For as long as they’ve been around, diamonds have been some of the most popular gems. Most future brides will choose these precious gemstones for their engagement rings – because of how brilliant they are.
Unfortunately, a large diamond can cost up to several thousand dollars – which is out of budget for most people. Thankfully, there is a cheaper solution that’s just as brilliant and exclusive as a large diamond – enter, composite diamonds!
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about composite diamonds. We’ll discuss what they are, how they’re made, and their pros and cons – and answer some frequently asked questions about composite diamonds.
But, before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s go over some basics!
What Are Diamonds And How Are They Are Formed?
Diamonds are not too different than your graphite pencil. How? Well, diamonds are minerals that are made out of pure carbon.
Most natural diamonds were formed over 3 billion years ago deep within the Earth’s crust under intense heat and pressure. This heat and pressure caused carbon atoms to crystalize and form – you guessed it, diamonds!
Besides being some of the most popular gemstones in the world, diamonds are also the hardest substance you can find in nature. Because of this property, diamonds are don’t only play a great part in the jewelry industry.
They also see a wide application in other fields such as mining, milling – and even electronics.
Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to find synthetic diamonds. Their commercial production started in the 1960s. There are virtually no differences between synthetic and natural diamonds – besides the way they were formed, that is.
Natural diamonds are mined from three types of deposits:
- Alluvial gravel
- Glacial tills
- Kimberlite pipes
And artificial diamonds are – well, made in the lab.
Another thing you should know is that diamonds are measured in carats. A diamond carat is equal to 200 milligrams, by the way. As for their characteristics, pure diamonds are colorless and transparent.
However, nature is rarely perfect – and most diamonds are formed with defects and interstitial impurities. That’s why you can find diamonds in several variations, including:
Related Read: Are There Real Purple Diamonds?
In many cases, diamonds naturally occur in brown and yellow shades, while entirely colorless diamonds are incredibly rare: They’re so rare that only one in 100.000 diamonds found will be completely clear.
Now that you know the basics, we can get into explaining what composite diamonds are.
What Are Composite Diamonds?
A composite diamond is, in essence, multiple diamonds placed together to create the look of a larger diamond.
In some cases, several smaller diamonds are pressed against each other to create an illusion of appearing as a single diamond. In some other cases, composite diamonds are used to enhance the brilliance of the piece of jewelry.
When you fuse two diamonds, that’s called a doublet. And when you combine three, it’s called a triplet. But most composite diamonds have more than three stones in them – and none of those diamonds have to be the same size.
A composite diamond ring, for example, offers a more distinct style from a diamond ring with a solitaire setting and just one stone in the center.
Most jewelers and consumers consider composite diamonds as vintage, though, so they aren’t used for engagement rings that often.
Are Composite Diamonds Real?
Yes, composite diamonds can be made out of real (or natural) diamonds. However, composite diamonds also feature simulants such as moissanite, cubic zirconia – or lab-grown diamonds.
Related Read: Moissanite Vs. Diamond: What Is A Moissanite Diamond?
It’s not the way the diamond is set on top of the shank that determines whether it’s real on not.
There are composite diamonds that are only made up of natural diamonds, but there are also ones that feature a combination of genuine diamonds and simulants.
In most cases, composite diamonds are either made up out of real diamonds or out of simulants – finding a composite diamond with a mixture of both is very rare.
What Are The Pros Of Composite Diamonds?
There are quite a few benefits to buying a composite diamond over a classic design featuring a larger diamond held in place by prongs or a bezel setting.
In this section, we’ll cover all the reasons why you should choose a composite diamond over a traditional one.
Composite Diamonds Are More Affordable
The primary appeal of composite diamonds is that they’re way more affordable than traditional diamonds. As you might already realize, as diamonds move up in carat weight, they become exponentially more expensive.
For instance, a two-carat diamond doesn’t cost twice as much as a one-carat diamond. Instead, you can expect to pay anywhere from four to five times as much for that one additional carat.
You can spend around $27.000 on a two-carat diamond, while a 0.50 carat diamond with the same clarity and cut will cost you only around $1500.
Because of this, most people choose to buy several smaller diamonds instead of getting a larger one. This way, instead of paying $30.000 for a high-quality two-carat diamond, you can buy four 0.50 carat diamonds for around $1500 each.
Your total cost will then equal around $6000 for the same carat weight as a two-carat diamond that costs five times as much.
Composite Diamonds Imitate Larger Stones
When composite diamonds are of the same color and are pressed closely together, they imitate the appearance of a larger stone.
Unless you look very closely, you wouldn’t even notice that the brilliant rock you’re looking at is actually made out of multiple smaller diamonds.
If you’re looking for the appearance of a larger diamond but don’t have the budget for one, composite diamonds are your best alternative. They offer the best of both worlds: They look just as stunning as a center gem setting but cost just a fraction of what a real thing would cost you.
Composite Diamonds Can Hold Many Types Of Gems
As we mentioned above, composite diamonds don’t have to be made up of only natural gems. Another benefit these precious stones offer is the ability to use other gems such as moissanite or other diamond simulants.
These rocks often have the same appearance as a genuine diamond – but cost much less. If you prefer to wear multiple rings, it only makes sense to have a variety of precious stones.
So, while you can still keep your solitaire diamond ring, you can complement it with a more affordable composite piece made out of simulants.
Composite Diamonds Come In Variety Of Designs
Composite diamonds come in quite a few designs. The most classic one features two or three colorless diamonds on one piece.
However, because multiple diamonds are involved, there’s a wide variety of designs with unique colors and placements.
For instance, you can find a golden ring design that features seven round-cut diamonds placed in a floral pattern.
The purpose of this design isn’t to mimic an appearance of a solitaire diamond, though. Instead, its purpose is to accentuate its shape and create a decorative border – a technique known as milgrain – with the surrounding diamonds.
You can also find diamond rings and pendants that feature a center gemstone in a different color from the surrounding ones. One of the most popular designs features a colored central gem – usually yellow – between colorless diamonds.
Related Read: How Do You Pick A Diamond Pendant? – An Extensive Guide
Composite Diamonds Are Ideal For Casual Wear
Composite diamond jewelry is considered more casual than its solitaire counterparts – and adds a unique touch to your other jewelry choices.
One way to utilize a composite diamond is to use it as a complement to another piece. You can get a composite diamond ring with a unique and different style than your other rings.
If you already have a colorless solitaire ring, you can use a composite diamond to add color to your style.
Cons Of Composite Diamonds
Unfortunately, there are some downsides to composite diamonds, too. So, let’s go over some cons of opting for these “blended” gems.
You’ll Have To Repair Your Composite Diamond At Some Point
Before you buy a composite diamond, you have to factor in the cost of future repairs. It’s not uncommon for diamond jewelry to need touch-ups and cleanings over the years.
And unfortunately, because of their uniqueness, composite diamonds add difficulty – and costs – to repairs.
When creating a composite diamond, individual gems are carefully arranged on the setting – in most cases right against other small diamonds. If one falls out, it’s challenging to find a diamond that matches the exact shape of the piece that fell out.
That is even more true for notched diamonds placed in more “visible” settings.
You need to find the right-sized diamond to fit it within the setting. If you can’t, you’ll have to pay extra to have a diamond cut into the correct size.
Composite Diamonds Are More Difficult To Clean
Composite diamonds are notoriously tricky to clean because they’re much smaller, and there’s more of them compared to solitaire gems.
Virtually all diamonds collect debris as they’re worn – which is why you should have your jewelry cleaned at least once every two years.
For most jewelers, it’s easier to clean one center diamond than it is to clean multiple small ones.
The spaces between composite diamonds collect lots of grime and do so much quicker than a solitaire setting. On top of that, you need specialty tools to pry out all the debris from the small areas of the ring, necklace, or pendant.
While most diamond jewelry can be cleaned at home, for a complete cleaning of a composite diamond piece, you will need the help of a professional jeweler.
Composite Diamonds Have Diminished Fire And Brilliance
Sure, composite diamonds are usually placed in a way that maximizes their light performance to produce fire and brilliance.
However, when you compare them to a single gem, they fall short.
Thanks to the solitaire diamond’s larger surface area, it can reflect, refract and disperse light. Composite diamonds, on the other hand, are usually too tiny to do all three – and instead, just reflect the light.
Composite Diamonds Don’t Come With Certifications
Most jewelers have their diamonds certified by organizations such as AGS or GIA. The thing is, having diamonds certified gives buyers confidence in their quality – and boosts their price, too.
Unfortunately, these certifications cost time and money, which is why most jewelers don’t submit diamonds under one carat for accreditation.
Composite diamonds are usually small enough not to warrant any certification, anyway. That means you, as a buyer, can’t be sure of its color, clarity, cut – and just about any other metric.
Composite diamonds aren’t as significant of a purchase as a solitaire diamond, which means there’s a lower risk of overvaluing their quality.
The solution is to buy composite diamonds from a trusted online seller or a brick-and-mortar store you trust.
Composite Diamonds Don’t Retain As Much Value As Large Diamonds
First off, buying diamonds to sell them for a higher price later is generally a terrible idea. Why? Diamonds usually depreciate in value the second you buy them.
As a buyer, you should consider the resale value of the diamond you’re buying in case you opt for a different style later.
Don’t expect a piece of jewelry with a composite diamond to retain its value as much as a piece with a single, large gem. What’s more, there’s generally a much smaller, niche market for these types of diamonds.
We’re not saying you won’t be able to find a buyer. However, the resale price won’t be nearly as much as what you paid initially.
Is A Composite Diamond Right For You?
Composite diamonds provide you with an affordable alternative to other gem styles. Here’s the thing: You can end up with a piece with the same CTTW (carat and total weight) but at a fraction of the cost.
Although the price is the main advantage to composite diamonds, they also offer unique designs that fit both casual and formal wear – all while adding a unique touch.
We recommend you take your time – and explore each design. This way, you can zero in on the pieces that compliment your style the best.