Diamond Stand-ins

lab-grown diamond's illustration

There is a good reason a diamond is by far the most popular choice for an engagement ring; it does not have any color. Not every gemstone is a good fit for an engagement ring. 

Color is not desirable in engagement rings – that’s why engagement rings are mostly made with platinum or white gold and set with colorless diamonds. Unlike other jewelry that is worn on and off, an engagement ring is always present. No matter what situation you find yourself in – casual or formal, romantic or official, all decked out or au naturel, it is there.

A colorless stone works with any outfit, any style, in any season, in any climate. Light blue is the closest to having no color at all. Blue is a neutral color that creates a sense of calm and relaxation. That’s why Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter all have blue logos.

There other stones to consider in place of a diamond for an engagement ring:

  • Natural gemstones – Spinel, Topaz, Sapphire, Zircon, etc.
  • Synthetic gemstones – Moissanite, CZ
  • Synthetic diamonds – lab-grown diamonds

Colorless synthetics are called simulants, imitation diamonds, faux diamonds, fake diamonds, etc. Unlike a manufactured diamond, synthetic gems have a chemical composition, physical and optical properties vastly different from a natural diamond.

The notion that simulants – natural or synthetic – are used to dupe people is preposterous. So-called “fake” diamonds are not masquerading as naturally mined diamonds. That is what diamond dealers want you to believe because it cuts into their profits.

More often, a simulant is a stand-in for a natural diamond that will replace it one day. But diamond dealers do not want to wait; they want to sink their grabby hands into your pocket as fast as possible.

Diamond simulants are legitimate gems in their own right, each with advantages and disadvantages worth discussing. There is one benefit that all diamond simulants share: they will save you a fortune.

spinel diamond substitite copy

Spinel is a natural gemstone that comes in every color of the rainbow. White spinel is colorless, but light-blue or light-grey varieties are popular center stones for engagement rings. Due to its excellent hardness (8 on Mohs scale), spinel works exceptionally well as a diamond substitute.

A spinel’s girdle can be left exposed without worrying that it will get chipped immediately. Spinel works well in five- or three-stone engagement rings, as well as solitaires.

Precious red spinels have long been mistaken for rubies.

For example, the Black Prince’s ruby mounted in front of the British Imperial State Crown turned out to be red spinel. Recently spinel was added as of August’s second birthstone. Thanks to its array of colors ranging from red, orange, pink, purple, and lavender to black, spinel is a jewelry designer’s dream.

aquamarine cushion diamond alternative

A variety of beryl with light blue color – an aquamarine has exceptional luster and clarity. It is high on the list of diamond alternatives. The calming color of the stone is associated with a good marriage.

Aquamarine is a precious natural stone with a rich history predating the Roman Empire, highly prized for thousands of years. It comes in a variety of cool shades – from pale blue to deep ultramarine.

Aquamarine is typically much lighter than a sapphire yet warmer than a spinel’s cold and steely blue. Aquamarine color is very calming, subdued, similar to the tone of a fancy blue diamond. Aquamarine is a moderately priced, widely available, and well-known gemstone.

Aquamarine is an excellent choice for bridal jewelry – earrings, necklaces, crowns, etc., to be worn at the wedding.

coloreless zircon diamond alternativeBefore gem labs populated the Earth, zircon was the most common diamond impersonator. Zircon is relatively hard (7.5 on Mohs scale) and has exceptional fire due to its strong dispersion. Naturally tinted yellow-brown zircons look exactly like low-color Brazilian diamonds common until South African diamonds were discovered.

Colorless zircon is known for its brilliance and flashes of multicolored light called fire.

white colorless topaz diamond alternative

Topaz is durable, has a lot of fire and brilliance, and is very inexpensive. It looks equally good as a brilliant-cut – such as round, oval, cushion, or step-cut emerald. In nature, topaz comes in various colors, such as light gray, baby blue, light brown, taupe, or pale yellow.

The colorless topazes are nuked to induce the familiar bright-blue color. The irradiation results in a permanent color and leaves no radioactive residue.

Deep pink or red variety called Precious topaz or Imperial topaz is costly.

Pro: Exceptional hardness, vivid colors, prestige.

Con: In colorless variety – glassy, lack of brilliance and fire, in any color – expensive.

sapphire round white colorless diamond alternativeTrace elements cause corundum to turn blue, yellow, green, orange, pink, purple, and even red. Red corundum is a precious gemstone called ruby.

Depending on color saturation and origin, sapphires can be extremely expensive. Most people are familiar with blue sapphires, but they also can be colorless, which is the least expensive variety. Few colorless sapphires are left as-is; they are typically heated to produce a more desirable blue color.

Colorless sapphires have a dull, glassy look because corundum is not good at bending light or breaking it into spectral colors because of low dispersion. A colorless sapphire’s luster is inferior to the pure adamantine luster of a diamond. It appears blurry, washed out, and cannot be confused with a diamond.

Colorless sapphire is a poor choice when compared to other gemstones, either natural or synthetic. Light blue sapphires, on the other hand, are very affordable and attractive stones.

Pro: Hardness, dispersion.

Con: Man-made, double refraction, pleochroism.

Moissanite is lab-grown silicon carbide. In nature, small quantities of silicon carbide were found in meteorites. Moissanite was named after Nobel prize winner Henry Moissan who proved that it is a new mineral. It was not used in jewelry until 1998 when a North Carolina-based R&D lab synthesized Moissanite.

round shape moissanite loose stone diamond alternative

The original moissanite was not very pretty. It had a strong greenish-yellow tint on top of strong double refraction. However, after the Charles & Colvard patent expired in 2016, the old murky moissanite quickly gave way to the new, pure white material. It remains unclear whether Charles & Colvard were unable or unwilling to produce white material during the decades they held the patent.

Modern moissanite and, in particular, Leon Mege Blonde moissanite does not have a yellow or green overtone; it is absolutely white. There is no grading system similar to a diamond’s 4C’s for moissanite; they are graded solely by color. Each moissanite vendor claims superior cut and clarity. This is a superficial claim due to the low cost of the rough material. Producing an excellent cut is easy when preserving the weight is not an object.

Leon Mege Blonde moissanite is superior to other moissanite brands because our cutters have an overwhelmingly better experience and knowledge. Faceting silicon carbide to look like a natural diamond requires slightly different angles. This is due to the difference in the optical properties of moissanite. Collection-color Blonde moissanite is a rough equivalent of GIA D-E color in diamonds. Production grade is F-G, Commercial grade is H-I.

A common thought when considering moissanite is whether or not the gemstone will pair well with diamond accents. Moissanites look beautiful when set in rings featuring diamond accents. The image above features oval moissanite set in a diamond-accented three-stone setting. Surprise, surprise – China produces more than 80 percent of the world’s silicon carbide.

Moissanite has 9.25 hardness on the Mohs hardness scale – by far the hardest mineral except for a diamond. It has minimal cleavage, so it will not chip easily, and it is very safe to use and wear.


Pro: Cheap, plentiful, reasonably hard, diamond-like in step cuts.

Con: Unnaturally white, synthetic.

Cubic Zirconia or CZ, the abbreviation of its chemical composition, is hardly the most romantic name for a gemstone. CZ is a hard (8.5 on the Mohs scale), single-refractive gem. It means that it does not have the “doubling effect” of moissanite.

cz vs diamond diamond alternative

Natural crystals of cubic zirconia were found in nature in microscopic grains by two German mineralogists in 1937. In the 70s Soviet scientists working on a laser capable of obliterating the US accidentally synthesized cubic zirconia.

The production of pseudo-diamonds named “Fianit” for the Physical Institute of the Russian Academy of Science(FIAN) soon ensued. However, the Politburo, concerned with the new stone’s sales cutting into the lucrative diamond trade, missed the opportunity to corner the market.

Western and Asian producers seized the opportunity, and soon generic CZs flooded the markets. Early CZs were often contaminated with undissolved flux remnants that were causing the stones to turn yellow with time. Modern CZs will not yellow or become cloudy.

CZs’ high dispersion is responsible for a significant amount of “fire” – a rainbow-like color separation of the light exiting the stone. Because of it, a CZ has more fire than a diamond. But CZs’ lower refractive index results in a substandard brilliance with less contrast resembling a diamond with a strong fluorescence.

However, since step-cuts have less brilliance and sparkle, an emerald- or an Asscher-cut CZ looks very diamond-like. CZs’ tell-tale brightness that makes it unnaturally white can be masked with a thin layer of tinted coating, similar to the coating on a pair of sunglasses. This coat is not stable and scratches off easily.

CZs go by a multitude of names born of creative marketing, some more deceptive than others. “Diamonique,” used by the QVC shopping network, is an example of such shameless branding.

Others, such as Diamond Nexus Labs, Russian Brilliants, Carat.cc, Sona Diamond, Signity Diamonnique, Lannite, Fianit, Van Graff, Zironite, Amora, and many more are vying for a market share, falsely claiming their brand is different from others. There is no evidence that they are.

Pro: Colorless, natural, moderately priced.

Cons: Relatively soft, obscure, tend to have a slight pinkish overtone.

danburite white diamond alternative

Charles Upham Shephard discovered danburite, and it is still mined there today. Danburite usually ranges from colorless to very light pink, but sometimes light yellow or brown. It is known for its excellent transparency and clarity. Danburite is a reasonably hard mineral measuring 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale.

Its refractive index (6.30 to 6.36) is in the same range as tourmaline.


Blonde moissanite header

Leon Mege Blonde™ Moissanite is a superior brand of Moissanite sold exclusively by Leon Mege jewelers.

Its unmatched beauty is due to the highly selective proprietary manufacturing process. Leon Mege Blonde™ Moissanite cut usually exceeds GIA (Gemological Institute of America) accepted cutting tolerances set for diamonds.

This high standard ensures that Leon Mege Blonde™ Moissanite is the most desirable brand of Moissanite. We employ the most experienced cutters and polishers to unleash the beauty of our Blonde™ Moissanite. Leon Mege Blonde™ Moissanite is not intended to simulate a diamond but marketed as a diamond stand-in instead.

You can enjoy this beautiful stone at a fraction of a diamond cost and significantly lower prices than any competing brands such as Charles and Colvard, F&B, NEO, and others. Crystal structure, transparency, brilliance, and visual beauty are the pillars of our proprietary manufacturing process. Leon Mege Blonde™ Moissanite will never chip, crack or discolor; it is extremely durable, but still demands the same respect as any other gemstone.

Please keep it clean and try not to smash it against a hard surface. Leon Mege Blonde™ Moissanite will last a lifetime. Our Blonde™ Moissanite achieves the perfect combination of Brightness, Fire, and Sparkle. It is incredibly precious. Because of its proportions, our True Antique cushion moissanite is brighter and shows more fire than any other antique cushions. Their light return is outstanding, outperforming any competing brands.

What is Moissanite?

Silicon carbide – Moissanite is an impressive 9.25 out of ten on the Mohs hardness scale. It is significantly harder than all other gemstones except diamonds.

For comparison, Cubic Zirconia’s (CZ) hardness measures 8-8.5. Moissanite is so durable that you will never have to worry about damaging the stone. It can be scratched only by a diamond.

Our Moissanite’s remarkable diamond-like appearance easily fools a casual observer. Even an experienced jeweler sometimes needs a loupe to tell the difference. Moissanite has excellent brilliance and a superior dispersion, or “fire.”

In particular, Moissanite looks incredibly natural, very diamond-like as an antique cushion – one of our specialties.

The sizes we can supply are virtually unlimited. Realistically speaking, in larger sizes, double refraction is too noticeable, and it should be avoided.

No difference, despite what they tell you. Each Moissanite is the same material. What makes Blonde™ Moissanite different is the superior cutting skills of our cutters. Any claim of superiority by any brand is unfounded.

Moissanite is an inexpensive diamond substitute on its way out, to be replaced by lab-grown diamonds.

lab-grown diamonds illustration

Natural diamonds are found in the wild, while cultivated diamonds are created in factories. Artificial diamonds are called lab-grown diamonds, and they are identical to those found in nature. Both types have the same physical, chemical, and optical properties. Only strenuous gemological testing can tell them apart.

We sell both types of diamonds.

Depending on your preferences, we will help you choose between the low price and availability of lab-grown diamonds and the rarity and historical significance of mined diamonds. The number of lab-grown diamonds is unlimited, whereas natural diamonds are rumored to be scarce. 

Leon Mege is your one-stop shop for all IGI or GIA-certified lab-grown diamonds, colorless or fancy-colored. We always match or beat competitors’ prices for any diamond – natural or lab-grown. Lab-grown diamonds are getting more affordable with every passing day. Choosing a lab-grown diamond will afford you a much larger stone for the same budget.

30 years of laboratory-grown experience

For over 30 years we try to save the earth by using and promoting lab-grown diamonds. We are trendsetters pioneering the use of lab-grown diamonds in bespoke hand-forged jewelry. We offer IGI and GIA-certified eco-friendly lab diamonds of all shapes and sizes. Our lab-grown diamonds are conflict-free, ethically sourced, and 100% recyclable.

Just when you thought your dream diamond was out of reach, the lab-grown diamond emerged, courtesy of the same relentless technological progress that brought us the Gorilla Glass Victus, Rimac C_Two car, polymer-framed Sig-Sauer handgun, and Peeps eyeglass cleaners.

No,  you cannot; the lab-grown diamonds are authentic gems that even a veteran-gemologist cannot separate from their natural counterparts. Unlike lab-grown rubies and sapphires, synthetic diamonds don’t have tell-tail inclusions that easily identify them as created by humans.


Is there a difference between children conceived in-vitro from those conceived by physical relationships? There is no difference, just like there is no difference between synthetic diamonds created in a lab and those spit out by volcanos.

Lab-grown diamonds are NOT “imaginary” diamonds like simulants such as moissanite or CZ’s. 

Lab-grown diamonds are indistinguishable from natural diamonds, and only technologically advanced and costly equipment used by gem labs can separate one from another. 

No, this is a massive lie perpetrated by the lab-grown industry marketing lobby. The sellers of lab-grown diamonds label their products as “sustainable” or “eco-friendly” and accuse producers of natural diamonds of polluting the environment. Marketing lab-grown diamonds as ecologically clean is misleading. However, it does not diminish their value to the consumer.

The immense heat and diabolical pressure needed to produce a one-carat diamond are compared to the energy of a volcanic eruption. Depending on the production method, the energy required to synthesize a diamond can go as high as 1,000 kWh per carat. That does not chime well with false claims about zero carbon footprint. In addition, most factories are located in countries with little regard for the environment.

The lab-grown industry despises the term “synthetic.” They insist on the term “lab-grown,” which invokes peaceful green pastures where diamonds are roaming free, fattening up on organically grown graphite. What causes more harm to nature, mining, or synthesizing, is a subject for debate.

Despite what the diamond industry says, the world is not running out of natural diamonds. The price of natural diamonds is kept artificially high by DeBeers. This monopoly has succeeded in controlling the diamond market for over two centuries.

DeBeers and Alrosa, the Russian diamond mining monopoly, keep the supply of raw material scarce and prices artificially high. DeBeers learned that diamonds are forever the hard way because every diamond ever found is still with us.

More and more diamonds are unearthed every day, and they do not age. An old diamond is indistinguishable from a newly found one. The price decline over the last decade is a warning sign of DeBeers losing its grip on the market.

The average mine removes 250 tons of earth, wastes 120 gallons of water, and emits 143 pounds of carbon dioxide to produce just one carat of diamonds. 

There are plenty of natural diamonds to satisfy human vanity until our civilization self-destructs. The only difference between natural and lab-grown diamonds boils down to their cost.

Natural diamonds are naturally pricier, and yet, for that same reason, they offer greater satisfaction than their human-made clones. It is all about how natural diamonds make you feel. Their high price is something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you pay very little for a lab-grown diamond, studies suggest, your experience is less enjoyable.

When you pay more for a natural diamond, you feel that you got something more valuable. So if your priority is a feeling of romance and tranquility, we recommend getting a natural diamond. But if you are a rational person without silly superstitions, go ahead, get the human-made diamond and save money to buy a mountain bike.

Visually and physically, lab-grown diamonds are identical to diamonds extracted from the ground. The crystal growth is induced by immense heat and pressure, similar to natural conditions and processes inside the earth. Layer by layer, carbon molecules are deposited on a diamond seed, and, in theory, it can grow to any size.

For practical purposes, their growth is limited because huge diamonds have no practical purposes. However, in the future, when there will be diamond doorknobs, diamond desk lamps, and even diamond windows, the ginormous lab-grown diamonds might become useful again.

In 1954 Howard Tracy Hall synthesized the first artificial diamond at the GE lab in Schenectady, NY. For that invention, he was rewarded with a $10 US savings bond. GE went on to make a fortune.

Initially, synthetic diamonds were used only as industrial abrasives. It took about 50 years to produce gem-quality material suitable for use in jewelry. Synthetic diamonds have been produced in various colors: yellow, blue, green, pink, red, purple, and more recently, colorless.

Researchers at the Mexico’s University of Nueva Leon near Monterrey found that Tequila, the country’s national drink,  produced a diamond film when heated under pressure. Google it if you don’t believe it.

We can imagine the rigorous scientific effort by the heroic researchers who probably took a lot of shots of  80% proof Tequila Blanco, which requires a short aging process. The late-night tests confirmed that the drink crystallized into a diamond-like structure. 

On the other hand, a breakthrough cancer drug created in Mexico from Corona beer turned out to be a hoax.

So-called Blue Nuance diamonds are some HPHT-grown diamonds with faint blue tint. Rarely found in nature,  the blue tint results from the element Boron impregnating the crystal structure. The HPHT process uses boron as a catalyst and helps clear the nitrogen.

Any noticeable tint, whether yellow, green, brown, or blue, can affect the diamond’s appearance and color grade. But unlike brown, gray, or yellow tints not mentioned in the lab report, the blue tint can be commented as “faint blue.” The bluish undertone typically lowers the color grade, which makes Blue Nuance diamonds more affordable. These stones often appear better because blue cancels out the yellow tint in stones below H in color.

HPHT is an acronym for High-Pressure High Temperature, which is a process of subjecting carbon fuel to extreme pressure and temperature in order to turn it into a diamond crystal.

CVD stands for Chemical Vapor Deposition, where superheated gas is used to stimulate and grow a small diamond “seed” crystal into a full-sized diamond.

CVD vs. HPHT lab-grown diamonds


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