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What is a treated diamond?


What’s the difference between a natural diamond, a treated diamond and a diamond simulant? A lot of information is out there on the web about this and some of it is more confusing than it is helpful. So I thought I would try to sort it out for you guys all at once. Now a natural diamond is exactly what you think it is. It is a diamond that was created by mother nature millions of years ago deep underground, a miner found it, a cutter cut it and a jeweller set it in a ring for you. That’s a natural diamond.

There are also treated diamonds that you may have heard referred to as enhanced diamonds. That’s a natural diamond that after cutting, someone looked at it and said, “You know, there’s a pretty major flaw in here that I think we can correct. In other words, sometimes a diamond will have a big piece of graphite right in the middle of it, a big black dot. And we can correct that by drilling a hole in the diamond with a laser, a very small hole, and then bathing that diamond in a solution of very strong acid under high pressure at high temperature. We literally put the diamond in a pressure cooker full of acid. That acid goes down into that little hole and bleaches that black dot white. Which improves the appearance of the diamond, also sometimes diamonds have fractures in them, you know big cracks, crevices, that we can fill with silicone or with other filler materials and make them less visually obvious.

So those diamonds have been enhanced or treated but they are no longer considered natural diamonds. So, is there anything wrong with that? No, not necessarily, but it’s very unethical for someone to sell you an enhanced or treated diamond as if it were natural, because those treatments very much affect the value of the diamond. Take two diamonds that look identical, ones natural and one’s treated. The treated diamond is worth about half as much. So it’s something you need to be aware that it’s not a trivial change in a diamond. Natural is much more valuable than treated.

Then there’s another category of stones, diamond simulant. There’s lots of other stones out there that have been designed and engineered to look as much like a diamond as possible. Moissanite is one and then of course there are other less expensive ones like cubic zirconia.

Now those stones are not diamonds, they don’t have the same chemical properties as diamonds but to a layperson, to a casual observer some of them look very much like a diamond. You can certainly convince yourself that it’s a pretty good substitute for the real thing. But it’s not the real thing, so be careful of anyone telling you this is the same thing as a diamond. It’s definitely not.

My personal philosophy is that a diamond simulant is in a certain sense; almost you’re being dishonest with yourself. I believe if you don’t want to buy a diamond, if you don’t want to buy the real thing, don’t buy something that’s trying to be a diamond. Buy something else completely, buy a sapphire, buy a pearl, get a ring with no stones at all, if you either don’t want to or can’t afford to buy a diamond. I advocate against buying something that’s pretending to be a diamond, because if you do that you have two choices. Choice one, lie to your girlfriend about it when you propose and tell her it’s a diamond. Nobody should start a marriage that way. Or, two, tell your girlfriend and then explain to her that now she has to give the speech that I’ve just given every time somebody asks her about her ring at a party for the rest of her life.

You’re buying a ring that has an asterisk attached to it and you have to make the speech about why you didn’t buy a diamond every time somebody asks forever. It may seem like it’s no big deal it’s going to get annoying, trust me. So if you don’t want to buy a diamond, buy something that looks nothing like a diamond and if somebody asks you why you didn’t want to buy a diamond say ‘cause I didn’t want to, that’s easy.

So there are simulants out there, but take my advice guys and stay away from them. One thing that’s become popular in the last few years is to use other stones beside diamonds as centre stones in engagement rings. People use sapphire or emeralds, morganite has become very popular. Aquamarine and a number of others. Certainly there is nothing wrong with doing that if that’s what you want to do. You do want to be careful though about which stone you choose for your centre stone in terms of its durability because that becomes a practical issue. Now, diamond is the hardest natural stone that we know of, but sapphire is pretty close and ruby, pretty close. I don’t know if you know this but sapphire and ruby are actually chemically the same stone.

In the world of precious stones there really only two. You got diamonds and then you’ve got two stones. One is called corundum and one is called beryl. Now when corundum is red we call it a ruby, when it’s blue we call it a sapphire. And beryl, when it’s green we call it an emerald, when it’s pink we call it a morganite, when it’s blue we call it an aquamarine and when it’s yellow we call it heliodor, but they’re really the same stone. So diamond is the hardest, corundum which is ruby and sapphire, not far behind and beryl, your emerald, aqua, heliodor, morganite is quite a bit softer.

So if you’re buying a beryl engagement ring, you have to be very careful and very cognisant of the fact that sooner or later you are going to chip that stone. That’s not really something that’s meant to be worn every day forever, because the day’s going to come when you chip the stone. Is that a big deal necessarily? No, it’s not that expensive to replace one of those stones but a lot of people attach a lot of sentimental value to their engagement rings. So if you want a stone that’s going to last forever there’s a reason they say a diamond is forever.

It’s not just marketing that stone is as impervious as you can get to damage. And it will look exactly the way it does now next year, in 10 years, in a hundred years and in a thousand years.

A diamond really is forever.


The World Diamond Council was formed in 2000 by the diamond and jewellery industries to address the issues caused by conflict diamonds.

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