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Diamonds vs Moissanite

How do natural and lab diamonds differ from moissanite?

Moissanite no doubt bears visual resemblance to diamonds but their composition differs significantly.  Diamonds consist of carbon, whereas moissanite stones consist of silicon carbide.  Both are available in either white or fancy colors and feature brilliance, fire and ice. To the untrained eye, moissanite stones may appear to be a diamond as the stones exhibit a higher refractive index (see below) resulting in more colorful 'fire' when light interacts with the stone's surface.  AS they may look similar the stone's value and price are quite different!  It is important for a consumer to understand why they differ and how these differences affect the price of the stones!

Moissanite and diamonds (lab diamonds alike) are similar in regards to their dispersion, scintillation, and thermal conductivity which make them excellent choices for jewelry settings including engagement and wedding rings.  

What is a stone's dispersion: The Fire!

Dispersion is where wavelengths that were once combined in white light separate and exit the gem individually, resulting in a display of rainbow colors. For instance, blue light, with its shorter wavelength, moves more slowly through the gem, while red light, with its longer wavelength, travels faster through the gem than blue.  Learn more about dispersion here

What is a stone's scintillation: The Sparkle!

The flickering sparkle seen across a diamond is caused by movement, whether it's the diamond itself, the observer, or the light source that is in motion. Learn more about a stone's scintillation here

What is a stone's thermal conductivity: The Heat!

Thermal conductivity refers to how effectively a material can transmit heat. When a material is heated, thermal energy moves from the warmer areas to cooler ones until the entire material reaches a uniform temperature. The speed of this heat transfer depends on the material's thermal conductivity. Materials with higher thermal conductivity transfer heat more efficiently.  Diamonds, Lab Diamonds and Moissanite have similar thermal conductivity which is why ONLY these stones will test positive when using a "diamond tester" tool.

Many will ask if these stones are so similar, why are they priced so differently?  

Generally four main attributes impact the stone's price and availability; durability, brilliance, color, and sourcing! 

What is a stone's durability:

Diamonds and lab diamonds will surpass moissanite in physical hardness which is the measurement of the stone's durability. A diamond's hardness is the highest with a hardness rating of a 10 on the Mohs hardness scale.  A moissanite's hardness rating is a bit lower but is still quite high as it is a 9.25 on the Mohs hardness scale. You can learn more about the Mohs Hardness Scale and how this impacts a stone's durability here

How do we measure a stone's brilliance:

Moissanite stones will exhibit slightly greater brilliance than natural diamonds and more than double the amount of fire. The disparity in fire becomes particularly noticeable in moissanites larger than 1 carat, thanks to their refractive index ranging from 2.64 to 2.69. Natural and lab diamonds are slightly less brilliant than moissanite and have half the fire, yet they still display dispersion and scintillation. The refractive index of both natural and lab diamonds ranges from 2.417 to 2.419. You can learn more about a stone's refractive index here

How do we measure a stone's color:

While the majority of moissanites can now be produced in colorless or near colorless shades, they are also available in hues such as teal, grey, green, yellow, and black. Natural diamonds are typically found in the colorless range, although they can also occur in various colors such as pink, blue, and yellow due to trace elements like nitrogen and boron. The rarest lab-grown diamonds are those in the colorless range, but they can also be produced in a wide array of colors. Lab-grown colored diamonds are more readily available than their natural counterparts and often come in more vibrant and fancier hues.  The color of a natural or lab-grown diamond is a crucial factor in the diamond grading system known as the 4C's (Color, Cut, Carat Weight, and Clarity). A diamond's color significantly influences its value, especially if it is a rare color or a colorless stone. Learn more about a diamond's 4C's here

How do we determine a stone's price:

Moissanite is significantly more affordable than diamonds of comparable carat weight. Pricing is determined by factors such as size, shape, and whether the stone is colorless or near colorless.  

Natural diamonds are the most costly because they are mined from the earth and take billions of years to form, making them much rarer than both moissanite and lab-grown diamonds. In addition to their rarity, diamond prices are determined by their 4 C's (cut, color, clarity, and carat weight) and shape. Lab-grown diamonds are priced lower than natural diamonds due to their origin, yet they typically cost more than moissanite. Similar to natural diamonds, lab-grown diamonds and moissanite are priced based upon their 4 C's and shape.

How are the stone's sourced:

Moissanite is cultivated in controlled laboratories by skilled professionals, and once produced, it undergoes cutting and polishing. Natural diamonds form deep within the Earth, where they are later mined, cut, and polished. In contrast, lab-grown diamonds are cultivated in controlled laboratories by experts and undergo cutting and polishing after formation in a similar fashion to that of moissanite.  

Understanding the sourcing of the stone is crucial if you seek an ethically created gem. Recently, mined diamonds have faced significant controversy due to their extraction process and the environmental and human impact involved. You can learn more about the ethical practice of mining stones here