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Simulant Diamonds vs. Lab Created Diamonds

There is a lot of confusing and conflicting information about diamond simulants and lab created (also called “cultured”) diamonds.  Despite what you may have heard, simulant diamonds and lab created diamonds are not the same.  We want to help you sort through the confusion to better understand the options available, and more importantly, what you are actually buying.

Simulant Diamonds
Diamond simulants are manufactured to look like diamonds but are composed of very different materials.  Although simulants share some similarities in appearance to a diamond, they are generally readily identifiable as stand-ins.  The most well-known option is cubic zirconia, or CZ, which is a crystal form of zirconium oxide.  Moissanite is an alternative  to CZ, and is both durable and low cost. This simulant is newer, boasts slightly more sparkle, and is composed of the crystal carbide.
It is important to note the vast distinction between simulant diamonds, such as those mentioned above, and lab diamonds. Lab diamonds are man-made diamonds that consist of actual carbon atoms arranged in the characteristic diamond crystal structure. Simulants do not have the same chemical and physical properties as diamonds, and merely imitate the appearance of a diamond. Therefore, simulants sell at much lower prices than cultured diamonds.
When is a simulant diamond useful?
If you love a particular setting and/or have your heart set on a certain size diamond, wallet-friendly simulants may allow you to have a ring that you adore without having to wait. You can always upgrade with a diamond—cultured or mined—when the time is right for you.
Additionally, if you travel frequently, for work or leisure, having a ring set with a simulant may come in handy.  You can leave home without worrying about having your diamond engagement ring lost or stolen.
Lab Created Diamonds 
All of the lab created diamonds at Brilliant Earth are physically, optically, and chemically indistinguishable from our natural diamonds. Even when using professional gemological equipment, lab created diamonds are nearly impossible to differentiate from natural diamonds and can only be identified with extensive scientific testing using specialized equipment. Lab created diamonds should always come with a gem certification identifying them as laboratory grown.
Arriving at a process that allows for identical composition in lab created and mined diamonds has taken decades, and not compromising quality has been worth the wait.
When to look for lab created? 
Lab created diamonds are an appealing option for many brides and grooms—they are a slightly more affordable than their naturally-mined counterparts and are starting to become available in larger sizes.  Brilliant Earth is pleased to offer a wide selection of colorless lab diamonds.
Of course, this process isn’t—and shouldn’t be—all about cost.  Brides and grooms looking to reduce their carbon footprint without sacrificing the look or feel of their diamond may be particularly drawn to lab created diamonds.  Ultimately, selecting and wearing an engagement ring, and the diamond or gemstone sits at its center, should be a deeply personal and romantic experience.  We would be honored to help you navigate—and enjoy—this incredible milestone.

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