Diamonds have a number of natural qualities. They are, for example, the hardest of any natural product. Synthetic diamonds needed to have similar qualities to compete with the natural product. In jewelry a diamond has beautiful sparkle,and is very hard. Any synthetic diamond that is to compete with the real thing has to exhibit similar qualities. And synthetic diamonds do this admirably.
The first synthetic diamonds were produced in the 1950s in Sweden and then not so long after the synthesis of diamonds was reported a second time by researchers at GE. Even De Beers, the worlds larget producer of natural diamonds experimented with synthesising diamonds and succeeded.
Modern synthetic diamonds range hugely in their quality. Some come very close to real diamonds in their physical properties, and some do not.
There are many synthetic diamonds which do not exhibit anywhere near the qualities of diamonds, and some which come very close.
And there are some sythetic diamonds which can readily be distinguished from diamonds by experts, and some which cannot.
Even glass has been used as an alternative to diamonds and to many yields a reasonable result in costume jewelry. But it can be easily distinguished from real diamonds by anyone who knows what they are doing. Cubic Zirconia is a synthetic diamond which does not stand up for long to inspection by experts.
There are, however, many excellent synthetic diamonds which are so close to real diamonds in their physical properties that they are very difficult to distinguish from real diamonds indeed.
Prime amongst them is Moissanite. One of the newer of the synthetic diamonds, moissanite, is in fact a naturally occurring product, and it is therefore arguable whether it is a synthetic diamond or just a jewelry stone which is very close to diamond in it’s qualities. It was first discovered in tiny amounts in a meteor that landed in Arizona in 1893. It was discovered by Dr Henry Moissan, after whom it was named. It has only been recently produced synthetically, because it does not occur in sufficient quantities naturally to be commercially viable, so it was necessary to devise a way to synthesise if it was to be available in jewelry.
Moissanite is extremely close to diamond in it’s natural qualities. Whereas diamond is the hardest of all the jewels, rating at 10 on the hardness scale, moissanite is not far behind at 9.25, and harder than other natural jewelry stones such as ruby (9) and sapphire (9) or emerald (7.5)
There are other comparative scales used to rate jewelry stones. In brilliance, which is a measure of it’s refractive index, diamond is 2.42. Moissanite at 2.65 is superior to diamonds, and far outperforms ruby and sapphire at 1.77 and emerald at 1.58
In fire diamond rates at .044, moissanite at .104 ruby at .018 sapphire at .018 and emerald at .014. So again moissanite outperforms diamonds on this scale. Similarly on the scale used to assess luster moissanite outperforms diamonds and the other well known jewelry stones.
So it can be seen that there are very viable modern synthetic diamonds on the market. Many cannot be told apart from diamonds except by the most experienced jewellers, and moissanite cannot be told apart from diamonds by most jewellers without the use of specialised equipment.
And of course synthetic diamonds are available at a considerable cost savings to the real thing. That is why they are synthesised.
Any diamond merchant will tell you that synthetic diamonds are just junk. He is trying to protect his product. The reality is that for many, synthetic diamonds are a very viable alternative to real diamonds and it is highly unlikely that anyone could tell the difference between the two in any type of jewelry. And as the synthetic diamonds are much cheaper than the real thing they are extremely attractive to the jewelry buyer.