Any piece of jewelry can capture your heart and hold sentimental value, but it’s always worth knowing if valuable pieces—or seemingly valuable pieces—hold the financial value you think they do. Diamond jewelry pieces can be some of the trickiest accessories for which to assess the true value, especially if you’re suspicious of the diamond’s authenticity.
Before you go to a certified gemologist to pay for an appraisal, you can try a few methods at home to judge the nature of your diamond. Learning how to tell if a diamond is real or fake can save you from making a purchase or a sale that you’ll regret later in life due to the jewelry’s true value.
Ultimately, you’ll want to visit a professional gemologist for any final opinions with your diamond jewelry. However, asking a professional isn’t possible in every circumstance. Events such as flea markets, garage sales, and conventions could force you to make a quick decision or else lose out on the item.
Some tests may require you to remove the diamond from its fitting or potentially damage your jewelry—especially if the diamond is fake. If you can get your hands on the diamond or the piece of diamond jewelry in question, try these tests for a clearer answer on its legitimacy:
Real diamonds shine even in indirect bright light—the way light refracts in a true diamond obscures the transparency of the gem. In a well-lit room, place the loose gemstone face-down on a piece of newspaper or on a white piece of paper with a small dot drawn on it. The pointed part of the gem that normally sits in the setting should be pointing up. Look down into the gem, being careful not to shadow the diamond. If you can see straight through the gemstone and read the paper or see the dot, it’s not a real diamond. If the light obscures the text or dot, it could be a real diamond.
Diamonds conduct heat and electricity better than most other kinds of stones—including those that make up fake diamond jewelry. Simply breathing on the diamond and fogging it up can uncover the truth of the stone. If the fog quickly clears off the gem, it could be real. If the fog stays on the gemstone, it’s fake.
A diamond’s reflectivity is one of the qualities that makes it a truly special gemstone. Reflectivity refers to the diamond’s innate ability to take in light and shine much of it back—both as white light (brilliance) and as a prismatic spray of color (fire).
Using a direct form of light such as a lamp or a bright flashlight, hold the diamond under the beam or shine the beam at the gem. With a real diamond, you should notice both a strong white light reflection and a beautiful colorful reflection. You may want to do the same test on a known piece of fake diamond jewelry as a comparison—the diamond should reflect far better than the fake.
The water test is another simple test, but it requires a loose gemstone instead of a piece of jewelry. Place the diamond in a cup of water and watch to see if it’s real or fake. Fake gems will bob around the surface and toward the middle, while real diamonds will sink directly to the bottom.
If you don’t mind scratching up your jewelry a bit, assuming it’s not a real diamond, then testing its hardness with a scrape test is possible. Take a small sheet of sandpaper and scratch one of the surfaces of the gemstone. If it scratches, it’s likely not a diamond.
Though cubic zirconia, quartz, and other “false diamond” gemstones aren’t as hard as diamonds, they’re still high on the hardness scale. You may have to scratch harder than you think to get accurate results—other tests may give you more reliable results.
There’s no shame in getting a second opinion from a professional, especially if you can’t figure out if your diamond is real or not. Don’t go to a brand-name jewelry store in the mall—the employees are most likely just salespeople, and they’re likely not qualified to determine the authenticity of gemstones.
Look for professional gemologists in your area at local jewelry stores and antiques shops. If you’re not looking to sell the jewelry, tell them up front before buying their appraisal services. A professional will identify your diamond with one of these methods:
A loupe is the magnifying glass that gemologists and jewelers use to home in on the details of the stone. With the extra magnification, they can perceive the internal structure of the cut gemstone—including imperfections. A real diamond, since it’s natural, has imperfections and blemishes when one looks at it closely. Fake diamonds, such as the man-made cubic zirconia, look perfect from the inside out.
As we mentioned earlier, diamonds conduct heat and electricity better than many of their lookalikes do. Using a diamond tester, gemologists can determine the authenticity of a diamond based on the stone’s thermal conductivity. However, thermal testing doesn’t catch moissanite, another common lab-grown stone commonly used in fake diamond jewelry.
To distinguish an authentic diamond (lab-grown or mined) from moissanite, the gemologist uses an electrical conductivity tester. Moissanite doesn’t conduct electricity as well as a real diamond, which ends the gemstone mystery immediately.
With all that in mind, what if you have a lab-grown diamond ring—is it still a real diamond? Yes, a lab-grown diamond is exactly what it sounds like: a real diamond grown in a laboratory. It has all the same qualities of a real diamond without the ethical concerns of a mined diamond. However, this lowers its price by about 20 to 30 percent of an equally valued diamond from a mine.
Once you’ve put your knowledge of how to tell if a diamond is real or fake to the test and determined that your jewelry has authentic diamonds, you need to protect it while you’re on the go—especially if it’s valuable or has sentimental value. Protect your genuine diamond wedding ring from damage or loss with a LoveLocker wedding ring travel case, and you’ll keep it safe and sound as you work, roam, or exercise.