What Types of Fake Diamonds Are There?

Types of Fake Diamonds

Diamond simulants fake diamonds have been around for ages. How can you really tell the difference between a real sparkly diamond and imitation diamonds? What kinds of fake diamonds are out there?

The most popular types of fake diamonds are: 

  • Cubic Zirconia
  • Moissanite
  • White Sapphire
  • Rhinestone
  • Zircon
  • White Spinel
  • Glass
  • Lab-created Diamonds*

All fake diamonds have a completely different chemical makeup from true diamonds.

*Lab-created diamonds although synthetic imitations are not considered hoaxes because they have the exact same chemical makeup as real true diamond stones.

Learn more about spotting fake diamonds:

What are the most Popular Diamond replacements used in Jewelry?

Cubic Zirconia

The most popular diamond substitute out there is the synthetic cubic zirconia. The cubic zirconia although having a decreased refractive index than a diamond still gives off a lot of shine especially in the sun. Zirconias can’t compare to the solidity of a true diamond but are still fairly sturdy and long-lasting.


Next, we have the moissanite which is a very special mineral that is exceptionally rare discovered in nature. You will often find this type of stone to be man-made because they just can’t be found on earth anymore. This diamond replacement is one of the very best because it most mimics a real diamond’s hardness and clarity.

Learn more about Moissanite for Engagement Rings

White Sapphire

Of course, we have to list the stunning white sapphire because of its colorless opacity and hardness level. These make a popular choice because they are much cheaper than diamonds but still appear expensive. The only thing to be wary of is that they can appear almost cloudy or white but then again some would say that adds to their beauty after all they are called the white sapphire.


Rhinestones are super shiny and you’ve probably noticed them at one time or another as they are very popular. They are used to add sparkle to many different accessories such as handbags, clothes, and shoes.

They do resemble diamonds but certainly, come nowhere close. Basically a rhinestone is an imitation diamond that is used in low-cost jewelry or to add flair to clothes. They can be made from quartz, a gem, paste, or glass.


Zircon is a common mineral found around the world and is in fact an earth made gemstone.  Zircon is a historical gem and has been used for almost 2000 years now and comes in many different colors and shades.

Zircon can be looked on as an inferior diamond stimulant, but it actually is a precious natural gemstone. Did you know that some zircons can even have elements from the earth that are radioactive inside them? They also are much rarer than diamonds but come with a lower price tag.

White Spinel

White spinel has been used for many years and dates back to ancient times. White spinel is a gemstone and only recently has been gaining in popularity.

They used to be classified as corundum as they were often found in the same gem mines. However, with closer examination and study these minerals are chemically different. Synthetic spinel is fairly cheap and used in other gems as a stimulant.

Natural earth-grown spinel is rare however they can be found in almost every color!


Glass diamonds can be quite beautiful but they certainly are not authentic diamonds. They are made from a type of crystal and then cut and polished to make them as shiny as possible.

What is nice about glass diamonds is they come in an array of different colors and look very sparkly under light.

Learn more about the different types of diamonds.

How can you tell the Difference Between a Cubic Zirconia and a Diamond?

The best way to differentiate between a cubic zirconia and a diamond is to assess the way that they capture light and the reflection produced by the stone when you hold it up to light. Cubic zirconias will flash a rainbow of colors whereas a diamond will be more bright and shine much more.

You can also do the simple fog test which uses the science behind thermal conductivity. If you breathe on the stone you will notice that the fog on a cubic zirconia should remain for a few seconds whereas the fog on the real diamond will quickly fade almost instantly.

Cubic zirconias are actually not a bad buy if you don’t have the money to spend on a diamond but you would like a little sparkle in your life. Since they are manufactured in a lab they are very durable and you can get them in lots of different sizes. Keep in mind they will scratch and scuff much more easily then diamonds but if you keep it somewhere safe and don’t wear it daily it will hold its value longer.

What about Lab Diamonds?

Lab diamonds are virtually impossible to detect to the regular eye because they are made up of the exact same composition that a natural diamond has. The only way to have it tested is to take it to a professional jeweler who will be able to tell by the inscription under a microscope.

Lab diamonds are not synthetic diamonds. The only difference between a lab diamond and a regular diamond is that one was grown in a lab and one was created in the earth. Lab diamonds also cost less which makes them more appealing to customers.

The creation of a lab diamond is very identical to the way a natural diamond is formed with the use of very high temperatures and pressures.  Once a few weeks have passed the diamond seed in its special chamber would have crystallized enough to become the size of a full rough stone.  Of course, after its cut and polished you end up with the same elements of a natural glimmering diamond.

See also: Are Lab Grown Diamonds the same as Cubic Zirconia?

Final thoughts

The take away from this article is that there are many different simulated diamonds out there but they are not truly real diamonds because they have been chemically altered in some way and manufactured. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t hold any beauty. I still think the old saying holds true diamonds really are a girl’s best friend whether they are synthetic or man-made.

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Carl Jones

Carl A. Jones is the head writer behind the Diamond Authority and specializes in writing about tips, reviews, and advice for buying Diamond Jewelry. He has a wealth of knowledge about diamonds, and he is here to share that knowledge with you.

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