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Moissanite vs. Cubic Zirconia
How do moissanite and cubic zirconia differ and which one should you choose for your jewelry?
Both cubic zirconia and moissanite are popular diamond alternatives for jewelry, including engagement and wedding rings. These stones are naturally forming gemstones but are so rarely found naturally that they must be recreated in a lab setting.
Moissanite was discovered in 1893 while cubic zirconia was discovered relatively recently in the 1930s. The two stones have their own unique chemical composition and this impacts their brilliance and durability. Cubic zirconia is the crystalline form of zirconium dioxide (ZrO2) while moissanite is made from silicon carbide (SiC), a combination of silicon and carbon. A mined diamond from the earth is made of pure carbon. This is why moissanite is so much closer to a natural diamond's composition which gives the stone it's higher value.
Natural diamonds are measured by their 4C's which are Color, Cut, Clarity and Carat. A high quality mined diamond will be bright white in color, have few flaws or inclusions, and a cut that will refract the most light. Moissanite is a stone that has a much higher refractive index (the stone's brilliance) compared to a natural diamond as well as a high level of "fire" or dispersion of light. This dispersion of light is also known as the ‘rainbow effect’ seen from moissanite gems that make this brilliant stone an excellent choice for an engagement or wedding ring. When compared to even the highest grade of cubic zirconia (5A grade) a moissanite will always have a much higher level of brilliance.
Cubic Zirconia stones are basically too perfect as compared to moissanite or diamond stones. CZ will be colorless and have no inclusions which impacts the stone's clarity. Both moissanite and diamond stones will always have some inclusions which are inherent in the stone. These flaws will allow the lab created stones to look as a mined moissanite or diamond would look. Cubic Zirconia to a untrained eye looks like a diamond, a perfect diamond that is. This is obvious to a jeweler who is trained to see the flaws of a stone to determine a stone's value. Since Cubic Zirconia has no inclusions or flaws, it is obvious that they are fake fake since it is nearly impossible to find a truly flawless moissanite or diamond.
Another important factor is a stone's durability or hardness. Since most will wear their engagement and wedding rings daily, the stone you choose needs to be durable. Jewelers base a stone's durability by the its ranking on a hardness scale called "The Moh's Scale." A cubic zirconia ranks between an 8 to an 8.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness. A cubic zirconia stone is easy to maintain and clean but over time it can become discolored, cloudy, and scratch. This will impact the stone's brilliance, and light dispersion making the stone look cloudy. A moissanite stone however is much more durable as it's hardness score is ranked at a 9.25. The only stone with a higher hardness score is the diamond. Moissanite can withstand most conditions without causing damage that will impact the stone's brilliance.
Moissanite is so similar to a natural diamond that it will actually pass a gemological diamond test tool, while cubic zirconia will not.
Why does moissanite cost so much more than cubic zirconia?
Moissanite will always cost more than cubic zirconia because of the complex manufacturing process required to produce the moissanite gem. Creating a high quality moissanite requires specific technology and it also relies on the expertise of the manufacturer to insure the process produces high quality stones.
Moissanite will also carry it's resale value compared to a cubic zirconia, just as a diamond does. Cubic Zirconia is the best stone for costume or statement jewelry as it's fun and can be created in all shapes, sizes, and colors! If you're looking for a permanent engagement or wedding ring that will hold onto it's value, moissanite gems would outweigh CZ stones!