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Dotting the deserts in the Arabian Peninsula are stones which glitter like diamonds. These stones, referred to as "desert diamonds," have become popular for costume jewelry, as they have a similar appearance to real diamonds. Often referred to as Saudi or Al Quysumah diamonds, they compete with cubic zirconia as a natural diamond substitute.

Type of Stone

Desert diamonds are considered crystalline semi-precious quartz. The gems are resistant to discoloration, cracking and wear, especially over time, which effects many diamond substitutes. Desert diamonds, as with cubic zirconia, keep their color well and are resistant to scratching. Unlike cubic zirconia, which is manufactured, desert diamonds are naturally-occurring stones. The stones are not mined like many traditional gems, but harvested in the desert, thus the name.

Where They are Found

Desert diamonds are primarily harvested in Saudi Arabia, mainly in the central plains near Riyadh. They can also be found in Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. Another name for desert diamonds, Al Quysumah diamonds, derives from the Saudi Arabian town where an ancient river bed deposited millions of these stones in the surrounding area.

Desert Diamond Properties

Desert diamonds range from a transparent to a milky color, depending on the quality of the stone and its cut. They rate between a 7 and 8 on the Mohs Scale, a definition of hardness which determines the stone's resistance to scratching. Diamonds are known to be the hardest substance on earth with a Mohs rating of 10. Cubic zirconia, another diamond substitute, has a Mohs rating of 8. They have an average specific gravity of 2.65.


Desert diamonds are not specifically mentioned on the International Gem Society's pricing guide, but quartz can be used as a reference to gauge what a desert diamond may be worth. A gem's worth depends on its stone's clarity, color, carat and condition. Quartz can be valued anywhere from $4 per pound for uncleaned mined stones to $100 per pound for high-quality specimens. A desert diamond derives most of its value from being set in a ring, necklace or other piece of jewelry.