How do you know if your ring, earrings, bracelet, or necklace boasts natural diamond stone? If you love B movies, the answer is simple. Take your alleged diamond and use it to cut a hole in a window. (And in B movie fashion, you can then break in and cause all sorts of hijinks). Does this work? Sure, natural diamonds can cut glass - but this is not a foolproof method of determining whether you have the real deal. And we do not encourage hijinks!
We understand that authenticating your diamond is essential; you want to determine if it is real. But we first need to define “real.” Is a piece made with cubic zirconia real? Of course. Is a piece made with lab grown diamonds real? Of course. But, to many consumers, real means natural when it comes to diamonds.
It is difficult to discern whether you are looking at a natural diamond stone or one that has been manufactured in a lab, given that they have identical chemical properties. This makes it all the more important that we differentiate them. We must be fully aware of our investments after all. The goal is to ensure that consumers are fully informed when they purchase a piece - and that they are completely satisfied with it now and in the future.
So, how can you tell if a diamond is certified natural?
Most Manufacturers are Transparent
There is a market for lab grown diamonds; thus, there is no reason for manufacturers to fudge the truth. The majority are abundantly clear about the provenance of their stones and do not hesitate to disclose that they are man-made. Scrupulous companies even laser-inscribe their stones to indicate their origin.
Type IIa Test
Note that we said “most,” “the majority,” and “scrupulous.” As in any and every industry, there are some companies that are not as committed to their transparency efforts. So, better safe than sorry. Type IIa diamonds are the most chemically pure diamonds in existence and are colorless or near-colorless. In the “wild,” they are extremely rare; only 1-2% of all-natural diamond stones are type IIa. But almost all manufactured diamonds are type IIa.
A type IIa test won’t be 100% conclusive as there are some rare specimens in nature (think Liz Taylor’s $8.8 million beauty), but it will give you a very good indicator as to the authenticity of your stone. Note: stones must be loose and unmounted for this testing.
Photoluminescence Spectroscopy and UV Radiation
Again, some consumers may not care if a piece contains a natural diamond stone. They may be perfectly satisfied with an imitation or a lab grown stone. Others want the “real deal.” In this case, the stone can be sent for testing at specialized labs, such as GIA (Gemological Institute of America).
Their sophisticated equipment can produce an accurate answer by applying different types of radiation to the stone and analyzing the reactions. By reading the spikes and troughs that appear at certain wavelengths, they can determine if a stone has been grown over centuries in the earth or over weeks in the lab.
Do DIY “Tests” Work?
We love DIY - but when it comes to your most valued, treasured, and meaningful pieces, it does not go far enough. For example, some people purport to be able to determine if a diamond is real by breathing on it. Yes, that’s right. They say if you breathe on a stone - just like you would a mirror - and it stays fogged for more than a few seconds, it’s probably not natural. Another test: fill a glass with water and drop the diamond in. If the diamond floats to the middle or top, it’s not natural.
There is a basis for these tests if you’re comparing a diamond to an imitation. But because natural diamond stones and lab grown stones have identical chemical compositions, they are not going to tell you much. In other words, don’t waste your breath fogging up a stone.
Make It Easier
If you are wondering whether your diamond is a certified natural, take a step back. Is it certified lab grown? The vast majority of manufacturers are completely upfront about this. They mark it, and they market it. As mentioned, there is a niche for these products, and they have their own appeal for some consumers.
If your stone is not demarcated, and you are not sure of its origin or authenticity, it is time to send it to a lab for confirmation. If it matters to you to know for sure, then it is worth taking this step.
On the other hand, you can avoid wandering in the first place by ensuring that the stones or pieces you purchase have a clear path from mine to wholesaler to jeweler to you. Today, the industry is hyper-conscious of following applicable laws and regulations to maintain a clean supply chain. Proving authenticity is an integral component of this effort.