Is Moissanite the Best Alternative Diamond Engagement Ring?

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June 23

Moissanite is a gemstone with celestial origins. Initially discovered in 1893 in a crater created by a meteorite that fell to Earth, it's composed of silicon carbide. Given moissanite's galactic origin, naturally occurring deposits are scarce.

Nearly all commercially available moissanite jewelry is lab-created in that case, making it predominantly an artificial gemstone. Nevertheless, it's well-known for its high refractive index.

Many say that it sparkles more brilliantly than a diamond. However, it's more accurate to say that it exhibits more dispersion, also known as fire. Additionally, moissanite scores 9.25 on the Moh's Hardness Scale, making it suitable for daily wear.

It's second only to diamonds' durability as a mineral, but harder substances can still damage it. This unique combination of durability and exceptional brilliance makes moissanite a sought-after choice for jewelry, particularly engagement rings.

Synthetic moissanite gemstones from Brilliant Earth available in white and fancy colors.

Loose Moissanite from Brilliant Earth.

Moissanite vs. Natural Diamonds: Defining Features

Many think that moissanite and natural diamonds appear similar at first glance. However, they possess various unique distinguishing attributes that set them apart. In the first place, natural diamonds form under extreme heat and pressure conditions.

Natural diamond crystals take 1 billion to 3.5 billion years to form deep in the Earth's mantle. Diamonds are composed of carbon atoms and are renowned for their extreme hardness and durability. Diamonds score a ten on the Mohs scale, and their hardness contributes to their unmatched ability to refract light.

Conversely, scientists first discovered naturally occurring moissanite in minute quantities within a meteorite. Hence, it's the extraterrestrial allure and why some say the sparkle factor is out of this world. Nevertheless, most moissanite is lab-created due to its natural scarcity.

Moissanite synthetic gemstone exhibiting rainbow-like properties and dispersion, aka fire.

Brilliant Earth 14 mm Round Moissanite.

Does Moissanite Sparkle Like a Diamond?

Moissanite proponents like to say that it sparkles more than diamonds. Arguably, that statement is accurate due to its higher refractive index. However, the way it sparkles is slightly different, and it doesn't look like a diamond in our experience.

The refractive index of a gemstone measures its ability to slow down, bend, and refract light. The higher the refractive index, the more light refracts within the stone, contributing to its sparkle or brilliance. Moissanite and diamonds refract light differently, which is one of the fastest ways to tell them apart.

Moissanite's fire is more pronounced, leading to more rainbow-colored flashes. That gives it a somewhat different look compared to the white light refractions of a diamonds' brilliance.

Consequently, some people love the rainbow sparkle effect and a higher degree of dispersion. Ultimately, the choice between moissanite and diamond will come down to personal preference. However, from our perspective, you can't beat the brilliance and dispersion of an ideal cut diamond.

Black by Brian Gavin AGS Ideal and GIA Excellent Cut Dual-Graded Diamonds.

Black by Brian Gavin Diamonds.

Is Moissanite Worth Buying?

Lab-created moissanite provides a more affordable alternative to diamonds. In other words, they're cheap and not valuable in the slightest. In contrast, natural diamonds historically retain value and may become treasured family heirlooms.

Moissanite compromises durability slightly, but some find it aesthetically appealing. In that case, it provides an affordable alternative to natural diamonds. The Pros are that it's budget-friendly, ethically produced, and more durable than white sapphire

In contrast, natural diamonds have inherent value based on the 4Cs: Carat weight, Clarity, Color, and Cut-quality. While we don't consider diamonds a good investment, they traditionally increase in value. Additionally, there is a viable resale market for previously owned diamonds.

Whether to buy diamond or moissanite jewelry depends on personal preference, budget, and values. They're inherently distinct and offer unique attributes, including the type of sparkle factor. There is also the allure of diamonds' traditional luxury versus the cost-effectiveness of moissanite.

Oval-shaped synthetic green moissanite from Brilliant Earth.

Fancy Green Moissanite from Brilliant Earth.

Is Moissanite Better Than Lab-Grown Diamonds?

With rare exceptions, commercially available moissanite is a lab-grown, synthetic, or artificial gemstone. Popular labels such as Charles and Colvard, Harro Gem, Amora Gems, and others sell synthetic moissanite jewelry.

In contrast, lab-grown diamonds have the same chemical and physical properties as natural diamonds. However, they are lab-created from a seed crystal, whereas natural diamonds form deep in the Earth's crust.

When comparing moissanite and lab-grown diamonds, it's essential to highlight that these are two separate and distinct gems. Their growth process, physical characteristics, and aesthetic properties are dramatically different. Consequently, so is their hardness, which affects their durability, as we'll explain momentarily.

Brian Gavin Lab Grown Diamond, AGS 404051655002.

Brian Gavin Lab Grown Diamond.

How Do Moissanite and Lab-grown Diamonds Differ?

Moissanite and HPHT lab-grown diamonds share the common ground of being lab-created under high heat and pressure. Companies like Cree produce moissanite preforms from a silicon and carbon base; then cutters fashion the stone.

In contrast, producers of lab-grown diamonds start with a diamond seed or wafer, depending on the process. That results in a lab-grown diamond having the exact chemical composition, crystal structure, and physical properties of a natural diamond.

Consequently, the aesthetic differences between moissanite and lab-grown diamonds are the same as natural ones. Due to its higher dispersion rating, a moissanite stone emits vibrant colors when viewed under natural light. In contrast, a properly-cut diamond will exhibit a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion.

Does Moissanite Last as Long as Diamond?

Moissanite scores 9.25 on Moh's Hardness Scale. In comparison, natural and lab-grown diamond score 10, ranking as the hardest mineral. While the difference between 9.25 and 10 on the Mohs scale may seem small, it is significant regarding gemstone durability.

The Mohs scale is geometric rather than linear. In that case, the
hardness difference between nine and ten is more significant than between eight and nine. Under those circumstances, moissanite is less durable, but a diamond's superior hardness makes it more damage-resistant.

Consequently, rubies and sapphires score nine on Moh's scale. In that case, they are less durable than diamond and moissanite. However, it's still quite hard and suitable for daily wear. In that case, a moissanite engagement ring could last a lifetime.

Does Moissanite Cost Less Than Lab-grown Diamonds?

Moissanite is less expensive than lab-grown diamonds because it's a synthetic produced from silicon carbide powder. In comparison, lab-created diamonds grow from genuine diamond seeds or wafer-thin slices.

Cost is a critical factor when comparing moissanite and lab-grown diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds, while more affordable than natural diamonds, still have a substantial price tag because the material is diamond.

Moissanite, on the other hand, offers a more budget-friendly alternative. It costs a fraction of the price of a lab-grown diamond yet sparkles nicely and fools most people. In that case, it's unsurprising that moissanite has grown in popularity amongst cost-conscious consumers.

As always, the choice between moissanite and lab-grown diamonds ultimately boils down to individual preference. Both offer unique benefits: moissanite's fiery sparkle and affordability and lab-grown diamonds' classic beauty and durability. Each gem's value lies in the eye of the beholder.

Moissanite vs. Diamond Prices:

Moissanite costs less than lab-grown diamonds, and the difference between natural diamonds is more significant. Consequently, lab-created diamonds can be as much as seventy percent less than natural diamonds. 

However, it's essential to factor the material quality, growth process, and diamond-cut quality into the equation. Few realize that a diamonds' overall cut quality affects prices by up to sixty percent. It also determines the volume of light return and intensity of the sparkle factor.

This 1.02 carat, I-color, SI1 clarity, GIA Excellent round diamond from James Allen has proportions in our recommended range. The diamond costs $3,460.00 and exhibits a virtual balance of brilliance and dispersion.

For less, you could buy this 1.61-carat, D-color, VS1 clarity, lab-grown diamond from James Allen. It's only $3,330.00 and also has proportions within our recommended range. In that case, you can afford a larger lab-grown diamond and have leftover money.

This Charles & Colvard round moissanite ring with pavé band in 14K white gold is less than fourteen hundred. According to the website, the total weight of moissanite is 1 3/4 carats. In that case, the moissanite ring is less than half the cost of a comparable-sized lab-grown diamond.

Charles & Colvard round moissanite ring with pavé band in 14K white gold from Helzberg Diamonds.

Charles and Colvard Moissanite Ring.

Is Moissanite Better Than Cubic Zirconia?

Moissanite and cubic zirconia seem similar due to their usage as diamond alternatives. However, they are distinctly different in composition, durability, and visual properties.

Cubic zirconia (CZ) is a synthetic material, a crystalline form of zirconium dioxide. It is cheap to produce and has been a popular substitute for diamonds due to its clear, sparkly appearance.

However, CZ only rates an eight on the Moh's scale, making it considerably less durable than diamonds and moissanite. This results in a higher propensity for scratches and a general lack of luster over time.

On the other hand, moissanite derives from silicon carbide and scores 9.25 on the Moh's scale, as mentioned previously. This high score reflects better durability, just a step below a diamond's. That makes moissanite jewelry better suited for daily wear.

Does Moissanite Look Better than Cubic Zirconia?

In terms of appearance, both moissanite and cubic zirconia mimic the brilliance of a diamond. However, moissanite has a much higher refractive index. In that case, it's more brilliant and has more fire than cubic zirconia. That translates to more colorful sparkles and a "rainbow effect" that is more apparent in sunlight.

On the other hand, Cubic zirconia doesn't have as much fire. However, it offers a clear, diamond-like sparkle. Simultaneously, it can appear somewhat glassy and less vibrant than a diamond, moissanite, or other high-quality gemstone.

Is Moissanite More Valuable Than Cubic Zirconia?

Moissanite is not valuable from our perspective. However, it costs more to produce than cubic zirconia. In that case, CZ is the clear winner if budget is the primary concern. Given the ease of its production and widespread availability, cubic zirconia is significantly less expensive than moissanite.

While more expensive than cubic zirconia, moissanite is more affordable than natural or lab-grown diamonds. Plus, it offers greater longevity due to its superior hardness and is nearly as brilliant as a diamond.

Consider your preferences for durability, brilliance, and price when choosing between moissanite and cubic zirconia. Moissanite may be your choice if you prioritize brilliance and longevity. In comparison, cubic zirconia could suit those seeking a clear, sparkly, and budget-friendly alternative.

Refractive Index: Moissanite vs. Diamond

The refractive index of a gemstone significantly influences its brilliance or sparkle. It's a critical factor when comparing gemstones such as diamond, moissanite, and cubic zirconia.

Diamond, with a refractive index of 2.42, is well-known for its exceptional brilliance. Light entering a diamond is refracted, bent, and reflected multiple times within the stone before exiting toward the observer. That repeating pattern of reflections creates the characteristic sparkle known as "brilliance."

Moissanite has an even higher refractive index, ranging from 2.65 to 2.69. That means it bends light more than a diamond, creating a heightened sense of brilliance and dispersion. That is the rainbow-colored flashes of light that reflect from a gemstone, also known as fire.

As such, a moissanite stone exhibits more fiery, rainbow-colored flashes than a diamond. Some find this appealing, while others feel "the rainbow effect" lends an almost artificial appearance to the stone. Consequently, that's the camp we fall into because it makes moissanite look fake to our trained eyes.

What Is The Refractive Index of Cubic Zirconia?

Cubic zirconia, with a refractive index of 2.15-2.18, has less ability to bend and refract light than diamond and moissanite. That results in a stone that, while still sparkly, possesses less brilliance and fire than the other two.

Consequently, cubic zirconia sparkles differently, often perceived as 'softer' or less intense than diamond and moissanite. It also displays less of the colorful fire that characterizes diamond and moissanite.

Ultimately, the refractive index and the resulting difference in sparkle among diamond, moissanite, and cubic zirconia comes down to personal preference. Some may prefer the traditional, balanced brilliance and fire of a diamond, the heightened fire of moissanite, or the softer sparkle of cubic zirconia.

Is Moissanite the Best Diamond Alternative?

Whether moissanite is the best diamond alternative depends mainly on individual preferences and priorities. Moissanite offers a compelling combination of affordability, ethical production, durability, and brilliance, making it a desirable choice for many.

Moissanite is significantly less expensive than a diamond of similar size and quality. That makes it a popular choice for those seeking a budget-friendly alternative. Additionally, the refractive index surpasses diamond, and some prefer the rainbow-like qualities.

As a lab-created stone, it sidesteps the environmental damage and potential human rights issues associated with mining. However, so does a lab-grown diamond that exhibits a better balance of brilliance and dispersion.

It's important to note that while moissanite simulates the appearance of a diamond, it has distinct properties of its own. Some may prefer the prestige and traditional symbolism of natural diamonds. At the same time, others may choose alternatives like white sapphire or cubic zirconia.

White Sapphire

White sapphire is another diamond alternative that is gaining traction. It's a naturally occurring gemstone with a rating of 9 on the Moh's scale, giving it a high durability level. They are less brilliant than diamonds or moissanite, but they have a unique, understated glow that appeals to those seeking a less flashy look.

White Topaz

White topaz is a natural gemstone alternative to diamonds and moissanite due to its clarity and abundance. Although it's softer with a Mohs hardness rating of 8, it's also considerably less expensive. That makes it a popular choice for those seeking a clear, attractive stone on a budget.

Lab-grown White Spinel

Lab-grown white spinel is a newer entrant in the alternative diamond market. It has a Mohs hardness of 8 and displays a high degree of brilliance and fire. Although not as sparkly as diamond and moissanite, it does offer a relatively clear and sparkly aesthetic.

Each of these alternatives offers something unique regarding appearance, durability, and cost. However, these alternatives are different from diamond or moissanite in our experience. Your personal preference, lifestyle, and budget should guide you in selecting the best option to suit your needs.


What is Moissanite vs. Diamond?

Moissanite is a naturally occurring silicon carbide discovered in 1893 by scientist Henri Moissan in a meteor crater. Its cosmic origin lends a unique appeal, yet the moissanite in today's jewelry is lab-grown due to its rarity in nature.

Conversely, diamonds are carbon structures subjected to extreme heat and pressure over billions of years beneath the Earth's crust. They are the hardest-known mineral and serve as a timeless symbol of luxury and love.

Can You See the Difference Between Moissanite and Diamond?

Some people may struggle to see the difference between moissanite and diamond due to their similar aesthetic qualities. However, a keen observer or a gemologist can quickly spot the difference.

Moissanite exhibits a more rainbow-like fire or dispersion when exposed to light. In contrast, diamonds display a stunning balance of brilliance and dispersion.

Is Moissanite a Fake Diamond?

Moissanite is not a 'fake' diamond. It is a synthetic gem with its own set of characteristics, including superior fire and rainbow-like qualities. It's a popular diamond substitute due to its lower price and stands strong as a beautiful gem in its own right.

Is Moissanite as Good as Diamond?

Some say that moissanite is 'as good as' diamond, but that depends on what you value in a gemstone. If brilliance and affordability are top priorities, moissanite shines brightly. However, if traditional values and durability are your concern, a diamond would be the superior choice.

What is the Downside of Moissanite?

While moissanite offers several advantages, it has its limitations. It is less durable and scratch-resistant than a diamond. Furthermore, some perceive the excessive rainbow-like fire in a moissanite stone as less sophisticated.

Will Moissanite Pass a Diamond Test?

Typical diamond testers measure thermal conductivity and will not accurately identify moissanite. However, more advanced testers designed to detect moissanite can accurately differentiate it from a diamond.

How to Tell If It's Moissanite Versus Diamond

Professional testing is the most reliable way to distinguish between moissanite and diamond. Jewelers employ specialized instruments, such as loupe magnification, to detect subtle differences in faceting and refractivity. A jeweler might also observe how the gem responds to light and rely upon testing equipment.

About the Author

Dive deep into the glittering world of diamonds with Todd Gray, the CEO of Gray Matter Development, LLC. Todd has 35+ years of experience as a diamond buyer and trade consultant. He ghostwrites content for several online vendors and is an avid Freediver, currently exploring the Cenotes of Yucatan, Mexico. Dive into brilliance with Todd Gray!