Simulant or imitation diamonds are natural or artificial substances, used as gemstones, which resemble diamond in appearance (but actually have very different physical and chemical properties). They should not be confused with synthetic or artificial diamonds, which are real diamonds, but created through a manmade process rather than natural geological processes.
Several naturally occurring minerals have been used as diamond stimulants since ancient times. These include quartz (SiO2), zircon (ZrSiO4), and white topaz (Al2SiO4).
The first artificial diamond simulant was glass, which has been used in this role since the 1700s. Glass is made from silica (silicon oxide), but lead, alumina (aluminum oxide), or thallium are commonly added when using glass in this role - which increases the glass's visual resemblance to diamond. Glass simulants are commonly known as "rhinestones", "pastes", or "strass", and antique glass stimulants can be valuable in themselves.
During the 20th century, a large number of artificial diamond stimulants were developed. These include white sapphire, spinel, rutile, strontium titanate, yttrium aluminium garnet ("YAG"), gadolinium gallium garnet ("GGG"), cubic zirconia, and moissanite (silicon carbide).
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