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Moissanite vs. Diamond — Can you Tell The Difference?

All white rocks look like diamonds on Instagram but some are diamonds, others Moissanite, and others CZ. Can you tell the difference? It depends.

A Round Brilliant Lab Diamond

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 are a litany of words and types for different kinds of shiny white rocks that range in value from $5 / carat to $5,000 / carat and everywhere in between. Diamonds, CZ and Moissanite all look the same in a Facebook ad, and to the untrained eye, can even look the same in real life.  So what’s the difference and why does one cost so much more than the other?

A Round Brilliant Moissanite

What is Moissanite

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

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. Many years later these particles were successfully synthesized and Moissanite, as we know it today, was born. Today Moissanite is a lab grown diamond simulant masterfully engineered to look like a diamond.

Diamond wedding band and moissanite engagement ring showing the difference between moissanite vs. diamond
A Colorless Moissanite Ring

How is Moissanite graded?

Unlike diamonds, most Moissanite is lab created to look colorless and be eye-clean. This gemstones affordable price point makes it necessary to sacrifice on 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.

What’s this disco ball you mentioned?

This is the biggest difference between diamonds and Moissanite. 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. Whether or not you prefer this up to you!

Oval Moissanite discoball
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 Moissanite is 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

Is Cubic Zirconia different from Moissanite?

Absolutely. 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 it’s sparkly quite quickly. It needs a lot of upkeep to maintain that out of the box sparkle.

Should you buy a CZ engagement ring?

As a travel 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.

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

Custom Moissanite Ring and
Diamond Wedding Band

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.

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.

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.