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Choice of Diamond Simulants


#1

I want to make my own engagement ring but I have no real desire to
have a Diamond ™. I do however need a colourless stone that is
very very pretty. I have looked at some Moissonite stones and they
seemed quite nice to my eye. I looked up diamond simulants on the
web and I was deluged with Russian Brilliants, Asha
stones, Russian Ice, diamond gels, Yikes!

Other than ordering one of each to examine them for myself, I have no
idea how to choose. Which do you consider the best?

TIA,
Katou


#2
   I want to make my own engagement ring but I have no real desire
to have a Diamond  (TM). I do however need a colourless stone that
is very very pretty. I have looked at some Moissonite stones and
they seemed quite nice to my eye. I looked up diamond simulants on
the web and I was deluged with Russian Brilliants,
Asha stones, Russian Ice, diamond gels, Yikes! 

Not to put too fine a point on the matter, if you don’t want a
diamond, then why do you want one that will pretend to be a diamond?
Seems to me that’s a poor symbol for love, marriage, and all that.
Stimulants seem fine to me when used only for decorative purposes,
where there’s no symbolic reason for the gem. But and engagement
diamond is more than just a rock sold by a mega monopoly. It’s gained
considerable symbolic value. However, it should also be strongly
pointed out that the whole deal about using diamonds as engagement
ring stones, and in fact even the degree to which engagement rings
themselves are now somehow mandatory, is pretty much the result of
amazingly successful and long duration marketing by that same
monopoly. A considerably longer tradition of use exists for stones
other than diamond, and many are exceedingly beautiful in their own
right, as what they are, rather than what they pretend to be, and
many of these offer value based on real rarity rather than an image of
rarity that does not actually exist to the degree the public believes
(just how rare can a gem type be when it’s bought and sold as
virtually a commodity item, and every jeweler on the planet has
hundreds or thousands of them. I’d suggest, if you don’t wish a
natural diamond (bravo, I agree), the look at some of the more
durable natural stones, such as the corundum family (sapphire and
ruby) or chrysoberyl (catseye, not the quartz tigereye, but real
chrysoberyl catseye, as well as the exceedingly wonderful and rare
beauty of really fine alexandrites. These are just starting
suggestions. There are many more which can make wonderful and
unique wedding jewelry that does not look just like that bought by
every other Tom Dick or Harry on the planet…

If you’re set, however, on a diamond stimulant or other such
colorless white stone, then among the stimulants, I’d suggest
Moissonite. It is somewhat harder and tougher than the other
stimulants out there, with an appearance that, at a distance of more
than a foot or so, is very close to diamond, though it tends to show
a somewhat darker, slightly gray or even faintly green color (not
usually seen unless compared side by side with something whiter, or
by someone with some experience). But it’s costly. Cubic Zirconia,
by contrast, is dirt cheap, and can even look a tad better when new,
clean, not scratched up, etc. With that, one has the reasonable
option with some settings of using the cheap C.Z., understanding that
you can replace the darn thing with a new one every few years for
many years before you’ll have equaled the price of that moissonite
or more, a diamond. C.Z. varies in quality from vendor to vendor,
mostly in terms of cutting precision, which makes a big difference in
how closely it resembles diamond. I’d suggest the Swarovski brand,
as I’ve found their cutting to be consistently high quality. And you
can get it easy from Rio Grande if you don’t have another good
source, at close to true wholesale prices. Buy a dozen and they’re
cheaper yet, and then you’ve got your replacement stock all lined up
for down the line.

And if your reason for not wanting a diamond is the common use of it
all, remember that there are some types of diamond that are a bit
more unusual and unique, and perhaps worth considering. Natural or
irradiated colored diamonds give you all the symbolic, even if by
virtue of marketing, of white diamonds, yet they have pretty colors
that makes them quite different from the run of the mill. Natural
colors, especially in the light yellows, light browns (the so called
champagne colors) may be very affordable compared to white stones,
and with more intense yellows, very beautiful and unique, though the
price tends to rise rapidly again when the colors get intense. You
can even, in smaller sizes, get color enhanced stones in a pretty
purplish pink tone from Australia. Pricey, but very pretty. Even
pricier are natural pinks, or light blues, greens, etc. these latter
are also available in irradiated /induced color diamonds that can be
quite reasonable in price. The color is permanent, and can be very
pretty.

And if you wish the ultimate synthetic replacement for a natural
diamond, well, increasingly coming on the market these days are true
synthetic diamonds. To date, the ones I’ve seen have been bright
yellow/amber color, not white, but they’re quite pretty, and offer
the advantage of not generally being marketed through the debeers
chain of supply, so you need not worry about issues like “blood
diamonds” or the like. Colorless ones are likely to ether be here
soon, or like as not, some other Orchidian will remind me that
they’re already here and commercially available (I know they’ve been
made, but don’t know if they’re yet commercially available).

And finally, if your whole reason for avoiding natural white
diamonds is the avoid the political, economic, or environmental
issues associated with the diamond trade, then buy Canadian diamonds.
Their big marketing point is precisely that they are free from the
negative connotations associated with the rest of the world wide
diamond trade.

Just my two cents.
Peter Rowe


#3

I like the Moissanite.

Sojourner
who can’t afford even Moissanite, so I guess its lucky there’s no
romance in the wind, LOL!


#4

Natural white zircons are pretty nice and have traditionally been
used as a diamond replacment. Danburite also is a pretty bright
stone if cut correctly. White sapphire could also be used although
a bit lower RI.

All natural and ‘real’ stones so no need to go the ‘fake’ route.

Also, if you are going this route you should consider commisioning
someone to cut a custom stone for you (not plugging me, I’m just
saying in general) so you can truly have a unique piece of jewelry.
All diamonds are cut with pretty much the same standard cuts with
nothing ‘special’ about them (because they are hard to cut/polish).

Craig
www.creativecutgems.com


#5
    Also, if you are going this route you should consider
commisioning someone to cut a custom stone for you (not plugging
me, I'm just saying in general) so you can truly have a unique
piece of jewelry. 

I saw a citrine I think it was in Lapidary Journal (I think it was)
not too long ago that was just gorgeous. It was cut in some kind of
concentric circle sort of configuration.

Yeah, lousy job of describing, but it was just gorgeous. I’d have
dropped the bucks on THAT stone a lot sooner than I would any
diamond.

Assuming I HAD the bucks, LOL!

Sojourner


#6

Wow, thanks for the thorough answer Peter. Totally informative and
useful. So my options stand at:

  -Moissonite
  -CZ replaced biannually
  -sapphire or ruby
  -Chrysoberyl catseye
  -rare Alexandrites

Hmm, I have to say I’ve always liked the pale blue sapphires, and
opal has always been a favourite of mine. Where is a good place to
see some of these stones? I know I could just punch the name of the
stone into Google, but I’d love a referral to a place that has a
large range, and isn’t some fly-by-night stoneseller. Someplace with
class and a good reputation.

I’m checking into custom cuts, neat idea!

Katou


#7

Moissanite is mostly marketing. It’s not much more than a glorified
CZ. The only reason CZ has such a poor public opinion is because it
was flooded onto the market and the prices dropped so dramatically it
became almost worthless. This is unfortunate because CZ cuts a very
nice stone, is hard, has great RI and optical characteristics, and
comes in many colors including color change.

I would not spend the money on moissanite. It’s not worth the money,
and has no true investment/resale value.

Craig
www.creativecutgems.com


#8
   Moissanite is mostly marketing. It's not much more than a
glorified CZ. The only reason CZ has such a poor public opinion is
because it was flooded onto the market and the prices dropped so
dramatically it became almost worthless. This is unfortunate
because CZ cuts a very nice stone, is hard, has great RI and
optical characteristics, and comes in many colors including color
change.> I would not spend the money on moissanite. It's not worth
the money, and has no true investment/resale value. 

Craig, I would dispute that a bit. Moissanite is not the same as C.Z,
at least not in it’s physical and optical properties. It’s
considerably tougher and much harder. C.Z. is decent for hardness,
but not especially tough, and will, in normal wear and tear, get
dinged up and worn relatively quickly. Moissanite is hard enough and
tough enough that although not equal to diamond, will last a LOT
longer. And it’s increased hardness also allows it generally to
get, and keep, a sharper and crisper polish than most C.Z. (though
there is much very well cut C.Z. on the market these days)

I do agree with you that C.Z. gets a bit of a bad rap being overly
downgreaded. Optically it’s very good, in a number of ways even
prettier than moissanite, and you’re right, the colored stuff
especially is very nice.

The other difference is that moissanite, so far, is still exclusively
the product of only one firm, which can control prices. C.Z.
plumetted when the production method was ripped off, and competitors
destroyed any original exclusive marketing it’s developers had.

While I agree with you that C.Z. is under valued by the public (and
us), and that moissanite is over priced, lets keep clear on the
very real differences in durability between the two materials, as
that can make quite a difference in the useful life of the stone in a
ring.

Peter


#9

Hi Katou, The closest simulant for the diamond is Moissonite. The
stone is as close as you can get to the diamond…:slight_smile:

All the best in your quest!!

Hema


#10

Sorry Peter, I meant in the sense that it’s still a simulanted
diamond (which is overpriced because it’s not real). Much like the
people who tack a name onto their CZ (like QVC, etc) and pretend
it’s not CZ.

I would take the CZ route only because they are easier to replace,
less expensive, and have more color options. I agree that
moissanite is harder, although I’ve never had an opportunity to cut
any to compare it to CZ (which I enjoy cutting since it’s a
brilliant stone when done).

Craig
www.creativecutgems.com


#11
        I saw a citrine I think it was in Lapidary Journal (I
think it was) not too long ago that was just gorgeous.  It was cut
in some kind of concentric circle sort of configuration. 

The stone you are referring to was cut by Richard Homer and was the
Best of Competition winner of Lapidary Journal’s “Gemmy” award.

http://www.tucsonshowguide.com/stories/jan05/gemmys.cfm

  'Known by many as a pioneer of concave faceting techniques,
  Homer devotes time to creating new applications and designs.
  "My most recent application has been in the employment of
  concavo-convex facets, which then directed me to the concept of
  concave concentric rings as a single 'facet' on the crown."
  This design can be seen in Homer's winning piece, the Nautilus
  Cut 99. (pictured above). This 37.31-ct. citrine was "faceted
  into three segments imitating a chambered nautilus. The
  concentric rings... create an optical illusion that make the
  radiating culet pattern seem to curve and partition in a
  manner quite reminiscent of a chambered nautilus."' 

I love Richard’s work, and use it almost exclusively in the wedding
and engagement rings that I make. If he doesn’t have what you want
in

stock he can cut something to order. I just had him cut a 2.21-ct.
aquamarine in the Nautilus Cut™ for a wedding ring. It is
stunning, yet in a beautifully understated way. There are
a lot of really talented facetors and custom carvers out there, but
Richard is my favorite and one of the nicest guys you will ever
meet.


#12

Continue from:
https://orchid.ganoksin.com/t/choice-of-diamond-simulants

I am sorry I haven’t been in to follow this whole thread about FAKE
Diamonds. Lets be straight about this. They are all trying to be
Diamonds.

White Sapphire is a real stone, so is Topaz, both can be beautiful.
Topaz is easily available and is cheap. You can buy a Blue Topaz
which is heat treated and simply put it in a kiln and remove the
color. I have done this once for a 2 1/2 carat diamond replacement.
The client had a beautiful platinum pin which had been in the family
since the 20’s. She gave the daughter the Diamond and wanted to put
something back into the pin so that she could wear it on occasion.

Fake stones are just that. Do you make gold plated jewelry? If so,
don’t hestitate to use fake. There is nothing really wrong with it.
It just depends where you stand on the type and quality of things
you make. Costume jewelry can be fun and exciting, the value is in
the creativity, there is nothing wrong in making this type of
jewelry. But if you make jewelry of intrinsic value you ought to
consider the materials you use. Do they have intrinsice value or
not? Are they natural materials or not? It is a tricky
philosophical issue.

So here is my 2 cents.
good luck, Dennis


#13

Agreed that Richard Homer’s work is really lovely. Just wanted to
mention Michael Dyber as a founder of concave circular facets…

Charles


#14
The stone you are referring to was cut by Richard Homer and was the
Best of Competition winner of Lapidary Journal's  "Gemmy" award.
http://www.tucsonshowguide.com/stories/jan05/gemmys.cfm

Gorgeous! Most of the stuff on that page is gorgeous. And I’m sure
priced way way out of my range. That amethyst (organic carved
amethyst) is beautiful as well. Those are works of art, definitely
not your run of the mill stones.

Sojourner


#15
    Agreed that Richard Homer's work is really lovely. Just wanted
to mention Michael Dyber as a founder of concave circular
facets.... 

Just for the record: I’m not sure when Michael Dyber, whose work I
greatly admire, started doing concave circular facets; but Henry
Hunt was doing them in the mid 70’s. And I still have a faceted
quartz piece with concave circular facets by an anonymous lapidary
from the Galileo Gem Club in San Francisco approximately the same
period.

Kevin Kelly


#16

Michael Dyber does do INCREDIBLE work. It became even more amazing
to me when I found out that he does almost all of the work free hand!
It is kind of an urban myth that Michael created the optical dish.
What is true is that he made it his own. Quoting Michael from an
October 2001 article in “Professional Jeweler”

http://www.professionaljeweler.com/archives/articles/2001/oct01/1001gn2.html

I dont claim to have invented the technique; similar concave
depressions in gems were used for years before I started working
with them, he says. But I have used them extensively. Ive also
developed a lot of different types: big dishes, small ones, deep,
shallow, partial or combinations, all of which identify the style
with my name.

I do believe that Michael did invent (or at least perfect) the
"Luminaire"TM, which is the name he has given to the tubes that are
drilled through the stones. You can see more of Michael Dyber’s work
at the Smithsonian, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, the
Harvard Museum of Natural History, or at his website
http://www.dyber.net/

Henry Hunt is generally considered one of the Patriarchs of American
Gem Carving. He has been a lapidary for over 40 years and his 2
books “Lapidary Carving for Creative Jewelry” American Lapidary -
Designing the Carved Gemstone" are the standards in the industry.
Most of the current generation of North American gem carvers (Glen
Lehrer, Sherris Cottier-Shank, Larry Winn, Richard Shull, and myself
to name a few) attribute some degree of their success and knowledge
to Henry Hunt. He was inducted into the GANA (Gem Artists of North
America) Hall of Fame in February of this year at Tucson.

Epaul Fischer
Artist Member - GANA (Gem Artists of North America)
http://www.gemartists.org/


#17

To start with it’s “Synthetic Moissanite”, not Moissanite, more
correctly, Silicon Carbide or SiC, another thing I have been given to
understand that Henri’s diamond research was quite flawed. I’m told
that he was quite talented at turning gem quality diamonds into
Carbon Dioxide gas and later became famous for isolating Fluoron or
some such. I find the use of his name amusingly appropriate.

Either I have only got to play with really really bad ones or some of
you have been seeing some unbelievably good ones. The local
jewellery trade term “white and bright” refers to sellable "gem"
quality diamonds, I have never seen a SiC that would qualify. I would
never buy the diamond that that a SiC is supposed to simulate no
matter how cheaply it was offered.

I have to agree with Craig, this stone is so mired in hyperbole it is
difficult to see the quality. It is an investment opportunity
matched only by the one seized by the purchasers of the first digital
watches.

I have a big problem contradicting Peter W.Rowe as his points and
opinions tend to be definitive so I hope that his arguments are based
on scientific fact and physical properties rather than observation.
As a gem cutter, or more correctly gem repair guy, I have now seen
way more of this stuff than I would like, although I don’t seem to be
getting the repair work via our “highly amused by it all” local
diamond cutter, as much as I used to. Cutting and polishing SiC is
certainly easier and quicker than either sapphire or CZ as there is
no directional hardness like sapphire or the polishing problems that
some CZ present.

“useful life of a stone” I agree has much to do with the properties
of the gem but I have found that the hardness and toughness of the
wearer to be a more significant factor in degradation. By extreme
examples, I have repolished an opal that had 80 years of use and
required only minimal work to remove the few scratches and pits and
by contrast a Sapphire that had the facets completely obliterated in
less than 3 months. Oh yes, I have had repeat repolishing work on
synthetic moissanite and it was within a year. In theory this stuff
is more durable than sapphire, in practice this means you might get
a couple of weeks more before you notice it needs repolishing. The
Rockwell on this stuff is almost the same as sapphire NOT almost the
same as diamond.

There are some people who will enjoy many many years of pleasure with
their opal or tanzanite rings and there are those that nothing less
than a diamond will keep them out of my shop. I am willing to
guarantee that if rings with 3 stones, CZ, SiC and Sapphire were
handed out, by the time any wearer notices that any of the stones
need repolishing, examination will show that they all need it. I’m
also willing to bet it’s the middle stone that gets noticed first,
whatever the arrangement.

The other small point was exclusivity, a recent repolishing quote was
declined as the stone in question was to be replaced at LESS than my
charge from their Asian supplier. I guess the guys at Union Carbide
will eventually get up from rolling around on the floor laughing and
exercise THEIR patent and we’ll be able to get all the SiC we need
for a buck a bucket.

Tony.
Anthony Lloyd-Rees.
www.thegemdoctor.com
Vancouver, B.C.


#18
       I have a big problem contradicting Peter W.Rowe as his
points and opinions tend to be definitive so I hope that his
arguments are based on scientific fact and physical properties
rather than observation. 

Now, please don’t put me on some pedestal. I can easily be wrong,
and am so on occasion, just like anyone else. I would welcome
opinions that conflict with my own. How else am I to learn new
things? Please don’t be reticent to disagree with me, OK? I base
my opinions and statements on my experience and training, which is as
a jeweler and gemologist, but I’m no scientist, nor always basing my
statements on carefully researched facts. I consider myself
reasonably knowledgeable, but I’m certainly not infallible, and your
experience as a cutter will give you a knowledge base quite different
I consider myself little more than a beginner when I sit down to a
faceting machine. Cabs I’m better with, but even then, I’m hardly
the expert at cutting that you no doubt are. So please feel free to
contradict me. In fact, the one area in which I do seem to outstrip
many other Orchid members is in the degree two which I don’t know how
to write briefly, or to just plain shut up. My posts are generally
longer than needed. Don’t confuse that with authority. It’s just
good exercise for my fingers, nothing more.

My arguments regarding the various synthetics are based more on
remembered science than anything I just went back to the books to
recheck, but as a G.G., I did study this stuff fairly thoroughly
once, and have tried to stay up to date. You’ve no doubt done much
more cutting of it than I have, but I submit to you that cutting
behavior differs a lot from the way these materials will hold up in
actual use by the public, or in the manufacturing process. Working
for a manufacturer, we often send our stuff to our dealer stores with
C.Z.s set in place of center diamonds, so they can show the mountings
more they way they will look after a diamond is set in. Sometimes we
do this with synthetic moissanite too, on request. Now, I’ve never
yet seen a synthetic moissanite come back with significant wear and
tear from the stores, and in the number of years we’ve worked with
it, I can recall only one that was chipped in setting. C.Z., by
contrast, is a good deal easier to chip and break, and our polisher
even manages, while polishing these platinum rings, to often rather
soften the facet edges of the C.Z.s. We’re using Gessweins platinum
compounds, which are aluminum oxide based, so this is no great
surprise, but these compounds have no damaging effect on the
synthetic moissanites, and can pretty much turn a facetted C.Z. into
almost a cabochon if you’re not careful. (yes, that IS a great
overstatement, but implies correctly my degree of happiness over the
issue when our polisher does this to yet another stone, which though
cheap, I still then have to replace. sigh.) And as a job shop in
addition to a manufacturer, we see a LOT of jewelry that’s been worn
a while. Obviously, not much of it is synthetic moissanite, but of
those we have seen, my impression is that on average, they seem to
hold up somewhat better than sapphire or ruby in terms of the little
nicks and chips and abraded facet edges that corundum seems to
acquire after some time in use. This is based on a relatively small
sample of stones I’ve seen (in the synthetic moissanite), that have
been worn a while, but that’s been our observation so far. C.Z. is not
a bad or exceptionally fragile stone, but it simply does not hold up
the same way in use. Remember that hardness measurements are not
the same as the much harder to quantify toughness, or real world
behavior of a stone in use. When I suggested that one might wish to
replace a CZ every few years, I didn’t imply that it would not last
longer, perhaps much longer, for some people. But I’ve also seen
plenty of them in various uses that simply no longer would fool anyone
with the idea they were a diamond, within just a couple years wear.
Draw whatever conclusions you wish from this.

Cheers
Peter