The Ongoing Confusion Over the Meaning of Simulant

The other day, I chanced upon a press release from a site called ecodiamondz.com that said it was premiering a “controversial video” called “Diamond Reality.” I checked into the site, and at first glance, it appeared to be a seller of synthetic diamonds. But as it turned out, it wasn’t. 

So I wrote them a note yesterday, which included this:

On this page (http://www.ecodiamondz.com/customer_promise.php), under your customer promise, you write: “We use the finest metals and the finest man made diamonds for all our jewelry.” 

You also say that you use “lab created diamond[s]” on your home page.

However, here (http://www.ecodiamondz.com/our_stones.php), you write that you use simulants.

As you know, man-made diamonds are not the same thing as simulants. So which is it?

Here is the response from the PR contact, reprinted in full:

Robert,

Thanks for contacting us. Eco Diamonds sells diamond simulants. The phrase “man made diamonds” and “lab created diamonds” can differ in meaning, depending on the source.  If you look at http://engagementrings.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Man_Made_Diamonds, a paragraph in the article states:   

What is Man Made?

There are many words used to describe man made gemstones: artificial, simulated, lab created, hybrid, cultured, and fake are just a few of the more popular names. Unfortunately, these types of stones have developed the undeserved reputation of being poor quality look-a-likes, when in fact they can be stunning gems that offer many benefits to consumers.”

Wikipedia (and other sources) classifies a diamond as a gemstone, so our statement about man made diamonds being associated with our stones is technically accurate. Although some companies intentionally mislead consumers about the true nature of their stones, we don’t hide the fact that we do not sell synthetic diamonds, but are indeed simulants, the first simulants in the world to faithfully adhere to the Gemological Institute of America’s comprehensive set of standards for grading diamond cut quality.

Michael Simmons

First off, I appreciate the company responding and engaging in this dialogue. But really, how can the definition of a “lab created diamond” be anything but a diamond created in a lab? Remember, the company doesn’t sell diamonds, by its own admission. 

But that isn’t just my opinion. Here are the Federal Trade Commission’s Guidelines on this (Sec. 23.23):

(c) It is unfair or deceptive to use the word “laboratory-grown,” “laboratory-created,” “[manufacturer name]-created,” or “synthetic” with the name of any natural stone to describe any industry product unless such industry product has essentially the same optical, physical, and chemical properties as the stone named.

Do simulants have the same chemical qualities as a diamond? Not according to the aforementioned GIA:

Unlike a synthetic diamond, which has the same chemical composition and crystal structure as a natural diamond, simulants (also known as imitations) merely imitate the gem’s appearance.

Plus, as Cecilia Gardner of the JVC adds, the Guides stipulate (note to Sec. 23.25) “imitation diamonds and other imitation stones should not be described as gems.”

Look, I assume most of my readers already know all this. But there is a bigger issue here: the ongoing confusion, mostly on the Internet, over what is a simulant (a diamond lookalike) and what is a synthetic/lab-grown stone (an actual diamond, not created by nature). This is something that drives the people who do produce lab-grown stones crazy.

When the FTC Guides for jewelry are revised, these rules may be re-examined. Two thoughts:

EBay for several years has stipulated that, if someone is selling a simulant, the word “diamond” can only be used in an item title or description if the word is immediately preceded or followed by the words “simulated” or “imitation,” spelled out in full. That might be a way to go for the market in general. And it might also be helpful to apply that principle to company names. (So, for example, if you don’t sell diamonds, you shouldn’t be allowed to call yourself weselldiamonds.com.)

– Second, a lot of the companies that sell simulants never spell out what simulant they are selling—whether it’s moissanite, CZ, some type of modified CZ, or whatever else. But shouldn’t the consumer know exactly what they are buying—not just what gemological category it falls into? After all, many consumers don’t fully understand what a simulant is. But they all know the meaning of CZ. 

JCK News Director