Table of Contents
Distinguishing between natural diamonds, lab-grown diamonds, and moissanite can be challenging. However, there are techniques gemologists and jewelers use to conclusively identify these similar-looking stones. This guide will explore four key methods for telling apart natural diamonds, lab diamonds, and moissanite.
|Type||Natural Diamond||Lab-Grown Diamond||Moissanite|
|Origin||Formed underground over billions of years under intense heat and pressure.||Created above ground in a lab to replicate natural diamond formation.||A lab-created crystal first discovered in a meteor crater in 1893.|
|Visual Identification||Natural minute inclusions, more variations in facet shapes/angles, and signs of wear, chips, or cracks.||Metallic square growth lines, precision faceting, flawless surfaces.||Crisp white color, high brilliance.|
|Advanced Testing||Light performance, composition analysis.||Light performance, composition analysis.||Slightly lower hardness of 9-9.5 on Mohs scale.|
|Accredited Lab Testing||Maps growth structures, detects trace elements.||Maps lab growth patterns, analyzes composition.||Luminescence, composition analysis.|
|Thermal Conductivity||Best conductor of heat.||Similar to natural diamonds.||Not as good as diamonds.|
|Best Practices||Buy from reputable jewelers, ask for certification.||Buy from retailers that disclose lab origins.||Ask retailer to confirm moissanite material.|
Introduction to Natural, Lab, and Created Diamonds
- Natural diamonds form underground over billions of years under intense heat and pressure. Diamonds mined from the earth are the traditional gemstones used in fine jewelry.
- Lab-grown diamonds have the same optical, chemical, and physical properties as mined diamonds. They are above-ground diamonds created in laboratories through advanced technology replicating natural diamond formation.
- Moissanite is a lab-created crystal with similar hardness, brilliance, and fire to diamonds. Moissanite is an affordable diamond alternative, first discovered in 1893 from a meteor crater.
Proper identification ensures you get the exact type of stone you expect.
Detailed Examination With a Jeweler's Loupe
A 10x jeweler's loupe allows a detailed visual inspection of the stone's characteristics. Trained gemologists carefully inspect for:
- Growth structures - Look for natural minute inclusions in mined diamonds vs. metallic square growth lines in lab diamonds.
- Cut quality - Precise and symmetrical faceting indicates a lab diamond. There are more variations in facet shapes/angles in natural diamonds.
- Surface flaws - Signs of wear, chips, or cracks suggest a natural diamond. Lab diamonds have flawless surfaces.
- Color - Natural diamonds show hints of yellow. Lab diamonds and moissanite have a crisp, colorless white appearance.
- Fluorescence - Blue fluorescence under UV light is a reaction typical of natural and lab diamonds.
This magnified inspection allows clear visual identification based on inclusions, defects, faceting, and other signs unique to each stone's origin.
Advanced Testing of Material Properties
Specialized gemological testing devices measure diamond properties invisible to the eye:
- Thermal conductivity - Diamonds conduct heat better than any gemstone. Devices like a Hanna Diamond Tester probe this by gauging how quickly heat transfers from a heated probe.
- Light performance - Spectrometers shine light through the stone, graphing its light absorption and refraction properties. The unique resulting 'fingerprint' identifies the material.
- Hardness - Durability testers use calibrated pressures. Diamonds rate a perfect ten on the Mohs hardness scale, while moissanite is slightly softer at 9-9.5.
- Composition - Chemical makeup confirms diamond material. Advanced spectroscopy reveals trace elements in natural diamonds.
These technologies provide scientific data based on performance metrics to identify the stone type.
Diamond Verification Through Accredited Gem Labs
For independent, expert analysis, accredited gemological labs offer diamond authentication and grading services. They use equipment like:
- UV Spectrometers - Detect fluorescent variations between diamond types when exposed to ultraviolet light.
- Raman Spectrometers - Non-destructive laser technology identifies chemical composition.
- Luminescence Imaging - Maps internal growth structures that differ between natural and lab diamonds.
- 3D MicroworldTM Scanning - Digitally maps facets to detect precision only seen in lab diamonds.
- Growth Observation - Microscopes reveal subtle natural formations in mined diamonds.
Professional gem labs provide authoritative, unbiased analysis and documentation like GIA Grading Reports. This confirms whether it is conclusively a diamond, lab-grown diamond, or moissanite.
To access more content: Can Lab-Grown Diamonds Be Detected?
Buying From Reputable Retailers
To have full confidence in the accuracy of your diamond purchase, buy from retailers that specialize in gems and proper disclosure, such as:
- Jewelry stores employ GIA or AGS-certified gemologists trained in diamond authentication protocols.
- Retailers promote education and provide diamond certification.
- Stores use technology like the D-ScreenTM to detect lab-grown diamonds and disclose their products' origins.
A reputable jeweler will explain the stone's background and provide supporting documentation. Never assume all diamonds are mined without asking.
Identify Your Diamond With Confidence
While they appear similar, advanced tools and professional gemological services can conclusively distinguish natural diamonds, lab-grown diamonds, and moissanite. Understanding these identification techniques allows you to find the perfect stone while avoiding misrepresentation. Lab-grown innovation now lets everyone access beautiful, ethical diamonds. With proper evaluation, you can be certain of selecting the right stone type to fit your budget and preferences.