Looking for an in-depth comparison between moissanite and lab grown diamonds?
Perfect, you're in the right place!
In this expert Learning Jewelry guide, you'll learn:
- How does a moissanite compare to a lab diamond?
- What're the differences in appearance between moissanite and lab diamonds?
- How do the prices compare between moissanite and lab diamonds?
- And much more!
With the rise of diamond alternatives, there is one that seems to stand up to lab diamonds and natural diamonds, and its name is moissanite.
Buying moissanite engagement rings has become increasingly popular and preferable to diamond engagement rings.
But how do they measure up against cost-efficient lab grown diamonds? Let's find out!
Moissanite vs Lab Diamonds: Origin
At first glance, a lab created diamond and a moissanite gemstone might seem similar, but are actually very different. But first, let's find out how and where each of these center stones come from.
Often called a diamond simulant, moissanite is actually a diamond alternative. People use it because it looks like a diamond, but it's not an imitation like cubic zirconia. Moissanite is a real gemstone-but rare in it's natural form. They say it's from meteorites, thus earning its nicknames as the "Space Diamond" or "Stardust".
Moissanite is a colorless gemstone that was found by a French scientist named Henri Moissan. Henri was digging around in a crater in Arizona when he thought he discovered a diamond in 1893. Turns out, it was a different gemstone entirely.
Today, nearly every moissanite out there is lab created. Charles and Colvard were the first ones to create moissanite and also own the highest quality moissanite in the industry, the Forever One Moissanite.
It takes around 2-3 months to create a single moissanite, so its production alone is limited. Scientists spent years trying to perfect the synthetic process of creating a colorless moissanite.
To do so, they combine silicon and carbon under immense amounts of heat and pressure to create silicon carbide crystals, also called preforms. The preforms are then sent to be faceted for the utmost brilliance and cut to standards.
Different makers of moissanite will have different things they do in order to create high quality moissanite. Charles & Colvard creates the Forever One Moissanite with high specifications. In fact, they have a few different brands of moissanite all created with differences.
The Forever One Moissanite is still made of silicon carbide, but the way it's stacked gives it the best color performance than other brands of moissanite. They also offer fancy colored moissanite.
Mined diamonds are often referred to as natural diamonds, but it confuses the thought of lab created diamonds, or synthetic diamonds. All of these are real diamonds, but only mined diamonds are considered natural, since they've formed in the ground.
It takes billions of years for diamonds to form beneath the surface. Around 100 miles, to be a little more specific, deep into the mantle of the earth. Within the mantle, the heat and pressure cause graphite to change its molecular structure. Graphite is the mineral form of carbon, which is what diamonds made of.
A lab diamond is created by simulating these conditions in a lab form. There are two main ways lab grown diamonds are created: high-pressure high-temperature (HPHT) and the chemical vapor disposition (CVD) method.
The way an HPHT diamond is created is similar to the way natural ones are created. The bit of a diamond called a diamond seed is put under enormous amounts of pressure and high temperatures. The mixture of the two cause the seed to crystallize.
In the CVD process, the diamond seed is stuck into a bit of carbon. They put the seed carbon in the chamber and fill it with carbon-rich gases. Methane and hydrogen usually. The gas mixture cause the carbon to turn into plasma. The plasma disintegrates, leaving the diamond crystal behind.
Moissanite vs Lab Diamonds: Appearance
A lot of people might say that moissanite and diamonds looks the same, but their optical properties are quite different as well. To the untrained eye, it might not seem that way, so we'll walk you through the difference in appearances with moissanite and lab created diamonds.
Moissanite has almost twice the brilliance of a diamond. It will appear more sparkly, with tons of rainbow light, When set side by side next to a diamond, it'll be obvious to tell which is the moissanite because it'll be the stone that glitters like a disco ball!
This video below shows the difference in appearance for radiant cut diamonds with natural diamond, moissanite, and a lab grown diamond. Note that visually, a lab grown diamond and natural mined diamond of the same grades will look the same because there is no difference in appearance between a lab or natural diamond.
Some people prefer the subtle sparkle and balance of white and rainbow light from a diamond. Lab created diamonds also have inclusions, which are characteristics that have happened to the diamond as it was forming. Mined diamonds have natural inclusions while lab grown diamonds have metallic inclusions from the lab.
A moissanite has a higher refractive index than a diamond and it also is a double-refractive gemstone, which is one reason why it sparkles more intensely than a diamond. The refractive index in gemstones is very important because it's one of the most important tools used in identifying gemstones.
The clarity grade of your lab diamond will determine how eye-clean, or visibly free of inclusions your diamond is. Moissanites are usually eye-clean, but a few needle inclusions might be able to be seen under a 10x magnification jeweler's loupe.
High quality moissanite is colorless or near colorless as well, where as both lab diamonds and mined diamonds have different color grades.
A little known fact about colorless moissanite is that it doesn't always look colorless. In different lighting, a colorless moissanite may appear brownish or gray in low-lighting.
Additionally, you might notice a hazy appearance on a moissanite over time. This haze doesn't come off with a simple cleaning either. Unlike lab diamonds, moissanites require a polishing cloth. Charles & Colvard recommend these Sunshine polishing cloths for moissanite.
Moissanite vs Lab Diamonds: Price
When it comes to the costs of moissanite and lab created diamonds, it's clear the price point goes to moissanite. Lab diamonds may be at least 20% lower than mined diamonds, but they are still expensive if you're wanting something under $1000. It also much more to get a lab diamond with great clarity and colorless or near colorless.
Moissanite is one of the more expensive diamond alternatives. A high quality moissanite should cost less than a high quality lab diamonds, but it'll be much more expensive than a white sapphire or cubic zirconia.
Moissanite doesn't have a grading system either. Lab diamonds go by the 4Cs of diamond quality, put forth by the GIA. The cost of lab diamonds and mined diamonds depend on the cut, clarity, color, and carat weight of each individual loose diamond.
Instead, moissanite gemstones go by quality. They're usually described as Premium or Super Premium. The price of moissanite mainly depends on the quality and the size.
A premium moissanite would be the lower priced moissanite. This quality is similar to a lab diamond with a near colorless (G, H,I) color grade. Super premium moissanite rings would be equivalent to your colorless lab diamonds.
This super premium princess cut loose moissanite from Brilliant Earth is 7.5mm, which is close to the size of a 2.5 carat diamond. This loose moissanite is $1590, plus whichever setting you decide to put it.
The lab grown diamond on the other hand, is going to be thousands of dollars more expensive. This princess cut diamond is 2.5 carats, with a color grade of F and VS1 clarity. The cost of this lab diamond is $8,220 from James Allen. Keep in mind that even though it says ideal cut, only round diamonds are true ideal cut diamond shapes.
As you can see, moissanite clearly has the edge when it comes to having lower prices than a lab grown diamond of similar quality. This is one of the biggest reasons why it's the most popular diamond alternative.
Moissanite vs Lab Diamonds: Value
Clearly, there's a big difference in cost and price between moissanite engagement rings and the best lab created diamond engagement rings.
But how do the two compare in value?
One of the biggest differences and sometimes deciding fact between a lab diamond and mined diamond is value. Many places will allow you to sell back or your diamond, or trade up for new one. Lab created diamonds and moissanite stones won't get that option.
Lab created diamonds are constantly shifting in value. When they first came on the scene, they were around 25% cheaper than natural diamonds. Nowadays, you can find lab diamonds over 45% cheaper than a mined diamond. For this reason, jewelers and jewelry companies can't offer a trade up policy. They can't risk that much loss.
The reason why moissanite doesn't hold a lot of monetary value is simply because it's not a rare gemstone. While lab diamonds have the same physical and chemical composition as natural diamonds, they are still a diamond. For as long as we're able to extract diamond seeds, we'll have lab diamonds. With moissanite, it can be created as often as needed, but takes a little longer.
Often times, value is not concern for other, unless they're looking to resale. But as with any fine jewelry, we don't recommend purchasing simply for reselling. Jewelry doesn't not hold resale value to well and you will always get less than what you paid for it, unless you manage to pull the wool over someone's eyes on Facebook Marketplace.
We know who you are.
Moissanite vs Lab Diamonds: Other Factors
There are a couple unobvious reasons why someone might swing towards CZ rather than lab diamond or the reverse. Here are the ones you might not have thought of.
One of the ways jewelers assess durability of a gemstone is by using the Mohs scale of hardness. The Mohs hardness scale measures how scratch resistant your gemstone is. A high hardness rating lets you know if the stone can withstand the hustle and bustle of the daily grind.
A lab diamond has the highest rating on the hardness scale, which is a 10. Diamonds are the hardness mineral in the world. It is incredibly difficult to scratch a diamond. Moissanite has the closest hardness to a diamond, sitting at a 9.25. It's even closer than sapphire and ruby, which both sit at a 9 on the Mohs scale.
So while either of these gemstones will survive the day to day, diamonds are just a bit more unscratchable. Keep in mind that hardness doesn't mean a sharp blow to either gemstone won't chip or break it.
Chipping usually happens in diamonds that are heavily included. Lower clarity grades like I clarity diamonds have more inclusions. Moissanite doesn't have any inclusions, so they're at an automatic advantage. That's not to say that all I lab diamonds will chip, just that the likelihood of chipping is slightly increased, if there's an inclusion bad enough.
Another feature that can leave both moissanite and lab diamonds susceptible to chipping is the shape of the stone. Shapes with points like marquise, princess cut, pear cut, and a heart shaped stone.
When buying any type of engagement ring, or jewelry you plan on wearing frequently, you should always consider buying from a place that offers a warranty. Customers often assume that jewelry isn't high quality if it wears down. But that's not true. Jewelry is made from natural materials, metals, and minerals.
Most engagement rings and wedding bands are cast in gold or platinum. White gold, the most popular color gold, doesn't stay its silvery color. Platinum does, but it's also heavier and more expensive. White gold needs rhodium plating, which can cost $60-$120.
The rhodium in white gold fades over time, due to oils in the skin and other conditions. It's natural and will happen with all white gold rings. It's recommended to re-rhodium your ring once a year.
A lifetime warranty that covers routine maintenance usually covers rhodium plating, saving you all that money. These also usually cover stone tightening, prong retipping for when the prong snag, and of course, cleaning. Watch out for those companies that have a manufacturer's warranty. These types of lifetime warranties only cover defects, not routine maintenance. Make sure to read the policy.
You will probably find more companies offering warranties with lab diamonds than moissanite. But never fear, here are some companies that offer warranties with both gemstones.
Helzberg Diamonds has gorgeous Forever One Moissanites which are covered by Charles & Colvard's warranty against chipping and manufacturing defects. The ring settings can be covered by Helzbergs' lifetime jewelry care plan which is able to be purchased with the Forever One Moissanite collection. Helzberg also sells lab created diamonds.
Bottom Line: Moissanite vs Lab Diamond
When it comes to engagement rings, moissanite or lab diamond would be a suitable option. Both gemstones come in colorless and near colorless. Both gemstones can be fancy colored as well.
Neither gemstone holds value well, but moissanite is more likely to keep its value. Lab diamond value is constantly fluctuating, so it's less likely to be worth more in the future. However, you should consider both of these stones as sentimental value, rather than monetary.
Both gemstones exude a great deal of brilliance and fire, but moissanite has more fire. Some people find moissanite to be a little too sparkly and come off looking fake. There are others who love the fire that only a moissanite can bring. Lab diamonds are still sparkly, but it doesn't overpower in any type of lighting. Moissanite may appear different colors in different lighting, but a lab diamond will remain the same.
Lab diamonds and moissanite both are hard gemstones, but diamonds have the edge. They are just a bit more scratch-proof than moissanite. Both gemstones are suitable for daily wear.
Moissanite is considerably cheaper than a lab diamond, even if it is already much cheaper than a diamond. Moissanite also comes in larger sizes at a cheap price, where as lab diamonds can cost much more for smaller.
Whichever stone you choose, you should always choose the stone that fits your lifestyle and budget, because either one would make a gorgeous engagement ring!