Moissanite: A Diamond Simulant
Who cares if the diamond is fake?
It looks just as good, and even some professional jewelers can't tell the
Technology advances and jewelry gets cheaper. Diamonds are the most coveted gemstone, so labs have been especially dedicated to creating diamond simulants fake diamonds, imitations that are cheap to produce and look good enough to pass.
When cubic zirconia first became popular in the early 1980s, it fooled some people. At about $5 a carat, it was a very cheap substitute. However, CZ doesn't sparkle quite like a diamond, it can get scratched, and over time it loses its luster. To an expert, CZ never measured up.
Now comes a simulant called moissanite that is almost as hard as diamond and even more brilliant. It costs about $600 a carat, perhaps a tenth the price of diamond. And best or worst of all, it fools many professionals.
Investigative TV reporters took a moissanite ring to jewelers in the Washington, D.C., area and in New York's Diamond District, asking for an appraisal of its value. About half the jewelers who looked at the fake thought it was a real diamond. It even tricked an electronic diamond detector.
Moissanite is a good fake, but it is recognizable. A trained gemologist can easily distinguish moissanite from real diamond under microscope magnification. Charles and Colvard, the company that sells the simulant, has even developed a detection that jewelers can use.
The story points out the importance of dealing with a jeweler who has the training and equipment to verify what he is buying and selling. Untrained retailers, who don't have gem labs in which to examine their own merchandise, may pass on imitation gems to customers with every assurance that they are real gems.
Jewelers can also use fake gems for deliberate deception. Last year a jeweler in Indiana was charged with at least four counts of theft for switching customers' diamonds with moissanite. A customer would bring in a ring to be cleaned or resized, and the jeweler would replace the diamond with a fake. Or a customer would bring in a diamond ring to sell on consignment and the jeweler would substitute CZ or moissanite. The best protection against such fraud is to deal with a reputable jeweler who is a graduate gemologist and has a gem lab on site.
FOR AGENTS & UNDERWRITING
When you are insuring a diamond of substantial value, be sure the appraisal comes from a trained and reputable jeweler. Remember that anyone can call him/herself a jeweler; merely selling jewelry is no guarantee of appropriate skills. Encourage the policyholder to submit an ACORD >78/79 Appraisal prepared by a Certified Insurance Appraiser (CIA) in jewelry.
Jewelry values fluctuate and jewelry should be reexamined for valuation at regular intervals. It is worth recommending to policyholders that they have an appraisal done following any occasion when the jewelry has left their possession, such as for cleaning or resizing. This insures that no switch has taken place.
A diamond of a carat or more should also be accompanied by a Diamond Certificate from an established diamond grading lab, such as the Gemological Institute of America. Diamond certificates will be discussed in future issues of IM NEWS.
If you are settling a claim for an expensive diamond and you lack an ACORD >78/79 appraisal and/or diamond certificate, proceed carefully. Remember that half the jewelers in the story cited above could not tell a genuine diamond from an imitation worth 1/10 the price. You want to protect yourself from such incompetence as well as from outright dishonesty. See the FOR CLAIMS section of January 2001 IM News for specific tips on settling such claims.
Stellar Gem Is CZ
A company called Stellar Gem is selling a new diamond simulant. This is only the latest incarnation of cubic zirconia. One appraiser suggests that some trace element may have been added to increase the hardness and brilliance of this CZ, making it more like diamond. Very careful cutting makes the stone mimic the appearance of an ideal cut diamond from the top, as viewed in a setting, but not from the back. Although Stellar Gem claims its product is visually indistinguishable from diamond, this is still cubic zirconia and worth only a fraction of the value of genuine diamond.
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