Moissanite vs. Diamond: Differences and Similarities

To the untrained eye, moissanite and diamond look the same. However, few gemstones, if any, have the popularity that diamonds do; they’ve been a global symbol of royalty and wealth for centuries. Moissanite is the less popular diamond lookalike with growing popularity in the jewelry industry. A comparison is useful if you’re wondering which stone to choose.

Moissanite vs. Diamond- How They are Made 

Moissanite vs. Diamond
Diamond Ring (left) Moissanite Ring (right)

Moissanite is a lab-created gemstone. The major reason you won’t find any jewelers using natural moissanite is because of the extreme rarity of the metal. Initially discovered by a French scientist, Dr. Henri Moissan, in 1893, scientists have only discovered the mineral in two other places.

Moissanite
Moissanite Stone
Source: Dernes Colon

After almost a century, Charles & Colvard were able to find ways of growing moissanite in labs on a commercial scale. Manufacturers produce moissanite by applying intense heat and pressure to silicon and carbon crystals; this process takes nearly three months to complete. Because of its makeup, moissanite is also known as silicon carbide.

Raw Diamond
Raw Diamond
Source: @Bhavesh Dholakia

On the other hand, diamonds are natural gemstones whose formation occurs almost 100 miles underground. The shiny gemstones result from 1 – 3.5 billion years of pure carbon enduring extreme pressures and temperatures. To speed up the process, scientists now create synthetic diamonds by simulating the formation process of natural diamonds in a controlled environment.

Moissanite vs. Diamond Physical Properties

On the surface, diamond and moissanite seem perfectly identical, but both gems have some key differences.

Color

Diamond and moissanite use the same color grading scale that ranges from D to Z. D represents a colorless stone, while Z indicates a light yellow or brown one.

Diamond Ring

In practice, the grading scale of moissanite stops at K because most moissanite stones are very clear. There are also no colored artificial diamonds since manufacturers create them in controlled settings. However, natural diamonds can occur in every alphabet on the scale.

Sparkle/Brilliance

Contrary to Rihanna’s lyrics (we’re watching you, Rihanna), diamonds do not shine. What diamonds (and other gems) do is, refract light as it passes through the stone. 

real diamond ring
Multiple carat Diamon Ring
Source: Subashy Thiru

Refraction is the process of an object bending light rays as they pass through it, and it’s measured using the Refractive Index. Higher refractive indexes indicate that a stone heavily disperses light.

As a result of its unique faceting pattern, moissanite stones have a very high refractive index of 2.65-2.69. As glittery as diamonds are, they only have a refractive index of ~2.4. Moissanite stones emit vivid bursts of color, unlike any gemstone. 

Moissanite Ring
Moissanite Ring
Source: Pestrak Austin

The high refraction and fancy colors of moissanite are a fit for people who prefer a bold style. Though the brilliance of a diamond is inferior to moissanite, it more than makes up for it in the intricacy of its famous glitter.

Durability

Diamonds are the hardest naturally-occurring substance, scoring a perfect 10 on the Mohs scale of hardness. The hardness of diamonds makes them durable stones that can withstand extreme conditions without looking worn out. Hardness deals with the resistance of a stone to scratch and does not suggest that diamonds are unbreakable.

Moissanites are also hard stones, falling a close second to diamonds on the hardness scale with a rating of 9.25-9.5. You can only scratch moissanite with a diamond or another moissanite. Like diamonds, moissanite isn’t too strong, and you can break it just as easily.

CZ vs Moissanite vs Diamond

CZ vs Moissanite vs Diamond
Diamond Ring (left), CZ (Middle), Moissanite Ring (right)

Cubic Zirconia (CZ for short) is another popular diamond simulant. CZ and moissanite are the two most common alternatives for people who want the diamond effect on their jewelry but cannot afford it. Here’s a look at how CZ compares to moissanite and diamond.

CZ Diamond Ring
CZ Diamond Ring

1. Price

CZ is the cheapest of the three stones. A carat of Cubic Zirconia costs around $5, cheaper than diamonds which cost thousands of dollars, and moissanite, which cost hundreds. You’ll find many sellers like this on Amazon who sell Cubic Zirconia in bulk at small prices.

Cubic Zirconia results from jewelers’ attempts to meet the high demand for bling jewelry that a rising middle class can afford. People who desire a semblance of diamond jewelry could now have Cubic Zirconia pieces for a fraction of the price.

2. Appearance

Cubic Zirconia has a refractive index of 2.15, lower than diamond and moissanite, meaning it glitters less than both stones. The most brilliant CZ stones become scratched and murky-looking after much wear. CZ is absorbent of oils from common products and the wearer’s skin, and these substances cause the stone to change color after a while.

When compared to diamond and moissanite, Cubic Zirconia is a bland-looking stone that doesn’t compare in beauty. It doesn’t have the intricate details of diamonds or the high refraction of moissanite.

3. Physical Attributes

Cubic Zirconia, like moissanite, usually has very few flaws since they are synthetic stones. Natural and synthetic diamonds have these flaws, known as inclusions, although the number of inclusions in synthetic diamonds is less than in natural ones.

Cubic Zirconia is inferior to both stones in terms of hardness, scoring 8.5 on the Mohs scale. The hardness of CZ is not bad, but it means the stone can’t endure the level of abuse that diamond and moissanite can. It won’t take much to scratch CZ, and the scratches can dull the beauty of the stone.

Cubic Zirconia is also a great thermal insulator, unlike diamond and moissanite, which conduct heat well. If you put CZ on the tip of your tongue at room temperature, it should feel warm, like glass, and Diamond will feel cool like metal if you conduct the same experiment.

Moissanite vs Real Diamond

When people speak about diamonds, what they generally have in mind are real/natural diamonds. Because of their popularity and history, real diamonds are more desirable than moissanite. There’s still an air of exclusivity that comes with having real diamonds; this is one reason why many celebrities still prefer it to moissanite or other simulants.

Real diamonds cost much more than moissanite; however, they are a worthy investment if you can afford them. Beyond the superior beauty of real diamonds, having one means you have an asset whose value will surely climb in the years to come. If you have to resell your moissanite, you’ll surely do so at a drop in price from how much you bought it.

Moissanite vs. Lab Diamond

Moissanite and lab diamonds are similar in their creation process. Unlike natural diamonds, both stones are created by simulating the natural conditions that led to the formation of the stone. Although lab diamonds are considerably cheaper than real ones, they are still more expensive than moissanite.

Because of the high demand for lab diamonds in other industries like ICT and engineering, scientists keep discovering faster ways to produce them. As researchers find newer ways of creating lab diamonds, the price will keep dropping.

Moissanite vs. Diamond Price

Jewelers do not use similar systems to price diamond and moissanite. Moissanite prices do not increase exponentially with size like diamonds. Diamonds are so rare to find, and large stones are even rarer; this is the reason for the exponential increase in the price of diamonds between carats.

Carat SizeGIA Certified Diamond (Round, I-color, VS2)Classic MoissaniteNear Colorless MoissaniteForever One Colorless Moissanite
.5$1,100+$89$243$269
1.0$4,000+$269$539$599
1.5$10,000+$449$945$1,049

Source: Do Amore

Read More: Diamond Carat Size Guide

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