In today's diamond market, private manufacturers and collectors alike are finding ways to keep up with the never-ending demand for diamonds. One of the major solutions has been the creation of synthetic diamonds that have been injected into the market in the past five years with relative success.

Substitute, or synthetic, diamonds make up a large portion of the gem market. Providing customers with one of the rarest gems in the world at lower prices, it is no surprise why.

This section will discuss several diamond alternatives, how to tell the fakes from the originals, and how to ensure that the diamond you have purchased is guaranteed to be real.

Comparing Natural, Substitute, and Synthetic Diamonds

Natural diamonds are made of carbon, which becomes crystallized under extreme pressure and heat under the earth’s surface. These conditions create a gem that is, pound for pound, the hardest material known to man. This strength, along with a certain set of characteristics specific to diamonds, can be used to verify authenticity.

Diamonds simulants, or imitation diamonds, on the other hand, are gems that are mass produced, both for industrial and decorative uses. It is the go-to jewel for everyone who wants a diamond at a much lower cost. Listed below are the materials used to make synthetic diamonds:

Cubic zirconia: Cubic zirconia is a laboratory-produced gem – the cubic crystalline form of zirconium dioxide (ZrO2). Commonly referred to as CZ, it characteristically has more sparkle than a true diamond. Many consumers believe its flawlessness adds to its artificiality. Nevertheless because of its durability and low cost, CZ remains an important competitor of diamonds. Cubic zirconia comes in all the colors of natural rare colored diamonds, making it a flexible material for use in jewelry.

Moissanite: This substance has a longer history than cubic zirconia, but its role as a diamond substitute was only initiated in the 1990s. The gem was first found naturally in 1893 by a French scientist named Henri Moissan as he was studying meteor samples from a crater in Arizona. The material had a striking resemblance to diamonds and was relatively rare. By the 1990s, scientists had begun to create the compound in laboratories to make use of its captivating characteristics. A common misconception is that the moissanite is a "fake diamond," but it is actually a jewel in itself, totally independent of diamonds and just as rare. It should be noted, however, that diamonds are seen as more traditional and command a higher price than moissanite.

Synthetic carbon diamonds: Synthetic carbon diamonds are more or less authentic, however these diamonds are manmade. Although synthetic diamonds have been available since the 1960s, the earliest made stones were only of industrial quality and were more commonly used in the creation of machinery and other gadgets. More recently, laboratories have been able to make diamonds of jewelry-grade that pass GIA standards.

How to Spot a Fraud

With the lines between synthetic and natural diamonds already unclear, some disreputable organizations have decided to take advantage of the potential confusion and sell synthetic or fake diamonds at authentic prices.

This has crippled more than one businessman in the past few years, and we do not want it to happen to you. There are several ways to ensure that you do not get tricked and that the product you receive is exactly what you have paid for.

Top ten tips to avoid fraud:

1.    Work with Reputable Jewelers: Your jeweler should have extensive knowledge about the diamonds they are selling. Feel free to ask as many questions as you deem necessary to understand what you are buying.

2.    Check Setting Quality: Gems that are rare and costly will be set in materials equally as valuable. The placement and setting will also be secure.

3.    Hardness: Diamonds are the hardest material known to man, and while it is not impossible for a diamond to have some damage; any scratches will make it suspicious. The hardness of diamonds means that they will not be damaged by sandpaper, so rub some across the surface and check for scratches.

4.    Facet Junctions: Due to the hardness of diamonds, it is possible to make sharp, straight facet junctions. Softer or rounded facet junctions are typical of simulated diamonds.

5.    Fog Test: Breathe onto your diamond and the resulting fog should vanish rapidly. Fake diamonds will stay foggy for a longer time.

6.    Transparency Test: Diamonds have a high "refractive index," meaning light sharply bends when passing through them. Test this by placing the stone upside down over a printed text. If the text is not legible, you should question the stone’s authenticity.

7.    Perfection: No two diamonds are the same. Inclusions help the buyer know that the diamond is real. Flawless diamonds are extremely rare so the price should match the perfection!

8.    Specific Gravity: A diamond has a specific gravity of 3.52, which is lower than the specific gravity of most synthetics. If you compare a diamond to a simulant of the same dimensions and cut, most simulants weigh more. For example, cubic zirconia weighs approximately 55% more than diamonds for the same shape and size. Use a carat or gram scale to compare the stone in question to a real diamond.

9.    Thermal Conductivity: Real stones disperse heat quickly. Thermal conductivity tests take about 30 seconds and are often done free of charge.

10.    Certificate: Ask for a certificate. More details on certificates will follow in point 3.3 below.

* Keeping all of this in mind should ensure that your investments remain valuable and that your assets remain secure and wisely used.

Diamond Certification: Conflict-Free Diamonds

One of the shadier and more tragic aspects of the diamond history is the emergence of conflict diamonds. With the rise of large scale commercial diamond mining in South Africa, local warlords and rebel groups have begun to take advantage of the situation for their benefit.

Within years of mines being set up, some were forcibly seized by terrorist groups and rebels, thereby controlling the output of diamonds nearly exclusively. These diamonds are sold, and the profits are then used to purchase supplies and weaponry for these groups.

This situation has led to millions of deaths due to conflicts over territory and control. The violence surrounding these mines have become so intense that the diamonds mined from these locations have been aptly named "blood diamonds."

In addition to the chaos, the workers forced to mine these diamonds are often working without basic necessities and safety equipment, which leads to even more casualties. Such a deplorable industry has raised a worldwide outcry for regulation and reforms.

The United Nations has collaborated with efforts around the world to restrict access to conflict mines and to develop methods to detect which diamonds are from these areas.

We at Asteria Diamonds take a strong stand regarding conflict diamonds. With due diligence, we advocate the Kimberley Process (KP), which regulates the trade of conflict diamonds in the market. The diamonds are thus certified and monitored under strict standards.

When purchasing a piece of jewelry, Asteria assures customers that they are getting jewelry of value, beauty, and quality workmanship with 100% KP-certified fancy diamonds.