear to be very much like diamonds, but they have very different mineral structures. Cubic zirconias have been found in nature in small amounts, but the vast majority used in jewellery are man-made in a lab.

The simplest way to tell if a gem is a cubic zirconia or a real diamond is to inspect the stone for wear and colour. Since diamonds are harder than almost any other substance, diamonds will not scratch or wear down – in fact, they will scratch other surfaces.

If you have a microscope or magnifying glass, look at the very edges of the facets of the stone. A diamond’s facet edges will usually look incredibly sharp and precise. If the stone looks abraded or worn down it is likely not a genuine diamond.

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You should also look at the colour of the light as it enters and escapes the surface of the stone. If you turn both a diamond and a CZ upside down, the bottom of a diamond will give off the entire rainbow of colour reflections, whereas CZs usually have more exclusively orange and blue flashes. This is because cubic zirconias and diamonds have different refractive indexes.

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Moissanite is a naturally occurring mineral called silicon carbide, which is very rare and can’t be found in nature large enough to be cut into even a one-carat gemstone. For this reason, the moissanite used in fine jewellery is created in a lab - unlike diamonds, which are naturally occurring.

The biggest advantage of moissanite over diamonds is the price, for moissanite is considerably cheaper at approximately one-tenth the cost of a mined diamond of equal size and quality.

Diamonds are known for their durability. They are the hardest, naturally-occurring mineral and can withstand almost any kind of wear and tear. However, moissanite doesn’t fall far behind. Moissanite is the second hardest to diamonds on the Mohs hardness scale.

The most effective way to tell moissanite apart from a diamond is to use a loupe to look through the top, or crown, of the jewel, at an angle. You will see two, slightly-blurred lines that indicate double refraction, an inherent quality of moissanite.


Most natural diamonds are billions of years old and were formed in the Earth’s mantle when under high pressure and temperature carbon-containing fluids dissolved various minerals. Volcanic eruptions over centuries led to diamonds rising to higher surfaces and today some of the biggest diamond mines are in parts of Africa and Australia.

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The hardest known natural material, diamonds make excellent gemstones because they can be scratched only by other diamonds and therefore maintain their polish. This makes them perfect for daily wear and is probably why diamonds are popular as engagement and wedding rings.

The dispersion of white light into spectral colours is the primary gemological characteristic of diamonds and four characteristics, known informally as the four Cs, are common descriptors: carat (equal to 0.2 grams), cut (graded as per proportion, symmetry and polish), colour (close to white or colourless; the intensity of hue for fancy diamonds), and clarity (how free from inclusions).