Diamond Alternatives Demystified
You're in the market for a diamond ring and you want to buy a conflict free diamond alternative. You get online to find the best alternatives based on your criteria, and you find yourself quickly becoming confused or frustrated. You are not alone!
First, there are so many adjectives used for diamond alternatives; lab grown, lab created, simulated, synthetic, and CZ. And second, something you may have guessed pretty quickly, most of the information out there is written by companies who are trying to sell you their products, and you have to dig for the information you're seeking.
For full disclosure, I also sell diamond alternatives, however, this post is not a marketing ploy, but my attempt to pass along information that is easy to understand in the hopes that I can help you make an informed decision.
Synthetic Diamonds and Lab Grown Diamonds
Lab created diamonds
Just like mined diamonds, lab created diamonds are made of pure carbon. Genuine diamonds are formed in the earth under high temperature and high pressure, and growth occurs over 1 billion to 3.3 billion years. Lab created diamonds are grown in a lab from seeds or crystals of genuine diamonds, and it takes about 5 days to create a 5mm diamond. There are 2 different methods used, HTHP, a high pressure process, and CVD, a chemical vapor deposition process.
If you're looking for an affordable diamond alternative, lab created diamonds may not be for you. Their cost is only about 10% - 15% less than a minded diamond.
The companies I found who create lab grown diamonds:
If you want more information about lab created diamonds, click here.
Like lab created diamonds, moissanite is grown in a lab from crystals. But, unlike lab created diamonds, moissanite is made of silicon carbon, SiC. SiC is a rare, naturally occurring mineral that was discovered by Henri Moissan in 1893. The processed used to create a moissanite gemstone is similar to the process used when creating diamonds. A moissanite crystal is grown under high heat and pressure.
Charles & Colvard had an exclusive patent on creating moissanite gemstones until September 2015 when their patent ended. The companies I found who create moissanite:
For more information about moissanite, click here.
Simulated Diamonds or Cubic Zirconia
Simulated diamonds, better known as cubic zirconia, are man made in a lab, but are not grown from crystals, rather synthesized from the cubic crystalline form of zirconium dioxide.
Cubic zirconia is a wonderful and extremely affordable alternative to a diamond or moissanite. Because of it's low cost and close visual likeness of a diamond, it has remained an economically important competitor to the diamond since it's commercial production began in 1976.
To produce cubic zirconia, baddeleyite (ZrO2 ) is heated to about 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit causing the mineral to become isometric. This is a temporary condition, so a stabilizer is added during the cooling process. It measures 8.5 on the mohs scale of hardness making it quite durable.
In my search for manufacturers of cubic zirconia, I found pages and pages of companies who resell looses stones or in their ready made jewelry, but only a couple who actually manufacture it. I'm sure there are more companies than I found but they're very difficult to find under all the marketing by companies who sell it:
If you want more information about cubic zirconia, click here.