If you’ve ever gazed at the sparkling rock on your finger and wondered if it was genuinely real or a very convincing fake, don’t feel guilty. Jewelers are regularly asked if a diamond is real or not, and it’s certainly not a superficial question. Maybe you’re concerned about the legitimacy of the jeweler it was purchased from, or maybe you just want to be absolutely sure that what you’re wearing is the real deal.
A thorough look at your stone likely won’t give you any answers here. Anyone who is unfamiliar with a diamond’s structure and components will find it easy to confuse a true diamond with a synthetic stone, such as one made of cubic zirconia or moissanite. Some synthetics are so real-looking that you may go months or years without realizing it’s a fake! If that sends your blood pressure skyrocketing, don’t worry, there are plenty of at-home tests you can do to reveal the truth.
“[These tests] really depend on what the stone is made of,” said Nicole Wegman, founder and CEO of Ring Concierge. “Not everything is cubic zirconia; there are different synthetics and different ways to make a fake diamond. You really should do a variety of these tests before you jump to conclusions that the stone is real. It might pass one test, but then not others.”
Meet the Expert
Nicole Wegman is the founder and CEO of Ring Concierge.
Ready to put your diamond to the test? Read on to learn how to tell the difference between a real and a fake.
It Reflects Both Color and White Light
One of the most aesthetically pleasing things about a diamond is the way it sparkles and shimmers in the sunlight. Put your stone through this test by looking at the colors it reflects. You should see both rainbow shades and white winking back at you, not just white. “If there are no reflections of color, if it is only reflecting white back at you no matter how you play with it and turn it around, it’s not going to be real,” said Wegman. “Diamonds definitely reflect a combination of white light and rainbow.”
It’s Not Blinding You with Rainbow Flashes
Here’s where things get a little confusing: One mark of a CZ may be the absence of color, but another is way too much color. “If it’s a CZ, it will be very, very, very rainbow-y and really bright,” explains Wegman. “It just almost looks too good to be true because it’s way too brilliant.” Of course, a real diamond is going to be brilliant, but, as Wegman points out, it’s also going to be more subtle than a CZ. Basically, if you think the diamond is too good to be true, it very well might be.
Wegman notes that this test works better with a side by side comparison rather than looking at stones individually.
It Doesn’t Fog Up
A quick and easy at-home test is to simply breathe on the stone in question. “If it’s a real diamond, it’s less likely to fog up because the condensation doesn’t stick to a diamond in the same way it’s going to stick to a synthetic,” said Wegman. However, if you breathe on a CZ, you’ll notice it stays fogged up a lot longer. It’s worth pointing out that this is another test that works better if you’re comparing rather than looking at stones individually.
It Doesn’t Get Scratched
Remember, diamonds are pretty tough to mess up, which means that nothing can scratch them (aside from another diamond). So, if you can work up the nerve, grab a knife and gently scratch the top of the stone. “If it scratches, it’s not a diamond, it’s certainly synthetic,” said Wegman. “The idea of trying to scratch it probably isn’t going to be the easiest thing to stomach, but a true diamond will not scratch from stainless steel, whereas a CZ would scratch immediately.”
It Won’t Shatter in Extreme Temperatures
Performing a quick hot/cold test will make your heart race, but it can also show you the nature of the stone. Start by holding the stone over a flame (yes, a real one), and then drop it into a glass of icy water. The idea is that a real diamond won’t shatter, while a fake diamond will due to the extreme temperatures. “You can put as much heat as you can imagine up to a diamond with no damage,” Wegman continues. “A fake cannot handle heat like that.” While you may destroy your fake in the process, a real diamond will be untouched.
It Doesn’t Float
A less risky option is the float test. Drop your stone into a glass of water. If it sinks, it’s probably real, but if it floats, even just a bit, it’s a fake. The only problem with this one is that it’s not always 100 percent accurate. “A real diamond would definitely sink, but it probably depends on what the synthetic is made of,” Wegman explains. While a CZ might float, fakes can be made of other materials, and some of those may be heavy enough to sink as well. Moral of the story: if it floats, it’s fake. If it sinks? Could go either way.
It Passes the Tool Test
According to Wegman, the most accurate DIY test is an at-home diamond selector tool, which is sold on Amazon. “It’s a pretty small handheld device that you just turn on and touch to the stone. It will tell you immediately if it’s a diamond,” said Wegman. She suggested reading reviews to make sure it’s legit, but otherwise said it’s a safe bet to trust it.
It’s Deemed Real by a Jeweler
While these at-home tests are fast and easy to perform, they are not foolproof. “There are no super-easy tricks,” said Wegman. “At the end of the day, if you’re not sure, your best bet is to bring the stone to a jeweler, because they’ll be able to tell almost immediately.” Jewelers have tools and high powered magnifying glasses to get the job done, as well as the experience and education to back that up, and visiting one will clear things up quickly.