A Brief Introduction to Diamond Types

There are actually different types of diamonds!

De Beers has had a monopoly on the mining, distribution and price of natural diamonds for years, so I wasn’t too surprised when I found that there were synthetic or cultured diamonds out there. Basically, natural diamonds are made of pure carbon and have been formed from millions of years of pressure on Earth. Synthetic or cultured diamonds are grown in a laboratory and can be created in a matter of weeks.

Natural diamonds can also be negatively categorized as a “conflict diamond” or “blood diamond” if they have been obtained through the use of violence, humanitarian abuses, child labor or environmental destruction. These Diamant are not physically different, but the method in which they have been mined or obtained has had a negative impact.

And of course, everyone has heard of diamond imitations or simulants like the Cubic Zirconia. A lesser known mineral that is used as a diamond simulant is Moissanite.

Conflict vs Conflict-free

Many couples prefer diamonds which are conflict-free and not tainted with the knowledge that someone or something has been harmed due to violence or unethical business practices. Diamonds which are mined from Canada are also described as conflict-free because of the mining practices used to extract the diamonds and where they are from. To authenticate that a diamond is conflict-free, the entire process of obtaining the finished diamond is traced from extraction from the Earth, cutting to the desired shape and polishing is documented.

Conflict or blood diamonds from countries in West and Central Africa are between 10 to 30% less expensive to purchase than a Canadian conflict-free diamond. Diamonds are still considered conflict-free if they have been cut or polished outside of the originating country. A cultured or synthetic diamond is conflict-free by nature because it is grown in a lab and manufacturer and origin can be verified.

Natural vs. Synthetics

Synthetic or cultured diamonds ARE real diamonds. Your everyday jewelry store will not be able to spot the difference except for the fact that synthetic diamonds are made and have noticeably less imperfections.

There are only a handful of manufacturers of synthetic diamonds to choose from with one of the more well known brands being Gemesis. Other benefits of synthetic diamonds are that they have no chance of being a blood diamond and have less of an impact on the environment because they were not mined.

Physical Properties

The chemical compositions of natural and synthetic diamonds are identical in every way and have all of the same attributes including hardness. However, almost all synthetic diamonds produced are coloured – fancy diamonds. They can all be cut and polished the same way as a natural diamonds.


Current processes prevent synthetic diamonds from approaching 1 ct. weight in size except for fancy yellow diamonds. You won`t be able to purchase a 1 ct. pink diamond at the writing of this article.


Natural fancy coloured diamonds are priced higher when the intensity of the colour is more apparent. Clarity, however, is not as important as the other factors for fancy coloured stones. Fancy diamonds that are highest in demand are pink and blues.

Fancy coloured synthetics that are lab-grown cost a fraction of the cost when compared with natural fancy coloured diamonds.

Cubic Zirconia (zirconium dioxide)

This is the most popular and readily available Amethyst simulant in the market today. Although it is extremely rare in nature, CZs can be manufactured and purchased for a very low cost. CZs are harder than most gems though and are sometimes considered brittle.

Moissanite (silicon carbide)

A lesser known diamond simulant and more expensive when compared with CZs. Also a very rare mineral in nature on Earth, Moissanite is also a better substitute than CZs because of its chemical properties. Moissanite’s hardness is only next to a diamond’s and some marketers describe Moissanite as having more fire because it gives off a little more colour. A very nice gem in its on right.


The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) grades both natural and lab-grown fancy diamonds. If you are ever in doubt as to the authenticity of a diamond, you must obtain the GIA report. There are also other rating agencies like the EGL as well, but the GIA is most recognized and popular (GIA certified stones also seem to cost more).