What Is a Diamond Alternative?

Diamond alternatives come in a variety of offerings, from diamond simulants to colorful gemstones. Many diamond alternatives are designed to simulate the appearance of a diamond without the steep price tag and ethical concerns that come with it.

Two necklaces featuring lab grown diamond alternatives

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about diamond alternatives to see if they will make a good fit for you and your loved one.


Why Go Alternative?

From earth displacement, ocean dredging, and habitat destruction, the truth of the matter is that the diamond mining industry is dark. And at this point in time, with so many changes in the jewelry industry, there is no positive reason to buy a mined diamond. Mining’s environmental and human impact are well known and substantiated, causing more consumers to opt for alternatives to the classic engagement ring stone.

However, the biggest appeal for many when it comes to diamond alternatives is price, as a lab grown diamond can cost up to 80% less than a natural diamond. This astounding difference allows consumers to buy simulated lab diamond engagement rings featuring larger carat weights instead of being limited by the steep cost of traditional diamond engagement rings and fine jewelry.

In addition, when it comes to the best stones for engagement rings, it’s ultimately a matter of personal preference. Some people prefer bright, colorful stones such as rubies, emeralds, and blue sapphires to the clear diamond, making an alternative stone the right choice for them.

A classic three stone setting with a princess cut diamond alternative center stone

What Are the Best Diamond Alternatives?

From sparkly moissanite to out of this world opals, there are several diamond alternatives that might strike your fancy. Keep reading to discover the nine most popular varieties for different engagement rings and jewelry pieces.

The Nexus Diamond™ Alternative

The Nexus Diamond™ alternative is a patented lab created diamond simulant that, among all simulants, most closely imitates the look and wear of a diamond. This stone simulates a perfect diamond as it can cut glass, is completely colorless, rates internally flawless on the diamond clarity chart, and is cut to maximize brilliance and fire. Unlike other diamond alternatives, the Nexus Diamond™ alternative should not chip, crack, or become discolored or cloudy over time. However, if something should happen to your Nexus Diamond™ alternative, we offer a Lifetime Stone Guarantee to ensure the quality of the stone forever.

The Nexus Diamond™ alternative is incredibly affordable, costing up to 80% less than a mined diamond. Consumers looking for non traditional wedding rings love this alternative for its eco-friendly and ethical origins because it's not mined.

A baguette cut engagement ring with an accented band and a pear cut diamond alternative with a solitaire band

Moissanite

Originally thought to be a diamond due to its hardness – a 9.5 on the Mohs scale – Moissanite was discovered in 1893 and is the world’s second hardest mineral. Moissanite is composed of silicon carbide and reveals a different kind of brilliance than that of a diamond. Traditional diamonds reflect light in brilliance, fire, and scintillation, while a Moissanite stone exhibits a disco ball effect consisting of vivid rainbow flashes.

This diamond alternative is typically considered colorless; however, some stones do have a yellow or grayish hue. Moissanite comes at a very affordable price and acts as a fabulous center stone.

Cubic Zirconia

Cubic Zirconia is made of zirconium dioxide and is commonly used in costume jewelry. This stone comes in at an 8.5 on the Moh’s hardness scale, making it a softer gemstone than other diamond alternatives that we’ve discussed. While cubic zirconia is popular, it’s not unusual for it to chip or scratch when not properly cared for.

The sparkle factor of cubic zirconia is similar to that of moissanite as it also emits a disco type effect when the stone catches the light. Thanks to laboratory engineering, cubic zirconia always captures the captivating colorless look of a D-rated diamond, but this stone can discolor over time. Lastly, cubic zirconia is among the cheapest of diamond alternatives and is available in a variety of cuts and styles.

Morganite

A pink stone hailing from the beryl family, Morganite is a durable diamond alternative that offers a unique pop of color to any engagement ring or fine jewelry piece. This stone rose in popularity in the 19th century after famed Tiffany gemologist, George Frederick Kunz named the stone after New York banker, John Pierpont Morgan.

Morganite rates at a 7.58 on the Moh’s scale and is known for its toughness, clarity, brilliance, and luster. This gemstone complements every skin tone beautifully and pairs nicely with nearly every type of metal (especially rose gold) and engagement ring setting. Morganite will cost you a fraction of the price you would pay for a diamond engagement ring of similar carat weight; however, these stones can be hard to find, making scarcity an issue.

Colorful Gemstones

A new level of fun is brought to the proposal equation when ruby, emerald, amethyst, and sapphire gemstones act as an engagement ring’s center stone.

Once even more popular than diamonds, sapphires represent royalty and romance. While a dark blue sapphire is most common, sapphires are actually available in a variety of colors, including white, peach, pink, teal, and yellow. Another perk, sapphires are almost as durable as a diamond, coming in at a 9 on the hardness scale. These precious gemstones are meant to last, and sapphire engagement rings are the perfect piece that can be passed down from generation to generation.

A beautiful green stone, the emerald is a member of the beryl family of gemstones. Pure emeralds are also associated with royalty and are even thought to hold mystical powers. This precious stone ranks between 7.5 and 8 on the Moh’s scale, making it a perfectly fine choice for everyday wear, but slightly less durable than a diamond or sapphire.

When you think of the color red, you think of love. It’s no wonder that rubies rank among the top colorful gemstone diamond alternatives. When cut by a master craftsman, rubies display fantastic sparkle and are very durable. Rubies are especially popular in vintage engagement ring settings as they capture an antique-vibe that many couples crave for their forever adornment.

An uncommon yet striking center stone option, the amethyst is a vibrant purple gem that looks fabulous paired with white gold settings. Amethysts appear perfect to the naked eye and fit the bill as far as stone clarity and purity go. This stone ranks as a 7 on the Moh’s scale, meaning that it will be strong enough for daily wear but doesn’t boast the same durability as comparable stones.

Colorful gemstones, such as emerald, make for a great diamond alternative

White Topaz

While blue is typically the first color to come to mind when we think about topaz, this naturally occurring gemstone actually comes in a variety of hues including yellow, red, and colorless white. Compared to the hardness of a diamond, white topaz totals an 8 on the Moh’s scale, making this stone even softer than cubic zirconia. Due to its softness, it is recommended that white topaz not be worn on an everyday basis as it’s very prone to chipping and scratching.

When it comes to brilliance, white topaz does not feature the same sparkle and fire of a diamond. This stone often emits a glassy look, but white topaz can still appear clean to the naked eye if you choose a stone with minimal inclusions. Due to some of its undesirable qualities, this gemstone is a very affordable option when it comes to diamond alternatives and makes for an excellent diamond substitute if you’re on a wedding ring budget.

White Sapphire

Scoring a 9 on the Moh’s scale, white sapphire is much harder than white topaz and cubic zirconia, making it a popular choice for an engagement ring center stone. White sapphire belongs to the corundum group of gemstones, and its clear color is achieved through the presence of no other trace elements within the stone.

The sparkle of white sapphire is not nearly as impressive as that of a diamond, and the stone can appear quite white in color. It is important to search for a colorless white sapphire if you plan to use this gemstone as a diamond alternative. Some white sapphires appear cloudy or milky, resulting in an unappealing appearance that cannot compete with a natural diamond.

Opal

While totally different than a diamond in appearance, opals rank high on the diamond alternative list thanks to their natural beauty and romantic symbolism. A seductive stone, opals represent love and passion, making them a great choice for an alternative engagement ring or any physical representation of your love. What’s more, opals offer a unique display of colors in light pink, yellow, blue, and green hues.

This stone scores within the range of 5 and 6.5 on the Moh’s scale and can be prone to scratches and chips. That being said, opals are rather affordable, and pricing is far more affordable than jewelry featuring a mined diamond of comparable carat size.

Is a Diamond Alternative Right for You?

Whether you’re sustainability-minded or looking to save some extra cash, there’s a diamond alternative for you. As long as you are aware of each alternative stone’s durability when it comes to day-to-day wear, there really isn’t a downside to going the non-diamond route.

Where Can I Find a Diamond Alternative?

There are a plethora of places to shop for diamond alternatives online, and you can find diamond alternative jewelry and engagement rings at brick and mortar jewelers too.



*Here at Diamond Nexus, we strive to provide valuable information while being clear and honest about our products. The Nexus Diamond™ alternative is a patented lab created diamond simulate that, among all simulants, most closely imitates the look, weight and wear of a diamond, with two exceptions - it is absolutely perfect in every way, and it costs significantly less. Price points and environmental facts expressed in this blog were taken from popular online retailers and may vary. Learn more about the environmental impact of mining by visiting our blog.