Synthetic diamonds

Hello Tay,

I would be interested to know the cost of these synthetic
diamonds as I am somewhat confused over the need for detection
methods. Some 8-9 years ago I had a customer with several
synthetic diamonds in various colours including white (D/E).
These were cut for maximum clarity and resulted in a poor
recovery but there were no SI’s or worse. None of the
appraisals on these stones gave a value which approached the
costs, none of the appraisals mentioned synthetic. My customer
lost interest in developing this venture further, I think he had
no idea of cutting costs when he made the original purchase, he
did make a profit on the synthetic Alex and Emerald that he
bought at the same time because the cutting costs here were a

Recently I was discussing synthetic diamonds with a local gem
dealer who had just returned from his foreign travels where he
visited the lab which had supplied my customers diamonds.
According to him the lab claims to be able to produce consistent
high quality stones that defy the methods of detection previously
mentioned on this list. They also claim that their lab is the
only one producing gem diamonds and that DeBoys, Kyocera and GE
are nothing but boart makers. Their most interesting claim was
that they would be able to provide stones with less than a 50%
premium over natural by the end of this year. Apparently they
also do not consider the jewellery trade to ever become a market
worth pursuing.

Am I missing something here? does anyone know of a source for
top quality synthetic diamonds that are NOT twice or three times
the cost of natural? Isn’t this huge price disparity a dead
giveaway for identification? If you find you have a synthetic
diamond and you paid market price for a natural for it, who has
just been ripped off?

There are many circumstances outside of our trade that values
synthetic gems above natural, try cutting a few natural ruby
watch bearings and see if you can get anything near what a
synthetic goes for. For gemcutting purposes I have always used
synthetic diamonds in spite of the fact that I can obtain natural
boart for approximately 1/10th the cost. I wonder how our
synthetiphobes feel about synthetic gold? Last I heard was that
it was still in excess of a $million oz.

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If I understand what you are saying here you beieve that there
is a company producing high white (D-E-F) color diamonds
commercially with high clarity grades that are undetectable with
the machines developed by De Beers, but that they are selling
them for at least 50% more than a natural white diamond would
cost. If that is what you are saying then you are the victim of
a hoax in which someone is selling natural diamond as synthetic
at a highly inflated price. There is no reason to produce a
synthetic diamond that will consistently be more expensive than
a natural. While the cost of producing synthetics is high it
would not make sense to produce them at all. I may be wrong but I
am fairly certain that 8-9 years ago you would not be able to
find synthetic colorless diamonds anywhere in sizes big enough to
cut. I believe someone is trying to pull your leg.

Hello Kathy,

You never mentioned how much you are paying for your synthetic
diamonds, which of course would have been useful I
have never purchased natural diamond for cutting purposes and
consistently pay TEN TIMES what natural cost. I used to have to
pay much more but costs have come down over the last 25 years.
General Electric claimed to be able to produce carat size stones
long before this, according to some old LJ magazines that I have.
I believe this was while they were still using the monster press
that stood several stories high which I understand was retired
some 30 years ago.

Actually diamonds at a 50% premium are not yet available, this
is a projection, I am told. Currently expect to pay 2-3 times
natural for top quality stones. There are many stones other than
diamonds that are synthesised at greater cost than natural, some
of them are even used in the jewellery industry, why would anyone
do that? why would anyone buy that? guaranteed consistency, plain
and simple. As I mentioned earlier I do not believe the diamond
manufacturer in question considers the jewellery industry to be a
market worth pursuing.

Just out of interest, if you own a telephone, motor car,
computer, tv…should I go on? then you too have been sucked in
and ripped off by the ‘hoax’ you mention as all these items
contain synthetic stones that in their natural form cost in some
cases thousands of times cheaper.

 If that is what you are saying then you are the victim of a
hoax in which someone is selling natural diamond as synthetic
at a highly inflated price.  There is no reason to produce a
synthetic diamond that will consistently be more expensive
than a natural. 

while I don’t know whether synthetic diamond is being made in
that clear/colorless state, there ARE clear markets for such a
sytnethic. Just not the gem market. Natural diamonds have
various impurities, crystal defects, etc. A synthetic made
without those impurities, ie highly pure, defect free crystals,
would have a clear market at considerably higher values than
natural diamond, within scientific circles…

Peter Rowe

Hello Anthony,

Sorry for the delay in reply, I was away to Burma for 8 days and
going through the outback looking for stones. Very interesting.

Regarding the cost of production of synthetic diamond, the
I got from De Beers is that they are still expensive
i.e. US$1,000/- to US$3,000/- per carat for the yellow polish
ones and for colourless one about 0.50 ct about US$1,000 per
piece. Cost of production can be reduced if they figure out the
fastest growth direction of a crystal. Back in the mid 80’s, a
friend of my work for the Biron synthetic emerald and he helped
to crack the code of increasing the growth of synthetic emerald
and cut short the time and of course eventually the cost.
Infact, there are several countries that have the technology to
do it since the 70’s. In my opinion, if the synthetic diamond
manufactrers can produce 600,000,000 carats annually for
industrial purpose, it is possible somewhere along the line
scientists must have discover way to improve the quality as well.
Look at the synthetic biron emerald, chatham synthetic rubies and
emerald, etc, the list can go on and on. Therefore, the need to
understand how to identify synthetic diamond is matter of urgency
and help to bring confidence to the trade as a whole.

Will synthetic diamond affects the jewellery trade? Unlikely,
if people start learn to how to separate them. Synthetic ruby
(flame fusion) has been around for 100 years and synthetic
emerald has been around for about 50 years or so, has the natural
ruby or emerald been affected? Education, education and more
education. Besides, disclosure of what product you are selling
is another…

As for the cost of cutting of synthetic diamond, many countries
like India, China, Vietnam, etc, are doing it at cheaper labour.

Synthesize of gold from seawater is another story.

With best regards,

Tay Thye Sun

Synthetic ruby
(flame fusion) has been around for 100 years and synthetic
emerald has been around for about 50 years or so, has the natural
ruby or emerald been affected?

If anything, it seems to me that by making attractive and still
desireable stones available to those with lower budgets, the
synthetics have actually increased the market and demand for the
genuine, by increasing their overall visibility.

Synthesize of gold from seawater is another story.

since that’s an element being simply extracted from seawater,
this would be no different, in terms of the identity of the final
product (gold) than opening a new gold mine in a new location.
Nobody would really care that it came from a new type of
extraction process, since it would still be naturally occuring
gold. Wouldn’t really be a “synthesis” process… Now if you
make it in a nuclear reactor by fusing other elements… THAT
would be synthesis… Might be great fun…Get it just a hair
wrong and have Glow-in-the-dark gold (grin)

Peter Rowe

Hello Tay,

I understand cathodoluminescence images along the edge of a
diamond show the crystal growth patterns which are not visible by
any other imaging techniques. These growth intersections can
effect the quality of cuts

generated using this diamond in a cutting tool. I don’t fully
comprehend how this is useful in determining whether
the stone is synthetic. I believe it is useful for substrate
quantity analysis, also inappropriate.

EDX Energy-Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy? a technique to
detect material distribution at the resolution of a Scanning
Electron Microscope (SEM). Upon irradiation of energetic
electrons, x-ray is emitted as the electrons of an atom fall from
their excited states to lower energy states. In general, the
fundamental emissions, which denoted as K-alpha, L-alpha and
M-alpha are unique for each element. By varying the electron
beam energy, the elements on substrate surface can be identified.
Sorry Tay but it beats me how this is useful either?

FTIR (Fourier Transform Infrared) or FTS (Fourier Transform
Spectroscopy) is a sensor technology based on the Michelson
interferometer. Historically the Michelson interferometer
consists of two flat mirrors located at 90=B0 to each other with
a beam splitter mounted on the 45=B0= line which separates the two
mirrors . Taking into account all the wavelengths which make up
the target radiation and adding together all these sinusoids
produces what is called an interferogram. The interferogram is a
coded representation of the target spectrum. The Fourier
Transform or decoding of the interferogram provides the spectrum
of the target radiation. These sensors are used primarily in the
infrared portion of the spectrum, where the detectors require
their sensitivity advantage; they are therefore called Fourier
Transform Infrared Spectrometers. This is useful in detecting the
presence of diamond but I don’t see how it can tell the
difference between natural and synthetic.

I am interested to learn what sort of court case you invisage? I
find it hard to believe anyone would attempt to pass off natural
stones as genuine synthetics? No tool maker would be fooled.
Selling synthetics as natural? an economically absurd idea.
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Hello Anthony

It is good that you understand the instruments and the working
of it. For cathodoluminscence you look for the cross-like pattern
of synthetic diamond growth marks which is typical. The
cross-like pattern actually starts from the seed crystal and
branch out. You can observe this pattern under the shortwave
ultraviolet light. For more detail picture of the crystal
structure of the synthetic diamond you can look up an article
"De Beers Natural Versus Synthetic Diamond Verification
Instruments" by Dr Christopher Welbourn in Gems & Gemology Fall

EDX can find out the presence of Ni and/or Fe in the metallic
inclusions found on the surface of the synthetic diamond. I find
this method useful when there are surface inclusions. I have
access to the facility at our polytechnic for research purpose.
For more detail reading, you can check it out in the “The
Gemological Properties of Russian Gem-quality Synthetic Yellow
Diamonds” by JaAmes Shigley, et al in the Gems & Gemology,
Winter 1993. This article also highlight the importance of using
FTIR as a tool to identify the types of diamond and narrow down
to identification of the synthetic diamond.

Passing gem-quality synthetic as natural happen in our jewellery
trade and for that matter court case can arise if customer decide
to take the jeweller to court. Just an example which is not
related to synthetic, but I would like to mention here is that in
1995, we had a court case in Singapore, where the customer took
the jeweller to court for selling irradiated maxixe beryl. The
jeweller lost the case and had to pay half a million Singapore
dollar plus cost. Things can happen no matter how economically

With best regards,

Tay Thye Sun

Tay Thye Sun Thanks again for the valuable given on
the synthetic diamond. Will be gratefull if you could kindly
provide with us details about EDS. Is there any EDS analyzer is
available in the market which is operative without SEM. Mohiuddin

The exication source for EDS is an electron beam, the same
source used for SEM imaging. The problem with using EDS without
an SEM is being able to place the electron beam in the right
location for analysis without “seeing”. I work with an SEM/EDS
system every day and I do not know of any standalone EDS system.

If anyone is interested in a method of detecting the synthetic
diamonds now on the market, I know of a tool designed for just
that purpose. Very uncomplicated straightforward tool. No
education needed to operate, no batteries needed, and carries a
lifetime replacement guarantee. This tool and a 10X or higher
loupe will do. 10X+ scope is preferred, but a loupe will do,
and you won’t be fooled again.

I agree with Brian regarding using EDX analyzer together with
SEM. You need to look at the sample using SEM and then zoom in
on to the location that you wish to analyse and then follow by
EDX for elemental analysis.

As for the company selling this instrument please check with a
company called Oxford Instrument base in U.K. Depending on the
configuration of the instrument and software, the cost is about
US$90,000/-. Please check it out.

Tay Thye Sun

I just went back and read through all these posts. Why would you
want to buy an SEM/EDX system? As well as the initial cost and I
think you should remember to add the cost of a microscope - about
US$150,000 to the US$90,000 for the detector system, plus allow
about US$20,000 per annum running costs and a regular supply of
liquid nitrogen to cool the detector, clean power supply, water
chilling facilities etc… Most EM labs will run the analysis
for you for a few hundred dollars and they have all the expertise
to interpret the results for you as well.


ps, don’t send them to us…(well actually you can, but do it through
official channels, I don’t want to be deluged thanks)

Which brings us back to an affordable detection system such as
Dr. Hanneman’s magnet and UV. I think that I’ll continue to
screen out obvious synthetics before sending all suspect stones
out for hundred dollar tests. Hmmm???

Bruce D. Holmgrain
Marylands first JA certified Master Bench Jeweler

The tester for synthetic diamonds is a very sharp probe of 9.999
hardness. The syn. dias. are a hardness of 9.5. The
recommended test for a synthetic dia. is to place the point of
the IDer on an inconspicuous place on the suspect stone, and,
with light pressure, twist 1/4 - 1/2 turn each direction.
Examine under magnification and look for a tiny micro dot. If
dot is present, you have a something other than a gen. diamond.
Simple. No batteries, no complicated testing looking for hard to
find indicators. Nothing left to interpretation and/or
discussion. Plus, you can stick it in your pocket and go
anywhere with it.

The IDer is guaranteed for life. You drop it and the point
breaks off, send it back and get another one to replace it -

Very affordable tool to insure no syn diamonds find their way
into your inventory or work bench. Look at it as a small
onetime insurance policy payment. The electronic testers for
moissanite I have seen sell for between $300 - $500, and cannot
test for syn. diamond. The IDer sells for less than $100
(delivered) and tells you diamond or not. By the way, it won’t
harm a genuine diamond.

The synthetic diamonds are here, and are being passed as
genuine. You may not have seen one yet, but it only takes one
to put a real dent in your budget. It’s only a matter of time
before you see one, and I would much prefer being able to tell
syn. from gen. before rather than after. That’s why I bought
two of them.

Hi there, I have a few questions.

To, where does one purchase the probe to which you

Has anyone else out there used such a probe and how do they rate

What about the electronic diamond testers that are a generation
before the moissanite testers that sell for around $100. Do I
assume that they also indicate only that a stone is a diamond
(either synthetic or natural) or other than one of those? TIA Lew

Synthetic diamonds have been known to vary in properties,
including hardness. As the manufacturing processes gets more
refined, the diamond properties will change, and relying on
gadgetry will only keep the trade from keeping up with knowledge
but rather relying on convenience. The reference of 9.5 vs. 10 is
not truly relative to actual measured hardnesses. Though it is a
small peck it is still a destructive test. And finally, how do
you avoid hitting cleavage or a softer hardness direction in a
natural diamond. These hardness directions are what allow a
diamond cutter to grind in some directions and not in others?

A concerned Gemologist

We were always taught that destructive tests, and this is most
certainly a destructive test, were only to be used as a last
resort. I still believe that to be a good maxim to live by. But
I am more confused by your contention that a synthetic diamond
has a hardness of 9.5. By definition, a synthetic stone has all
of the same properties as the natural stone, the only difference
being that the synthetic was man made. If the “synthetic
diamonds” you are seeing have a hardness of 9.5 they are not
diamond material and as such cannot be called synthetic diamond.
It is however my usderstanding that the synthetic diamonds that
are being produced are, in fact, diamond material and do have a
hardness of 10.

OK, I’ll answer everyone at the same time; From everything I have
been able to learn about the Russian synthetic diamond, the
actual hardness is 9.85, not 9.5 as posted earlier (poor
proofreading on my part), and the syn. moissanite has a hardness
of 9.25. Supposedly a true 10 hardness synthetic diamond is a
doable item, but the cost of producing them of marketable size
and quality is more than a genuine. At present, I understand the
syn diamond is not “officially” on the market, but there are
people smuggling them into this country and have been for some
time. Therefore, they are here and available in D to I color.
These stones are single refractive stones with frosted girdles.
The syn. moissanite, on the other hand is available in J-K color
at best. I have been offered a moissanite and have used my tool
to avoid it becoming a part of my inventory. The seller was a
bit PO’d and a bit “embarrassed”, but that’s not my problem. I
have yet to be offered a synthetic diamond, I hope, but I feel I
am ready. A friend of mine has a standing order for 20 of them,
so as soon as he gets them, I hope to get one.

As far as being called a synthetic as opposed to a simulant, I
do know the difference. I preached proper terminology to my
employees for 20+ years. Get everyone calling smoky topaz what
it really is while you’re at it. Besides, I really don’t care
what it’s called as long as I can detect it before I get scammed
with one.

As far as being a destructive test, in the strictest sense,
you’re right. Destructive is an all encompassing word, though.
There is a big difference between a tiny, tiny dot in an
inconspicuous place as opposed to a scratch somewhere.

OK, suppose I do happen to hit a softer hardness direction on a
natural diamond. So what? I miss a deal? Maybe. Maybe I
avoid losing my money, too. Then, if it’s called for, it’s on
to the next step of identifying what I am looking at. No one is
saying this is the one-and-only surefire definitive-gotta
have-it test for diamond simulant/synthetics. Just a simple,
basic and convenient no-brainer to keep myself from getting
ripped off over the counter by someone looking to sell me a
piece of misrepresented junk. If someone is deliberately trying
to scam me and I drag out my tester, the seller knowing what
he/she is trying to do probably won’t allow the test to proceed

I have friends in the pawn and jewelry business who have bought
every one of the latest electronic testers. As soon as
something else come out, they have to spend another few hundred
to get that detector. Next thing you know, they have a row of
electronic gadgetry lined up on their counter just to tell them
what not to buy. Most of them really aren’t interested in
identifying the stone beyond the fact that it isn’t a diamond.
That’s all they want to know. That’s all I want to know, too.

This ID tool was designed with the small guy in mind.

  1. Very few of us in the trade have the proper tools to do a
    truly proper stone identification - I just don’t have the time.
    That’s what my gemologist friends are for. When I get that
    curious I simply have him do it, pay him for his time and I’m on
    my way.

  2. Over the counter buying decisions are generally made on the

  3. If someone is trying to scam me with a syn. diamond or a
    syn. moissanite, I really don’t care if I leave a tiny dot that
    takes magnification to find even when you know where to look.

  4. Electronic testers are OK, but susceptible to breakdowns,
    misreads, etc., when not used exactly as the instruction manual
    says. And they can be quite sensitive to electricity
    fluctuations. I lost 2 electronic scales to lightning that
    didn’t hit anywhere near me.

  5. Lets see anyone get a lifetime replacement guarantee on an
    electronic tester.

  6. This tester doesn’t “identify” anything. It only tells you
    what it isn’t.

  7. If you don’t like it, send it back for a full refund.


I do agree with most of your points in your recent email.
However there was one thing you did not answer and which really
was of great interest to me, and that was where you can get the
IDer. Is it a US manufacture? Hope you can help not only me here,
and thanks in advance. Niels from springtime Denmark