One of the most common questions that gemologists are asked is how to tell the difference between a real diamond and a fake stone.
We spoke with Reyne Hirsch, a 20th-century decorative arts expert and consultant for the global online marketplace Lofty, about how to tell when a diamond is real, and when and why to take it to an expert.
Whether it’s with jewellery you inherited or something you found at a garage sale, it’s easy to do a few simple DIY tests. That necklace you think is just cheap costume jewellery could end up costing a small fortune.
Here are five easy ways to tell if the stone you have is actually a diamond.
A loupe is a magnifying glass that you can buy at any jewellery store and will let you take a closer look at your gem and setting.
'When you're looking at a diamond, there are a few things you'll notice,' Hirsch told us. 'First, the majority of diamonds are made in nature so that means you're going to see some imperfections in the carbon. A fake stone would be perfect -- absolutely perfect.'
Hirsch explains that certain lab-grown stones will also look perfect through the loupe, and so you should be cautious before discarding perfect gems. It can be a clue, however, that you should take a closer look or bring the stone to an expert.
Second, observe the diamond's edges. 'When you're taking a look at a diamond through a loupe, a real stone is going to have sharp edges, and a fake stone will have rounded edges,' Hirsch explained.
Lastly, look at the mounting and etchings, especially any marks that signify what metal was used. 'If the metal is gold-plated or silver, chances are it's not a diamond, because why would you put a nice stone mounted in such a cheap metal?' Hirsch said. 'Most diamonds are mounted in gold or set in platinum.'
'Also take a look at the mounting itself and how that diamond is set,' she added. 'If the setting looks like it's of poor quality, that probably means it's not going to be a real diamond either.'
This is an easy test, since diamonds are one of the world's hardest materials and won't be scratched by the rough surface. 'If it's a diamond, it will remain perfect. If it's a cubic zirconium, it will scratch it up,' Hirsch said.
Breathe hot air on your diamond the same way you would if you were fogging up a bathroom mirror.
'A fake diamond will fog up for a short period of time, whereas a real diamond will not because it won't retain the heat,' Hirsch explained.
The way that diamonds reflect light is unique: Inside the stone, the diamond will sparkle grey and white (known as 'brilliance') while outside of the gem, it will reflect rainbow colours onto other surfaces (this dispersed light is known as 'fire').
A fake diamond will have rainbow colours that you can see inside the diamond.
'People have a misconception that diamonds sparkle like a rainbow, but they don't,' Hirsch said. 'They do sparkle, but it's more of a grey colour. If you see something with rainbow colours (inside the stone), it could be a sign that it's not a diamond.'
Diamonds are so sparkly because of the way they refract and bend light. Glass, quartz, and cubic zirconium may mimic a diamond's brilliance, but they have much lower refractive indexes.
This means that if your stone isn't in a setting, you can place it over a newspaper, and the light will scatter inside the real diamond and prevent a black reflection. A fake diamond will let the black shine through, and you may even be able to read a word through it, depending on the size of the fake stone.
If your diamond is mounted, make sure you can't see through it to the mount itself -- that's a very bad sign.
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