The Diamond Pro

Diamond vs. Moissanite: Why Diamonds Are Worth the Money

By Michael Fried
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Consider the lasting value and beauty of a gemstone before purchase. diamonds and moissanites are distinctly different in brilliance, hardness, composition and color. For a high-quality, excellently priced diamond, contact us today for a complementary search and expert advice.

While moissanite and diamond have somewhat similar appearances from afar, the two stones differ significantly in several areas like brilliance, fire, durability and value. You can find a moissanite ring like this on Amazon for a fraction of the cost of a diamond ring, but it’s important to know the main differences—and in this guide, we’ll share everything you need to know.

What is Moissanite?

Moissanite is a near-colorless gemstone that’s composed of silicon carbide. First discovered by Henri Moissan, a French scientist, moissanite was originally found in the crater left behind by a fallen meteor. 

Although they look similar at first glance, moissanite is very different from a diamond. Diamonds are made of carbon, whereas moissanites are made of pure silicon carbide — an extremely rare,  naturally-occurring mineral. 

The natural moissanite discovered by Moissan in 1893 is exceptionally rare, making it practically impossible to use natural moissanite for jewelry. As such, the moissanite sold today is produced by laboratories. 

Although it’s made to seem like diamonds, moissanite varies from diamond in both composition and in appearance.

Diamond vs. Moissanite: Price

A diamond’s price and value is dependent on its 4 C’s (Cut, Color, Clarity and Carat). These elements work together to form the beauty and brilliance of the stone. Because diamonds are mostly natural rather than artificial, they can vary hugely in price, value and quality.

On the other hand, most moissanites tend to cost the same price, except when two stones differ in size and type of moissanite material—enhanced or unenhanced.

While price differs between diamond and moissanite, it’s essential to realize that the features, quality and beauty of diamonds and moissanites differ significantly. Just because the price is lower, it does not mean you’re getting a better deal or a better value.

To outline the price difference of moissanite vs. diamond side by side, we’ve compiled the below chart. Although the prices differ, the lasting value and actual beauty of a moissanite vs. diamond is incomparable.

Note: Moissanite weighs approximately 15% less than diamonds. Therefore, an accurate comparison of price is not possible. Instead of using Carat weight, moissanites are priced on their size in millimeters. We have estimated a close comparison below.

Size (in Carats)Diamond PriceSize (closest equivalent to Carats)Moissanite Price
0.50$1,0605mm$520
0.63$1,5205.5mm$610
0.75$2,2206mm$680
1.0$3,8906.5mm$850

Diamond vs. Moissanite: Color

Although moissanites and diamonds can look similar in color when seen from a distance or in poor lighting, there are significant color differences between them that are more obvious when the two are viewed up close.

Diamonds are graded on a GIA Color scale from D to Z, while moissanites are not categorized by their color. Moissanites are, however, not colorless and resemble the K grade on the GIA color scale used to grade the color of diamonds.

When under certain lights, yellow and green tints can be seen in moissanites. The larger the moissanite, the easier it is to notice yellow, gray or green tints. At large sizes, it’s generally easy to notice the stark difference from a diamond.

Nearly colorless diamonds, ranging from D to J on the GIA scale, will contain no hints of yellow or gray tinting. Color is one element that make diamonds sparkling white, and it is hard to mistake a moissanite for the clear, natural beauty of a diamond.

Forever Brilliant Moissanite vs. Diamond

Over the years, there have been various efforts to produce artificial moissanites that were free of color. If you’ve looked into moissanite jewelry, you might have heard of the Forever Brilliant moissanite produced by Charles & Colvard. 

Forever Brilliant was the first of several colorless-looking moissanites produced by Charles & Colvard. The Forever Brilliant brand has since been discontinued, but you can still track down information on these moissanites online.

Essentially, these moissanites were slightly more colorless than the conventional manmade moissanites used in rings and other jewelry. However, due to technological limitations, they weren’t completely free of color like a diamond. 

Estimates for the approximate GIA diamond color grade of a Forever Brilliant moissanite can vary, although most diamond experts estimate that they’re roughly equivalent to a diamond in the G to I range. (Forever Classic, another range of moissanites, are closer to J to K.

Forever One Moissanite vs. Diamond

Charles & Colvard followed up the Forever Brilliant moissanite with Forever One — a newer, more advanced colorless moissanite — in 2015.

Forever One moissanites are marketed as the company’s high-end moissanite line. They’re promoted as hand-cut, flawless and made using the finest moissanite rough available. They claim to be totally colorless, equivalent to a D, E or F GIA diamond color grade.

In terms of color, Forever One moissanites are certainly closer to being colorless than older “colorless” artificial moissanites such as Forever Brilliant. With this said, the equivalent color grades used for these stones aren’t always a very accurate or useful comparison.

These moissanites also differ from diamonds in several noticeable ways. Silicone carbide is a very different material from diamond, meaning it displays color differently and disperses light in a different pattern. Ultimately, even a Forever One moissanite won’t look like a diamond.

Diamond vs. Moissanite: Clarity

The clarity of a moissanite refers to the amount (or lack of ) blemishes and inclusions that are visible in the stone. Like diamonds, moissanites are generally imperfect, meaning they’ll often have small blemishes that are visible when they’re viewed under magnification.

Almost all moissanites sold are graded for clarity using a scale similar to that used by the GIA and other grading entities to assess the clarity of diamonds. 

It’s important to note that the clarity grade for a moissanite isn’t given by the GIA, AGS or any other impartial gemological lab — instead, the clarity grade (and certificate, if the moissanite is sold with one) is often given with the stone by its manufacturer or seller.

Since moissanites are artificial, unlike natural diamonds, it’s very uncommon to see moissanites with a clarity grade below the VS level for sale. In general, the clarity of a moissanite is close to flawless almost all the time.

Diamond vs. Moissanite: Cut

Like diamonds, moissanites are available in a variety of different cuts. You can find round, oval, pear, cushion, princess and radiant cut moissanites. Some moissanites are even cut in antique cuts that were widely used for diamonds hundreds of years ago. 

The most popular cut for moissanites is the round brilliant cut. There are several reasons for the round brilliant cut’s popularity:

  • Brilliance. Like with a diamond, the round brilliant cut offers the greatest brilliance and fire. This means that the stone will sparkle when it’s exposed to bright light, which enters into the stone and bounces off its facets in different directions.
  • Color. The round brilliant cut is the best cut for hiding color and making a stone appear nearly or completely colorless. This is an advantage for a moissanite, as it helps to hide the yellow and green tints that are typically visible in moissanites.
  • Versatility. The round brilliant cut is extremely versatile, with a design that looks great in modern and vintage engagement rings and other jewelry.

Generally, moissanites look the best in cuts that hide color and emphasize the stone’s brilliance, such as the princess cut (for moissanites, this shape is often referred to as the “square cut”), as well as the oval cut, radiant cut and marquise cut. 

Diamond vs. Moissanite: Hardness

On the Mohs scale of hardness, a moissanite measures in at 9.25, while a diamond has a score of 10 —  the maximum on the scale.

The Mohs scale is used to measure a gemstone’s hardness, or in other words, its durability. The scale ranges from 1 as the softest to 10 as the hardest. The Mohs scale shows one of the most obvious distinctions between a moissanite and a diamond.

As the hardest known mineral,diamonds are incredibly durable and resilient. This makes them perfect for everyday wear and engagement rings, as they’re able to resist scratches and other damage that could affect the appearance of softer stones.

To gain perspective on mineral hardness, we display the Mohs scale below. As the chart demonstrates, diamonds are harder than some very durable minerals such as steel and Tungsten carbide.

Now, does this mean that moissanites scratch? Not quite. Although moissanite is lower on the scale than a diamond at 9 to 9.5, moissanites are still durable. The only minerals that scratch a moissanite are those equal or higher on the scale — namely, diamonds and other moissanites.

The Mohs Scale of Hardness

HardnessSubstance or mineral
>10Nanocrystalline diamond (hyperdiamond, ultrahard fullerite)
10Diamond
9.5–10Boron
9–9.5Moissanite
9Tungsten carbide
8.5Chromium
8Cubic zirconia
7.5–8Emerald
7Quartz
6–7Silicon
6Titanium
5.5Glass
5Apatite (tooth enamel)
4–4.5Steel
4Iron
3.5Platinum
3Copper
2.5–3Gold
2–2.5Halite (rock salt)
2Calcium
1.5Lead
1Talc
0.5–0.6Potassium
0.2–0.3Rubidium
Source: Wikipedia

Best Moissanite Engagement Rings

Here are some Moissanite Engagement Rings for your inspiration:

Solitaire Rings

Side-Stone Rings

HaloRings

Vintage Rings

Diamond vs. Moissanite: Brilliance

When you see a diamond sparkle, you’re experiencing its ability to bend and refract light. As light strikes the pavilions (the angled surfaces on the lower half of the diamond), it bounces and is refracted up through the diamond’s table (the top, flat surface) to your eye. When this occurs, it’s called brilliance—a remarkable quality of diamonds.

How Light reflects through a diamond

Moissanites, on the other hand, give off a different type of sparkle. Their facets are cut and formed differently, causing less white light refraction than a diamond. While moissanites do create sparkle, it is not as clear and vibrant as those of a diamond.

Interestingly, moissanites have a higher refractive index — a measure of the speed at which light travels through the material — than diamonds. The refractive index of moissanite is 2.65, versus 2.42 for diamonds. Overall, the refractive index of the two stones is very similar.

In addition to diamond’s signature brilliance, the gemstones also emit fire, which is the reflection of colored, or rainbow light. A moissanite also gives off a vibrant colored light reflection. In some cases and under certain light, the moissanite emits extensive color dazzling—which some people don’t prefer.

While relatively noticeable when looking at a moissanite vs. diamond side by side, the difference in brilliance and fire is increasingly obvious with larger sizes, especially when the gemstones are viewed up close in certain lighting conditions.

Can Moissanite Be Considered a Diamond?

By both experts and non-experts, moissanites should not be considered the same as a diamond. The two are entirely different gemstones for several reasons, from substance to brilliance to color.

Diamonds are naturally found, formed of the hardest material, and possess extraordinary beauty and value. Moissanites are almost always lab-created and made from silicon carbide. They also have numerous visual differences from diamonds, such as color and light performance.

While from a distance the diamond and moissanite might appear somewhat similar, they are noticeably distinct even to a non-expert’s eye.

Now, does this mean that a moissanite is better than a diamond, or worse? That’s ultimately a subjective question that no one can answer. A moissanite isn’t better or worse than a diamond (and vice-versa) — instead, they’re very different stones with different characteristics.

How to Tell the Difference Between Moissanite and Diamond

From a distance, moissanite and diamond can look quite similar, especially when each stone is inside an engagement ring or other piece of jewelry. With this said, there are several ways that you can tell moissanites and diamonds apart when they’re viewed up close:

  • Brilliance. Moissanite tends to refract light more than diamond, producing a stronger level of brilliance. In simplistic terms, this means that a moissanite will usually appear sparklier than a diamond of similar cut and size.
  • Fire. Moissanite usually has stronger fire — the breaking down of light into noticeable spectral colors — than diamond. If you place a diamond and a moissanite next to each other under strong lighting, the moissanite will likely produce stronger flashes of color.
  • Clarity. Because moissanites are made in a lab, the average clarity level is higher than that of naturally-produced diamonds. It’s common to see diamonds with blemishes and inclusions, whereas most moissanites have few obvious internal imperfections.
  • Color. As we mentioned above, moissanites aren’t completely colorless and often show noticeable yellow, green or gray tints when viewed under light. In comparison, diamonds come in a range of colors, from strongly tinted to entirely colorless.
  • Weight. A moissanites will weigh approximately 15% less than a diamond of the same size. While this isn’t perceptible when either stone is held in your hand, a high precision jewelry scale will easily show the difference in weight.
  • Value. Moissanite is significantly less expensive than diamond, meaning you can buy a larger stone for less money. It’s also far less valuable, meaning you’re ultimately buying a stone that’s worth very little over the long term by choosing a moissanite.
  • Electricity conduction. This isn’t something you can easily check by eye, but diamond and moissanite conduct heat and electricity differently. Some diamond testing tools use electricity to detect whether a stone is a real diamond or a different type of gemstone.

Advantages of Moissanite

Moissanites offer several unique advantages over diamonds, although these may not be seen as advantages for everyone:

  • Price. Moissanite is significantly less expensive than diamond, meaning you’ll be able to purchase a larger stone at a lower price. This can be a significant advantage if you’re on a limited budget.
  • Clarity. Because moissanites are produced artificially, they’re generally not sold unless they have a high clarity grade. This means that it’s rare to find moissanites with obvious inclusions and blemishes.
  • Lab-Created. Although this is likely a downside for most, some people might appreciate the technology that goes into a moissanite. If you’re concerned about the ethical side of buying a diamond (a topic we’ve covered more here), this may also be an advantage for you.
  • Brilliance. Moissanites have a high refractive index and a strong level of brilliance, with a noticeable level of color. Although some people find them unnaturally sparkly, this can be an advantage if you’re looking for a very bright, eye-catching stone.

Disadvantages of Moissanite

Despite their advantages, moissanites also have several unique disadvantages when compared to diamonds:

  • Different, artificial-looking brilliance. Diamonds are famous for their brilliance, with an eye-catching yet elegant white sparkle. On the other hand, many people think the highly intense and very strong white sparkle of a moissanite looks unnatural.

    To the trained eye, the bright and powerful brilliance of moissanite can also be a clear giveaway that it’s not a diamond. 
  • They’re not diamonds, at least from a cultural perspective. Diamonds are, for better or worse, culturally significant and strongly associated with engagement, marriage and romance.

    While a moissanite might look nice, it doesn’t have the same association with love as a diamond. There’s also a risk that your partner and/or peers might view a moissanite as an inexpensive, “cheap” alternative to a diamond or other more traditional gemstone.

    Of course, this varies from person to person. If you think your fiancé-to-be won’t mind a moissanite engagement ring instead of one with a diamond, don’t let cultural factors put you off choosing the gemstone you like the most.
  • Lack of value. Although moissanites are cheap, they aren’t valuable. While we usually don’t recommend diamonds as an investment (you’ll almost always lose money if you ever decide to sell), they do retain some value over the long term and can be passed down as a precious family heirloom — something you can’t do with a moissanite.

Other Alternatives to Diamonds

Moissanites are often viewed as a cost-effective alternative to buying a diamond. If you want to purchase an engagement ring but aren’t totally sold on a diamond, you might want to keep the following alternatives in mind:

  • Colored gemstones. Colored gemstones, such as sapphires, rubies and emeralds, can all make for a unique and special engagement ring. Many gemstones are less expensive than diamonds on a per-carat basis, all while retaining some heirloom value.
  • Lab-created diamonds. Lab-created diamonds have certain issues, such as a severe lack of resale value (a topic we’ve discussed here). However, if you’re on a budget and want the best-looking stone for your money while still getting a diamond, they may be worth considering.
  • Cubic zirconia. Cubic zirconia are a fraction of the price of diamonds, although they’re quite easy to tell apart. While we don’t recommend cubic zirconia jewelry, you can learn more about cubic zirconia as a gemstone here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Moissanite Get Cloudy?

Unlike cubic zirconia, which can degrade in appearance over time, moissanite does not become cloudy with age. 

Over time, dirt, oils and other substances can build up on the surface of a moissanite, making it appear cloudy. However, this can be cleaned away without affecting the true appearance of the stone.

Does Moissanite Last?

Yes. Moissanites are strong, long-lasting gemstones. A moissanite should last for your entire life without losing its appearance or becoming damaged. If you choose a setting that’s made from a high-quality metal such as platinum or gold, a moissanite ring will last for a very long time.

Where Does Moissanite Come From?

In its natural state, moissanite comes from space. As we mentioned above, moissanite was first discovered by Henri Moissan in Arizona more than a century ago, inside the crater that was left behind when a meteor landed on earth. 

Natural moissanite deposits have also been found around the world in Wyoming and in certain parts of Russia. However, due to the limited supply of naturally-occurring moissanite on earth, the moissanite used for jewelry is produced artificially in a laboratory environment.

Conclusion

Though moissanites and diamonds are unmistakably different, the moissanite is an option for those looking for a gemstone at a lower price point. Because we are diamond experts and not moissanite experts, we unfortunately aren’t able to recommend a moissanite retailer.

If you’d like to consider a high-quality diamond at an excellent price—that will maintain its beauty and value over the long run—contact our experts today. We can begin a complementary search for you and walk you through everything you need to know. We’ll keep your budget, desires and concerns in mind.

About the author
Mike learned the diamond business from the ground-up at Leo Schachter Diamonds - one of the world's top diamond manufacturers. He has been recognized as a diamond industry expert by Time, PeopleMoney, The Daily Mirror, NerdWallet, The Times Herald, Yahoo Finance Australia, The Art of Charm, The Washington Diplomat, The Next Web, and more. See more
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