There are a number of reasons why a person might seek diamond alternatives: The most obvious one is affordability - a high quality natural diamond may be very expensive, costing perhaps tens of thousands of dollars. Another possible reason is that diamonds as a commodity have come under severe criticism either because of mining practices which may be environmentally damaging, or through the complex issue of "conflict minerals".
Another reason for diamond alternatives is that some say diamonds are overpriced because of aggressive marketing - and it is known that there are many other stones that are actually far more rare, that are less expensive. A further reason is that while some people revere the traditions of their ancestors, others simply want to be different and break with tradition and the norm.
On the other side of the coin, many wish for a real, natural diamond as it has great mystique. It has come to symbolize permanence or even earthly perfection. Also the diamond having formed deep inside the earth under pressure from ordinary carbon, symbolizes for some the idea that the pressure of life forms the ultimate soul or partnership. The diamond in ancient times was called "Adamas", meaning "unbreakable" - and so for many the diamond has come to symbolize an unbreakable bond of love.
The choice of a precious stone, especially for an engagement ring, has become an important decision for many people in the modern world, and is one that should be made carefully and in awareness of the many "facets" of life...
List Of Diamond Alternatives
Here is a list of diamond alternatives to consider as opposed to a natural, clear diamond:
Synthetic diamonds. Laboratory technologies for making synthetic diamonds are now so advanced that it can be extremely difficult to tell a synthetic diamond from a natural one - and sometimes impossible with the naked eye. Synthetic diamonds are still made of diamond, but are created in a lab. They have the beauty, sparkle and hardness of a real diamond, with a possibility of greatly reduced price and a way to sidestep the whole issue of "conflict diamonds".
Black diamonds. Black diamond is a much more rare form of diamond, and one with a fascinating, mysterious story behind it. Said by some to be even harder than clear diamond, it is possible that black diamonds were formed in supernovae - the explosions of ancient stars - before falling to earth in the form of meteorites. Black diamonds of course do not have the sparkle of their siblings, but they do have a mysterious allure of their own. You could consider them a kind of "gothic" diamond. Black diamonds have found popularity with men and with those who like something a little more edgy.
Moissanite. Moissanite is the crystalline form of the mineral silicon carbide. That makes it sound unglamorous - but a cut moissanite can have tremendous clarity, beauty and sparkle at a much lower price, making it a strong competitor to the diamond. Moissanite was first discovered by Henri Moissan just over 100 years ago in meteorite samples. Naturally occurring moissanite is exceedingly scarce - however moissanite is created in the lab and a process was patented in the 1980s for creating transparent moissanite crystals. Moissanite is extremely hard (9.5 on the Mohs scale; diamond is 10) - however the great attraction of moissanite is that some of its optical properties exceed those of diamond. It is said to have a higher refractive index, fire and luster than diamond - meaning that its sparkle may be even greater. Owing to its hardness, moissanite (it is said) is harder to tell apart from real diamond than other stones.
Cubic zirconia. Not to be confused with zircon, which is a naturally occurring mineral, cubic zirconia, also known as CZ, is the crystalline gemstone form of zirconium dioxide (ZrO2). It is the most commonly employed diamond simulant and is lab-created on a large scale. Cubic zirconia is much less expensive than diamond - and has some comparable physical qualities: It is less hard (8.0 Mohs), has a lesser refractive index (2.15-2.18 compared to 2.419 for real diamond); however it has adamantine (superlative) luster, as does diamond, and it has a higher dispersion (0.058-0.066, diamond is 0.044). Dispersion, explained simply, is the ability of a material to split light into its "rainbow" colors. It is a variation in the refractive index of the material at different light wavelengths; light of one color is "bent" more than light of another color when passing through the stone, leading to the separation of the colors. Cubic zirconia fluoresces yellow,greenish yellow or beige under shortwave UV.
Titania. Titania is reported to have the highest refraction of light of any gemstone. It is the crystalline form of titanium dioxide. It has a lower hardness - 6.0 Mohs - and may often have a trace of red/yellow in the coloration.
Other natural gemstones. There are a huge number of other natural gemstones which can be obtained - some of which resemble diamond, and some of which simply have other fascinating qualities. Some others to consider for the adventurous might be goshenite, white topaz, white sapphire, scheelite, sphalerite, or sphene.
Ultra rare / expensive gemstones. If you thought diamonds were the rarest of gemstones, think again. Hundreds of tons of diamonds have been mined throughout history - and annual world production of gem-quality diamond is said to exceed sixty million carats. There are some stones which are far more rare. The following examples will not necessarily look like diamonds, but they are in the super-league of rarity: Serendibite, bixbite, poudrettite, grandidierite, benitoite, taaffeite and tanzanite.
If you are choosing a diamond for someone (or for yourself!), it might be worth considering one of these alternatives. It's really about what is important to you at the end of the day and your best decisions reflect your values, your knowledge and the things you truly believe in.
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Note - this website is intended for general informational and entertainment purposes, and should not be considered to be professional consultation. If you are considering purchasing precious stones, be sure to seek the advice of a qualified professional.
© TheDiamondCuts.com, 2012