The popularity and appeal of diamonds led to a situation where people wanted to create diamond look-alikes in the laboratory. Many experiments were done to perfect a laboratory process that could create diamonds that were close to the real thing. It was only after a lot of research that the process of developing a diamond in a laboratory was finalized.
These lab diamonds are called synthetic diamonds and are far cheaper than real natural diamonds. However, a proliferation of diamonds in the market necessitated that people trading in the diamond industry be aware of the methods by which synthetic diamonds can be differentiated from real natural diamonds.
Synthetic diamonds are different from natural ones in various ways and these properties can help in segregating them. Since the synthetic diamonds are produced in a laboratory, they do not have the same level of inclusions and properties as the natural ones. They do not have minerals like garnet, diopside and other diamonds in them. However, synthetic diamonds do contain remnants of the metallic flux that is used in the process of creation of synthetic diamonds.
The other differentiation lies in the structure, graining and color zoning of the diamonds. The high temperature at which a synthetic diamond is produced is yet lower than the temperature at which natural diamonds are created. Natural diamonds grow evenly in all directions from a basic core.
The process that produces synthetic diamonds creates different shapes that look like octahedral and cubic faces since the diamond grows only upwards and outwards from a core. The typical shape of a synthetic diamond is like a broad diamond tapering pyramid that ends in a flat face. This difference in growth patterns and shapes forms the most reliable source of differentiating between synthetic diamonds and natural ones.
There are various ways in which one can tell synthetic diamonds from real ones.
-A fiber optic light can be used to determine whether the inclusions observed with the naked eye are reflective or metallic in nature. A simple confirmation of the remnants of metallic flux in the diamonds is proof enough that the diamonds in question are synthetic.
-In case where some synthetic diamonds do not have any inclusions, whatsoever, the differentiating process needs to be different. The shape of the crystals in a real diamond is different from that of a synthetic one. It should be noted that expert cutters can remove the top cover of the crystal during the cutting process while aspects like graining and color zoning cannot be changed.
-The graining pattern of synthetic diamonds and natural ones is also different due to the difference in growth patterns. When viewed through the pavilion of the synthetic diamond, the hour glass graining can be seen under magnification.
-The color zoning in synthetic diamonds also follows the hour glass shape; something that is obviously and most definitely absent in natural ones.
-If there are no differences that can be observed in crystals structures, graining and color zoning, the test to adopt is the UV radiation test . Most natural diamonds fluorescence a blue tint under UV long wave and a yellowish fluorescence under shortwave UV. Synthetic diamonds, on the other hand fluoresce between yellow to greenish yellow under long and shortwave.
-Most synthetic diamonds are phosphorescent and that means that after the UV light is switched off, the light emitted from the diamond remains for some time. And since the natural diamond is not phosphorescent, this quality can be used to pick synthetic diamonds from a parcel of diamonds.
-Another innovative method of differentiating the synthetic from the original is to use magnets. This method can be used since there are likely to be metallic inclusions in the synthetic diamond but not in a natural one. If a diamond is kept free and a strong magnet moved closer, the synthetic diamond will tend to incline more towards the magnets. This is another infallible method of differentiating synthetics from real diamonds because natural diamonds have never known to have metallic inclusions so far.
With these various techniques that can be used to detect synthetics, there should be no doubt that separating the two types should be easy. However, it is still ethical to mention certain facts upfront when you are dealing with other experts.
In case you are buying diamonds and are not too sure about the authenticity of the source, you could send the diamonds to a gemological laboratory for testing.
De Beers, one of the leading organizations in diamond trade has developed two diamond verification instruments in the mid 1990's. These were called the DiamondSure and DiamondView.
The DiamondSure is a simple instrument that divides the diamond into real or synthetic based on the manner in which the piece absorbs light. And the testing can be done for mounted as well as un-mounted diamonds. In the rare case that the DiamondSure cannot unequivocally differentiate a synthetic diamond from a real one, it indicates the need for further testing. DiamondView, the more complex of the instruments can definitely identify all synthetic diamonds.
Whether by using an instrument or by sending the diamonds to the gemological laboratory, there is not doubt today that the sophistication of making the synthetic diamond process has made it necessary for people to check their real diamonds in case they have even a teeny-weeny doubt about the authenticity.
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