Share facts or photos of intriguing scientific phenomena.

What are Simulated Diamonds? Properties, Applications, and More

What are Simulated Diamonds?
Some diamonds are real, some are synthetic, while some are simulated. And we are here to know about simulated diamonds. Let's take a look...
Madhavi Ghare
Last Updated: May 31, 2018
Simulated diamonds are not diamonds at all; but imitations that appear like a diamond. Cubic Zirconia (CZ), moissanite, etc., are diamond simulants as they look like diamonds, but have different chemical properties. Therefore, many experts argue that it is inappropriate to call simulated diamonds, 'diamonds'; they should be simply known as simulants.
Simulated Diamonds - A Flashback
The history of making simulated diamonds dates back to the eighteenth century. In the earlier times, glass, rhinestone, etc. was used for making antique jewelry. Later, in the 20th century, other simulants like spinel, white sapphire, strontium titanate, etc. were created. It was not until 1976 that Cubic zirconia, or popularly known as CZ, was created.

Although it was also synthesized in the earlier times, it gained a lot of popularity later due to its extreme similarity with the white diamond. However, with the creation of moissanite, there is now a tough competition for cubic zirconia (CZ), which was absent all the while.
The Technology Behind Simulated Diamonds
There are two major methods used to create simulated diamond crystals. The first and most popular method, which was devised by GE, is known as the High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) method. In this, there are two different press designs which are used to grow diamond crystals.
  • The first is the method used by Howard Tracy Hall, which is called the belt press method. In the belt press method, two anvils, one from up and one from down, supply the pressure and heat currents to a cylindrical volume.
  • The second method is known as the cubic press method. In this method, there are six anvils which provide pressure to a cube shaped volume.
The second method, devised by the Japanese, is known as Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) method. In this method, the necessary environment is created for carbon atoms in a gas to settle on a surface for the diamond crystals to grow.
Simulated diamonds have certain peculiar properties as compared to the typical properties of a natural diamond. Some of them are listed below:
  • These diamonds may either be made up of a single continuous crystal, or of several smaller crystals. The single crystal diamonds are used to make gemstones, while the smaller crystals are used in industrial applications.
  • The hardness of the diamonds made using the Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) method can be controlled depending upon their purpose. Artificial diamonds that are harder than natural diamonds can also be made.
  • No natural crystal is pure, because it can contain many different impurities. Natural diamonds are, therefore, flawed; whereas simulated gems appear flawless.
  • They usually give color to the crystals, and even add certain properties (depending upon the properties of the chemical which causes the impurity). Due to the processes used in the creation of artificial diamonds, there are chemicals which have to be used in the process. For example, nitrogen gives the diamond a yellowish color, while boron gives a bluish tinge.
Uses and Applications
Simulated diamonds are gaining a lot of popularity because of their affordable prices. Wedding jewelry sets made of colorful diamond simulants are also preferred by people all over the world.

However, apart from jewelry making, they have varied applications and uses. Due to their hardness, diamonds have always been needed in machine tools. Due to cost and hardness factors, simulated diamonds are used on a wide scale in various cutting tools.
Synthetic diamonds have also found their uses in the electronics industry. Conductive diamonds are used as electrodes in several cases.

Since diamonds are almost totally chemically inert, they are also used in the waste water treatment of organic effluents. Thus, simulated diamonds are soon becoming the norm for various types of industrial and technological applications in the world.
Additional Information on the History of Synthetic Diamonds
Similar to simulated diamonds, the history of synthetic diamonds also dates back to the eighteenth century. In 1797, it was first discovered that diamonds comprised pure carbon. Ever since then, attempts have been made by several people to produce diamonds synthetically. Many scientists tried to make synthetic diamonds using a variety of processes. Chief among them were Ferdinand Frederic Henri Moissan and Sir William Crookes. But no one met with much success.

Eventually, in 1954 Howard Tracy Hall grew a synthetic diamond in a reproducible and verifiable process while he was working with General Electric. He even received a medal from the American Chemical Society for his work in 1972.
Lastly, it should be noted that although they look like diamonds, simulated diamonds are NOT actually diamonds. You can buy them if you are looking for inexpensive jewelry options. However, make sure that you do not end up paying excess for these artificial gems. Good luck!
Business people Bullying A Colleague At Office