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Moissanite vs. Diamond — The Differences in Diamond Alternatives.

All white gemstones look like diamonds on Instagram, but in person, it’s a different story. We’re comparing Moissanite vs. Diamond and breaking down the difference between diamond alternatives to guide you to the perfect rock!

By Stephanie Dore

Frank Darling radiant solitaire diamond engagement ring with a marquise eternity band
Moissanite or diamond?
Can you tell the difference?

Why are there so many google searches for “is my diamond real?” Because when it comes to Moissanite vs. Diamond — the only thing that’s not confusing is the price. There is a litany of words and types for different kinds of shiny white rocks that range in value from $5 / carat to $5,000+ / carat. Diamonds, moissanite, cubic zirconia, and sometimes, white sapphire may look the same in a Facebook ad, but each stone has properties that make them different.  So what are the differences in these diamond alternatives, and why do diamonds cost so much more than the others?

The Star of the Diamond Alternative Show: Moissanite.

What is Moissanite?

Colloquially speaking, Moissanite is the biggest fan-favorite and wallet-friendly of the diamond alternatives. It’s durable, affordable, and has a colorful disco-ball effect due to its double refractive index. Technically speaking, Moissanite is a diamond simulant. This means it simulates the look and sparkle of a diamond.

A Round Brilliant Cut Moissanite

Where does Moissanite come from?

Space! The stars more specifically. Romantic isn’t it? Moissanite was first discovered in 1893 when a meteorite came crashing down on Arizona carrying microscopic particles of silicone carbide. But you won’t find the original meteorite Moissanite on the market today. Many years later these particles were successfully synthesized and Moissanite, as we know it today, was born. Today Moissanite is a lab-grown diamond alternative masterfully engineered to look like a diamond.

How is Moissanite graded?

Unlike diamonds, most Moissanite is lab created to look colorless and be eye-clean. This gemstone’s affordable price point makes it unnecessary to sacrifice color or clarity to reach your carat goals.

If you’re buying Moissanite it will most likely be listed as colorless. This is the equivalent of a DEF color diamond. Some Moissanite brands like Charles and Colvard sell a near-colorless Moissanite that is the equivalent of a GHI color diamond. Unlike diamonds, colorless moissanite often has a yellow, grey or green tinge under certain lights that is more visible in larger stones.

Does Moissanite look like diamond?

Yes and no. The biggest difference between diamonds and Moissanite is how they sparkle.

Moissanite has a higher refractive index than diamond – 2.65 vs. 2.69. This means it’s better at bending light which makes it extra firey. Think big bold flashes of color vs. smaller more nuanced colors. Technically speaking, Moissanite’s fire is rated at almost double that of a diamond — 0.104 vs, 0.044 which really comes out in the sun. The bigger the Moissnaite the more visible these flashes of color. If you love the rainbow look, Moissanite is the diamond alternative for you!

Oval Moissanite on white background
Oval moissanite disco ball
Oval Moissanite displaying fire

Moissanite vs. diamond — durability

Diamonds are durable enough for engagement rings, but is Moissanite? Absolutely. While not as hard as a diamond, Moissanite registers a 9.25 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness and wears extremely well.

Moissanite vs. diamond — size

While Moissanite is sold by the carat, similar to diamonds, not all carats are created equal. Moissanite is about 15% lighter than a diamond. This means a 1 Carat Moissanite will be bigger than a 1 carat diamond. That’s why diamond alternatives like Moissanite are generally sold by the measurements rather than the carat weight. Curious how big a 1 carat diamond looks in different shapes? Check out our size chart.

Moissanite vs diamond size chart
1 Carat Diamond Compared to 1 Carat Moissanite

If Moissanite and Lab Diamonds are both grown in a lab are they the same?

In short, no. As we learned above all kinds of gemstones are grown in labs all with their unique atomical and optical properties. Moissanite is a diamond simulant whereas lab diamonds are just diamonds.

Lab diamonds are man-made diamonds that have an identical atomical structure to mined diamonds. They’re made from tiny carbon atoms arranged in the typical diamond crystal structure. They don’t just look like diamonds; they are diamonds, albeit from a lab. Diamond simulants are also made in a lab but sell for a much lower price than lab-created diamonds. The good news about all of these stones? They look great in any setting.

Beyond Moissanite and CZ, there are several hybrid simulants on the market that use misleading language like “lab-grown diamond simulant“. While they are grown in a lab, they are not lab-grown diamonds. Rule of thumb, if the price looks too good to be true, it probably is. If you see the word simulant, you’re buying a stone that looks like a diamond but may not have the same durability or longevity. After all, looking like a diamond does not a diamond make.

Other Diamond Alternatives – Do They Measure Up?

Should you buy a CZ engagement ring?

As a travel or placeholder ring? CZ is perfect. As an engagement ring that will stand up to the wear and tear of everyday life? Not so much.

At Frank Darling, we set our try at home samples with CZ “diamonds” as it’s a practical and economical way to see what a ring will look like before pulling the trigger. Our CZ samples start to dull and look considerably less sparkly after about six months, certainly not a lifetime of wear.

Moissanite vs. CZ — what’s the difference?

Discovered in the 1930’s, cubic zirconia is composed of zirconium oxide, another totally different crystal. Moissanite is made from silicon and carbon and diamonds are made from carbon. All white, all sparkly, but not all the same.

Like Moissanite, CZ is grown in a lab. Unlike Moissanite, Cubic Zirconia is hard-ish ranging between an 8 and 8.4 on the hardness scale. CZ is also less tough and more prone to breaking.

CZ is also a grease magnet and tends to dull easily and lose its sparkly quite quickly. It needs a lot of upkeep to maintain that out-of-the-box sparkle. As a diamond alternative, CZ doesn’t make the cut.

Emerald cut Moissanite

What About White Sapphire?

If you’re researching diamond alternatives, you’ve undoubtedly come across white sapphire. While the stone may seem enticing to sapphire lovers, there are definitely factors to consider before choosing this as your forever stone!

Should You Buy a White Sapphire Engagement Ring?

Not if you’re looking for a diamond alternative. White sapphire is in a category of its own. It is a great option if you are looking for a more subdued and vintage look, or if you have a special connection to sapphire! It is a much more durable choice than CZ with a 9 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. If you are looking for a natural white gemstone, but a diamond is out of the mix, you may want to consider a white sapphire.

The biggest difference between white sapphire, diamond and Moissanite is the sparkle. As we mentioned above, Moissanite will give you a firey rainbow shine, while diamonds reflect that bright white and a fair amount of fire. White sapphire is noticeably duller than these sparkly stones. It also tends to have a lot of cloudiness. We like to say this stone is white, not icy.

Moissanite vs. diamond — which one’s the one?

Considering Moissanite? Take the ring quiz to request a custom ring sketch price quote. We carry Charles and Colevard, Stuller and August Vintage Moissanite at extremely competitive prices, and can customize any ring with a Moissanite center stone.

Considering a lab grown diamond? Check out our diamond search where you can view 360-degree images of more than 10,000 diamonds and don’t forget to zoom out (because size can be deceiving), or book a virtual or offline appointment at our New York salon to view certified lab-grown and natural diamonds in person. 

Not finding what you’re looking for? Email us with what you’re looking for at hello@frankdarling.com. We’ll curate a list of 5-7 exclusive stones that are just right for you.