What Are Genuine Diamonds? | Learn How To Recognize Natural Precious Stones

As one of the most precious naturally occurring substances in the world, diamonds are highly sought after. In fact, they can be worth anywhere from hundreds to easily reaching thousands of dollars. With that in mind, there’s no surprise that there are fake diamonds and alternatives that shady sellers might try to pawn off to unsuspecting buyers.

In this article, we will delve into the definition of genuine diamonds and explore their distinct characteristics. We will also discuss how professionals test for their authenticity and provide some simple methods for testing at home.

Key Takeaways

  • Genuine diamonds are natural diamonds. This may be confusing as “lab diamonds” are still real diamonds
  • Jewelers can conduct tests to determine if a diamond is genuine.
  • It can be difficult for non-experts to distinguish between real and fake diamonds.

Definition of Genuine Diamonds

Genuine diamonds, also known as natural diamonds, are formed naturally through geological processes under high temperatures and pressures. They are composed of carbon and have a unique crystal structure and chemical composition. Diamonds are found in a type of volcanic rock called kimberlite in sites all over the world.

In contrast, synthetic diamonds, also called lab-grown or man-made diamonds, are created in a laboratory using various techniques to mimic the conditions that produce natural diamonds. Both are considered real diamonds.

Difference Between Natural and Synthetic Diamonds

Synthetic diamonds, also known as lab-grown diamonds,  are chemically and physically identical to natural diamonds. However, they are created in a controlled laboratory environment rather than being formed naturally through geological processes.

3 diamonds on the dark background
  • Synthetic diamonds have the same exact crystal structure and chemical composition as natural diamonds.
  • They are produced using 2 methods –  high-pressure, high-temperature (HPHT) or chemical vapor deposition (CVD) methods.
  • Lab-grown diamonds offer an ethical alternative to mined diamonds, as they do not involve environmental destruction or human  exploitation.
  • Lab grown diamonds can be much cheaper

Characteristics of genuine diamonds will be discussed in the subsequent section.

Characteristics of Genuine Diamonds

This discussion will focus on three key characteristics of genuine diamonds:

  1. The 4Cs of diamonds refer to the carat weight, color grade, clarity grade, and cut grade of a diamond. These factors are important considerations in determining its quality and therefore price.
  2. Fluorescence properties, which describe how a diamond emits visible light when exposed to ultraviolet light and is a telling sign. Varying degrees of fluorescence can affect its appearance.
  3. Inclusions in natural diamonds, which are internal or external imperfections that can impact their clarity and value. The fewer inclusions in a diamond the better.

By grouping these concepts on their own lines, with a double new line after each, the paragraph structure becomes clearer and more organized.

4Cs of Diamonds

As we mentioned before, the 4Cs are carat weight, evaluating diamond cut, the role of diamond color, and clarity. These grading standards are very important in determining the quality of a given diamond.

Carat Weight Importance

Carat weight is a very, very important factor in determining the value and rarity of genuine diamonds. Larger diamonds are much more rare, as only one in a million mined diamonds weigh more than one carat.

The carat weight of a diamond can significantly affect its price and desirability.

While fake diamonds or diamond substitutes like cubic zirconia may also be measured in carats, their value is considerably smaller.

Closeup of a diamond

Evaluating Diamond Cut

An essential aspect of assessing the quality and beauty of a diamond is to carefully evaluate its cut, which plays a crucial role in determining how effectively the stone reflects and refracts light, captivating viewers with its mesmerizing brilliance and sparkle.

A well-cut genuine diamond:

  • Exhibits optimal light performance
  • Maximizes brightness, fire, and scintillation

Evaluating diamond cut requires the expertise of a diamond expert who analyzes its visual appearance. It typically can’t be done by the naked eye.

Role of Diamond Color

The presence of color in diamonds, or lack thereof, is also a significant factor in determining their value. The rarest and most valuable diamonds are completely colorless – they are also the most in demand. In fact, less than 1% of all mined diamonds are considered to be truly colorless. 

The absence of any noticeable hue enhances the brilliance and  fire of a diamond. This distinction is crucial when distinguishing between a true diamond and other alternatives such as white sapphires or synthetic gemstones, known as diamond simulants.

Clarity Grading Standards

Clarity grading standards are the last of the 4 Cs and play a crucial role in determining the quality of a diamond. They allow for an objective evaluation of any internal or external flaws that may affect its appearance and brilliance and can be fairly used to grade a diamond. 

The clarity grade is determined by assessing the number, size, nature, and position of these flaws. The price of a diamond ring, earring, or necklace will increase with a higher diamond clarity grade.

Diamonds under UV light

Fluorescence Properties

Fluorescence properties of genuine diamonds are on display when exposed to ultraviolet light, and can be compared to a mesmerizing dance of colors.. Under UV light, some real diamonds emit a soft blue glow,  while others may exhibit yellow or green fluorescence. This unique characteristic provides gemologists with valuable information for diamond identification and grading purposes which will correlate directly to their value.

However, it is important to note that fluorescence alone cannot determine the authenticity of a diamond since both real and fake diamonds can be fluorescent  under UV light. Therefore, other tests such as  visual inspection with special tools and professional gemological analysis are necessary to distinguish between real and fake diamonds accurately.

Testing Genuine Diamonds With a Professional Expert

Expert diamond testing methods are absolutely crucial in distinguishing genuine diamonds from synthetic ones. These methods involve a range of tests conducted by professional gemologists to determine the authenticity of a diamond.

Expert Diamond Testing Methods

Gemologists employ a range of highly accurate and scientifically advanced methods to authenticate the genuineness of diamonds, which ensures the utmost precision in their evaluation. These expert diamond testing methods involve various techniques such as magnification, spectroscopy, and thermal conductivity measurements and they also need very special tools. By examining a diamond’s physical properties and characteristics, gemologists can determine if it is genuine or not.

One commonly used method is magnification, where gemologists carefully inspect the diamond under a highly specialized microscope to assess the diamond’s shape and cut, and any possible flaws or inclusions in a diamond with a trained high. Spectroscopy is another technique that analyzes the light absorption and reflection properties of the diamond to identify its chemical composition.

Another important aspect of authenticating diamonds involves distinguishing between lab-created diamonds and genuine/natural ones. Reputable jewelers can perform tests using special equipment that can detect differences in crystal structure or trace elements present in lab-created diamonds as lab diamonds typically have perfectly formed crystal structures.

A person observing a diamond

Identifying Synthetic Diamonds

Synthetic diamonds can be identified through the analysis of their crystal structure, trace elements, and light absorption properties, among other things.One key indicator is the presence of certain trace elements that are commonly found in synthetic stones but are very rare in natural diamonds. Additionally, the crystal structure of synthetic diamonds may show slight differences and inconsistencies while lab created diamonds are typically very consistent . 

Another distinguishing factor is the way synthetic diamonds absorb  light, which can be detected through spectroscopic analysis.

Expert gemologists rely on these techniques and more to accurately identify synthetic diamonds and differentiate them from their natural counterparts to make sure a diamond is properly appraised. 

Importance of Professional Expertise

Professional expertise plays a crucial role in accurately figuring out the authenticity and quality of diamonds. When it comes to loose diamonds, consulting a professional gemologist is essential to ensure that you are purchasing a genuine stone. 

These experts have in-depth knowledge about the various aspects of real diamonds, such as their unique refractive index and how they reflect light in shades of white and gray. 

They can also identify diamond substitutes, like cubic zirconia or glass, which may be used for earrings, rings, necklaces, and other jewelry. Additionally, professionals can determine if a diamond is set in genuine materials like white gold or platinum. 

Their expertise helps consumers avoid the pitfalls of purchasing fake stones and ensures that they make informed decisions when investing in precious gemstones.

When taking jewelry for testing, be sure to always have eyes on the jewelry in case an ill-intent jeweler attempts to swap out jewels unbeknownst to you.

How to Test if A Diamond is Real or Fake At Home

One method to determine if a diamond is genuine or fake at home is by conducting the water test – where a real diamond would sink while a fake one would float due to differences in density. However, this test isn’t always accurate.

This simple test takes advantage of the fact that diamonds are made of strong materials and have a high density which can cause them to sink in water. Simulated gemstones, on the other hand, are often made from lighter materials such as glass or cubic zirconia, often letting them stay afloat

However, it’s important to note that the water test is not foolproof and should be used in conjunction with other methods for a more accurate assessment. 

While at-home tests can provide some initial insights into the authenticity of a diamond, they do not guarantee definitive results that you should rely on. It is recommended to consult with a professional jeweler or gemologist who has experience and expertise in identifying genuine diamonds. Their knowledge and access to sophisticated testing methods can help accurately differentiate between real and fake diamonds in rings, earrings and other jewelry with much more confidence.

A diamond in a glass of water

Frequently Asked Questions

Are lab-grown diamonds considered genuine diamonds?

Lab-grown diamonds are not  “genuine diamonds”, which is a special term that refers to naturally occurring diamonds. They are real diamonds as they possess the same chemical, physical, and optical properties as natural diamonds. They are created in a laboratory using advanced technology and mimic the natural processes  that form diamonds.

Can treatments alter the color or clarity of genuine diamonds?

Treatments can definitely alter the color and clarity of genuine diamonds. These various processes are used to enhance the appearance or correct imperfections in the stone, providing options for customization and improvements while maintaining its inherent qualities.

How can I determine if a pre-owned diamond is genuine?

To determine if a pre-owned diamond is genuine, consult a professional gemologist who can conduct tests to assess its authenticity or see if the diamond is certified by GIA or AGS. They will examine factors such as the diamond’s clarity, color, and refractive index to provide an accurate evaluation.

Are sapphires as hard as genuine diamonds?

Sapphires are not as hard as diamonds but are close in hardness to genuine diamonds. 

Can a genuine diamond be made of any other material besides carbon?

Yes, a genuine diamond can be made from other materials but is 99.95% carbon. The other materials are trace elements and can make up the .05%.


Distinguishing between real and fake diamonds can be challenging for non-experts, but professional jewelers can conduct tests to determine authenticity.

It is crucial to consult a gemologist before purchasing a diamond to ensure its genuineness if the diamond is not already certified.

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