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There are many natural gemstones that can pass for diamonds. They are colorless, have some amount of sparkle, and are durable enough for regular use.
While there are several such gemstones on the market, diamonds are the most brilliant and durable. But they’re not the most affordable, which is why many people turn to gemstones that look like diamonds.
When searching for a diamond look-alike, consider the durability, brilliance, clarity, and color of the gemstone. Also note that the larger the gemstone, the less it looks like a diamond. With that said, here are 7 natural gemstones that look like diamonds.
1. White Sapphire
White sapphires are made of pure corundum with no trace elements that give it color. However, white sapphires are often not entirely colorless and may appear cloudy or milky. This is not very noticeable in small white sapphires but becomes noticeable in large carat sizes.
If choosing a white sapphire, opt for the highest quality stone which is AAA which have better brilliance and appearance. Among natural gemstones, white sapphires are second only to diamonds in terms of durability, ranking at 9 on the Mohs scale.
They are also relatively very affordable, with a high-quality stone costing about 80% less than a similar looking diamond. White sapphires are also the only other white gemstone (along with diamonds) that are considered a precious stone.
One disadvantage of white sapphires is that they can tend to get dirty quickly and requires regular cleaning to keep them sparkling. Diamonds, on the other hand, tend to sparkle brighter for longer.
2. White Topaz
Topaz in nature is colorless or white, making this the most abundantly found variety of topaz. As a result, it is also the most affordable.
White topaz is quite brilliant and is often mistaken for diamonds, but it is important to choose an inclusion-free stone with good transparency. The Refractive Index (RI) of a white topaz is only 1.64 compared to a diamond’s 2.4. While it is nowhere near as bright as diamonds, it does have an attractive luster.
White topaz ranks 8 and has good durability. If you’re buying a white topaz for every day wear, choose a protective setting as the stone is prone to scratches and damage. Scratches can cloud the beauty of the stone over time, requiring polishing.
While white topaz prices vary based on the quality of the stone and setting, a high quality stone will only set you back about a hundred dollars per carat.
3. White Zircon
Zircon has the prestige of being the oldest mineral found on earth. It is the only natural gemstone that can imitate the appearance of diamonds and has been used as a diamond substitute for a long time. Zircon has very high dispersion, refraction and luster and is a brilliant stone that interacts with light beautifully.
It is interesting to note that white zircon is much rarer than diamonds but is not as valuable. It is also about 50% heavier than diamonds, meaning that if you compared the weight of two same sized stones, you would find that the zircon is 1.5 times heavier than the diamond.
Most zircons have excellent clarity and few visible inclusions. In terms of durability, zircon only ranks 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale and is a brittle stone. It acquires scratches easily and is prone to cracking and chipping which doesn’t make it ideal for daily wear.
A high-quality zircon can cost you around a few hundred dollars per carat. But generally, you can find good quality white zircon jewelry at very reasonable prices.
Zircon is often confused for cubic zirconia due to the similarity in names. However, zircon is a natural gemstone (unless synthesized) whereas CZ is always lab-created.
4. White Quartz
White quartz is a clear gemstone that can easily be mistaken for a diamond. Although it is not highly brilliant, faceting the stone maximizes its light reflection and makes it appear sparkly.
White quartz is commonly cut into brilliant cuts or other popular diamond shapes to enhances its shine. However, larger white quartz gemstones can fairly easily be told apart from diamonds as they can appear glass-like.
Ranking at 7 on the Mohs scale, white quartz is easily damaged with exposure. As it is abundantly found, white quartz is not considered valuable, with a carat costing you about $10.
Goshenite is a little-known gemstone that has been used as a natural diamond alternative for a long time. This gemstone is a member of the beryl family, along with aquamarine, morganite and emerald. It has excellent clarity and is highly transparent.
It is easy to confuse goshenite with diamonds, but on closer observation, you’ll notice that goshenite has very little fire or brilliance compared to diamonds.
While it is not as durable as diamonds, only ranking at 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale, goshenite is very tough and hard enough to be used in all types of jewelry.
Natural moissanite is believed to have come from a meteor thousands of years ago. This has earned moissanite the intriguing nicknames of star dust and space diamond. Because natural moissanite is so rare, all moissanites on the market are lab-created.
Moissanite is an exceptional gemstone: it is brighter than a diamond and harder than sapphires (at 9.25 Mohs). It’s high RI and exceptional brilliance can cause moissanite stones to display the ‘rainbow effect’ where the stone gives off a fiery flash of colors noticeable under natural light. The larger the stone, the more pronounced this effect and the easier to distinguish from diamonds.
Moissanite is only costs about 10% the price of a diamond but this can still be costly in some cases, with a good quality stone costing about $400 per carat.
7. Cubic Zirconia
Cubic zirconia is the most commonly used diamond simulant and is used by famous jewelry brands such as Swarovski. It is extremely affordable, with a high-quality carat costing around $20 each.
Like moissanites, natural cubic zirconia is also extremely rare and therefore, all cubic zirconia on the market is lab-created. CZ is very hard (8 to 8.5 Mohs ranking) and doesn’t scratch easily but it is not very tough and can chip or break. Over time, CZ jewelry gets cloudy and may require polishing or replacing.
CZ can sometimes display a bright flash of colors which is prominent in large stones. While this brilliance is eye-catching, it lacks the depth that diamond brilliance has.
Which Diamond-Like Gemstone is Best?
It is difficult to point out which gemstone you should choose. This will depend on how often you plant to wear the stone as well as your overall budget.
If you want a stone that looks nearly identical to diamonds but are the cheapest, choose cubic zirconia. These don’t have the associations of prestige that diamonds have (obviously!) and because they are synthetic, they may be considered inferior to natural gemstones. However, they look stunning when set in jewelry. Did you know that many celebrities wear cubic zirconia imitations of their expensive diamond jewelry for peace of mind?
If you’re willing to expand your budget, then white sapphire may be your best natural gemstone option as it is highly durable and also valuable as a sapphire. For a synthetic stone, a moissanite is a very sensible choice and offers durability, brilliance and beauty (and, you could argue, also the mystery of space) at a reasonable price.
Where Do I Buy Diamonds and Diamond Lookalikes?
There are many excellent places to purchase a diamonds online, be it a loose diamond or a pre-set engagement ring. Whichever retailer you decide to go with, always make sure that they are reputable, are specialized in what they do and will provide you with certification.
We prefer GIA-certified diamonds, as the lab is known for its stringent quality parameters when assessing diamonds. Check out our quick comparison of the top online engagement ring retailers for more information.
We recommend the following retailers for diamonds, synthetic diamonds, and moissanite.
Why: Superior diamond imaging, competitive prices, high quality, wide range
An online giant in the diamond space, James Allen a stunning collection of high-quality diamonds. The images and videos are unparalleled in quality and makes shopping online similar, if not better, to shopping in store.
Why: Competitive prices, wide range, great quality
Known for dominating the online diamond industry since the late 1990s, Blue Nile offers one of the largest online diamond inventories. Search diamonds here at competitive prices, solid after-sales policies, and good customer service.
Why: Superior cut quality, exclusive range, stunning designs
Whiteflash has earned an international reputation for the elite quality of their precision cut diamonds, and for their impeccable collection of designer engagement rings. Check their stunning range of diamond jewelry and loose diamonds.
Etsy is a platform where jewelry designers and retailers can offer their products. You’ll find everything here, from genuine antiques to affordable imitation pieces. Find gemstones that look like diamonds here at a range of prices.
Why: Impeccable quality, superior cut, small but exclusive inventory
Brian Gavin is a renowned expert in diamond cut – and it shows in their superior diamond quality. For the very best in diamonds, search their inventory of designer diamond jewelry and loose diamonds.
Why: Try before you buy, build your own ring, great quality
If a diamond isn’t the right choice for you, the above seven substitutes give you a natural gemstone with a look that can pass for a diamond, without the high price tag.