Jay Leno Torches Kim Kardashian’s Engagement Ring

Viewers of The Late Show may have been shocked a few days ago when Kim Kardashian was a guest. Not only did Leno propose to test Kardashian’s gargantuan engagement ring (which contains 20.5 carats of diamond), but she agreed to go through with it. At this point she handed over her ring, which Leno proceeded to mount on a stand and then set aflame with a match. And the stone lit up like a Christmas tree before puffing out, leaving a blackened lump. Leno proclaimed it a fake and suggested that she get a pre-nup.

Of course, the whole thing was a set-up (as if you couldn’t tell by Kardashian’s willingness to hand over her huge bauble). But it begs the question: can a flame tell you if your engagement ring is real? The answer, surprisingly, is yes. The only problem is that cubic zirconia doesn’t burn; diamonds do. So while you could certainly set fire to your precious gem to test its veracity, proving that it is a real diamond will mean that you have destroyed it.

Also, you couldn’t do it with a match. As you may know, all natural matter contains carbon and diamonds, in particular, are super-compressed carbon. Because of this, they are subject to the effects of fire. In fact, diamonds are so combustible that if they were in a hot enough fire, there would be nothing left. But strictly speaking, they are not exactly flammable, at least not in our atmosphere. In order to actually set a diamond alight and burn it up, thus proving it real, you would have to place it in an atmosphere with pressurized oxygen. In short, this experiment isn’t exactly feasible for the average person.

Plus, if your diamond is real, you probably want it intact. Luckily there are several other ways to test your engagement ring in order to determine whether or not it’s real. Leno’s shenanigans were meant as a joke, and Kardashian played along knowing full well she’d get the real deal back at the end. But you shouldn’t try such a test at home (especially since the fire test would prove your diamond real but ruin it in the process). Look for ways to verify the value of your stone that don’t lead to its ultimate destruction.


The Newspaper Test for Diamond Authenticity

Although you have become suspicious about the authenticity of your diamond, you might not necessarily feel comfortable with some of the tests out there that direct you to mar your stone as a way to tell if it’s actually real. You would certainly be angry to discover that your stone is something other than a diamond, but what people don’t know won’t hurt them, right? You can still wear it even if it’s a fake, at least until you get your man to spring for something real. If this is your attitude about discovering the legitimacy of your diamond, then you definitely want a test that won’t destroy your stone. And while you’ve tried the sparkle test, you really can’t tell if the side is any less “sparkly” than the top. So if you want to know for sure if your diamond is the real deal or as fake as the “planet” Pluto, try the newspaper test.

This will work best with a loose diamond, but it is possible to perform if your setting has an open portion under the stone (you just may need a magnifying glass to see the results clearly. Start by laying a piece of newspaper on a hard, flat surface so that there are no wrinkles. Then turn on an overhead light. If you don’t have a newspaper handy, use some other text with small print (a magazine, for example). Lay the table of the diamond directly on the page and attempt to decipher the text through it. If you can see relatively clearly through the stone, there is a good chance you’re holding a fake in your hot little hands.

The reason behind this has to do with the structure of a diamond. If it’s real, it is not only going to be flawed, making reading through it improbable, but light will be unable to pass through it without being refracted, making it impossible to see through clearly. A cubic zirconium, glass, and plastic, on the other hand, will be almost completely clear and easy to read through, giving them away instantly. Of course, if your diamond is extremely shallow and has very few facets, you may be able to see through it a bit more easily, leading to inconclusive results. If this is the case, you may have to try other tests for authenticity or simply give in and go to a jeweler for an appraisal.


Sandpaper Test for Diamond Authenticity

If you’ve begun to suspect that your diamond is a fake, there are quicker ways to tell than by paying a jeweler to appraise it for you (although it doesn’t hurt to have authentic certification papers for insurance purposes, so you might eventually want to get that done). And one of them is the “sandpaper test”. You might be wondering just exactly what sandpaper has to do with telling if your diamond is real or not. If you’re worried that you actually have to attack your priceless stone with a rough piece of sandpaper, don’t be! As a matter of fact, you will have to take sandpaper to surface, but if your diamond is real, you need not fear: there will be no damage.

You have probably heard that diamonds are the hardest natural substance on Earth, and this is the truth. On the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, diamond is listed at a 10 (being the hardest on a scale of 1 to 10) because when mineralogist Friedrich Mohs tried to scratch it, he couldn’t, no matter what natural samples he employed in the task. It has an absolute hardness of 1,600 (while talc, for example, has a hardness of 1 and steel, although it is not natural, comes out at about 6.5 on the Mohs scale with a relative hardness of approximately 85-90 – that’s a pretty big difference!). Even modern compounds have been unable to compete with diamond. And although the scale has been expanded to go up to 15 as a way to include substances that have been found since Mohs did his work, diamond is still at the top of the modified list with a hardness of 15.

But enough with the history lesson; back to the test. Lay a piece of sandpaper on a flat surface. You can use either wet or dry sandpaper. Then rub the diamond vigorously against the sandpaper. It’s that simple. If your stone scratches, it’s not real. You will end up with a ruined stone, but you shouldn’t worry too much about that since it is not, in fact, a diamond (and probably not worth much). If, on the other hand, it comes out unscathed, you’ll know your gemstone is real (and you should shell out a few bucks to get it appraised). Just be careful when conducting this test that you don’t accidentally scratch your setting, which is definitely not as hard as the diamond and will almost certainly become marred by this rough treatment.


Use the News to Test Your Diamonds

While it can be difficult for the layman to tell if a diamond is real or fake, there are several tests that you, the consumer, can perform to determine if the gem in your hand is the real deal or a piece of glass. If you happen to be shopping loose stones and you want to assess the validity of a deal that seems too good to be true, just use the newspaper test.

1. Have a piece of newspaper handy when you go shopping.
2. Lay the newspaper on a dark, smooth, solid surface (not a glass counter, as light can leak through).
3. Make sure you’re in an area with a strong overhead light source (but try not to throw your shadow on the surface).
4. Lay the stone face down on some newsprint that is easily readable, but not too large.
5. Look into the stone to see if you can read the print through it.

If you can read the print, there’s a good chance the stone you’re about to buy is a fake. There are a couple of reasons for this. For one thing, a real diamond has flaws which will make it hard to see through clearly (although lab-created stones may be flawless). In addition, real diamonds refract light so that looking through them will not produce a clear image, thus making it impossible for you to read the newsprint underneath. While a shallow-cut could render the results of this test indeterminate, it’s better not to risk such a weighty expense if you’re not sure.