Diamonds have long been popular on jewellery, and have long been expensive, luxury items. This has led to a long tradition of creating imitation diamonds to provide fashionable jewellery at a much more affordable price. When what seems to be diamond jewellery is inherited or obtained second hand with unknown provenance, a lot of people find themselves in the position of trying to work out whether the stones are real or fake. There are a few steps you can take to help find the answer.
The first step is simply to have a good look at the stone under magnification. Most diamonds are natural, and like most natural materials will display flaws when viewed through an eyeglass. Artificial diamonds will be virtually flawless. Remember, though, that this is only an indication. Some lab-grown diamonds that aren’t without value may appear flawless, and some other natural stones look like diamonds, flaws and all, but are not worth nearly as much.
Another test is to attempt to scratch it, as real diamonds are too hard to be scratched by everyday objects. In the past, the recommended tool was a sapphire-tipped gramophone needle, as sapphire will not scratch a real diamond but is hard enough to leave a mark on almost anything else. As these are no longer easy to come by, however, a good alternative is to give it a quick rub with sandpaper. A fake diamond or less valuable stone will be scuffed, but a real diamond will be untouched.
Hold it up to the Light
The way diamonds sparkle is virtually unique. It’s a common misconception that diamonds sparkle with rainbow colours. They will project rainbow colours outside the stone onto other surfaces, but inside the stone should sparkle grey-white because light is so thoroughly scattered. If you see colours inside the stone, it’s probably not a diamond. If the stone isn’t in a setting, you can further test it by placing it on newspaper. With a diamond, the light should normally be so scattered as to prevent any black being reflected. If it is in a setting, then instead check whether you can see straight through the stone into the mounting – something that is normally not possible with a real diamond.
Ultimately, unless you happen to have your own testing equipment the only way to be sure about whether a diamond is real or fake is to consult a professional jeweller or antique dealer. Big, glitzy, big-chain high street jewellers are probably not the best bet, as they mostly focus on selling their own brand new items and employ more salespeople than proper jewellers. Independent jewellers, antique dealers, and specialist gemologists are likely to be better-placed to tell you whether your diamond is real or fake, as well as probably more willing and quite likely more affordable. They can also help you work out how much the diamond is actually work. Even for diamonds of the same size, this can vary massively according to factors like cut, clarity and colour.
Next Article17th September 2015
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