Moissanite has been around for over a century but its popularity has been increasing rapidly in the last decade or so. There are many reasons for that – moissanite gemstones are similar in beauty and durability to diamonds. Moissanite is also significantly more affordable than most diamonds which is a huge plus for most budget shoppers.
But what does all that mean for you, the buyer? Should you consider moissanite for your jewelry or should you go with a diamond, be it natural or lab grown?
Here’s a look at the differences between moissanite and diamond, side by side.
- 1. Composition and origin
- 2. Hardness and durability
- 3. Sparkle and fire
- 4. Cuts and shapes
- 5. Clarity
- 6. Color
- 7. Carat weight
- 8. Price
- 9. Moissanite vs. lab grown diamonds
- 10. Care, cleaning, preservation, and repair
- 11. Prestige and collector’s value
1. Composition and origin
Diamonds are made entirely of carbon and have been used in jewelry for centuries. While natural diamonds are the most popular option, lab-grown diamonds are also becoming increasingly popular.
Moissanite, on the other hand, is a much more recent gemstone that was only discovered in the late 1800s. Moissanite is made of silicon carbide, which is incredibly rare in nature. Due to this rarity, all moissanite found on the market is lab-created.
2. Hardness and durability
Diamonds are well-known as the hardest naturally-occurring material on the planet. Capable of cutting and scratching anything, and incredibly resistant to scratches themselves, diamonds are an excellent jewelry gemstone for that very reason.
Diamonds rank supreme on the Mohs hardness scale for gemstones but moissanite is not far behind. This precious gemstone gets a 9.25 out of 10 on the Mohs scale – just 0.75 lower than diamonds. For reference, sapphires and rubies sit below moissanite at 9/10.
What does this mean in the context of a side by side comparison?
Diamonds are harder than moissanite and therefore – more durable to scratches and knocks. However, at 9.25, moissanite is the second hardest jewelry gemstone. If preserved, cleaned, and cared for properly, moissanite jewelry can last for decades or even more, just like diamond jewelry.
In fact, moissanite’s relative softness compared to diamonds can even be seen as a benefit as this gemstone is less likely to scratch the other softer gemstones and metals you may have in your collection.
3. Sparkle and fire
Sparkle and fire (colored sparkle) are two of the main things people love about diamonds. Long viewed as the golden standard for brilliance, diamonds’ sparkle is the first thing people look for when they are shown a diamond ring or jewelry piece.
And this is one of the areas where moissanite ranks just as high as diamonds – the sparkle of this gemstone is just as strong and gorgeous as that of a diamond.
What’s more, moissanite’s fire is even more pronounced than that of most diamonds. On average, moissanite stones produce a much brighter and more captivating fire than diamonds.
Whether that’s a good or bad thing is subjective, however – some people prefer their ring stones to have a more colorless sparkle and opt for a diamond, while others love moissanite’s colorful sparkle.
4. Cuts and shapes
Because it is almost as hard as diamonds and has a similar physical makeup and appearance, moissanite can be cut in the same shapes as diamonds. Round, oval, pear, radiant, cushion, marquise – you can get a moissanite stone in any popular shape, and it will look exactly like a diamond with just a few minor differences.
The main problem for moissanite is that some of the rarer cuts can be hard to find. Because moissanite is lab grown, the lab technicians and cutters can choose what cuts to go for freely as they don’t have to comply with any natural inclusions, indentations, etc. As a result of that, they tend to go for the few most popular cuts such as round, oval, and cushion. That, plus the still relatively low demand for moissanite, makes the less popular cuts very hard to find.
With natural diamonds, on the other hand, cutters are free to choose more unique cuts because of the huge market for them, and are sometimes forced into such cuts anyway because of the natural inclusions in individual stones.
So, let’s go over the most popular cuts one by one:
The round cut is the most popular shape for both diamonds and moissanite. It’s designed to maximize brilliance and it does so for both gemstones. If you want a diamond with as much sparkle as possible or a moissanite with the strongest fire – go for a round cut.
As far as size is concerned, round moissanite and diamond stones of equal carat weight will also have the same measurements.
The oval cut is also designed to deliver brilliance for both gemstones. The main difference here is that oval moissanite stones are sometimes shorter than oval diamonds of the same weight (about 1mm).
Pear moissanite stones tend to be slightly rounder than pear diamonds. Instead, the latter usually have a sharper tip. As far as brilliance and sparkle are concerned, both gemstones look pretty similar in that cut, with moissanite’s fire taking center stage again.
This cut is one in which moissanite truly shines. Radiant diamonds deliver a fair amount of brilliance but a radiant cut moissanite usually has much more defined facets and stronger brilliance.
Cushion cut diamonds and moissanite stones look very similar to one another with the main difference being the moissanite’s fire. However, moissanite cushion cuts usually only come in square shapes so if you want an elongated cushion you might have to opt for a diamond.
Pave and melee stones
It’s worth noting that moissanite isn’t cut in pave or melee. Some reasons for this include being that moissanite isn’t durable enough and can be rather brittle when cut into tiny sizes. So, even if you go for a moissanite center stone, if it has pave, it’ll likely be made out of diamonds.
In both diamonds and moissanite, clarity is the second most important of the 4 Cs. This refers to how clear the stone is of any internal inclusions or blemishes. The fewer inclusions within the stone, the better its clarity and brilliance.
In that regard, moissanite definitely has the edge, at least on average, because moissanite stones are lab grown and have little to no inclusions whatsoever. Natural diamonds, on the other hand, often have lots of inclusions because they’ve had to grow in the chaos that is the Earth’s crust.
That being said, there are natural diamonds with exceptionally high clarity – they are rare and extremely expensive, but they exist.
Diamonds can come in all colors – from 100% colorless, to diamonds with faint yellowish or brown hues, to fancy colored diamonds, including black.
Most diamonds are categorized as colorless with faint color hues. Both completely colorless and fancy colored diamonds are incredibly rare and expensive.
Most moissanite is colorless, with fancy colored moissanite being rare. However, as technology continues to improve, colored moissanite options will become more available.
Note that when we speak about moissanite’s colored fire, we’re talking about the way light breaks inside the stone, not the color of the stone itself.
To compare diamond and moissanite, colorless moissanite looks similar to colorless diamonds in the D-E-F color range (the most colorless diamonds) while near-colorless moissanite is equivalent to diamonds in the G-H-I color range.
7. Carat weight
Moissanite and diamond carat weights are very similar – with moissanite being ~15% lighter than diamonds. This means that a 1 carat diamond
This slight difference in weight means that a 6.5mm moissanite is 1 carat, but a diamond of the same measurements would be 1.10 carats.
Speaking of price, this is the biggest difference between moissanite and diamond. While natural moissanite is so ridiculously rare that it’s more expensive than any diamond, lab grown moissanite – the one worth talking about – are much more affordable precisely because they are lab grown.
The lab growing process shaves off much more time, effort, and resources from the whole manufacturing process compared to the much more laborious mining, extracting, refining, and so on of natural stones. And that saves money for the manufacturer and the final consumer alike.
A 1 carat natural diamond costs around $5000 and more, while a similar moissanite only sets you back around $500.
9. Moissanite vs. lab grown diamonds
Moissanite is not the only gemstone that can benefit from the lab-growing process. Diamonds are being grown in labs too and such lab grown diamonds share many of the benefits of moissanite over natural diamonds – much lower prices, much better clarity and a more ethical sourcing method.
It’s worth noting that a lab-grown diamond will still be more expensive than a moissanite, starting from around $3000, as you can see here.
Lab-created diamonds are almost exactly the same as natural diamonds. This means that when deciding between moissanite and lab diamonds, you will have the same pros and cons to consider as with natural diamonds.
10. Care, cleaning, preservation, and repair
Because moissanite sits at 9.25 out of 10 on the Mohs scale, the way to clean and preserve it is very similar to the way you deal with a diamond.
Cleaning moissanite can easily be done with a soft piece of fabric or a soft-bristled brush, lukewarm water, and some mild soap. When carrying moissanite on you, be careful not to scratch or knock it on hard objects, the same way you’d be careful with a diamond.
When storing a moissanite stone or jewelry, make sure it’s separated from other jewelry pieces – moissanite is hard enough to scratch all other gemstones and metals except diamonds. In turn, it can get scratched by diamonds.
As with diamond jewelry, it’s recommended to go to an annual jeweler checkup and maintenance too. If you ever need your moissanite gemstone repaired, resized, or refitted, don’t worry – moissanite is just as easy to work with and repair as diamonds.
11. Prestige and collector’s value
One of the areas where natural diamonds have a huge advantage over lab grown moissanite (and lab grown diamonds for that matter) is the collector’s value and overall prestige assigned to them.
Because moissanite is lab grown, it’s not really “unique” in any way and collectors aren’t too interested in it. Rare and special natural gemstones, on the other hand – those are always sought after by those who can afford them.
Both moissanite and diamonds have their own pros and cons. If budget and ethical considerations are your main concerns, moissanite would be the better option. However, if you’ve always wanted a natural diamond and the idea of a substitute doesn’t do the trick, then a moissanite may not be the best choice.