Spotting Real and Fake Diamonds

By on October 27, 2015
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Whether you buy your diamonds online, in a jewelry store, or at a pawn shop, you want to make sure they’re real! A lot of places will try to sell you cubic zirconium or other fakes, either knowingly or not. The only foolproof way to identify real diamonds is if they have a certificate, but there are a few other ways to get a pretty good idea of whether a diamond is real or not. By the end of this article, you’ll be identifying real and fake diamonds almost as accurately as a professional jeweler.

Speaking of professional jewelers, they’re still the best way to be pretty sure your gem is really a diamond. A good appraiser will usually charge a fee between $25 and $75, and will have no problem examining the diamond in front of you. Some people have had diamonds switched out for fakes at jewelry appraisals, so keep an eye on your diamond in the jeweler’s hand at all times. Most appraisers are honest people, however. Just be cautious and aware. Some jewelers will even give your diamond a quick examination for free, but keep in mind that this may be less accurate.

When looking at jewelry before a purchase, it’s not always possible to carry a jewelry expert around in your pocket. You may have heard of methods such as the scratch test or the newspaper test. In the scratch test, you rub the diamond against glass to see if it scratches it. Additionally, most diamonds are so refractive that you will not be able to read newsprint if you lay a real diamond on top of it.These are not foolproof, however, and some real diamonds have actually been harmed attempting the scratch test. It is more accurate to breathe on a diamond and see how quickly the fog dissipates. Real diamonds should be fog free before you even get a chance to peek at it, whereas glass and many other fakes will hold the heat for a couple of seconds. Dirt and oil will make this test less accurate, so it works best on a clean stone. If you do a lot of thrift-store diamond shopping, you might want to invest in an electronic diamond/moissonite tester. These are quite accurate at telling real diamonds from imitations and they work in a matter of seconds.

If the diamonds are mounted in jewelry, check the metal for markings. Jewelry created in the U.S. and most of Europe in recent decades must be stamped with quality markings. Check for 10 karat or higher gold or three digit numbers, typically around 900, to indicate platinum. PT or Plat are also used on occasion for platinum. Watch out for markings like GF, RGP, or HGE, which indicate gold plating, and CZ, which indicates that the stone is cubic zirconium. If you feel like getting really fancy, you can purchase a jeweler’s loupe. Natural diamonds will usually have some imperfections inside them, while cubic zirconium will not. However, lab-created diamonds and natural diamonds with “flawless” clarity will not have any imperfections, either.

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