by Rachel Hoar

Lab-Created Diamonds vs. Moissanite

Two budget-friendly stone choices – but one clearly comes out on top.

In their search for that perfect sparkler, ring shoppers who want to maximize their budgets inevitably end up checking all the different options. During their research, they run into different kinds of stones: natural diamonds, lab diamonds, moissanites, etc. At first, lab-created diamonds and moissanite can seem quite similar… and this can be an extremely perplexing issue! But you’ll soon find that they’re not similar. At all.

To put it bluntly: 

LAB-CREATED DIAMONDS = REAL DIAMONDS

MOISSANITE = NOT DIAMOND

“Ok,” you say.

“Tell me more.”

Lab-created diamonds are real diamonds!
They’re chemically, structurally, and visually the same as the earth-created diamonds we all know and love. The only difference is that the high-pressure, high-temperature, diamond-creating conditions that usually take place deep underground are instead performed in a lab. Because it’s easier to create lab conditions than to mine diamonds underground, lab-created diamonds can be significantly more affordable than earth-created diamonds.

Moissanite isn’t a diamond, it’s a silicon carbide!
It’s synthesized in a lab under a thermal growing process. This silicon carbide crystal is a completely different material that looks very similar to diamond but is still an imitation of the real thing. Moissanite is often marketed as a cheaper alternative to diamond, but it’s an inferior option given the pricing and availability of ‘real’ lab-created diamonds. Moissanite doesn’t have anywhere near the same brilliance or clarity as a real diamond, and it has none of the fire.

Let’s size up lab-created diamonds and moissanite over 6 traits:

1. COLOR PERMANENCE

LAB DIAMONDS
A diamond’s color is everlasting. The lab-created diamond you buy today will look exactly the same when you eventually pass it down to your grandchildren.

MOISSANITE
Moissanite exhibits “thermochromism,” meaning that it is sensitive to color change at temperatures above 150° F (65 C). These are usually temporary, but these heat-sensitive color changes can sometimes be permanent.


2. COLOR

LAB DIAMONDS
Colorless to extremely colorful
. Diamonds can exhibit a full range of colors, from intense fancy colors (canary, purple, pink) to completely colorless.

MOISSANITE
Moissanites usually display warmer tints, often exhibiting slight yellowish or greenish hues.


3. SPARKLE

LAB DIAMONDS
Lab-created diamonds have a refractive index of 2.42 and their faceting pattern returns light remarkably. The combination of their brilliance (reflected white light), fire (refracted color) and scintillation (surface sparkle) give diamonds their unparalleled true sparkle. Brilliant and sparkly!

MOISSANITE
Moissanite actually has a higher refractive index than diamonds, at 2.65, and their faceting pattern is different, leading their brilliance to display a “rainbow effect.” The rainbow effect tends to make moissanite look fake to the well-trained eye, and is especially noticeable under natural light and in larger stones.


4. IDEAL SIZE

LAB DIAMONDS
Lab-created diamonds sparkle the same at any carat weight. Go big, go small, go whatever you like.

MOISSANITE
Moissanite’s exhibits a “rainbow effect” which can look fake and is especially noticeable in larger moissanite stones. Stick with smaller sizes.


5. WEAR-AND-TEAR

LAB DIAMONDS
Diamond is the hardest stone (it has the highest rating of 10 on Moh’s hardness scale). It’s not susceptible to scratching.

MOISSANITE
Extremely hard (9.25 on Moh’s hardness scale), but is still more susceptible to scratching than diamonds.


6. COST

LAB DIAMONDS
Diamonds are usually the more expensive choice. However, lab-created diamonds are the affordable diamond option, allowing you to get a 30% larger stone for the same cost as earth-created diamonds.

MOISSANITE
Moissanites are a cheaper option, though buyers must take into account the lifetime costs of maintenance like jeweler cleanings. Moissanite’s value is mostly sentimental.


The Conclusion:

We at James Allen believe the overall resiliency, beauty, and affordability of lab-created diamonds make them #1 choice for budget-friendliness. Moissanite simply doesn’t compare.

Big, bright, and beautiful!

And now for our picks: pieces that show off all the sparkle of lab-created diamonds.

Three-Stone Emerald-Cut Engagement Ring

“This is the most sparkly ring I’ve ever seen. I feel like a million bucks!”
– Teresa T.

Pear-Cut Halo Engagement Ring

“I love my pear-shaped ring!! It is simple yet not understated at all.”
– Andy A.

Bow-Tie Princess-Cut Engagement Ring

“A showstopper ring. It’s glam, class, and elegance all in one.”
– Swanson J.

Halo Pendant

“The halo makes the center stone look much much bigger. It is very impressive.”
-Pi-Yu C.

Scalloped Pendant

“This is the best purchase I’ve ever made online!”
– Bing W.

Lab-created diamonds caught your eye? Read on to hone your diamond expertise!

Obsessing over one (or more) of the engagement rings in this post? Share the love on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or in the comments below!

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Rachel Hoar

Rachel is an unabashed linguistics fanatic who can identify the ancient Greek root of any word. She promises not to spray you with Windex.

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