When shopping for jewelry, sometimes people like to look for diamond alternatives that still offer a similar look to diamonds, at a more affordable price. Due to this rising demand, lab made diamonds have become increasingly popular, as well as alternatives like moissanite, which looks similar to diamonds, but they are friendlier options for those on a budget. Looking to find out the difference between diamond and moissanite engagement rings? Read on to find out all you need to know before your jewelry purchase.
How Do Diamonds Form?
Natural diamonds are formed over time, deep in the mantle of the Earth, somewhere between 80 and 120 miles below the surface. It’s a long, involved process under very precise conditions that are pretty incredible when you stop to think about them. As pure carbon is exposed to extremely high pressures and temperatures over a long period of time, diamonds are the result. When volcanoes erupt, rocks containing diamonds are brought to the surface.
What Are Lab Created Diamonds?
Lab grown diamonds, on the other hand, aren’t found beneath the Earth’s surface. However, they are made by replicating the high temps and pressures found there, to produce man made diamonds on demand. Some people mistakenly think of lab grown diamonds—also known as synthetic diamonds—as “fake” diamonds, but that’s not the case.
Their chemical makeup is identical to the real thing; the only difference is they are lab created instead of created beneath the Earth. You can look at a lab made diamond and see the same fire and sparkle you see in a naturally formed diamond. It’s impossible to know the difference unless you have been told it was made in a lab.
Are Lab Created Diamonds Worth Anything?
The short answer is they are worth what you’re willing to pay for them. Resale value for lab diamonds is similar to the resale value of naturally mined diamonds, but if you’re purchasing either as an investment to accrue value and sell later for more than what you paid for it, it’s not a wise one. Similar to cars, the value depreciates after your purchase, unless you’ve purchased an exceptionally rare and/or large diamond.
Are Lab Created Diamonds Flawless?
Not quite. Just like naturally mined diamonds, lab diamonds can have flaws, too. No two diamonds are the same, whether they are grown in a lab or mined from rock. Since they are both the same material, they both have the same vulnerability to inclusions, which can muddy a diamond’s clarity. Lab grown or mined, diamonds are graded using the same 4Cs of diamonds—clarity, cut, color and carat.
What is Moissanite?
Moissanite is a diamond alternative that has become popular in jewelry today because of its affordability. Some call moissanite “gemstone from the stars,” because it was discovered in a meteorite crater by the late Henri Moissan, a French scientist in 1893 who went on to win a Nobel Prize in chemistry.
Unlike diamonds, moissanite isn’t made from carbon but from silicon carbide. Like diamonds, you can find moissanite naturally, although more often than not, it’s grown in a lab. Natural moissanite tends to be incredibly rare and when formed, it’s only as tiny crystals. This makes the naturally produced version less than ideal for jewelry.
Can You Tell the Difference Between Moissanite and Diamond?
Most definitely! Though many love the look of moissanite and opt for it because it looks similar to diamonds, the two are distinctly different and those differences can be seen by the discerning eye. Remember that diamonds are made from carbon.
Moissanite is formed from silicon carbide, which means it’s not just compositionally different, but also different in its physical features, such as color, brilliance and durability. If you compare the two stones side-by-side, you’ll notice the moissanite sparkles much more than the diamond does.
It also has more of a “colorful” sparkle, called dispersion by gemologists. This dispersion gives moissanite a sparkle reminiscent of fireworks, but stick with smaller stones. Larger stones with this effect can look fake because it's so noticeable.
Moissanite is also doubly refractive, unlike diamonds which are singly reactive. This means that light is refracted through the stone in a way that looks doubled, similar to how light refracts in gemstones like zircon and sapphires. It’s also almost as hard as a diamond, ranking 9.25/10 instead of 10/10 on the hardness scale.
However, when it comes to colors, you can only find moissanite in shades of yellow-green, or colorless and nearly colorless, whereas diamonds can be found or made in many different colors. Typically most moissanite jewelry to date has looked a bit yellow in color, but more recently, moissanite is being made with no color, so that it looks bright and brilliant.
Note that with moissanite, color changes can occur in very high temperatures. Though these color changes usually aren’t permanent, sometimes they can last, so that’s something to be aware of. Definitely not a good idea to leave your jewelry in a hot car!
Now that you’ve learned the difference between moissanite and diamonds, what about a moissanite vs lab diamond?
Are Lab Grown Diamonds Moissanite?
No, they are not the same thing. Diamonds created in a lab, though they are lab-created, are still diamonds. Moissanite is not a diamond, it’s a different stone altogether, although as mentioned, they bear some similarities.
Can I Pass Off My Moissanite as a Diamond?
Possibly, to the untrained eye. However, gemologists and experts will be able to see the differences between diamonds and moissanite, as will someone with knowledge of what to look for in moissanite.
Benefits to Lab Diamond Rings
There are many benefits to buying a lab grown diamond ring, not the least of which is affordability. Many couples choose lab created diamonds for that reason alone. However, there are also other benefits to man made diamonds, such as:
They are eco-friendly. Since they aren’t mined, there is no damage to the Earth in the form of fossil fuel usage, making them a more sustainable option given how much diamonds are in demand.
They are guilt-free. It’s no secret that diamond mining has a bloody history, but lab grown diamonds can be purchased without any feelings of guilt or unease. You can know exactly where they come from and how they were made, with no murky origins that might include violations of human rights.
They come in many colors. This might only be attractive to some, but if you like to beat your own drum and don’t necessarily want a white diamond, you can get diamonds of other colors, too.
They aren’t a fake imitation. Lab diamonds are diamonds. No more, no less. They aren’t made of another material to look like a simulated diamond, they simply are what they are. The real thing, made by man.
Benefits to Moissanite Rings
Like lab grown diamonds, moissanite rings are quite affordable for most couples, making them an attractive option for the budget-minded looking for an engagement ring. Like lab diamond rings, they have other benefits too, such as:
They are durable. They rank just below actual diamonds on the hardness scale. Diamonds are ranked 10/10 and moissanite is ranked 9.25/10.
They are eco-friendly. Like lab diamonds, most moissanite is made in a lab, too. Natural moissanite is extremely rare, so most of the moissanite jewelry you find is manmade.
They can be made colorless. Where once you could only find them with a slightly yellow tint, now due to recent advancements you can get them colorless, making them a beautiful option for engagement rings.
They are brilliant. Since they are doubly refractive, they hold more of a sparkle than a diamond, which makes them very attractive for someone that loves to wear a ring that stands out. However, beware of going with too large a stone because the brilliance can backfire and wind up looking fake.
Moissanite vs Lab Diamond Ring—Which Should You Pick?
One of the most four important aspects to consider when picking your engagement ring is the cut. Whether moissanite or a lab diamond ring, the cut can be personalized to fit your specific style and preference. Looking for the difference between a round vs princess cut diamond? Or a cushion cut vs princess cut? Diamond Nexus can provide you with all the information you will need before your purchase!
It really boils down to personal preference. Both options are affordable and both make beautiful jewelry. Diamonds are slightly more durable and come with the credibility of being called a “diamond,” but if you care less about bragging rights and more about the look, then there’s nothing wrong with moissanite rings.
Either option for a center stone makes for a beautiful ring. However, if you like the look of a larger center stone, you might want to go with a lab created diamond. You can always surround it with smaller moissanite stones for extra flash and brilliance, at a fraction of the price. There’s no wrong choice, only the choice that’s right for you!
*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.