With so many diamond alternatives entering the jewelry scene it can be hard to keep everything straight. In this blog, we’ll discuss the difference between a natural diamond and moissanite, a popular diamond simulant to help you make an informed decision when searching for your perfect center stone.
What Makes a Diamond a Diamond?
Long known as the symbol of eternal love, diamonds, and diamond rings, are incredibly popular in our culture. But what makes a diamond so special? Two main things separate diamonds from other precious and semi-precious stones: material and arrangement of atoms. In addition, diamonds are valued as being the hardest naturally occurring substance known to man.
What Is Moissanite?
Like something out of a science fiction novel, moissanite was first discovered in 1893 after scientist Henri Moissan found microscopic particles of the gemstone in a meteor crater while exploring Arizona’s Canyon Diablo.
Composed of silicon carbide, naturally occurring moissanite is incredibly scarce and almost all of the stones that you’ll find on today’s market are lab grown. Somewhat similar to a diamond in appearance but even more sparkly, moissanite is a popular alternative for engagement rings and fine jewelry.
While diamonds and moissanite have a few differences in overall appearance, they do have similarities in their thermal properties. The Gemological Institute of America(GIA) states, “ The thermal properties of synthetic moissanite are so close to those of diamond that the thermal probes currently on the market react to synthetic moissanite as if it were 'diamond'.”
Benefits of Moissanite
Shoppers love moissanite for its conflict-free reputation. Grown in a lab and not mined from the ground, when you choose a moissanite engagement ring you know exactly where the stone is coming from. Unlike a natural diamond, lab grown stones don’t contribute to the poor working conditions, human rights violations and child labor associated with the mining industry.
Choosing lab grown is better for the planet as mining is notorious for wreaking havoc on local landscapes, habitats and wildlife.
Moissanite is less expensive per carat than a mined diamond.
Moissanite Vs. Diamond
When it comes to luxury goods there’s one question that’s on everyone’s mind: price. And there is a big difference between natural diamond prices and moissanite price points.
Diamond: The cost of a mined diamond is determined based on shape, carat, cut, color and clarity. According to The Diamond Pro, a 1-carat diamond can cost anywhere between $2,500 to $ 18,000. The price of a diamond will increase as you up the carat weight.
Moissanite: Also graded according to carat, cut, color and clarity, a moissanite stone will cost dramatically less than a diamond of comparable size. You can expect to spend 20% to 50% less on a moissanite center stone than you would on a mined diamond center stone.
The durability of a gemstone is based on the Mohs scale of hardness, a rating system that is used to classify which minerals can scratch those that are rated lower.
Diamond: The best of the best, diamonds are rated as a 10 on the Mohs scale. Diamonds are the hardest mineral on earth and are unlikely to scratch or chip with everyday wear.
Moissanite: Originally believed to be a diamond due to its hardness, moissanite scores a 9.5 on the Mohs scale. Moissanite is a very durable gemstone that is suitable for day to day wear.
A fun piece of trivia, and an important bit of information for ethically-minded shoppers, knowing where your stone comes from is essential.
Diamond: Natural diamonds are found around the world, the stones in today’s trade are commonly sourced from Africa, Russia, Australia and Canada. Due to the mining industry’s destructive nature, some shoppers would rather opt for a man made stone.
Moissanite: Lab grown, moissanite is made worldwide. Moissanite is an eco-friendly choice as it requires no mining.
Brilliance is a term used to describe a gem’s white light return. It is what gives a diamond or a diamond alternative its brightness and sparkle.
Diamond: Diamonds reflect light in three ways - brilliance, dispersion and scintillation. Brilliance represents white light return, something that is essential to a diamond’s brightness and sparkle. Dispersion is when white light enters a stone and separates into all the colors of the rainbow creating what is referred to as diamond fire. And lastly, scintillation occurs when bright and dark areas in a diamond create reflections as the stone moves in the light. Diamonds have a refractive index between 2.417 and 2.419.
Moissanite: Moissanite gems are famous for their fiery “disco ball” effect, a shimmer that is different from that of a diamond thanks to their unique facet pattern. Moissanite’s colorful sparkle becomes even more noticeable as you up the carat size and moissanite has a higher refractive index than a diamond ranking between 2.65 - 2.69.
A diamond’s color is determined using the diamond color chart. Each stone is graded on a scale ranging from D to Z with D being completely colorless and Z being a stone that is yellow in appearance.
Diamond: GIA has the following to say regarding diamond color, “Diamonds are valued by how closely they approach colorlessness - the less color, the higher their value. Most diamonds found in jewelry stores run form colorless to near-colorless, with slight hints of yellow or brown.”
Moissanite: Natural moissanite is actually quite yellow in color, often ranking as a K-color diamond. However, that all changed in the 2000s when Charles and Colvard developed the Forever Brilliant moissanite, the first lab grown near-colorless moissanite. Then, in 2015, Charles and Colvard upped the ante when they developed the first truly colorless moissanite which they dubbed the "Forever One Moissanite."
Today, man-made moissanite is available through many online retailers and jewelers and is comparable to an E or H GIA-certified diamond and is labeled as “colorless.”
Moissanite and Engagement Rings
Does moissanite sound like the perfect center stone for your forever adornment? Here are a few quick tips to keep in mind while searching for your future ring.
Most Popular Stone Cuts
Like a natural diamond, moissanite can be cut into any stone shape. In today’s engagement ring market classic choices like the round cut, princess cut and oval cut reign supreme as they look good in nearly every setting and stand the test of time. For a trendier look, try a flashy marquise or pear cut combined with a sleek band. Or, if a vintage vibe is more your style, you can’t go wrong with an emerald cut moissanite for a touch of instant 1920s glam
Most Popular Stone Settings
There isn’t a classic diamond engagement ring style that won’t look great with a moissanite stone. Embrace your moissanite’s sparkle with a glitzy halo engagement ring setting where a handful of accent stones will make you shine brighter than ever before. Or, if you like to keep things a little more lowkey, opt for a minimalistic, but still glam, style such as a romantic three stone setting or a timeless solitaire.
Other Stone Options
Still not convinced that moissanite is the right stone for your wedding ring or fine jewelry piece? There are a number of other diamond alternatives that you can choose from.
Lab Grown Diamonds
The same as a natural diamond in every single way, lab grown diamonds share the same characteristics and chemical properties as their mined counterparts. That’s right, lab grown diamonds are real diamonds. Like earth-mined diamonds, lab created diamonds are made of carbon and are ranked according to the 4Cs of diamonds: cut, color, clarity and carat. And best of all, these stones are available for purchase for 50 to 70 percent less than a mined diamond.
The Nexus Diamond™ Alternative
A patented lab created diamond simulant, the Nexus Diamond™ alternative most closely simulates the look and wear of a perfect diamond. And the similarities don’t stop there, the Nexus Diamond™ alternative can also cut glass, is completely colorless, rates internally flawless on the diamond clarity chart and is cut to maximize brilliance and fire. Unlike other diamond simulants, this stone is less likely to chip, crack or become discolored or cloudy over time.
Looking to add a little flair to your fine jewelry? Perhaps a colorful gemstone is what you seek. From rich rubies and deep blue sapphires to bright canaries and magnificent emeralds, a colored stone makes for a fabulous center or accent stone in any piece.
While not the best choice for everyday wear due to its low durability and likeliness to discolor over time, cubic zirconia is among the most budget friendly of diamond alternatives. The sparkle factor of cubic zirconia is similar to moissanite as it also emits a disco type effect when it catches the light.