Diamond Substitutes

Cubic zirconias are the most common diamond substitute.


The Look for Less

Diamond substitutes have been used for centuries, but as modern technology advances, so do the options for those considering a diamond purchase. The most popular diamond substitutes today are cubic zirconia and synthetic diamonds, but most people do not know the difference between the two. Both are man-made substitutes for natural diamonds, which are created without human intervention, and both (especially cubic zirconia) are generally dismissed as less than quality. But cubic zirconia, naturally-created diamond substitutes, and synthetic diamonds all have their place in the world of jewelry.

Cubic zirconia is a diamond simulant, which means that it looks like a diamond but is a different substance with a different chemical make up. CZ differs from a synthetic diamond in the creative process: a synthetic diamond possess the exact same chemical make up as a real diamond, and is visually and physically the same.

Unlike a natural diamond, however, a synthetic stone was created in a laboratory under human-controlled conditions. The process used to produce a synthetic diamond results in a genuine diamond, not a fake or imitation. The controlled conditions allow for colors, sizes, and qualities not often found in nature to be produced.

Formerly, if one wanted the general look of a diamond, the only options were natural, more common, and less beautiful look-alikes such as colorless quartz, white topaz, colorless sapphire, or colorless zircon, all produced by nature. Then came along glass rhinestones and laboratory-grown moissanite and cubic zirconia, which are not natural gem materials. Today, synthetic diamonds are hitting the market vigorously, and only a jeweler with high-tech gemological equipment can tell the difference between a synthetic and a natural diamond.

It is important to remember, however, that synthetics must be labeled as such and not marketed as naturally occurring diamonds. To do otherwise is misleading to the customer and a dishonest business practice. Be sure to research any diamond dealer before you patronize them to assure yourself of a fair deal on any diamond purchase, natural or synthetic. Diamond substitutes are not for everyone. Many people prefer the tradition that accompanies a genuine, natural diamond, one that was created by nature millions of years ago. But for those that desire a rare type, size or color not often produced by nature, but doesn't desire the price that comes with it, a synthetic diamond may be the way to go.

At Altemueller Jewelry, we make customers aware of exactly what stone type they are considering before the purchase gets underway. Although every diamond in our store is natural, not synthetic or treated in any way, each piece is labeled accurately and honestly. Cubic zirconia is never offered as a diamond or synthetic, only as what it really is - a simulant. Often, CZ centers are used for display purposes in semi-mounts or other costly settings featuring side or accent diamonds. This provides the customer with a more visually pleasing shopping experience than viewing empty settings and gives them ideas for the finished look of the piece. Either the mounting or the stone can be selected first, and using CZs for display even allows the customer the option of keeping the simulant center stone and thus bypassing the cost of purchasing a genuine diamond to replace it. Our trained staff will inform you further on stone choices when you visit our store. We want to make you feel comfortable and confident in any purchase you make!