For conscious shoppers, lab created diamonds and moissanite offer excellent alternatives to buying earth mined diamonds. While these two stones might appear alike at first glance, they’re very different from each other, each offering its own pros and cons. Let’s take a look at the differences between lab created diamonds and moissanite, and which is the better option for your engagement ring.
Lab Grown Diamonds
Lab created diamonds are chemically and optically indistinguishable from mined diamonds. They’re made of carbon atoms arranged in the characteristic cubic crystal structure of natural diamonds and have all the same traits as diamonds dug out form the earth.
The main difference is that lab diamonds are grown in tightly controlled conditions using state of the art science and technology, whereas mined diamonds are formed over millions of years through natural processes involving heat and pressure. There’s a misconception that lab diamonds are ‘fake’ diamonds, but this isn’t true. Lab grown diamonds are diamonds.
Moissanite, on the other hand, is made of mineral silicon carbide. It’s a relatively new stone, and was only discovered in 1893 by a French scientist named Henri Moissan (hence the name moissanite). Natural moissanite is believed to have fallen to earth in a meteorite and can only be found in a very few locations in tiny quantities. Because moissanite in nature is so rare, the only type you’ll find on the market is lab created.
One thing to note is that moissanite is not a diamond simulant nor an imitation diamond. It’s a diamond alternative and while it looks similar to a diamond, it functions completely differently.
Differences Between Lab Created Diamonds vs. Moissanite
If you aren’t sure whether to opt for a lab created diamond or a moissanite, evaluate their pros and cons to pick the right option for you.
Diamonds are known for their excellent light performance which comes from brilliance (reflection of white light), dispersion (rainbow colors reflected from the diamond) and scintillation (a diamond’s surface sparkle). When these three factors combine, they result in the stunning sparkle that we associate with diamonds.
Moissanites reflect light in a different way, due the difference in their faceting pattern and higher refractive index. While they are brilliant, moissanite’s tend to exhibit fiery, colorful flashes (known as the rainbow or disco ball effect) that can be very pronounced in larger moissanites. This effect is especially noticeable in the sunlight but not so much in artificial lighting and while some love this colorful look, others avoid moissanite because of this.
Both lab created diamonds and moissanite are ideal options for engagement rings because of their excellent durability and wearability.
Diamonds are without doubt the hardest substance used in jewelry, ranking at a supreme 10 on the Mohs scale of hardness. They’re also tough and highly scratch resistant, making them ideal for daily wear. Lab-created diamonds can take exposure and still remain sparkling.
Moissanite, interestingly enough, comes in second only to diamonds with a 9.25 Mohs rating. Moissanite is also more heat resistant and doesn’t discolor or damage even when exposed to extreme heat.
Unlike mined diamonds, lab created diamonds are valued lower in terms of price and social prestige. While a mined diamond may cost around $5000 per carat, a lab grown diamond may command only about $2000 per carat. This is still relatively expensive, but for a diamond, it’s great value for the consumer.
Moissanite is much less expensive than lab grown diamonds and can cost around $380 per carat. Higher quality moissanite will cost more but in general, it’s a much less expensive option than diamonds, whether lab created or natural.
Settings and Styles
Both lab grown diamonds and moissanite can be mounted in any type of engagement ring setting, including more complex settings like tension. Because of their hardness, these stones typically don’t require special protection or buffers to keep them from impact.
Which Should I Choose?
From the above discussion, it’s clear that both these options have pros and cons when it comes to engagement rings.
Choose a lab created diamond if you want:
- A traditional engagement ring
- More bang for your buck
- An ethical and sustainable diamond
- A durable everyday stone
- Versatility with ring settings
Choose a moissanite if you want:
- A diamond look-alike but not a diamond
- A budget-friendly stone
- A durable, everyday gemstone
- A unique gemstone with a great backstory
- Versatility with ring settings
- An ethical and sustainable option
- More fire and sparkle